Around the world, senior women travel on their own, exploring and discovering the world. They do so for many reasons: curiosity, desire, getting away, healing from pain, wanderlust – and one of the most common concerns is this one: am I too old to travel solo?
Here are their questions – with comments and insights that explore their fears, hopes and worries and provide some answers.
These women’s stories and questions were submitted to Women on the Road by readers from all corners of the world and all have a single thing in common: the issue of traveling solo as one gets older. Where they were phrased as questions, I tried to answer them and invited comments. The stories I let speak for themselves. I hope you’ll find something to inspire you here!
Travelling overland in Africa as a 60-year-old woman?
by Wilna Wilkinson in Lalinde, France
I have spent the last week studying all the websites of companies that provide transport for overland travel through Africa, trying to decide which company would suit me best.
The biggest consideration for me is the itinerary — but my concerns are:
1. Fellow travellers – I am not too keen on a group of gap year kids who have suddenly been given unlimited funds and freedom and all that that entails.
2. As much as I am yearning to travel over Africa, I have to admit I would love to do it in a slightly different and novel way – or go places not too well trodden by the countless who go before me. A big ask, I know, but I think you will definitely know what I am trying to say here!
I see you backpacked this journey – but confess I do not think that is for me. If for no other reason than to not to have to worry about getting through borders and past bureaucracy while on the road, I think I would prefer to be on a slightly more ‘organized’ trip. Any suggestions???
Women on the Road: First, Wilna, let me congratulate you for even thinking of traveling overland in Africa! Younger women are often daunted by this trip, even though they shouldn’t be. I was in my 40s when I backpacked across Africa and had the time of my life. I also ran into many women who were far older, into their 80s. I understand you’d rather not backpack – it’s not the easiest way to travel, even though I love it. And you’re right to be concerned about choosing the right tour operator. The last thing you want is to be mismatched with a group that doesn’t have much in common with you.
I can’t speak personally, since I’ve never taken this kind of tour. I can tell you that explore.co.uk has a good reputation. I have several friends who have traveled with them and have loved it. I’ve just checked and they have tours that last up to 23 days and cover 4 countries. However, that may not be what you’re looking for. Doing a bit of surfing I also found Africa in Focus for photography – they specifically state they don’t cater to the gap year market
I also recommend you check out the Senior Travel or Overland Africa sections on the Thorn Tree travel forum and Tripadvisor’s Senior Travel Forum. By the way, ‘senior’ doesn’t mean old in any way – usually, they start at 50 and we know how young that is these days. It’s more of a shorthand to say the physical effort will be watched more closely and you won’t be going to bars every night – unless you want to, of course!
Can women over 70 be independent travelers?
by Sylvia in Cambridgeshire
How about women over 70 – is there a place for us as independent travellers?
Women on the Road: Sylvia, there’s no such thing as too old for independent travel! Some years ago, I woke up in a dorm room in Durban to find a man getting ready and slipping on his backpack – he must have been well over 80, and going strong. Often, in Africa or Asia or Latin America, I ran into older women solo or in pairs. On they trudged, cutting a swathe through the backpacker trail with a gusto that beat that of women half their age. They stayed in hostels like the rest of us, clambered onto pickup trucks – albeit a bit more slowly, doing everything we did.
Remember Dervla Murphy? As of this writing, she’s still going strong. She has traveled solo well into her 80s – and written bestsellers after each trip.
These days, women in their 70s can be more fit than women half their age – age on the road is often relative, more a state of mind than a state of body.
If I’m still around, I have every intention of traveling into my 60s, my 70s, my 80s, and onward from there. I really believe that the only thing ever holding you back is yourself.
I think that what’s most important in all areas of our lives as we get older is that we don’t simply do things the way our friends, family and culture define them. That we become very proactive about checking in with ourselves, taking the time to define what our needs are, becoming aware of what fears are limiting us and addressing all of that in the choices we make about travel.
Comments from Sil: A friend and I walked El Camino de Santiago in Spain in 2002. She was 74 at the time. She walked it again in 2007 at the age of 80. Another friend will be trekking the Annapurna circuit in October at age 77. I am not 70 yet but hope that I will still be bumming around Europe with my backpack and staying in Youth Hostels when I am 80! I’m looking forward to a whole raft of blogs starting to be written by us old gals who are redefining what life is like after 70 and how we are creating ways of living our lives that are re-writing expectations.
Comment from Evelyn Hannon: Thank you for the opportunity to comment. As the 70-year-old editor of Journeywoman.com I am in the enviable position of hearing from travelling women all over the world. Their ages range from 18-80. (Ed. Note: since this comment, Evelyn saddly passed away but her soul stays with us, as does her indomitable spirit of exploration. We miss you, Evelyn!) All are passionate about travel and I feel most don’t consider age a factor in following that passion. What I do think happens to a 70-year-old woman is that she travels differently than she did at 25. And for every woman that difference is unique. Now, they may share a hotel room with a pal but go off and do their own thing during the day. This ensures that they have a security blanket should one of them need help in a foreign destination. I at 70 find that I no longer need to rush about every day seeing EVERYTHING. I have absolutely no problem with sitting in a cafe in Paris reading for a couple of hours or people watching. In other words, I saw the Eiffel Tower 40 years ago. Now I’m happy exploring little neighbourhoods and chatting with the locals.
Comment from Monica: My aunt is over 70 and is my constant travel inspiration. Her lifelong travels filled my head with places I wanted to visit when I got old enough and she’s still inspiring me today! She traveled to Spain with me and my two 20-something cousins last year and she regularly travels in the States at least two or three times a year. I hope I’m as active a traveler as she is when I get to be over 70.
Comment from Birgit: Two years ago I spent six weeks backpacking through Tanzania together with my mother, who at the time was 64. I would also describe her as less active (guess Leyla and I may have different definitions for that), but that didn’t stop her from climbing Kilimanjaro. And loving every minute of it! When I was researching our trip I also discovered that people in their 70s and 80s regularly make the summit. Not only that, they also have better success rates than younger people.
It is a pervasive idea in our society that younger equals better, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is a shame that in the process of growing up most people are pretty much brainwashed into believing that the older you get the less useful you are, and the less able, and the less you should be doing and living.
I live to travel and I have been saying all my life that I have no intentions of slowing down until I reach my eighties. At 42 I am only a spring chicken, but from all I have seen so far, life only gets better and better with age. I fully expect this trend to continue and see absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t. I very much look forward to the next 42 years of travel and adventure! Never, ever let anyone make you feel like you’re “too old” for anything.
Comment from Rensina: I take women in small groups on tours each year to Mongolia…though the women are not “alone’ they still have to be very independent. They put up their own tents and we communally cook. The environment and climatic conditions are rough. Last year our eldest traveller was a seasoned 74…. I had an enquiry from an 82-year-old this year. If you think you can… do it! My motto is “If you love travelling, keep doing it.” What is the worse thing that can happen? I LOVE the stimulation of travelling and the activity of overland travelling. Keeps the body moving and the mind active…I LOVE seeing older Wise Women travelling…..GO Girls!!
Comment from Anthoneta de Melo: I am fully amazed at the way women can travel after their 70s. It is not all that easy tho….but hats off to them…for their “young at heart” attitude! They are the real independent type who I admire a lot …I am so encouraged by reading this site of Women On The Road. I am confident in myself now that at least I know I am not the only one with this kind of thinking…
It is safe for a 74-yr-old woman to travel halfway around the world?
by Jules in Sydney, NSW, Australia
I have travelled many times before but this time I seem to have lost my confidence and have fearful nerves. I’m planning to travel Sydney/Singapore/Sicily/London/Chiang Mai/Sydney. I guess it’s the logistics of it all. Two medium suitcases, then London to Italy only allows one – just a bit fearful, but have spent the money! I feel a little frightened now that it’s near.
Women on the Road: Feeling a bit of fear and anxiety before such a major trip is perfectly normal, whether you’re 74 or 24. You’d be surprised at the number of emails I get from young women in their early twenties expressing the same fears – and more! Let’s deconstruct a bit.
First, your itinerary sounds wonderful. All these places are as safe for women as they are for men, and as safe for older women as for younger ones.
Then there’s your luggage. You basically have two possibilities: either you cut back to a single suitcase, or you pay the extra luggage charge on your European leg. Check the airline’s website to see how much it would cost and then decide. The less comfortable option would be to change one of those suitcases into a backpack with rollers and take it on board, while checking the other one.
I can’t help you with the logistics but I can tell you that the places you’re visiting are all interesting, welcoming, fun – everything you could possibly wish for. London and Singapore have excellent public transportation, so you’ll easily get around. Chieng Mai is cheap so you’ll be able to get around everywhere by cab.
Everything appears poised to provide you with a fabulous trip to wonderful destinations. If you’re more tired now than you were a few years ago, just take it easy. You don’t have to see everything in a single day. Cut back on the sightseeing and make sure you stay within your comfort zone. Make sure you’re comfortable at all times – especially while walking. Keep your money and cards partly in your hotel safe and partly in a travel money belt or in an anti-theft bag so you won’t have to worry about waving around wads of cash. No bum bags – they’re easy to dip into. These are standard precautions for anyone and there’s no reason you should travel any differently than the thousands of other women – of all ages – you’ll be coming across.
I would guess that your itinerary may have been chosen because you know people in those places. If you do, that’s great. If not, you might try making contact with a few people before you go, through some of these hospitality exchanges. And remember – senior travel doesn’t have to be different: a lot of it is about attitude. Writer Dervla Murphy can’t have been too far from 80 when I ran across her in Uganda a few years ago.
Comment from Laura: Good for you! I hope when I am your age I will demonstrate your chutzpah. Suggestion – take one bag. The clothes won’t matter, you will NOT wear all you think. Mix and match and if you wear the same thing over and over, who cares? You are changing locales anyway! You will regret the TWO bags….you know people always pack way more than they really need.
Comment from JAVS: Your question asks about safety. This is something you will have to be responsible for. You will be as “safe” at 74 as you were at 34 (if you traveled abroad then). Use the same precautions (important docs and money in waist or shoulder pouches inside your clothing) that you have used in the past or as suggested by others on this blog. Keep alert for stalkers and avoid them by going into a merchandising establishment or bank if you feel someone is following you. I took a long trip (London, Italy, France, Eastern Europe and Russia) a year ago (age 73) and had a great time, but I agree with the comments about luggage. My biggest hassles were with bags (I had two); I had trouble when there were no elevators or lifts available at train stations.
Comment from Bren: Hi Jules, I share your age range, and am planning to travel on after 18 months in Malaysia as my travel base, I’m an Aussie solo with plans for Turkey, the Mediterranean, to Spain, UK, Ireland and more. I’m taking the time to smell the roses and immerse myself in the culture, maybe volunteer as well. I will only take one bag, amazing how little you need outside essential papers and medical supplies. All else can be bought (and discarded via charities) as needed,. My essentials as an artist include a small art supply case and travel journal and a camera. Minimal clothes and underwear changes, include a sarong for various uses; a small, thick hand towel does fine. (Need a packing list? Here’s a long-term travel packing list.) Free web access is now everywhere.
Comment from Linda: I’m 73 and have been traveling internationally and solo for the past 10 years. You definitely don’t need the hassle of two bags! As others have suggested, carry only mix and match things. (Ed note: using packing cubes will help make it all fit into a single bag!) I now only carry a backpack as even one suitcase with wheels causes problems at train stations stairs, buses and lots of other places with curbs and cobblestone streets. And, I agree, pace yourself! You don’t have to see it all in one day. Be a traveler, not a tourist. My favorite female solo traveler was Patty from New Zealand. I met her in Rome on a six-month tour of Europe – she had a single large backpack and she was 76. What an inspiration she was to me and as you will be to others. Go girl! Have fun.
SOS… My first big overseas trip…I am 59!!!
by Shakona Rose in Byron Bay NSW, Australia
Finally, a life-long dream has come to fruition. My eldest daughter has gifted me airfare to the destination of my choice. I live in Australia have only been to NZ. I have several destinations in mind although would love to see them all!!! I will be travelling on a small budget plus I do get my widow’s allowance for 3 months whilst I am overseas. Also, I am only small in stature and light-framed and know that a backpack would be too much of a burden for me. I feel one of those bags with wheels and the handle would be more appropriate for me. I need some good honest helpful advice and suggestions to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.
Women on the Road: First things first. At 59, you’re a spring chicken when it comes to travel. It seems as though hordes of women your age have decided to take off and travel – welcome to you all! You’d be amazed at the number of mature women on the road. You are NOT alone! Age apart, if you’re traveling overseas on your own for the first time (and I’d give this advice at any age) I wouldn’t start with India. It’s a glorious country but much harder to travel in than others. Southeast Asia would be my pick for a first-timer.
Now for the backpack. I understand your concern but I’d think twice. The great thing about a backpack is that it leaves your hands free, and you might be grateful for that. The problem with wheeled suitcases or packs is that they only really work properly when the ground is smooth, for example in an airport. Having traveled extensively around Southeast Asia (and Central and South America for that matter) I can confirm that where there are sidewalks (and that’s not everywhere) they’re often uneven or downright full of potholes. If you’re backpacking, you could easily reduce your pack’s weight to something virtually negligible. Why not a backpack with wheels?
Comment from Pat: I’ve been to many many many countries – usually solo. YES for the backpack. FORGET anything you have to carry or wheel. I am in mid-60s now! Hostels are great – you meet interesting people, can buddy up with ones you like to sightsee, cook meals together, maybe find a good house-sitting gig, share a rent-a-car… And spiritual retreat houses. Do LOTS of research online first.
My last trip was a month in Peru, solo. I stayed with a family through a student housing site I found online. In Puno, found a nice $10 room in a side street family hotel. Nice and quiet – my preference. I met senior single travel solo women in a nice little neighborhood restaurant. In Kathmandu, I stayed in the Tibetan quarter. I don’t like noisy tourist sections areas – too many partying kids getting drunk. I prefer a quiet, spiritual ambiance 🙂
I ate in European restaurants and got to know many fellow travelers. Travel LIGHT. I wear one change of clothes and carry one. I wash one set out each night and take one pair of shoes that I wear. I buy things locally. Take old clothes that you can leave behind (more room for souvenirs on the return trip0. Best not to look prosperous when traveling, anyway – use a good travel money belt INSIDE your clothes, essential for your passport and most of your money. Keep some daily pocket money in a pocket… Be friendly, but reserved.
Comment by Anonymous: If you are worried about carrying a backpack, spend some time at a gym before leaving. I built up both my strength and stamina by doing regular treadmill and strength weight training before going. If you have a wheeled bag you must be able to carry it up several flights of stairs (e.g., on subways or in small hotels) and lift it overhead into a train luggage rack without help. The further you can walk without tiring, the more you will enjoy your travels. I take a wheeled 22-inch bag but keep it light so I can carry it (see the best carry-on bags here). I must do that because I need to take a CPAP machine with me, which goes in my backpack. Purse items also go in the backpack (e.g, Kindle, phone, snacks for plane/train).
I find that if I have more than two items to keep track of, there is a greater danger of losing one. I originally took my CPAP in its carrying case and lost it in the Gare de Lyon when a thief mistook it for a camera bag. The two-person team distracted me by asking a question. I set down the bag and when I was finished talking and looked around, it was gone. So now I take it inside a backpack and have my hands free, so I can keep one on the handle of my rolling bag at all times, while still buying tickets or doing something else with the other hand.
I stay in hostels and love them, but I am picky about finding quiet ones with fewer drunken students. Reading the hostel reviews is helpful, then I go to the ones the reviews call clean but boring. They tend to be located near interesting sights, but also sometimes in the noisy bar and restaurant areas where outside noise is a problem. Bring foam earplugs.
Comment from Di: You no longer have to choose between a wheeled bag and a backpack since there are now wheeled backpacks available. Why not wheel when you can and carry when you have to? Also agree with doing some gym work before you go which will make you feel stronger and fitter.
PS. good on you!
I am a mid-age (50s) woman planning travel to South Asia
by Jordan in Livingston, MT
I’m interested in other women’s experiences as to how age impacts travel in various other countries/continents. I have not traveled outside of America much since I was “young” and know it will be different!
Women on the Road: Jordan, I’m not sure whether this is a question but I’m assuming you’re asking whether other women travelers have had age-related issues or experiences while traveling overseas. Just a quick answer to that: I’ve traveled since I was 15, and continue to travel solo in my 60s. In some countries, age is highly respected, for example in parts of Asia or Africa, so you should have no problems at all. On the contrary, being younger would probably attract far greater attention.
Comment from Gwen: I’m into my 60s and don’t find that age is any kind of barrier to travel, whether alone or in groups. I do find that I have greater expectations as a traveler at this age than I did when I was younger. I want nice hotels, restaurants with great food, activities that are age-appropriate (without limiting me). For example, if I’m planning on a hike or walking trip I check to see what the terrain is like, the pace that is possible, the duration. I find I go slower than I used to and take more frequent breathing stops. But I’m a pretty independent cuss so whenever possible I go on my own, not with groups. That way I can set the pace.
I think you’ll find that more and more you’ll be running into other women in a similar situation, regardless of the part of the world you are in. I encourage you to go forth and have a fabulous time. All the usual caveats about traveling safe apply as they would for younger women but you might want to allow a bit of extra time here and there for the body to adjust to things. And one rule I’ve always traveled by is this: if I can’t carry my own bag, stuff doesn’t come with me. I may become bored with a certain wardrobe, but it looks different to the locals since they likely didn’t see me the day or two before.
How can I find out about solo senior travel?
by Joanna in Hawaii, USA
Are there articles for senior citizens traveling solo?
Women on the Road: Virtually all the articles you’ll find on Women on the Road are as suitable for seniors as they are for young people, with very few exceptions. In fact, my website was partly inspired by the many older solo women I met while traveling across Africa and Asia. Their courage and indomitable spirit convinced me there was no reason anyone should be concerned about traveling solo!
I can also recommend certain resources that are either aimed at solo seniors, or that are highly suitable, for example the excellent site Transitions Abroad and its section on senior travel. I would also check out the indomitable Maggie Counihan, author of Backpacking to Freedom: Solo at Sixty. You’ll also find some senior solo travel resources at Simplifying Life Choices. Another good place to find tips and interact is online with one of the few forums still online or on Facebook by searching for Senior Travel groups.
Single travel over 50 – Am I too old to travel solo?
by Kathy from New Zealand
I have been alone for more than four years after leaving an abusive marriage of 13 years. I was an at-home mother and only worked part-time most of my married life. I came out of a divorce with not much due to a prenup. I retrained and currently work in the travel industry.
My kids are all grown up. I don’t own anything and I don’t owe a single cent, no mortgage or hire purchase that could tie me back. I am no longer happy with my job and I’m getting older! I have spent the last three years visiting places I could not while I was married. I wanted to see the rest of the world; he wouldn’t let me travel without him.
I can travel now but all my travels are quite limited due to limited annual leave. I would like to be able to go away for a considerable length of time. It’s a dream that has stayed dormant in my heart all my life!
Before I start using a walking stick to get me from A to B, I thought I should just give up my job, pack my bag and go! I have a little bit of money but I would prefer to earn enough to finance my trip while I am away. I would rather keep my savings to fall back on when I return. I am not a degree holder but I know a few trades, I was a hairdresser and did some training as massage therapist. I thought about travel writing but I have not written anything before. Is there any hope for me?
My second greatest concern is my age. Am I too old to go solo on the road? Are there options available for women my age? I would be most grateful if you can help me.
Women on the Road: I did exactly what you’re describing at the age of 43. A bit younger than you, perhaps, but not much. As I traveled, I met plenty of women who were far older than I was, and many of them were traveling solo – they were on their own, kids grown up… Many of them were younger in spirit than the 20-year-olds in the same hostel! And if you’re a bit nervous about tackling the world on your own, you could try to find a travel buddy for at least part of your trip (this page on female travel companions might help).
Money is definitely a concern. When I decided to quit everything and leave, I spent an entire year downsizing and counting every penny. Even so, I left with very little and was on a tight budget as I traveled, especially the first year. You might find a few ideas here about working and earning to travel more.
As for writing, you’d be surprised at the number of writers who become saleable yet had never written before… it’s hard work and it’s not for everyone – but it is definitely worth a try, and I think you’ll have fun learning. Have a look at my free travel writing course to give you an idea.
Comment from Sil: Kathy, if you are fit enough, backpacking is the way to go. I have hiked many 1000s of km on well-supported, designated hikers paths, many pilgrimage trails through Europe, staying at youth hostels and gites, pilgrim shelters, monasteries and such. It is a wonderful way for single women to meet other people, both locals and from other countries. You go girl!! 50 is just a number.
Comment from Gwen: First of all, congratulations on having the courage and tenacity to create a new life for yourself! I’m a career transition coach as well as a women’s retreat provider and writer so I know very well just what it takes to begin life anew at any age. And, while I wasn’t in an abusive relationship, I’ve just left my 30-year marriage as I approach 63 and am discovering the joys and challenges of living solo first-hand.
But much more importantly, I encourage you to travel solo. I do and thoroughly enjoy it. I know women in their 70s who still travel on their own. And while she doesn’t travel, one of my favourite women is Catherine, who is now 95 and was teaching Tai Chi when she was 94!! She is definitely my inspiration for the future.
If you haven’t traveled much and if you haven’t traveled solo before, you may want to start small and build your travel ‘muscles’. By that, I mean perhaps taking some short weekend trips by yourself to nearby towns or events. Given that I think you are still quite young, you may want to take a year to try out different things before making a major commitment. You may even want to take a two-week trip by yourself before you head off for an extended trip all alone.
Not that I think anything awful awaits you. But there are times when plans don’t work out and it can be very lonely returning to a hotel room all by yourself. Learning how to bounce back from those experiences, I think, can be easier when you know home is only another night or two away.
You’ll also discover just what kind of pace and rhythm of travel experience really works best for you. Are you someone who likes to be up and out walking around at the crack of dawn? Do you like to be around other people or by yourself? Are you a ‘grab a sandwich for lunch’ kinda girl or do you like to luxuriate in a cafe as you watch the world go by? This discovery process is delightful and it can help you make really good decisions about the places and types of experiences you want to invest your hard-earned money into on longer trips.
My big travel joy at the moment, in addition to regular trips to Portugal, is to camp by myself. I bought I little pop-up tent trailer this fall and have begun spending nights under the stars. My friends think I’m crazy, but I can’t tell you how much pleasure I get from making my own little campfire in the evening, sitting under the stars and sipping a glass of wine while I contemplate all the great adventures I’m going to create for myself.
So young whippersnapper, travel away is my advice. Enjoy.
Comment from SWAHAA: Fifty is absolutely NOT too late to start traveling on your own! I began traveling by myself once again at age 50 (also after a divorce). Went backpacking on Mt. Ranier. Since then, I’ve lived abroad for four years in three different countries and traveled all over Europe and Asia on my own.
Comment from Karina in upstate New York: I used to think travel was for young people but I don’t think so anymore. I was backpacking for six months and I was in a guest house in Cape Town and met this wonderful lady from Canada, she was probably 80 and a great-grandmother and had all the pics to prove it! She was sleeping in a quad with everyone else and even stayed up to party a couple of times! The most awesome bit is she came overland from London on her own, not with Kontiki or a tour bus or anything. She just figured it out! She said she always wanted to travel far away but she had kids and then grandchildren and a husband and responsibilities but when her husband died she decided this was IT and others could be responsible and she was going to see the world. From Cape Town, I think she was going to Madagascar and then to India where she wanted to stay at an ashram. Awesome!
Comment from Dianne Sharma Winter: I have lived On The Road between NZ and India and SE Asia since my husband died 12 years ago and show no signs of slowing down at all. You will find that there are lots of women our age out there traveling solo, sometimes it feels to me as if women between the ages of 40 and 80 must be the biggest group of solo travelers. We are everywhere and happy to meet other soul mates along the way so don’t be shy!
Comment from Sandy: I went to Paris totally alone for my 70th birthday gift to myself. I only knew a few phrases of French but found people are very helpful and kind. I stayed in a fairly nice small hotel in the 7th arrondissement in the Rue Cler area near the Eiffel Tower. I stayed 9 days…had a ball! I took buses everywhere because I don’t like the idea of the underground…it was so exciting!! GO!!
Comment from Elaine: I started travelling on my own abroad at the age of 26. Now 20 years on I am still travelling solo and love it been to some great places. Now I want to see Cape Town and go on a safari. Just enjoy yourself and do look back.
Comment from Bodil: I am now 76 and have travelled alone since I was 65. I mean alone…. no tours or other people involved. I have been to Australia twice…1.5 to 2 months at the time. Thailand. Vietnam twice. Laos, Cambodia and I absolutely loved it. There has been no trouble whatsoever. People are very helpful and friendly. In Australia, I lived in hostels and got along well with the young people. I looked up where I want to go on the web and went for it. I don’t have much money either, so I am very careful.
Comment from Shirl: I’m 61, female and made the decision this is what I really want to do. Don’t be afraid of something that can add something wonderful to your life. Just take natural precautions as you would anywhere. Set your soul to enjoy the journey! I know I am!! Best to you!
Comment from Sunny Sky: Most of the comments on here are from women that have money to travel anywhere. I am traveling the USA in a small Sun Lite pop-up camper on $500 a month. So, I am a frugal traveler. I am female, 66 years old and in great shape and can use any advice for my adventure. I am currently living in Arizona and cannot wait to hit the road!
Comment from Shelisa Burke: I started traveling with plenty of money. I sold my house and took off for South America at 60. Now I’m in Dubai, no money left. I’m 62 I’m going to go to the Maldives with a guy I met in India and then do the Camino and Lourdes and see what’s next. I’m a hairstylist and know life is short and I want to see the world and write about it. Hope we all live our dreams now no matter how much money we have. The universe will provide!!
Comment from Dorothy: I left a loveless marriage three years ago after 32 years of being together. I wanted to travel and to a large degree we did as a couple but it was always to the same places and never abroad, which was my desire for many years. Since I’ve been on my own I’ve been to France, Italy, Spain, Gibraltar and Morroco. I had a fabulous time and can’t wait for my next trip to Ireland. I will be turning 69 in August . It is liberating to see all of these fascinating places, even on my own. I’d rather travel alone than sit at home wishing I had. Happy travels.
Comment from Di in Australia: I flew from Australia to Dublin in 2005 (aged 60) and drove around Ireland on my own for nearly 3 weeks, then in 2009 went to China on my own and taught English there, and then taught in South Korea for 3 months, and back to China in 2010. Then in 2012-13 I drove around Australia for five months on my own – did 35,000+ kms, and in 2014 flew to China again. Am hoping to do a couple more trips in 2016/7. Not too old yet!
Comment from Sandy: I am sitting at home this afternoon planning out the next few years of my life. I am 62 next week and done a fair amount of travelling over the last 42 years and yes, some of it alone. I have done most of my travelling in India and Southeast Asia and Australia. I live in New Zealand. Am now planning to go to Sri Lanka next year and then after that, I want to go to England, Spain, France, Portugal… I will be doing this alone on a limited budget… I know it seems a long way of for this trip to the Northern Hemisphere but I am not free work-wise, mortgage-wise, time-wise until then…
Comment from “an older woman”: I am so glad that I googled this and found this site. I am now 55 and just booked a three-week trip to Barcelona, Spain. I too am finally emerging from being out of a 26-year relationship for the last four years where I have pretty much have become a hermit. I did the backpacking thing when I was 19 back in 1979 and I have had the greatest desire to go back but never have. I surprised myself when I hit the purchase button for the tickets. I am scared and excited. Scared because I felt like maybe I was too old and now I feel more empowered and more of a devil-may-care attitude to not worry about what other people think and to just go for it. I like to do the hostel thing too and have three weeks booked at three different hostels. It is more fun to do it on the frugal side for me but if I really want something I will not hesitate to get it. Thank you ladies for the inspiration and I hope to meet any of you someday on my journeys. Happy trails.
Comment from Anna: My big trip around the world at age 50. I was lucky with my earned vacation from working as a nurse plus a few weeks without pay I decided to see the world. My husband was not interested. I left Northern Ontario. My first stop was New Orleans, then the Hawaiian Islands then a visit to my girlfriend in Sydney. Later on, I concentrated on Asia: Japan, China, plus Hong Kong, Bali, Thailand. India was not easy to navigate being a woman. Next stop London, then Warsaw, Istanbul and Jerusalem with a side trip to Petra. Last was New York and back to Canada.
Before my trip, I decided what I wanted to see in each country. It was a rush to see things in 13 weeks! I should not try to mix too many cultures in so short time but I was greedy I wanted to see as much I could. I’m older now but I hope to see New Zealand and Alaska one day. I cheer people who like adventure are curious about other cultures and are not afraid to challenge themselves. Good luck my female friends.
Comment from Donna Starr: I’ve been traveling alone for years – took off at 53 and lived in Europe for two years and learned the language(s) as I needed. I volunteered, taught English, you name it and have a cornucopia of buddies in nearly every country that I can visit whenever I want. I just traveled to Cuba – alone, as a teacher. Try it! The inquisitive nature of women makes friendship, connection and compassion a natural way of being. Look for my own travel story on Amazon (Cuba for Mama) and hit the road yourself! I enjoy this site so much, very inspiring. Saludos.
Comment from Zina: I’m laughing at your question! too old at 50? How about solo travel in my age 75! I was in Thailand, Spain; last year I had a great time in Georgia (Tbilisi, Batum). I’m turning 76 this year, start planning a trip to Japan. Organized tours too expensive, going by myself much, much cheaper. You are young, keep going till 90 (what is my goal).
Comment from Mimi: I am 63 and heading to Thailand in a few days. I have traveled all over South America for months alone and I have never had any problems, knock on wood. It wasn’t until my girls were grown and I was older (48) that I was able to travel abroad. I could never afford it as a single working mom, but I discovered ways of financing travels by buying and selling some nice products, but never more than enough to cover my costs. My point is to let go of your fears and just do it. One will never know what is waiting when walking through a new door. The path is there. One turn and who knows what beauty, what life-altering experience lies ahead.
Comment from Macpat in NZ: I did a six-week tour of New Zealand for my 70th birthday. I travelled up the west side, down the East side and back up through the middle. On the day of my birthday, I did the Skywalk on the Auckland Sky tower. You are never too old! I always felt safe, never threatened at all. If you are young in your head…..then do it.
Is 65 too old to stay in a NZ hostel?
by Patrish in Kent, England
I plan to go to New Zealand for 6 weeks. I have looked at hotel prices and they seem pretty steep for singles. I don’t particularly want to share with strangers but think maybe it might be better to share a twin room in hostels half of the time. Also that way I might meet up with some other travellers to converse with. Do single women of 64/65 go to youth hostels?
Women on the Road: Yes they do! That’s the short answer… and that’s why most of them aren’t called ‘youth’ hostels anymore. Few have upper age limits but if you’re concerned most have websites so you can check. In my younger hosteling years (not that long ago) I would always marvel at the older women I met along the way, sharing dorms with the rest of us, pitching in in the kitchen, hanging out in the evenings, going on short trips together – and usually more adventurous and fun than the rest of us!
I can’t speak about New Zealand specifically but generally, hostels will have a range of accommodation, from full-fledged dorm rooms to private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, depending on the hostel. There are also plenty of styles, for the more nature-oriented to the urban chic to the party hostel (bring earplugs). Another alternative would be with Airbnb (use with caution) at prices ranging from a $10 room to an $800 house, but with plenty in the $20-$60 range. Some rooms are cheaper than hostels. If that’s not what you’re up to, how about couchsurfing or similar hospitality groups? They’re actually free, and you can easily meet up with people who share your interests. Or you could consider becoming a housesitter.
Wherever you decide to stay, just be yourself and you’ll find a world of acceptance. Travelers love other travelers and if you love being on the road, that’s your calling card.
— Originally published on 21 July 2017