Let's be honest. The older solo traveller is somewhat outnumbered by the younger ones who are cramming in a whirlwind adventure before they settle down, but should you let this stop you from travelling if you are in your 50s?
Travelling Solo in Your Fifties
Before setting out on my year-long adventure, I had plenty of doubts about what it would be like to travel solo, especially long term on the backpackers circuit but I needn't have worried. In the main, travellers tend to be open minded, interested and interesting people with a healthy outlook on life. I have been told on many occasions that they don't see an older woman when they are talking to me but simply another person who has the drive to get herself out there and experience life on the road, just like them.
Occasionally I have arrived at a party hostel during ‘happy hour' – and to be honest that can be a bit daunting – but there are many people in their 50s and older who are out here and who do not let their age slow them down. Personally I prefer staying in dormitories because I love to interact with others but you can always find quieter, small hotels if you want some privacy and a single room.
The internet comes into its own here enabling you to vet all aspects of your accommodation before you book so that you are not caught out by surprise, but many hostels offer trips and visits so that you don’t have to go sightseeing on your own. You can hook up with other travelers too and obtain priceless information from them about what to visit or what to miss . In my opinion the pros for travelling solo in your 50s far outweigh the cons.
The Pros of Travelling Solo in Your Fifties
1. With many life experiences behind us we may not be so affected by some of the worst things that we see – such as extreme poverty – taking them in our stride.
2. We are often approached by other travellers for advice and a chat. I have never been lonely while travelling.
3. We can generally cook which can make us indispensable in hostels and attracts company.
4. We – the older travellers – are generally quite comfortable eating and drinking alone. Personally I love street food but I have no qualms asking for a table for one if I fancy the look of a particular place or its menu.
5. People, especially mothers with children, often want to chat and are very interested in why somebody older is travelling and not settling down in one place.
6. More often than not, somebody will offer to help me with my backpack if I am struggling on and off buses.
7. It is easier to become invisible during those times when we don't want to attract any attention leaving us free to people watch or to avoid some potential trouble .
The Cons of Travelling Solo in Your Fifties
And the cons? I can only think of one – and that is the trend to offer the top bunk with no means of climbing up. I need a ladder these days!
(This article is written by Jane Clements. Jane is a freelance travel writer and she also has her own website and blog at Scarlet Jones Travels)