Considering a solo trip in midlife? Here’s everything you need to know

Writer, Stacey Carter, reveals her joy of solo travel, and shares her top tips for planning your first lone escape. 

Adventure doesn’t often come knocking, but travelling alone can help us to ‘get out there’ more often. A solo trip can be rewarding for many reasons. It encourages us to move out of our comfort zone, while also creating the space to reignite old passions and spark new interests.

That being said, going it alone for the first time can feel daunting. Will it get lonely? Will eating alone feel weird? Does going away by yourself even feel like a proper holiday?

As someone who has enjoyed a few solo expeditions, I would say that travelling alone doesn’t have to be scary. As a woman, it would be silly not to consider the dangers of being by yourself in an unfamiliar place but, as long as you prepare appropriately, solo travel can be a safe and rewarding experience.

Why travel solo?

A personalised itinerary, freedom to dictate your schedule, and no arguing about where to go for dinner—there are plenty of reasons to embark on a solo adventure, but how do you get started?

In 2017, I began travelling to various destinations in Europe. Sometimes I travelled solo, which allowed me to wander around at my own pace. Other times, I stayed with friends who showed me their favourite local spots. Each trip was an eye-opening experience, and I have fond memories of chatting with locals, trying new cuisines and learning how to enjoy my own company.

For Travel Agent Sam Cummings, 54, her first solo adventure came out of necessity.

“The first time I ever went on holiday by myself was just after I graduated,” she says. “I needed to get away, but none of my friends were able to join. I went on Teletext Holidays and spent £99 on a week’s holiday to Majorca in a hostel near the beach. From that moment on, I went away by myself whenever I felt like it!”

How to get started

Embarking on a solo holiday can be a chance to do activities that we may feel less inclined to do when we’re away with a partner or friend.

“My husband, Leigh, is less adventurous with his travels,” says Sam. “He says he would rather walk around a golf course than explore Machu Picchu. He’s given me the green light to go on as many trips as I like.”

And Sam isn’t alone. According to research from the Association of British Travel Agents, demand for solo trips has risen from 6 to 16% in the last year. Solo trips are also becoming increasingly popular among women in midlife. Several travel companies, including those listed here, have started to specialise in organising solo getaways:

  • Friendship Travel specialises in solo breaks and was previously voted the ‘Best Small Singles Tour Operator’. The company personally visits every destination and even offers ‘house parties’ where you can stay in a villa with like-minded travellers.
  • Flash Pack caters to people aged 30-50 and offers something a little different from other solo travel companies. Each trip is designed to help you make friendships, meaning even if you embark on a holiday alone, you’ll likely return home with friends for life.
  • Saga is a trusted travel company and in recent years, has broadened its offerings to include custom-made solo trips for its midlife travellers.

How to get the most out of your solo travels

“When I go away, I look on an app called GetYourGuide to find a guided tour,” explains Sam. “Someone will take us around three to four different restaurants to eat, in a small group.

“A lot of people think that solo travelling has to be a lonely experience. There are little moments of connection that you can plan into these trips that make it feel like you’re not entirely on your own.”

Planning out your trip to factor in activities such as dining experiences and historical tours is important, but if you’re travelling alone, it’s important to learn about the local culture. Do this by reading travel blogs and forums, checking government travel advisories, and speaking to locals or other travellers who have visited the area before.

It goes without saying, but avoid doing anything you wouldn’t usually do at home. This means forgoing any isolated areas, especially at night, and being cautious when interacting with strangers. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and keep in mind that certain places will have different dress codes depending on the culture. Joining a women-only travel group or staying in a female-only hostel or hotel can help you navigate spaces like these.

My advice? Stay open to the possibility that your best holiday might just be with yourself. Opt for a curated solo travel package or put together your own dream itinerary and see where it takes you.

Words: Stacey Carter

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