Eight top tips for travelling solo in retirement

Reaching your retirement comes with the freedom to learn something new, take up more hobbies and, of course, travel.

Travelling solo is a wonderful experience that I feel everyone should experience at least once in their life. You can truly take your time and enjoy everything you want to do because you don’t have to worry about anyone else having a good time.

Travelling solo can be a little scary if you’re a first timer. Here are eight essential tips to ensure your solo travel experience is the best it can be.

Do your research

Going to a new city or country is a little nerve-wracking at the best of times. So do your research before you go.

Follow a particular city’s Instagram and Facebook pages and learn about the culture and people or about museums, restaurants, exhibits and concerts. Enrich yourself with reviews of restaurants and other traveller experiences on websites such as Tripadvisor.

Make use of travel guidebooks, websites of the country, local tourist offices, and travel agents. These will arm you with information that will make you feel confident wherever you wander.

Consider where to stay

When travelling, people often stick to staying in a hotel. However, you could also consider staying in a small apartment. These are often less expensive and offer the opportunity to cook your own meals. It also allows you to engage with the locals and maybe try your hand at the language, which is a fun, social experience.

You can also book a bedroom in the home of a local host or stay at a bed and breakfast, so you still have some social interactions. Just make sure you research the neighbourhood you plan to stay in so you’re safe, especially at night.

If you land in a hotel, ask the person at the front desk to never announce your room number out loud, you don’t want to attract attention as a solo traveller.

Eat out alone

Most of us can agree that eating alone is intimidating, especially if you’re new to experiencing it. Try booking a table near a window or outdoors so you can enjoy optimal people-watching opportunities as you wait for your meal. To keep you entertained between courses, bring a book or your phone.

If you’re feeling social, going to a bar to eat is excellent. A restaurant offering a communal table is also a fantastic opportunity to meet locals and other travellers.

Pack well, but light

Travelling alone means you don’t need to impress anyone but yourself by the way you dress. However, you must carry your own luggage, and if you forget to bring something, there’s no roommate to ask if you can borrow said item.

To ensure your safety, it is best not to stand out too much in the way you dress. Do not bring any striking jewellery or designer handbags; if you must, safely tuck them away in your hotel room. You will also want to wear culturally fitting clothing, so you need to do some research. For instance, some churches in Europe don’t tolerate tank tops.

Pack light, especially if you are touring several destinations on your trip. Curate your wardrobe and wear clothing that will make you feel good and also comfortable.

Remember to leave space, or bring a supplementary bag to pack extra purchases in.

Try a group tour

If you would like to stay in your own hotel room but want to travel with others, consider a group tour. You will find lots of tour companies that make a particular effort to attract solo travellers, with some of them specialising in it.

If you prefer to travel with others of a similar age, make sure to include the word ‘senior’ or ‘retirement’ in your search.

As well as solo pricing, some tour operators may offer a roommate-matching service for travellers wanting to save money.

Try a cruise

Cruising is another social travel experience that suits solo travellers well. There are cruise lines with solo cabins and open dining seating so that solo travellers will feel comfortable. Small ships and expedition ships are also good choices.

There are also plenty of deals around for cruises without the solo supplement.

Let someone know your itinerary

Solo travellers must have someone who knows where they are in case there’s an emergency. Plan to leave your itinerary, including flights and hotels, to a trusted friend or relative. Leave a duplicate of your credit card numbers, passport, and COVID-19 vaccine. All these will help you if you lose them while on the road.

To stay connected, check with your smartphone provider to see if you have or can buy reasonably priced international services. If you’re travelling in one country for an extended period, it might be best to buy a local SIM card.

Be open to meeting others

Just because you’re embarking on a solo travel journey doesn’t mean you have to stay solo the whole time. Keep an open mind when it comes to making connections with new people. You might be surprised by how unexpected relationships blossom.

If you want to join a group of people for a short time, you can research some free local walking tours usually offered by museums, historical societies, or other tours sold by a local guide.

Have you ever travelled solo? Is it on your to-do list? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Where can you go nude in Australia?

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.


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