Travel Alone at Any Age: Why Solo Traveling for Women 50+ Is Trending and How to Get on Board

UPDATED: June 7, 2024
PUBLISHED: June 6, 2024
single women's travel over 50

Ever have the itch to travel but couldn’t find anyone to go with you? Don’t let that hold you back. Single women’s travel over 50 is in vogue, so it’s time to book your ticket and venture out into the world on your own. 

Nearly 60% of travelers are now looking to take a solo trip, according to Older women—both married and single—are driving the bulk of this interest. A report by Road Scholar shows 19,000 senior women travel solo with the non-traditional travel company each year. Many of them are married but choose to travel alone. Reasons include partners who aren’t interested in traveling or who want to travel to other places and the general shift in societal norms, making it more acceptable for women of all ages to travel independently.  

Demographic and economic factors are also at play. According to Janice Waugh, publisher of Solo Traveler, more people are single than ever before. “Also, major events like the economic downturn in 2008 and COVID-19 have put people in the situation where someone might have the money to travel while another doesn’t. So, they go alone because they’re not willing to wait for friends to have the ability to travel with them.” And then there are those people who have tried traveling with others and found it to be an experience they prefer not to repeat. 

No matter the reason, many women venturing off on their own are loving it, which is evidenced by the endless posts and engagement in several online communities specializing in single women’s travel over 50. Besides, taking a solo trip leads to many benefits that women look forward to and cherish for the rest of their lives.

What does solo travel for single women over 50 really mean?

While the term ‘solo travel’ seems straightforward, the definition morphs depending on who you ask. “To me, traveling solo means you leave for the trip on your own, without family, friends or a significant other,” suggests Jen Ruiz, author of 12 Trips in 12 Months: Make Your Own Solo Travel Magic. “It doesn’t mean you have to travel alone, however. You can be a solo traveler on a group tour or with a private guide.”

But Kimberly Davis, a proponent of single women’s travel over 50 who has visited roughly 50 countries, looks at it differently. “Unlike many others, I define solo travel as traveling entirely alone. I belong to Facebook groups for solo travel where the majority of women travel in tour groups, yet they still consider it solo travel. I view that as something entirely different.”

As it turns out, solo travel comes in many forms. Whether someone travels completely on their own the entire time, meets up with friends occasionally during the trip, joins a tour for part or all the time without knowing anyone else, or tacks on a couple days to the beginning or end of a business or group trip, there is still an element of solo travel. 

“The fundamental piece of being a solo traveler is that you’re leaving behind everyone that you know, everything that defines you, all people that have expectations of you,” explains Waugh. “And you get to go out into the world without all that baggage and all those expectations. You can, as the phrase goes, ‘do what you want when you want.’” The key is that you are throwing yourself into new experiences with complete strangers, which presents so many opportunities for personal growth, adventure and enjoyment. 

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Ways traveling solo can help you thrive

For a long time, traveling alone was looked down upon, especially single women’s travel over 50. People felt embarrassed or negative about themselves if they didn’t have companions to go sightseeing with or dine with, but this is no longer the case for many who want to go out and experience the world without waiting for a friend or loved one to join them.

Waugh paints a picture of why times have changed. “When I first started my blog in 2009, people often searched for the phrase, ‘is it weird to travel solo?’ We would never get that question now. There’s a lot more confidence about traveling alone. It is no longer strange.”

Ruiz believes that women travel solo more than men because they rarely have the chance to experience pure freedom. “We’re usually taking care of others, handling household affairs, tending to children or husbands or animals. Traveling solo is a chance to be completely selfish, a welcome change of pace for women who are by default selfless. Suddenly, your needs, wants and schedule are top priority. It’s a wonderfully liberating feeling.” 

This freedom also lets women connect deeply with themselves and find their own desires and rhythms without the pressure of others’ expectations. “Traveling is good for the soul, helping you connect with yourself no matter where you are in life,” says Lisa Eldridge who runs the award-winning blog, Girl about the Globe, and has been to 115 countries so far. “It gives you space to take things slow and escape the fast pace of everyday life.” This is especially beneficial for introverts and highly sensitive women who cherish having quiet time to themselves.

Building relationships through travel for women over 50

Yet, for those who prefer social interaction, solo travel can fill that need as well. “It’s a chance to build deeper relationships,” explains Eldridge. “You can meet more people alone than if you travel with others. It makes you approachable, and you can strike up conversations and make connections with people from all over the world, leading to friendships that can last a lifetime.” Waugh said she can now spot solo travelers and often approaches them. She also recommends Women Welcome Women Worldwide, a network of women wishing to befriend women from other parts of the world.

The practice of single women’s travel over 50 is also a confidence booster. “When you travel solo, you learn to handle challenges and manage things on your own,” explains Eldridge. “You experience more adventures and try out activities you’ve never done before, like hiking or daring feats like cliff diving.” For those who stay curious and open to new experiences, they can build self-esteem and find new perspectives. 

Finally, Waugh thinks traveling is especially helpful for women over 50 because it makes them more dynamic when they return home to their family, friends and colleagues. “You can defy your age in a certain way because you are doing things that even younger people might not consider doing. You are now considered adventurous.” Sharing stories about travel can add a spark to relationships and even shift people’s impression of the traveler. “It’s not the same old, same old. And you’re a slightly different person with new experiences. This brings a richness to the relationship.”

How to prepare for your first (or next) solo journey

Once you are convinced solo travel is something you want to try, start thinking about the type of trip you want to take. Decide where you want to go, what you want to see and do, and the length of the trip. Consider different types of vacations that may or may not involve group activities or tours. “Decide how comfortable you want your trip to be and choose a destination based on tourism infrastructure, culture and language,” suggests Eldridge. “Look for a location that matches your interests.”

Dedicate plenty of time to research to plan the best trip possible. “Researching not only helps you make the most of your time on the ground when traveling solo, but it extends the joy you get from a trip, with happy anticipation for months prior,” notes Ruiz. “I research everything. I read reviews for hotels, find the best shows, scope out the best restaurants and make reservations.” And don’t forget to find out what vaccinations you need, passport and visa requirements, insurance choices, transportation options and of course, feedback on safety in the areas where you will be traveling.  

Studying reviews is essential. Davis first uses travel guides, such as Lonely Planet, and then reads travel blogs and sees what pops up on Google. She also reviews the UNESCO website and uses the Places Been app. Waugh recommends and HostelWorld for the most accurate reviews about accommodations. “Also, go on street view and see what’s around the hotel and whether it looks comfortable to you,” Waugh suggests. 

Communities for single women’s travel over 50 

There are many online communities about single women’s travel over 50 where you can connect with others about their experiences and recommendations. Explore groups like Solo Female Travelers, Wanderful, Solo Traveler and JourneyWoman

A word of caution: Beware of the naysayers close to you. Eldridge warns, “Don’t let others project their fears onto you. While friends and family may express concern for your travels, unless they’ve experienced the destination firsthand, they may not grasp its reality.” Instead, she recommends reading insights from other solo travel females who have ventured to your desired destination to hear firsthand accounts. 

With all this information in hand, you can feel prepared and enthusiastic to embark on your solo adventure, whether you are taking a long weekend near home or traveling halfway around the globe.

Photo by Ground Picture/