Solo Travel in Your 40s: Do It!!!
Unfortunately, I’m not the 30-year-old I was back when I first started this blog many years ago. I feel like the same person, but I’m really not. This blog isn’t the same either — it’s morphed from a website about restaurants in London into a solo travel blog.
I’m in my 40s now and this is both good and bad…it’s good in that I have more money now and I know myself better than I used to. It’s bad in that I’m probably less flexible than I used to be — mentally and emotionally AND physically. (I really need to get back into yoga.)
It’s also bad in that my friends all have families and commitments that mean that we can’t have the adventures we once did, like the time I found my girlfriends and I a cheap flight to Tunisia (!) to hang out on the beach or the time my friends and I decided to hop a train from Munich to Innsbruck, Austria for the day.
I can’t imagine staying home though and not going anywhere just because my friends can’t or I’m too scaredycat to travel on my own. So since turning 40 a few years ago, I’ve made a conscious effort to travel and see the world — alone! I’ve even set myself a goal: 100 countries by the time I turn 50. (I’m at 69 countries as of this writing so I roughly need to hit about 6 or 7 new countries each year to make this happen.)
Mindset: The Key to Solo Vacations over 40
After a few years of traveling by myself since turning 40, I’ve learned a few lessons. Sure, it was hard at first and I felt weird and uncomfortable, but now I actually really look forward to my solo trips and time away.
To get myself in the right mindset, it was helpful to remember that no one is thinking about me as much as I am! As humans, most of us are self-conscious. And that’s just it — everyone around you is thinking about themselves, NOT YOU. Once I realized this in my 40s, I got over myself and became more comfortable traveling alone. If this still feels weird to you, just pretend you are on a business trip. (And in this day and age, we’re all checking our work email all the time so this is technically not a lie.) I’ve found that saying something like “I was down here for work so I added on a few days to explore” is a great answer when people ask me if I am by myself and I don’t feel like being 100% honest.
The other thing I’ve learned since turning 40 is that no one will feel bad for you while you are drinking Champagne in Paris alone. (If you must drink alone, drink Champagne.) When I first started traveling solo, I worried that others would see me and pity me. But firstly, see my point above. If any stranger is thinking about you, a solo traveler in your 40s, it’s a fleeting thought. (Plus remember you will never see these people again.) And when you are drinking Champagne by yourself or checking into a fabulous spa resort in Bali for some solo “me time,” no one — and I mean no one — is really pitying you.
Why You Should Travel the World in Your 40s
Remember what an amazing point you are at in your life right now!!! You have 40 years of knowledge and experience under your belt! You still have another 40 years in front of you during which you can apply all those amazing life lessons!! And keep learning! Life is amazing so travel the world in your 40s and take advantage of how amazing life is!! (If only because you have more money now than you used to.)
My Specific Tips for Traveling Solo in Your 40s — and Enjoying It!
In my 40s, I’m done with backpacking and hostels and nightclubs (although never say never). I want to be comfortable and enjoy nice meals and read a few books while I am traveling! And earn frequent flyer miles and points! Of course, I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg either (retirement is looming), but I have worked hard for my money and I want to treat myself. Assuming that you too are like me, here are my tips for travel for singles over 40s…enjoy!
One of the great joys in life is having someone meet you at the airport when you arrive. Ideally, this would be a loved one or friend. But that’s not likely on the other side of the world. After a long flight, it’s really so wonderful to clear customs and have someone standing there with your name on a sign! So hire that driver to meet you at the airport so you don’t have to worry about getting a taxi by yourself. I also think this is just a safer option when traveling solo than getting into a random taxi. I start by asking my hotel for the price of a transfer and then I look at the prices of transfers on Viator, Groundlink, and Blacklane and book whatever makes the most sense. (Note I have no problem using airport trains and buses but if they don’t exist, this is when I will use one of these services.)
Accommodation Tips for Solo Vacations over 40
- Use Booking.com to find your accommodation and pay special attention to where they mention the solo traveler rating. (This comes up on hotels when you look for a room for one person and you do not indicate that you are traveling for business.) I find this solo traveler rating SUPER helpful in determining where to stay and avoiding what I now call “honeymoon hotels” where it’s all couples. Bring up each hotel description and if the hotel has a good rating from solo travelers, you should see this (see the yellow highlighted bit)…
- If you can swing it, book the Club Floor. Large hotel brands like Marriott, IHG, etc will usually have hotels with this type of level or room. I do this at hotels where the club floor supplement isn’t that expensive or the city itself isn’t that expensive. (So for example, in Vientiane, Laos, the Crowne Plaza I stayed at was fairly inexpensive and had a club floor so I hung out there all the time.) I love club floors because they’re a great way to meet other travelers — and it’s highly likely that your fellow travelers will be over 40 (and likely solo!) because, well, they have the skilz to pay the club floor billz! Also, if you don’t feel like having a full meal for dinner, the club lounge happy hours are perfect for a snack and getting you out of your hotel room.
- I also tend to look for hotels that have gyms and restaurants so I’m not stuck in my hotel room all the time or conversely, wandering the streets all the time.
- Notice I don’t mention things like Airbnb or hostels. As a solo traveler over 40, I want to feel safe and a little bit pampered. So while Airbnbs and hostels are great — especially if you are on a budget — I prefer hotels. (Although sometimes I will look for corporate apartments that are professionally managed.)
Book a Group (or Private) City Tour
As an adult, I am more interested in history now than I was when I was traveling in my teens and 20s. If you’re a 40s solo traveller, and assuming you are like me, book a half day group tour in the city you are visiting. A good group tour helps you hit all the main sites and tells you all the history too and really just helps you enjoy your travels and feel more connected. It’s a nice way to meet other people and no one really seems to care that you are traveling by yourself. You’re all in the tour experience together. (And if this still freaks you out, remember your tour guide is also on his/her own.) Here are a few companies you should check out when you’re looking for city-specific tours:
I’ve learned over time that I personally prefer half-day tours but I think this really depends upon you! I’ve also learned that a great guide really makes the difference. So I always recommend booking highly rated tours or asking your hotel for a personal recommendation. If you do arrange a guide through your hotel, make sure it’s clear that you want someone fun and interesting with great communication skills!
Look for a Free Walking Tour
More and more cities are offering “free” walking tours where it costs nothing to show up and then you pay the tour guide what you think the tour was worth. Just try Google-ing the name of the city you are visiting and “free walking tour” and you may find something. Especially for more tourist-friendly, established cities. This site has free walking tours for many cities but definitely do your own research too. I like these tours because the groups are really large and there’s a good mix of attendees. You are bound to meet someone — perhaps another 40s solo traveller. (Although at the same time, the size of the group can be problematic as you try to move around a city en masse.)
Tour Companies and Solo Vacations over 40
If you truly don’t think you can handle traveling solo in your 40s, book a group tour with other solo travelers. There are a ton of adventure trips and packaged vacations for singles over 40. I LOVE looking at all of the options on Tour Radar. They have a nifty age filter on the left side of the page so you can find tours targeted at travelers over 40. You can usually pay a small supplement to get your own room for a lot of group tours as well. If you are looking for solo vacations over 40, these groups have some fantastic options:
- Explore! has specific tours for travelers over 40.
- On the Go Tours say their average tour age is 40.
- Encounter Travel says their tours are created for solo travelers over 40.
- Flashpack runs group tours for “30-somethings to 40-somethings”
- Wilderness Scotland says their average tour participant age is 45 to 70.
Hang Out with a Local
You don’t have to be alone if you don’t want to when traveling solo! Firstly, ask your friends on Facebook if they know anyone in the cities you are visiting! You’d be surprised! I usually find that friends of friends are wiling to meet up for a coffee at the very least. Beyond that, there are so many services for hanging out with locals now and enjoying your travels! For example, check out these services — look for hosts who also seem to be in their 40s.
- Meet with a Global Greeter! I love this program! It’s available in so many cities and countries. Honestly, my trip to Japan many years ago would not have been the same without Noriko, my Greeter!
- You can also find a local to take you around through sites like With Locals, Tours by Locals, Show Around, and Rent a Local Friend. These are different than a group tour because it’s usually just you and your “guide” — and your guide is a friendly local.
Enjoy a Good Meal, Solo or with A Group
My top tip for 40s solo travellers when you are hungry is to find a restaurant with bar seating. It can be a nice way to strike up a conversation with locals (or other travelers). If you feel awkward, bring a stack of postcards and write them out between bites. Everyone loves getting postcards! Especially your fellow 40-year-old friends back home. If dining solo isn’t your thing, try signing up for a meal with locals through EatWith. It’s such a great service! Type in a city and see all the locals hosting meals in that city. Similar services include MealSharing, Feastly, and BonAppetour.
Stay Safe: Insurance for 40s Solo Travellers
Especially when traveling alone, make sure you get travel insurance! Give a copy of your policy to a friend or loved one while you are away and email yourself a copy as well, along with the contact details of who to call in case of an emergency. It is always better to be safe than sorry. I use WorldNomads.com.
Protect Your Belongings
The last thing you want to do is get something stolen while you are traveling. ALWAYS use the hotel safe, avoid carrying valuables, and I highly recommend an anti-theft purse. These purses have special security features that prevent slash-and-grabs and block card skimmers. And if you know your accomodation won’t have a safe, I highly recommend this portable safe from Pacsafe.
Watch the Booze
It goes without saying…when traveling alone over 40, don’t wander around in unfamiliar cities late at night by yourself, and be careful with alcohol — both drinking too much of it and having it served in unfamiliar establishments when you are by yourself. Make sure they open the bottle in front of you so you know it hasn’t been tampered with.
Entertain Yourself with Books
Bring books! My Kindle Oasis is my new best friend. When all else fails, a book is a great companion. I bring books everywhere, especially restaurants when I am dining alone. (And when you read an actual physical book — not an e-book — it can be a great conversation starter.) Check out some of my most recent favorite reads.
Practice Self Care
Traveling by yourself can be stressful. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is treat myself to a manicure, facial, or massage. Especially in Southeast Asia, these treatments can be a very good value. It’s also a great way to pass the time and it’s a very solo type of endeavor anyhow so no one will think you are weird for doing it by yourself.
Stay in Touch
Use social media and email to let your friends and family know where you are. My mother has access to my TripIt details so she knows my travel plans. And I try to update Instagram at least once a day when I am traveling. And hey, why not start a solo travel blog too?
Final Words of Wisdom for 40s Solo Travellers
If you’re in your 40s (or older), don’t sweat solo travel. If there was ever a time to do it, it’s now! You will be fine! I promise!!
Do you have any other tips for solo vacations over 40? Let me know in the comments!
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