Second in a Series
We all know it can be scary to think of traveling alone even when you want to step outside of your comfort zone and gain new experiences. If you read our recent post, Solo Travel, and thought, “No way––that’s not for me!”, then we have a few other ideas for you. Our number one recommendation: Book a group travel excursion through a travel operator. You’ll be a solo participant yet surrounded by fellow travelers.
Take a look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of group travel for solo agers:
- The trip is planned for you, so all you have to do is show up at the airport with your luggage and a sense of adventure. Everything else is handled.
- You’ll travel with expert guides who know the locale like no other. They’ll take you to hidden gems you’d never find on your own.
- You’ll meet like-minded individuals. While you may start out as strangers, you’ll quickly become best friends. These experiences can build strong bonds that make saying goodbye bittersweet.
- You’ll have the safety of being in a group solving the biggest concern of solo travel.
- Some outfitters have specific tours for single individuals, so you’ll never feel like a third wheel.
- It can be more expensive. Some operators price their trips based on double occupancy, meaning you’ll have to pay a premium for a single room.
- You give up the freedom to do what you want, when you want. If you’re used to doing things your way, you might find it frustrating to have to move at the group’s pace and give up control over your itinerary.
- Group dynamics can be challenging. Let’s face it––not everyone gets along. It’s important to have a good dose of tolerance and flexibility when traveling with a group. Be prepared to compromise and go with the flow.
There are myriad options for group travel. You can search the internet tirelessly to find lists of “The Top 20 Guides for Solo Travelers over 50,” but we’re here to give you three amazing options vetted by Big Retired Life followers.
Backroads: Backroads is a leader in active travel with thoughtful, meticulous trip design, elegant hotels and world-class dining. Big Retired Life follower, Margaret Tew Romero, was a former Backroad trip planner. She raves about their program: “It’s easy to join any trip as a solo. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people exploring the world in an active and healthy way. The trip leaders are fascinating and engaging teachers, coaches, and cheerleaders!”
National Geographic Expeditions: NGE’s relationships with scientists, storytellers, museums, and active research sites allow special access to places and people. Their guides are steeped in knowledge and insights about the places they go. Many Big Retired Life followers favor NGE due to its high quality, intimate groups, educational component and conversation efforts. Solo travels are easily accommodated and integrated into their expeditions.
University Alumni Travel: Most universities have an alumni travel program that features faculty teaching that reconnects with your alma mater and fellow alums. Big Retired Life follower Amy Paulsen previously ran the Stanford Alumni Association Travel/Study Program and says, “these programs allow you to experience adventure while knowing you’ll be safe. You get to focus on learning from faculty and local guides. They offer a special rate for single travelers, and you don’t even need to be an alum of the school. It’s a great way to meet people and share an unforgettable experience.”
It’s never too late to pack your bags and experience the trip of a lifetime. Group travel is a wonderful option for solo agers who want to explore the world, but don’t want to go it alone.
Throughout this “Going It Alone” section of this blog, we will share learnings from others navigating retirement alone, so that you don’t have to do it all alone.