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Old 01-18-2017, 06:52 AM
Location: Orlando
219 posts, read 340,238 times
Reputation: 224


I must admit that I am a bit scared on my future life journey! My plans were to retire before hitting the 50-year mark and in most aspects, I over achieved on the plans. Right as this came to fruition, my wife suddenly passed away. We got along so well and she was my travel partner for the last 15 years and was going to be my lifelong travel companion.

So, I have never had the opportunity to travel solo. I think I can do it? I would love to hear any feedback from anyone who has had the pleasure of traveling solo. Any tips and tricks and things to be mindful of. Is it better to travel solo or do most people appreciate sharing these experiences with someone else? Is it easier traveling as a solo male (I assume this might be the case but just not sure)? Has any solo travelers decided to join travel groups and if so any advice on that would be great = not sure I would like being tied to a group versus the independence of small group travel but who knows.....it might be a great experience.

It is weird because I am only used to traveling with someone else. I can only relate to a few times my wife was not feeling well and I went out to eat or explore alone and to be honest it felt different and not as fulfilling – and this is coming from someone who is very independent by nature. Thanks, in advance for any advice.
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:00 AM
6,387 posts, read 5,431,551 times
Reputation: 11015
I'm sorry for your loss. I don't know if my advice is valuable, given you didn't plan to travel alone. You may feel differently about it than people who choose to travel solo because you had planned a certain lifestyle with a partner.

I'm not single, but my SO's career doesn't afford him as much time off as mine, so I take a good amount of solo trips. I've joined small walking tours in new cities (usually with some sort of theme--art, food, architectures, etc) but otherwise am not a fan of travel groups. I'm not sure what you mean by "easier as a solo man"? If I told you it was "easier" as a solo woman, what would that mean for you?

I've never felt odd or uncomfortable eating or exploring alone, so I can't really help you there. But it's going to be pretty hard to be independent if you can't get over those feelings.
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:14 AM
Location: Seattle
1,531 posts, read 1,315,607 times
Reputation: 3600
I can truly sympathize with your position because I'm in the same boat. I retired early (and my wife was self employed so she could call her own shots) and we had around a decade of fabulous world travel together before a chronic disease she'd been dealing with suddenly blew up and took her two years ago.

In the aftermath of her passing I didn't travel much at all; it didn't feel right and the circumstances of her passing also led to me reevaluating my budgeting and financial plans going forward. I'm just now starting to plan my reentry into major travel and I'm having the same sorts of qualms you mention.

What I'm focusing on is something of a more purposeful style of travel. That doesn't mean I'm going to be a "voluntourist" (although I won't reject that as a concept) but I'm going to look at travel which contributes to other interests. I've been a keen amateur photographer all my life, so photo safaris or group travel with other photographers is an easy point of entry. I'm also fortunate in having a modest network of friends around the world, so they'll be getting a visitor from time to time. I'm downsizing my home in the US so I won't have to worry about robbers or water tanks blowing up in my absence. Stuff like that.

Not knowing your prior travel interests or styles it's hard to make specific recommendations, but a couple of things...

- Look at Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) which has a huge selection of travel activities targeted to retired and/or senior travelers. Some are stodgy, most aren't.

- Think about cruises. Single supplements cost a bit more, but you meet people in the dining room and on excursions.

- For an out-of-the-box experience, look at freighter travel. My wife and I rode a freighter from New Zealand to California once, and it was one of our best travel experiences ever. Ideal for a single person, it's cheap, comfortable, and seriously eye-opening. https://www.freightercruises.com/

Best wishes on your plans, and sorry for your loss. But keep going.
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:42 AM
10,847 posts, read 11,268,124 times
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Travelling solo can be a lot fun and you will most likely enjoy it after the first trip. That applies to both male and female. But I have to see that works better for urban experience. In the pure nature, solo travelling is a bit boring.

Try all means to avoid group tours unless you have mobility problems or are extremely lazy. It is the worst way to see the world, to be given a fixed time, at fixed destinations, with surrounding by other English speaking people. You might as well stay home. It is not about large or small groups, it is about the experience will be a lot less exploratory, which is half of the fun. If you have to go with someone, go with a friend who shares the same interest, just not a bunch of strangers and a guide.
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:25 PM
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
7,319 posts, read 4,164,649 times
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Originally Posted by Eric1026 View Post
Has any solo travelers decided to join travel groups and if so any advice on that would be great = not sure I would like being tied to a group versus the independence of small group travel but who knows.....it might be a great experience.
I've traveled solo and also as a single person with a travel group, and have found both forms of travel equally enjoyable. My suggestions for group travel:

1. Look for a tour that's centered on an interest or activity you enjoy (photography, hiking, ancient history, wine tasting, etc.)

2. Look for a small group tour. Skip big bus tours.

3. Look for a tour that doesn't tightly schedule every minute of the day, and gives you some free time to explore on your own.

Also, remember you can combine tours and solo travel nicely. You can check out destinations A and B with a tour group, then head off to destination C on your own. Or you can do day tours and city-walking tours; these combine nicely with solo travel (but don't do as much to relieve the feeling of being alone and lonely as a multi-day group small group tour does).
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:32 PM
Location: Austin, Texas
187 posts, read 130,218 times
Reputation: 225
I took my first solo trip at age 26 and have been traveling as often as possible ever since. I usually go solo, waiting for friends to go is a good way to never get to go anywhere. I find a good airfare, book a whole flat/condo on AirBnb and away I go! I agree with botticelli, avoid group tours like the plague, unless it is a local walking tour or day tour from your vacation spot. Example, Last year in Barcelona I booked a winery tour and joined 6 couples ( and just me) to tour gorgeous wineries a few hours outside Barcelona. I am so glad I did! This year, I will be in Madrid and will do another winery tour and am thinking about joining a walking wine and tapas tour. Take a peek at Viator.com to get ideas.

I'd say, choose a place you have always wanted to go to and just book it! You'll have fun! You are likely to make friends in all the countries you visit. and you'll be glad you went
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Old 01-18-2017, 03:36 PM
Location: North State (California)
39,648 posts, read 2,995,231 times
Reputation: 12949
Sorry for your loss, DH & I took several bus tours ( both USA & Europe) & there was always some single passengers, they fit right in. You can sit with other people at meals etc. Go for it.
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:09 PM
Location: Mooresville, NC
2,149 posts, read 2,625,541 times
Reputation: 1670
Sorry for your loss. I can't provide any experience towards your question but given you still have a desire to travel I would say pick a location and just go try! I think you'll find what fueled your initial desire to retire early and travel is still there, albeit with some reservation given the change. I think your wife would want you to get out there and travel, see the sights and enjoy life since that was the plan you two made together!

Now go book it and report back how it went!

BTW - there are blogs out there you can check out from solo travelers that may be additional encouragement that you can do it and have a great time!
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:29 PM
Location: Orlando
219 posts, read 340,238 times
Reputation: 224
WOW. I am inspired, to say the least. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement. I can either do it alone or try to be a part of some club. The Photography and Hiking clubs sound good. Your posts reminded me how many times my wife and I met single travelers while we were on the road. I remember a recent trip to the Cinque Terra where we did an evening boat and food tour, and out of 9 people, three were single. We had so much fun talking to them and vice versa. We ended up exchanging numbers because I took photo bursts of them jumping from the cliffs and into the waters.

My kids are still in High School for the next two years, so I will take them with me. This is nice because that means we can talk an extended multi-week trip! I talked to them tonight, and they are both excited about going somewhere = either back to Europe or Asia.

Anyway, I once again want to thank everyone for the great responses and promise to keep your fingers crossed for us. We will honor their mother (my wife of course) on the trip!
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:59 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,608 posts, read 39,974,527 times
Reputation: 23749
Know your dilemma, and we are still a 'couple', but 'retired' age 49, and took our one yr RTW last yr, (pre age 60) as one of us will go before long. We are both on borrowed time and with chronic issues and poor family history.

We also have and continue to travel solo a lot (each did 2 solo trips this month). usually due to eldercare / family needs and schedule (We were caregivers for a disabled parent for 30+ yrs, so learned to 'backfill' for each other).

I personally would avoid joining tours as I very much dislike being 'herded' and I very much like investing in conversations / getting to know / help / work alongside locals. I am NOT a tourist traveler. Spent 1/2 of career on international flights / trips / assignments and have little interest in 'following a crowd' and absolutely ZERO tolerance for 'waiting' for tour members who make it a habit to delay others (there are PLENTY who do this for attention).

Over age 40? Join a couple of MANY great hospitality Guest home directories. You will find so many new friends and get individualized care and travel suggestions and GREAT meals / fellowship (often singing together at night). but not required!

$ free to $20 / night worldwide here is a short list, but does not have my favorites.
Hospitality exchange - Wikitravel
I have a very dear single gal whom I shared my directories with 10 yrs ago. Her and her lovely HS girls enjoyed the use of Hospitality homes so much they tailored their Round the USA trip to only utilize safe, friendly, welcoming homes. I met her traveling (solo) in Europe last spring, still very much enjoying hospitality guest homes.

Daily Journal and document the descriptions that you would have shared with your wife. You will grow fonder and grow to appreciate her even more (the loneliness / sorrow risk is worth it). You were cut short, but enjoyed each other while together. That is a treasure for you and your kids. Adventure out! Don't expect it to be easy. It will be VERY hard. The most valuable things in life are very unexpected, and come with great pain. Take up a very intensive hobby (piano / languages / writing). Invest your life in others, consider Hospice volunteer if you are able and desire. I really grew a lot through helping others who really are not prepared or able to deal with death of loved ones. Yes it is hard, but... what a privilege to help others in their weakness.

our best to you, we know it is tough and we grieve with you.
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