Article by Ceri Wheeldon
How daunting is it to travel alone over 50?
Whether you’re single, divorced, widowed – or just wanting to travel alone without your partner, what are the options for travelling solo in your 50s?
Most of us are past the point of wanting to share rooms – preferring a little privacy on holiday – even if travelling with good friends, but the prospect of a single room supplement can place the holiday out of budget. I joined my parents on holiday for a week a few years ago – they had already booked their hotel and flights as a package – although it was a luxury hotel – my single occupancy room, for which I had paid almost as much as my parents (their room had a stunning sea view) had paid for the two of them….it was at the back of the hotel, no view and next to the boiler room, leaving me feeling very much like a second class citizen.
Just because we choose to travel without a partner does not mean that we don’t expect the same level of comfort on holiday as couples – and we shouldn’t have to pay a fortune for the privilege.
I have been looking at options of places to go – solo – that do not involve every day having a jam packed itinerary – some time on the beach or by the pool combined with some sightseeing is all I’m looking for – as long as there is sunshine!
Not eating alone
There are specialist solo holiday companies such as Friendship Travel who offer holidays tailor made for solo travellers – no supplements – and hosted meals – for those who find the worst part of holidaying alone having dinner alone.
I met a number of people who had travelled with Friendship Travel on a recent weekend break in the UK. (in my case a weekend at the Donnington Valley Hotel Spa hotel in Newbury). Some had travelled with them for years – and saw the weekend events in the UK as an opportunity to reconnect with fellow travellers met on previous holidays giving them the chance to get together to plan their next foreign holiday, while others had felt that experiencing a weekend event in the UK would give them a taste of what it would be like to travel with a solo holiday company for a longer holiday abroad.
The event I attended included a drinks reception and a dinner dance – it was interesting to see the Managing Director Colum McLornan mingle with guests , getting their feedback on events and holidays – not to mention taking to the dancefloor 🙂
One person I spoke to had experienced 8 holidays with the company – and felt that it was the friendliness of the hosts that made the difference. They felt there was no pressure to join in any group activities – it was very much their holiday to do as they pleased – knowing that there was a group of other single travellers they could connect with if they chose.
Holidaying alone at Christmas
Others booked Christmas breaks with them – choosing to take time for themselves rather than the pressure of spending Christmas with well meaning friends – especially if there had been a change in their own circumstances – they needed to do something different.
I have travelled on my own in the past – one of my favourite resorts is The Body Holiday at St Lucia – no single supplement, classes, spa treatments, and a group table should you want to eat with others….after 7 visits I felt it was like a second home! I kept going back as for me it was the safe option as I knew what I was getting, but I would like to explore other holidays which offer similar experiences for solo travellers which are not necessarily long haul – and a little less expensive!
One lady who was particularly nervous about holidaying alone had joined the friendship travel chat room before booking. The connections she made there made her more comfortable about booking a holiday.
She was reassured to learn that the holidays were not about ‘dating’, but very much single people wanting to take enjoyable holidays when travelling alone.
I have been particularly spoiled over the years spending many holidays in the South of France , and as much as I love it there, it is time for me to spread my wings, especially having taking the decision to divorce my husband – will it be St Lucia (again) or another of the destinations offered by a specialist solo holiday company such as Friendship Holidays.
I shall peruse the brochures – time to explore solo!