Q. I’m in my 50s and thinking of taking a vacation by myself so I can meet some new people. But I’m also frightened. I’ve never traveled completely alone before, although my late husband and I saw much of the world together. Do you have any suggestions?
I think you’re brave. Many widows share your anxiety. Yet the options for solo leisure travel for women have skyrocketed in just the last few years. Most solo travelers are 55-plus and (surprise!) it turns out that women are more likely than men to travel alone.
Tours and other group trips (whether for women only or open to all) and cruises are obvious choices to consider. The details are all taken care of for you. You don’t have to worry about dining alone. On a cruise, you can ask to be seated with others. Just start the conversation by introducing yourself and asking the person next to you, “Where are you from?”
Last year, I tried something else. I decided I wanted to go to Berlin and Paris “partially alone.” I called a new friend I’d met on a cruise and asked if she’d be interested in joining me. She lives in London and was up for the Berlin part, although I would spend the first day alone. For the Paris segment I called couple friends who live in France and asked them if they’d like to join me. They could, although I would spend two days on my own before they arrived. I considered that a milestone, especially the part where I walked into an appealing café, took a table outdoors right up front, and ordered a glass of wine and dinner. Part of the way through, I started a conversation with an American family with two young children sitting right next to me.
Yes, I had mild anxiety on my trip, but I do mean mild. A highlight was exiting through the wrong door to get to baggage claim at the Berlin airport — and finding myself barred from re-entering despite assurances that I was not a terrorist. But I asked for help and eventually got it in what turned out to be quite an adventure. By the time I got to my hotel, my confidence had soared. Eventually I hope to progress to spending three or four days on my own in London.
I encourage you to push against your fears and give a solo vacation a try — in whatever form it takes.
If you have a question for Florence, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Florence Isaacs is a freelance journalist,author — and a widow herself. Her books include My Deepest Sympathies, When the Man You Love Is Ill,What Do You Say When and Just a Note to Say...The Perfect Words for Every Occasion.
Image via Wikimedia Commons, Mdineen