Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries – Solo Travel
Travelling solo doesn’t mean you have to travel alone! Neither does it need to be intimidating. Here, tips for planning a trip, on your own.
Q My late wife and I used to love travelling. Since she died three years ago I haven’t felt much like going anywhere, but I’m starting to think about it now. I’m 68 and a little concerned about travelling alone because I don’t want to appear as if I’m hoping to meet a mate because I’m not. I would enjoy talking to people along the way, but I want to travel as a single person and be clear that’s my preference. It seems so many travel agencies accommodate couples, or people looking to connect with potential mates, but not so much senior singles who want to stay that way. Any suggestions on how to proceed?
A First off, even though you might be travelling solo, you’re not alone. The Canadian Tourism Commission estimates that 10 per cent of Canadians travelling overseas are doing what you’re thinking of doing – heading off on their own.
While taking your first trip alone can be intimidating, there are lots of great opportunities for solo travellers – and ones that aren’t intended to hook you up with a companion. The first step is deciding what really interests you. Maybe it’s wine, opera, ecotourism, volunteer opportunities or genealogy, which is particularly popular these days.
“Once you’ve discovered your true interest it’ll become an endless vocation and it can take you all over the world,” says veteran solo traveller Diane Redfern, founder of Connecting Solo Travel Network (cstn.com), the online research and resource centre for single and solo travelling. On her website you’ll find books on single-friendly trips (including ones that don’t charge budget-busting singles’ premiums), stories by solo travellers, tips for travelling alone, plus lots of other relevant information.
Two years ago to celebrate her 70th birthday, Ms. Redfern organized her own trip to Northern Britain where she walked the entire 118 kilometres of the ancient Hadrian’s Wall. Her story, posted on the site, describes some of benefits of travelling solo: “Without companionable chatter to draw my attention, I could allow myself the pleasure of self-centered contemplation or imaginative dreaming inspired by the running commentary of my guidebook and the aura emanating from the land itself.”
Ms. Redfern encourages you to pursue similar pleasures and step outside your comfort zone. “The majority of singles tours are for people who just want to enjoy a destination in a group of like-minded people,” she says, while also acknowledging, “although sometimes there are people who use the underlying dynamics to try and meet a mate. But you can never entirely avoid that.”
Nobody wants to be alone all the time, but the key to travelling solo successfully, she emphasizes, “is to know your own mind and feel secure in your own resources.” She suggests you skip the travel agencies initially and do your own research. “First set your priorities and get to know your interests. Second, study your options. Third, adjust your attitude towards those options and accept that every singles tour is not a meat market.”
Send Diane a brief description of your dilemma, along with your first name and where you live, to [email protected]
A professional journalist for more than 25 years, Diane Sewell has written for some of the top newspapers and magazines in Canada and is a baby boomer herself. Her new blog “Boomerangst, Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries” is interactive with readers and focuses on life issues – like aging, dating, second marriages, sex, death, family and fashion. Diane will use her expertise to find the right expert to help solve your predicament, unearthing kernels of truth and quickly getting to the heart of the issue.