Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas Into Discoveries – Travelling Solo & With Special Needs

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Travelling alone or have special needs or a health condition? Here, tips for finding a like-minded travel companion.


Q. My problem with travelling is that I live on an island and can’t find anyone willing to come with me. I have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which makes breathing difficult, but I have it under control with medications. The thing is, I can’t walk quickly any more or climb hills. I would love to take a cruise with someone who is similar in likes and dislikes. I also prefer small groups and a decent class of cruise since I’m not on a budget. I’m considering Sweden and the other northern countries as I feel they would be easier on my condition. I spent time in Italy and France last summer but found the smoke and dirt of cities was very hard on my breathing. I’d love to go somewhere where the air is clean and healthier for people like me. Is this possible?

— Jeanni, Denman Island, B.C.


A. Yes, it’s possible. Diane Redfern, founder of Connecting Solo Travel Network (CSTN), the online research and resource centre for single and solo travelling, says you have a number of options and some that are close to home.

The first thing she suggests you do to nail down a travel companion is post a notice on the CSTN message board indicating you’re looking for a like-minded traveller who is also travelling alone and interested in a cruise. If you want to sidestep the issue of sharing a room, then you can just pay the single supplement fee since you’ve indicated you’re not too concerned about costs. You may be lucky enough to find a companion who’s in a similar situation. You could also consider advertising for a medical companion, which is something you’d have to pay for, but this too is another option.

You have to actually join CSTN to post on their message board, but a lifetime membership is only $28. The membership also includes access to solo travelling tips covering such topics as basic trip planning, researching and budgeting, packing, issues related to loneliness, plus health and safety tips.

Diane also recommends you look specifically at singles cruises so you won’t be travelling in a ship populated with couples or families. “If you go on a singles cruise, but have your own room, you’ll have ready companions for dinner and other events, but still have the privacy of your own cabin,” she points out.

An Alaskan singles cruise would be an especially good choice for you, in Diane’s opinion, since the air is clean and cool – ideal for someone with breathing issues. Plus, you could leave from Vancouver or Seattle. You might also consider one of the small ship options that do river and coastal cruises, including in Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

If you decide to post for a companion do leave yourself lots of time to find someone suitable – at least four to six months. Include your planned departure and return dates and try as best you can to identify the type of person you’d like to travel with. Fingers crossed it’s bon voyage time by late summer.

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.