Embracing independence and experiences: Solo travel over 50

Have you ever missed out on a trip or an experience just because you couldn’t find anyone to go with you?

Now might be the time to do it anyway. Stop waiting for others to be available or to get around to booking or to agree on a destination – just go. 

In our Grey Nomads Report 2024, we found that 10% of survey respondents said one of the greatest obstacles to travel was simply finding a travel buddy. If that’s you, there’s every reason to think about going solo. 

Why solo travel? 

Another fun fact from our Grey Nomads Report – 11% of survey respondents actually prefer to travel alone. Here are just some of the reasons why we think they’re onto something: 

  • You can travel on the dates that best suit your schedule and preferences
  • Visit only the places you want to visit
  • Meet new people
  • Eat where you want, every day
  • Do what you want, every day
  • Need a rest day? Take one 
  • Spend time rediscovering yourself and what you enjoy
  • Improve your independence and self-confidence 

Tips for solo travellers 

The good news is that you won’t be the first person to travel alone. We’ve collected some of the best tips for solo travellers so you can hit the ground running (or relaxing and sipping an Aperol Spritz if that’s more your style). 

Plan carefully 

Spend extra time researching the areas you want to visit before you arrive to make sure to check travel warnings and advice so you know if there are any potential dangers you need to be aware of.  When looking at accommodation options, spend time reading the reviews and checking the area’s local news to see what others have said about the safety of the area.  

Also, avoid late-night trips to and from airports, hotels, and other spots. Aim to book flights and trains that leave and arrive during daytime hours so you can get from A to B during busier, safer times.  

Do a practice run in your city 

Feeling a bit anxious about exploring and trying new things on your own? Do a practice run in your city or town. 

Visit a tourist attraction or two that you’ve never been to before (we’re all guilty of not seeing as much of our own country as the tourists do sometimes!). In fact, 36% of respondents in our Grey Nomads Report said they wanted to do more travel in their own region – so this is a great place to start. 

Share your itinerary with friends or family back home 

Take the time to write out your full itinerary. Include travel dates, all bookings including transport, accommodation, and tours, and contact details for each location. 

Share this with one or two trusted friends or family members, so that they can know where to check and when and if you don’t get in touch. 

Don’t share online in real time 

It’s only natural to want to share your travel snaps online. However, this can be a safety issue – especially for solo travellers. 

Sharing your whereabouts, your accommodation, and the fact that you’re travelling alone can leave you vulnerable to people who might use this information to target you. Instead, only share images once you have left that particular location. 

Similarly, never share photos of your boarding pass online. Those passes contain a lot of personal information, and hackers may be able to scan it to gain details of your trip. 

Leave the expensive possessions at home  

Leaving behind your most precious jewellery and favourite items is a common travel tip for anyone, but especially those who are travelling solo. Instead, use this as a fun excuse to purchase some nice costume jewellery or less expensive versions of some of your favourite items to wear, so if they do get lost/stolen at least it wasn’t the real thing.

Connect with other travellers at your destination 

Keep in mind that travelling solo doesn’t have to mean being alone the entire time (unless you want it to). 

Meeting people at your destination can be incredibly easy if you’re willing to strike up a conversation with other travellers. You might meet people during a walking tour (more on this shortly), at your accommodation lounge or communal areas, or while visiting a local attraction. 

These natural meetings with like-minded travellers can be easier and safer than trying to meet people online but it’s still always best to approach with caution.

Pack a selfie stick – or learn to ask for photos 

Having a travel buddy usually means you also get a personal photographer for your adventures. For solo travellers, a selfie stick or a tripod can be a great back up option.

Or, get out of your comfort zone and ask for photos! Asking other tourists and offering to do a swap (you take photos for them) can be a great way to ensure you have a few snaps to remember your adventures – and make a new friend along the way.

Join walking tours 

Many major cities offer free walking tours for tourists, and they can be incredibly beneficial. 

Not only will you get a feel for the new place by exploring on foot, but you’ll also hear about major historical moments and important attractions that you might not discover otherwise. Plus, this is a great chance to meet other travellers if you’re looking for people to explore within your destination. 

Know your route from A to B 

Any time you’re on the move, whether that’s from the airport to your hotel or from one attraction to another, know the full route before you start. 

That includes not just the way there, but if you’ll need to buy a ticket, what time transport runs, or whether you’ll need a door code to access your Airbnb accommodation. 

You don’t want to have to stop mid-trip to dig through your email for the hotel arrival instructions, or rifle through your travel paperwork to figure out which bus you need to catch. Know all of these details ahead of time (or at least keep them somewhere handy) so you don’t get stuck along the way – especially at nighttime. 

Keep in mind that you can download routes on Google Maps so that you can still access them even when you don’t have WiFi. Speaking of… 

Invest in data  

Being able to run a quick search on your phone can make a world of difference for your travels. You might need to look up a reservation online, search for a great restaurant nearby, or ask Google to translate a menu for you. 

Whatever the case, having data available while you’re on the move is well worth the investment if it’s not already included in your phone plan. It helps to solve problems with the internet when you don’t have a travel buddy to rely on instead. 

Book your solo trip today 

Ready to get out there and explore the world on your own terms? Book it in and start that countdown. 

You may want to consider life insurance before your departure date as well. As much as we always hope for the best, it’s not a bad idea to plan for the worst, either. That’s also the idea behind Seniors Term Life Insurance, which can help protect your financial future so you’re able to focus on the important things, like enjoying your travel plans. 

This is general information only. Please consider the Policy Document available from nzseniors.co.nz to ensure the product suits your needs. This information is provided by New Zealand Seniors, a trading name of Greenstone Financial Services NZ Limited NZBN 9429047013582, who have partnered with Pinnacle Life Limited (Pinnacle Life) NZBN 9429030397248, the insurer of this product. Terms and conditions apply.