Last updated on November 19th, 2023
Featured image: Finding safe and affordable countries for solo travel is possible| Photo by SabrinaBracher on Envato
Advice from solo women over 50
Curated by Carolyn Ray, Editor
While we’d like to think that women should be able to travel anywhere in the world safely, we still face discrimination and safety challenges. In fact, our most recent survey of women over 50 showed that safety is the #2 consideration when planning travel, after destination, with the cost of travel ranking #3.
Older women and seniors with mobility challenges can be even more vulnerable, which is why we convened our own group of experienced solo travellers over 50 from our editorial team and our Women’s Advisory Council to provide you with their first-hand advice. No advertising gimmicks here, just honest, practical advice from women who have been where you are now.
Question: Post-pandemic, what are safe and affordable countries for a senior woman to travel solo?
This question is curated from our private Solo Travel Wisdom group on Facebook, which is a wonderful place to get answers to all of your travel questions and share your own experiences.
“I haven’t traveled since the pandemic and am wondering what is an easy re-introduction to traveling solo. I can’t decide where to go. I’m out of practice but now I’ve retired and have much catching up to do. What’s different now, and what special attentions need I focus on post-70?”
1. Portugal and Southeast Asia
“I would put Portugal at the top of the list. It’s extremely safe and cheaper than many other European countries. I might add Greece to the list – depending on what safety means to you. To me, it means having decent medical care nearby, an absence of overt violence in the streets, and a generally egalitarian attitude towards everyone else. In terms of safety, I’d add Scandinavia, but would instantly wipe it off my list if budget were an issue. The same with Japan and South Korea – delightfully safe (unless you worry a lot about North Korea’s proximity) but expensive.”
For budget destinations, in addition to the two mentioned above, I would add Southeast Asia – certainly Vietnam, and if money is no object, Singapore, which to me is one of the safest countries in the world.” — Leyla Alyanak, JourneyWoman Contributor, Off-Beat France
Read More: Top 12 Countries for Solo Travellers in 2023
2. Small towns in Europe
“It depends on what countries you have felt comfortable in and possibly traveled to in the past. For me that is anywhere in Europe, though ‘affordable’ for me means choosing places other than the center of tourism, and shoulder season. I love the smaller towns of France, Spain, and Italy and can have an equally inspiring holiday there than in the big centers of Paris, Madrid, and Rome. The feeling of ‘safe’ comes from the familiar culture, language, and the Euro.
I have not traveled in Asia in some time, so for me I would be less comfortable there solo if I haven’t traveled in a while.” — Diana Eden, JourneyWoman’s Women Over 80 Contributor
3. Europe, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Canada and Japan
“There are several countries that come to mind for women to travel to and feel safe: – Portugal, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Canada, Switzerland, Iceland, Japan.
Affordable depends on how you want to spend your time in the country. If your resources are limited, you could research backpackers, hostels, airbnbs, monasteries, or check out the JourneyWoman Directory for properties owned and run by women. Think of house sitting, that would mean looking after a house and usually an animal or two, with access to everything you need for a great holiday. Camping is an option which would be more affordable than a hotel. Much of the joy of travel is in the planning, and there are ways to make your vacation affordable.
Think about volunteering in a country that needs the skills you have. Supporting the local businesses and their economy is a wonderful way to give back and get to know the people and the culture. If you are an animal lover, there are ways to volunteer with animals. Follow Journeywoman on Facebook, ask all your questions about destinations you want to travel to. You can build your holiday from the responses. A wealth of information is waiting for you.” — Joy Fox, JourneyWoman Advisory Council
4. South and Southeast Asia
“I’m 63 and I enjoy traveling in South Asia and Southeast Asia. I live in India, where I travel extensively, and also travel to Thailand and Nepal regularly. I’m also interested in visiting Vietnam soon.
These are affordable countries and I find, as a senior woman, they are quite safe. People are quite respectful of “elders” in these countries. You may need to do more research and planning as the infrastructure is not always as good as Europe and North America. But with careful planning, I think you would enjoy this region.” — Mariellen Ward, Journeywoman Advisory Council
5. Iceland, Ireland and Eastern Europe
“Fortunately, the US dollar is now very strong and nearly everywhere has lifted covid restrictions. Airfares are crazy now but traveling off season you can still get some affordable fares. I’d consider Iceland, Ireland, and most of Europe reasonable, especially eastern Europe. Just avoid Switzerland, which is not on the Euro and very expensive.” — Karen Gershowitz, JourneyWoman Quirky Places Contributor
“I really have to advocate for Mexico, which is a place I spent four months in in 2021-22 and fell in love with. I’d definitely consider Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende and Merida, where I spent most of my time. Avoid the touristy places like Cancun and you’ll discover the true essence of Mexico – friendly, warm and captivating. And it’s very affordable, particularly when you buy food at local markets and stay for longer periods of time. I also love that older women are revered in Mexico, it’s a different culture that respects wisdom and age. I can’t wait to go back.” — Carolyn Ray, Editor, JourneyWoman
Read More: A First-Timer’s Solo Guide to Kyoto, Japan
Our Women’s Solo Safety Resource Centre has more information about solo travel safety
JourneyWoman readers recommend the countries below as more or less ‘safe’, based on their own personal experience.
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