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ladies on solo travel




By Orly Benaroch Light


At 18, the thrill of my first solo trip marked the beginning of a lifelong love for travel. Over the years, family vacations became cherished memories, always undertaken on our own terms, free from fixed schedules. Yet, as life evolved—my children grew up, my status shifted to single, and work routines changed—the allure of group travel began to shine. As I stand at this crossroads, I contemplate embracing a new travel chapter: the group tour experience.


The Dynamics of Group Tours


In my years as a travel and tourism expert, I've had the unique vantage point of both crafting and witnessing memorable journeys. From incentive business travel to press trips for travel writers to medical conferences, my role went beyond mere organization; it was about ensuring every traveler felt carefree and immersed in their adventure. From resolving baggage mishaps at airports to curating enriching local experiences, my mission was to smooth out any bumps on the road. This behind-the-scenes orchestration aimed to create seamless, enriching experiences for all our guests, showcasing the art of group travel.


Is Group Travel Right For Me?


As someone who's been deeply entrenched in the travel industry, I've seen the multifaceted nature of group journeys. Even though I watched hundreds of guests have a fantastic time on our guided tours, I also know that group travel isn’t for everyone.


Much will depend on the specific destination and itinerary. While the activities on many group tours for 50+ are not physically strenuous, some trips can involve a fair amount of walking (often over uneven or unpaved surfaces) and may not be appropriate for women with serious mobility limitations or restrictions. If there are remote and widespread destinations on the itinerary, there will likely be a few long drives and some activities may require early morning departures. They may occasionally rely on public local transport, tuk-tuks or rickshaws. Some trips might involve long days, crowded, chaotic cities and dusty villages. Other destinations might have a local cuisine that may not be suited to restrictive dietary requirements.


Weighing the Pros and Cons of Group Travel


The easy part is choosing your destination, duration, and budget because those things are less constraint, but if you’re not sure whether it’s a better idea to travel solo or with a group, then here's a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages to help you decide:


Pros:


Stress-free Arrangements: Say goodbye to the hassles of planning. From hotel bookings to transportation, everything's taken care of.


Efficient Itineraries: Group tours have a knack for maximizing experiences. They've figured out how to cover the most ground and sights in a limited time.


Economic Prospects: Often, traveling with a group can be lighter on the pocket. Bulk bookings and shared expenses can mean more value for less money.


Building New Relationships: Journeying with like-minded travelers can foster connections. You start as strangers and may end up as lifelong friends.


Expert Guidance and Insights: Tour guides bring places to life with their knowledge, sharing historical and cultural nuances you might miss on your own.


Discovering New Places: Group tours often include hidden gems in their itineraries, places you might not have stumbled upon solo.


Safety in Numbers: For those apprehensive about solo travel, group tours offer the comfort and security of being in a collective.


Cons:


Limited Customization: The structured nature of group tours means there's less room for spontaneous detours or personal preferences in the itinerary.


Potentially Exhausting Schedules: The desire to maximize experiences can lead to packed days. Early mornings and late nights might leave some feeling drained.


Challenging Group Dynamics: Personalities can clash. An incompatible travel mate can impact the entire group's vibe.


Missing Local Hidden Gems: While group tours cover many places, they might stick to popular spots, bypassing some less-known treasures.


Evident Tourist Appearance: Moving in groups makes it unmistakably clear you're tourists, which might not appeal to everyone.


Not all Group Trips Have Guaranteed Departures: Many tour companies require a minimum number of traveler bookings before a trip can be confirmed.


Top Group Travel Companies for Women Solo Travelers over 50:


Embarking on a solo adventure post-50? It’s thrilling, but choosing the right travel company can make all the difference. Here’s a curated list tailored for women 50 and beyond:


Exodus Travels - Best Experience: Renowned for crafting deeply immersive experiences. With Exodus, you don’t just visit; you live the place.


Road Scholar - With its educational focus and tours spanning more than 100 countries and all 50 states, Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) is a perfect fit for curiosity-driven lifelong learners.


G Adventures - Best Sustainable: Travel responsibly. G Adventures is committed to sustainability, ensuring your footprints benefit the local communities.


Black Tomato - Best for True Solo Travel: Tailored experiences that ensure your solo journey is as unique as yours.


Explore & Overseas Adventure Travel - Best for 50+: Designed with the mature traveler in mind, offering depth, comfort, and a touch of adventure.


Wild Women Expeditions & Wild Women - Best Female-centric: Empowerment and exploration combine in trips tailored for women by women.


Intrepid Travel - Best Solo Parent: Juggle parenthood with wanderlust effortlessly.


Insight Vacations - Best for Female Entrepreneurs: A focus on sustainable travel while networking with fellow female leaders.


Trafalgar - With a century of experience showing people the world, Trafalgar is one of the tour industry’s largest and most trusted brands. And with 60% of its guests falling into the 50 to 71 age range, it’s an expert in travel tours for 50+.


Each of these companies offers something unique, ensuring you find the perfect match for your adventurous spirit.


Golden Tips for Embarking on Solo Group Adventures


When venturing into the world of solo group adventures, it's essential to arm yourself with a few valuable insights. First and foremost, keep an eye out for the pesky 'single supplement.' It's a fee some travel companies charge solo travelers when they aren’t sharing accommodations. However, with a bit of research and early bookings, you can often sidestep it.


Then, there's the allure of deals. Seasonal offers, early bird discounts, or last-minute deals can make your travel significantly more affordable. Patience and timely scouting are key.


Dive deeper into the itinerary and get a feel for the activity level. Are there hikes or leisure walks? Also, consider the tour's target age group to ensure compatibility with your preferences.


It's also crucial to find a balance. As enticing as a packed itinerary sounds, ensure there's enough free time for spontaneous explorations. These personal adventures can often be the most memorable.


Lastly, prioritize your safety and accessibility, especially if you have specific needs or mobility concerns. Ensure the destinations and activities are suited to your comfort level and abilities. Remember, solo group travel is about enriching experiences, but always within the confines of comfort and safety. Wheel the World provides detailed accessibility information on over 160 destinations and hotel-specific data on the bed height, door width, type of shower, and more, plus specialized tours for wheelchair users. AccessibleGo provides accessibility information for US hotels, including assistive listening devices, lower hanging space in closets, service animals, step-free entrances, whether TDD is available, and doorway size, to name a few.


A Word About Travel Insurance


Travel, while filled with potential wonders, can be unpredictable. The unexpected lurks around the corner, from wildfires disrupting plans to global events like pandemics. My own journeys, halted by unforeseen circumstances, underline the significance of travel insurance. Especially when embarking on international escapades or significant adventures, securing an insurance policy isn't just a precaution; it's a necessity.


At its heart, group travel is not merely about ticking places off a list. It's the laughter shared over dinner; the bonds formed on a bus ride, and the collective awe when witnessing a sunset. It's about experiencing the world's vastness while also finding comfort in shared moments. Group travel offers both an adventure into the unknown and the warmth of familiar company.





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