She Travels

- 5 min reading time

Can I travel solo as an over 45 woman? Be inspired by the experiences of 2 mature NomadHers

June 19, 2024



June 19, 2024


For Katie, who is now 51, turning 50 prompted her to reflect on her life and question what most impassioned her, leading her to spontaneously embark on a solo travel adventure. Katie had been no stranger to travel; mainly through work, studies or family holidays. She’s in fact spent half of her life overseas, away from her native England. Thankfully for Katie, she wasn't alone in her love for travel, with her parents making travel a priority for the family whether they could afford to. And as they spent time living in Belgium, they had the chance to see much of Europe together. 

Making travel a priority in one's own life

With this love and hunger for travel instilled in her from a young age, she took every opportunity to venture out and continue seeing the world as she got older. This started by tagging holiday days on work trips, which were mainly concentrated in Europe, which built her confidence and perpetuated her love for seeing new places.

Katie then decided that the next step was to join group trips for the occasions when she felt more comfortable travelling with other people. It was on these group trips that she visited Kenya, Tanzania, and Cambodia and even spent two months going around Southern Africa on a truck trip. However, most of her travel at this point still consisted of long weekends away and it wasn't until last year that she set off on her first truly solo adventure around Japan and Korea as a fully-fledged backpacker.

Though many of the designated Katie elected to visit were designated high risk, she was not going to be dissuaded but this did mean she took every precaution possible to be conscious of her safety. This meant being organised was a vital way to ensure that she felt comfortable on her trips. She carefully considered where she stayed, how to travel, what was acceptable locally for a single woman, and sticking to that as far as possible. While Katie acknowledges the frustration of women having to be so much more conscious of this than men, she emphasises the importance of being organised.

 “I would love to go out in the evening and socialise, or go dancing, or even go to a football match (I play football so always try and follow local teams). Working out how to do this safely often means you end up not doing it. Sometimes I throw away the caution and have a great time, and then sometimes I think that it could really have gone wrong!”

Embracing the challenges that come with solo travel

Being slightly on the shorter and more mature side, Katie mentions having found being on the top bunk in hostel dorms a little bit challenging at times. Despite this and all of the inconveniences of sharing dorms in hostels, such as different sleep times and habits, learning to cope with these things was one of the most beneficial and formative aspects of travel for her. 

“It broke down all my self-imposed thoughts and habits about what I thought I needed to get a good night’s sleep. And even better, I met all sorts of really great people”

Meals and food proved to be a particular challenge for Katie. For many, eating alone can seem daunting, particularly in a foreign country where you don't speak the language. And when you’re solo travelling, with some hostels having limited to no cooking facilities, you can be left with little other option than to buy ready meals from local shops which can be expensive and far from nutritious. Katie found that joining walking tours which included meals was a great way to meet people and share meals with them. While this was a good way to get around feeling lonely at meal times, Katie hopes to be braver on her next adventures and even learn to enjoy solo dinners.

Adapting, learning and embracing the unknown

“My most recent trip to Korea and Japan started off as a 10-day holiday to Japan, which was all the time I could take off work. I then decided to take a longer break from work and travel properly. I wanted to really change up my perspectives on life, get some inspiration and new ways of thinking about what I could do in my life and career”

Katie has also been in the process of researching and writing children’s books for a number of years and liked the idea of having more time to dedicate to this passion. This paired with the fact that she is a K-drama fan and had already learnt a bit of the language as a hobby meant that travelling around Korea seemed like an unmissable opportunity. Though taking this leap while already on her holiday in Japan meant changing flights and plans at the last minute, she is so grateful she did. Katie ended up spending and incredible 6 weeks in Korea, and 2 weeks in Japan.

As a self-professed creature of habit, a great benefit of her travels is that Katie learnt to let go of the rules she had set herself and embrace life without a set routine. Katie was able to take some of this carefree mindset back to England with her and has tried to allow herself a little more room for spontaneity in her day-to-day life.

Katie only found NomadHer near the end of her trip, but says that despite the fact that she is not travelling at the moment, she still uses the app as she finds the female focus to be a rarity when looking for information on solo travel. She is currently planning a trip to Korea in October and is already looking ahead to see what events she might attend and who she might meet.

Solo travel as an older female solo traveller

The confidence she has gathered over her life and travels means that Katie felt comfortable engaging with people that she was meeting and because she is more mature, she felt that it made it much easier to engage with people without it feeling ‘strange’. When discussing her time in Korea, Katie said that people were always willing to help her and show her kindness as she navigated the country’s public transport systems and she believes this is in large part due to her being slightly older, warranting her a degree more of respect.

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Lucy was born in the UK but has spent the last 30 years of her life living in the US. Though she has always been impassioned by travel, to which she credits living in Hong Kong for a few years as a child, it is in recent years that she has been able to fully embrace travel. Aged 62, Lucy has spent the last few years challenging herself, going to places she never imagined she would and learnt a great deal about herself in the process. 

Last year, Lucy made the incredible and brave decision to sell her house, quit her job and commit to a life of travel. With her children being at a stage of life where they are a lot more independent, this gave Lucy permission to pure her love of travel and with every trip she has gone on she has grown in confidence and felt inspired to push herself even more out of her comfort zone for her next adventure.

The capacity of travel to transform 

For Lucy relinquishing certainty to make way for spontaneity was always going to be her greatest challenge when it came to travelling. She is a person who, as much as possible, liked to know where she would be, at what time and for how long, but she recognised that in order to take every opportunity that came her way she would have to learn to be more flexible and while she says that this is still a work in progress, she is proud of how adaptable she has proven herself to be.

The experience of solo travel also gave her the opportunity to learn more about herself. When she initially embarked on her solo adventures she felt confident the reason it would suit her is because she saw herself as being more introverted, however, the more time she spent away she learnt that she is far more social than she’d ever thought. 

“Joining free walking tours and day trips, taking classes and staying with an Airbnb host in their home are all ways I've found to meet people. I think it's led me to become friendlier and more open when meeting new people”

Though Lucy would credit many aspects of her personal growth to solo travel, the most transformative element of her travel was facing her fear of heights in pursuit of her love for hiking. Lucy drew strength from and felt empowered by fellow hikers she’d only just met. Pushing herself out of her comfort zone has meant that she feels so much braver and can now notice herself getting considerably less overwhelmed when tackling challenges.

Finding the right moment to travel

Having worked as a school librarian in Chicago, Lucy could never get enough time away to have the adventures and experiences she hoped for. This paired with the fact that she had seemingly reached her limit in terms of the 6 months of winter Chicago seems to face each year was all the incentive Lucy needed to take a leap and begin a life dedicated to travel.

“Heading to South America at the beginning of a Chicago winter (and just in time to embrace spring in the southern hemisphere) seemed like an ideal plan!”

The benefits of being an over 45 solo traveller

As a mature NomadHer and solo traveller, Lucy felt in no way deterred or excluded in her travels and says it is in fact one of the most beautiful aspects of travel, getting to meet people of all ages. Lucy also comments on the benefits of being an over 45 traveller, saying that she feels people are more respectful of her. 

“The advantage of being at the older end of the spectrum is that people tend to treat me with more respect, probably because they see something of their mother (or even grandmother) in me!”

More about NomadHer :

NomadHer is an app for female globetrotters to encourage solo travelling safely. NomadHer has a vision of empowering women through travelling.

To join the community of female globetrotters, you can download NomadHer App on IOS & Android. Follow NomadHer on Instagram: @nomad_her.

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