Women are on the move — especially women of the Baby Boomer generation.
If you’ve felt the urge to see different places and experience a new adventure, you’re not alone. The Travel Industry Association estimates that 32 million single American women traveled at least once last year — and a lot of them were Boomers.
“I’m in my early sixties, and in the last year, I traveled thousands of miles — with my husband and children, with girlfriends and alone,” says Harriet Lewis, Vice Chairman of Grand Circle Corporation. The company specializes in international travel and adventure for Americans aged 50 or older.
Lewis says that travel can make a difference in our lives as individuals, and in the lives of those we come in contact with.
“During a recent trip to Egypt, I climbed Mount Sinai late at night in order to see the sunrise. The experience changed my life,” says Lewis. “The Middle East was an area of the world I had explored before, but not in such depth, and spending time with people in Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Sudan in the past year has shifted my worldview. Travel changes us. It makes us more curious, more thoughtful, more tuned in to our world.”
Lewis advises other women who are considering traveling to ask themselves some questions as part of their preparation:
- What do you want to gain from your travel experience: Adventure? Culture? Relaxation? Inspiration?
- Which destinations, countries or regions interest you most? Make a list, put them in order, and outline the steps you need to take to make your “bucket list” a reality. Do you need to schedule vacation time or start saving?
- Do you want to travel with friends, family or go it alone? Do want to make your own travel plans or go with a tour operator that will handle the planning for you?
- If you choose a tour operator, consider the size of the groups (the smaller the better), your cost per day and what you are getting for your dollar. Are the guides local, knowledgeable, and able to connect you with local homes, schools and communities so that you get a real taste of local life?
- If you are traveling with a tour as a solo traveler (popular among women these days regardless of marital status), ask what the company offers solo travelers in terms of making them feel comfortable. Will they help match you with a roommate of the same gender? How will they break the ice? What do they do when it comes to meal times to ensure that solos have partners or friends to eat with?
- How can you get the best value for your dollar? Compare what a tour operator can offer you vs. what you can find on your own. Can you use your airline miles to save costs? If you choose a tour, are the single supplement fees free or reasonable? Are there certain times of the year where costs are lower based on seasonality.
Lewis believes that taking the time to ask these key questions will ultimately give you a much more fulfilling experience.
“Travel is the best way I know to enhance your life,” she says. “I really believe what Mary Anne Radmacher said about travel is true for women: ‘I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.’”