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Solo travel in your 70’s

I wasn’t sure which category this topic was relevant to. I think a new category for Solo travels would be interesting.
I have been on 14 tours starting in 2008 at the age of 56. I have always traveled solo as my husband has never been interested in European travel, although he has fully supported my travel desires. I have always found RS tours to be a great balance for solo travelers with both time on my own and time with a great company of people with like interest in experiencing Europe and would ‘have my back’.
After Covid, in the fall of 2022, I joined the My Way Spain tour. I was fully vaccinated and boosted and faithful in masking during my week in Barcelona prior to tour and tested negative on the first day of the tour. Unfortunately, by the second day in Madrid I tested positive and dropped from the tour. Although an experienced solo traveler, I found the experience stressful, isolating and struggled with anxiety.
Now at 71, I find that experience has ‘tainted’ my excitement about traveling solo, the anxiety of dealing with a possible health issue while abroad.
I would love to hear some encouraging stories of travel from others who have traveled solo in their 70’s and how they balance any concerns or anxiety.

Posted by
5162 posts

I've been traveling solo since 1996 and I'm now 68 (not quite 70!) and still traveling solo. I spent 3 weeks in Scotland this year and am planning a trip for 5 weeks in the UK next spring.

I haven't taken any tours (RS or otherwise) although I am signed up for my first tour in early 2025 when I travel to Egypt and Jordan.

That said, my philosophy is the same one I used when I practiced law. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That's really all you can do. I do try to stay healthy by walking as much as possible, going to the gym for strength training and eating right. That helps keep my body in decent shape, but let's face it. It's a 68 year old body and it has some issues. So I get travel insurance. Medicare covers any medical emergencies for me in a foreign country but I also have medical evacuation insurance, just in case. And get travel insurance that covers Covid (not all do).

I know that doesn't help someone with a Covid situation but all I can say is keep up with the boosters, continue to take precautions and think about all the fun you will have on your next trip! Whatever you do, don't let it bring you down (it's only castles burning...). 😊

Posted by
4098 posts

I think we are all somewhat traumatiized by Covid. It's easier said than done, but we have to learn to live with it and figure out in advance what we will do when it impacts our travels. I say that as someone who was stranded in London, in June 2022, solo, because my husband tested negative and we figured he'd better go home while he could.

Posted by
2679 posts

Please note....

This statement is NOT true "Medicare covers any medical emergencies for me in a foreign country but I also have medical evacuation insurance, just in case. "

Traditional Medicare covers nothing outside the US and it's territories. If you have replaced your traditional program with one of the options then you may have coverage, but not with basic Medicare. Your supplement may also cover you.

And if this sentence didn't just make your skin crawl about travel... I don't know what will
,"because my husband tested negative and we figured he'd better go home while he could." After all why should a covid positive person NOT get on plane????

Posted by
3040 posts

My husband got covid before we were to join an RS tour and then subsequently dropped from the tour with no place to sleep that night in Paris right before a major holiday. Solo or not, this is a stressful experience for anyone! You are a bit PTSD from this experience, but the best thing to do is get back on the horse so to speak. Although I recommend not taking an RS tour until policy is changed ( the rest of the world has moved on from Covid) or Covid disappears. Maybe try a Road Scholar tour? Lots of solo’s love that company.

Posted by
6477 posts

Hi Mary, I’m four years away from 70, but I do travel solo, also.

When I was preparing for an independent solo trip to Italy in June 2022, I created a Risk Plan that outlined all of the steps I would be doing or needing if I tested positive during the trip. It really helped me to think through the “what ifs” while I was still at home and could research & plan options. You might want to create one for your next trip.

Since you’re having some anxiety about the next trip, maybe it would help to think back through your past trips. Is there one particular country that put you in “your happy place”? Any specific activities that bring you joy? You might want to consider going back to it and enjoying the familiar while resetting your future travel plans.

Posted by
1584 posts

I am 78 and I am taking my 7th cruise this October. All have been solo. I have arthritis in my right knee which is a bad problem but I am scheduled to have an injection come September.

Because I also have diabetes, I was very concerned about COVID before vaccines. I got in a clinical research trial almost immediately.

I have never gotten COVID and no longer think about it. I forget that it continues to be an issue until people bring it up.

What happened when you got COVID on your last R S trip? Did the group shun you? Give you a bad time? Did you get any money back? How did you fly home? Did you have to isolate until you were negative?

Are you allowed to book another R S trip? And do you want to? If so, do it. You need to take the bad experience and make it good.

Or try Gate 1 Travel which I have heard very good things about. or book a cruise as a solo like me. I sail Norwegian and if you wanted more information about cruising solo, let me know. Lots of older people sailing solo. Cruisers are very friendly.

I have health issues and I am concerned when at home but i never even think about my health while traveling.

What concerns me is getting lost. Or missing my plane, cruise ship, etc.

Posted by
5162 posts

This statement is NOT true "Medicare covers any medical emergencies for me in a foreign country but I also have medical evacuation insurance, just in case. "

Carol, sorry, I definitely should have clarified that. My particular Medicare Supplement plan covers medical emergencies aboard, not Medicare. :)

Posted by
46 posts

The Rick Steves organization makes its’ policies on Covid very clear when you register for a tour. I was well aware of all the conditions and signed a form stating so. When I tested positive I informed my guide and was immediately dropped from the tour and remained in Madrid. No one shunned me as I remained isolated until the group moved on to the next village. I was able to book my same room in the hotel for the remainder of my stay. I was not very ill, just the ‘stuffy nose’ version. In Spain last year, they only asked that you fully isolate if you had a fever and cough. I had neither. So I was allowed to get out for meals but was required/requested to mask whenever out and about, which I was happy to do. After 10 days of Covid I tested negative. My husband was able to rebook my flight home. The RS organization offered a 24 hour 800 number to call for any assistance if needed. They did reimburse me for the days of the tour that I missed.
A big part of the emotional challenge was having no one to talk to for the most part. I was being a good visitor and staying mostly in my small single room. The hotel staff were supportive but busy and not really interested in conversing in English. Friends and family are mostly on the West coast with a 9 hour time difference. Also, I had not had Covid before so wasn’t sure how sick I might get. Personally, I am thankful for vaccines and boosters (and prayers ;)!

Posted by
2679 posts

“Carol NR, sorry, I definitely should have clarified that. My particular Medicare Supplement plan covers medical emergencies aboard, not Medicare. :)”


Just wanted people to be clear. I’ve worked in healthcare a long time, and I’ve seen some very upset people discover that sending the receipts to Medicare was not an option. Even if the treatment was less expensive than it might’ve been that states it’s still your cash.

Posted by
389 posts

Carol NR, sorry, I definitely should have clarified that. My particular Medicare Supplement plan covers medical emergencies aboard, not Medicare. :)

And just to add a detail, I also have foreign coverage with my supplemental plan, but it has a lifetime limit of $50,000. So you need to decide whether you may need excess coverage in the event of a major emergency, plus evacuation.

Posted by
3134 posts

I am almost 70... This year, my first international travel after Covid's appearance, did cause me to think a bit about how to do it. Past experience and fears have made me fully aware that the worst thing about traveling solo is getting sick. That is the only bad thing about traveling solo, IMO. I travel solo often and likely from now on when traveling internationally, should I chose to do so. There was not much that interested me this year, oddly enough, except for walking the Camino. I adapted my trip, as I have others, to consider being ill. I went to Spain where they don't care if you have covid, just wear your mask. I was however aware that I might not feel well enough to walk for several days. At the starting point, I was with 7 other women and a 'guide' so I was confident I had a source if sick. For before and after the Camino hotels, I made sure my hotel had a restaurant and room service as I was completely solo before and after my Camino. This is something I never thought of before. I learned this from my trip to Sweden in 2015 in which I was sick for a day or two upon arrival. They always had a breakfast room open for 24 hour snacks, home cooked, or cereal, etc. That really helped. Prior to that, I'd never thought about an easy food source if I felt ill.

I had a great Camino in May, but when I arrived home, within 6 hours I had covid symptoms and tested positive the next morning. Fortunately, I wore a mask on the plane, thinking I was protecting myself, but in fact, in this case, I hopefully protected others. Home is the best place to have covid, but with a hotel with a restaurant and a 24 hour front desk, I feel I could manage or seek help when feeling very ill. Now, I just wish the symptoms didn't keep reoccurring so I might get excited about another trip.

I am not interested in an RS tour, at this time, that would kick me off of the bus because of Covid. Once they allow a person to mask and semi-isolate from the other travelers, I might continue. I would expect them to at least make sure I had a room while I recovered...I'm surprised they didn't do that according to one post above. I thought they had office support for the member. Nonetheless, I'd chose a tour group that doesn't kick me off the bus, etc., if I wanted a tour.

Posted by
1584 posts

Dear OP

Glad to hear that R S Organization was so helpful, kind and caring.

Glad to hear that you did not get very ill. I understand however that you did not know what might be coming.

I think the only way to fully recover mentally is to make the bad good. Go on another trip asap.

I have heard it said that when you have. a car accident, the best thing to do is to get behind the wheel again asap and drive.

Posted by
2447 posts

Mary, I'm so sorry you got Covid last year. Thank you for clarifying that RS didn't just kick you off the tour and leave you. You didn't mention trip insurance. Who did you have and did they cover any of your expenses?

On my South of France tour last September 14 of the 24 participants left the tour because of Covid, nine with Covid and five companions. I didn't, but I was vax'd, boosted and wore a mask almost all the time. Most of the people did not wear a mask. However, I got Covid 10 days after returning home, probably from a gathering to see an overseas friend. It was the only time I didn't wear a mask. Not fun. This year no one on the Berlin, Prague & Vienna tour got Covid. Only three of us usually wore masks. I'm 72 and these were solo trips, as is next year's. My husband refuses to travel.

Jean, Great ideas for Mary and for all. Mary, you probably have a happy place so maybe a trip there will get you back in the traveling spirit. It will help your comfort level. I'm going back to Italy next year, including the RS Villages Italy tour sandwiched between Venice and Florence to Rome. Venice is my happy place.
Jean, I didn't think to have a specific contingency plan this year for Covid. I do have contingency plans if I have to be hospitalized which include Transport to Bedside for my sister-in-law or friend which Allianz covers, plus Medjet Evacuation.

Posted by
2085 posts

I'm 78 and last year went to Switzerland solo, independently, and got Covid while there. I was staying in an apartment. I live alone at home and have no one to talk to, so I guess it didn't bother me that much. (I'm also an introvert!) Fortunately, my case was also "just a bad cold" type. I had a bit of food stocked in the apartment and, again fortunately, Switzerland was one of the countries that allowed you to go out (requesting that you wear a mask), so I could go to the store.

Next month, I am headed to Italy, again solo. I hope no issues arise, but I guess I feel confident that I'll be able to manage whatever comes up.

Posted by
4098 posts

Carol, I don't understand your comment. My husband did not get Covid when I did and tested negative, but you never know when you will test positive or how long you will test positive after you are well. So why wouldn't he leave when he could?

Posted by
2869 posts

I’m 69 now and travel mainly solo, as my husband hates flying and has little interest in the long flights to get to a place.
Last September I took my first trip since the pandemic began.
I am a retired RN, I’m fully vaccinated and wore masks , distanced and washed frequently .
On my last day in Italy I came down with Covid….I think I got it from a woman on a city bus, who was near me but didn’t look well.
Anyway, because I’m always solo, I was well prepared for an “event” to come along.
I always have been for all my trips.
I had taken out Covid coverage on my travel insurance, had an extra two weeks of medication and masks with me, had bookmarked likely hotels if I needed to isolate, and had all the phone numbers of my airlines and insurance at the ready.
I tested positive, then called the insurance people first for guidance.
Then I booked into a new nearby hotel for the next five days, first making sure there was a fridge in the room and that the staff would bring my breakfast to my room.
I then rebooked my flights home.
I dragged myself over to the new hotel, picking up some groceries on the way, and hunkered down till I felt able to fly home.
I’m very independent, so didn’t feel lonely.
As it happened, friends travelling in the UK got Covid at the same time, and a friend walking the Camino in Spain broke her ankle there same time .
So we were all more or less on the same time zone and kept each other company through phone, WhatsApp and FaceTime as we healed.
The takeaway is to be as prepared as humanly possible for every eventuality….it does pay off.

OP: don’t let it stop you from solo travel again!

Posted by
431 posts

OP, as others have mentioned, I encourage you to go somewhere familiar and perhaps stay in a hotel with 24 hour front desk staff and food close by in order to rebuild your comfort/confidence level.

I had Covid in May while in Paris and it definitely affected the 8 days there. I was quite sick for 5 of the 11 days I tested positive (self tested a few times) and was one of those folks on a plane while Covid positive. At least I was in a window seat in Business Class at the front of the cabin and I wore N95 masks 98% of the flight home. Hopefully I did not pass the virus to others.

I was not alone and my spouse was able to get us take out food and miraculously he didn’t get Covid from me. If I had been alone I would have had to push myself to pick up some basics and additional medicine but the pharmacy and Franprix were a block away which would have undoubtedly helped.

Some years ago I got Norovirus while in Budapest and I was quite sick with that for a week. We were in a larger hotel with staff resources there which would have been helpful had I been alone.

If I was travelling alone, I would definitely have a plan ‘just in case’. I’m a bit prone to ankle sprains and that worries me more as then I can’t necessarily walk to get what I might need. So I always travel with an ankle brace as one of my strategies.

In reading elsewhere of solo travellers having medical emergencies it has often been noted that the kindness of the locals and other travellers helped them navigate the emergency. I hope that gives you some comfort.

Posted by
4086 posts

SJ, are you sure you're not married to my husband "as my husband hates flying and has little interest in the long flights to get to a place."? 😃 Mine even retired from Boeing, but bailed from traveling after our 2014 trip. Now he'll only fly in an emergency and I had to force him to renew his passport in case he had to come to Europe to accompany me home.

Last summer I did the RS long Ireland tour, preceded by 3 nights in Dublin before it started and followed by about 2.5 self-planned weeks in Wales. On my 2nd day in Wales I tested positive for Covid. I assume it was the Omicron variant that was so active in the UK at the time. I was fully vaccinated and boosted. Fortunately, the only symptom I had was a slight fever which is what prompted me to test.

After that one day I felt fine and was able to do almost all the things I hoped to do on the trip. I masked more than most on the tour and more than almost all on the ferry, trains and buses I rode and on the plane trip home. I tested a pale positive one week after the 1st positive test and negative a week later than that. Text book.

I was 76 last summer. I was 68 when my husband opted out of European travel. Since then I've gone to Europe 5 years starting in 2016 at 70. I've done 5 RS tours with self-planned time before, after and between them and one 6-week totally self-planned trip in 2016.

I have multiple health issues that could affect me while I travel, but the sickest l've ever been on a trip was a significant allergic reaction to the blooming Jacaranda trees in Portugal and Spain in 2019 when I did 2 RS tours back to back. I had to miss a lot -- especially in Spain.

Some of the things I do and have done since 2016 to prepare for potential problems are:

Trip insurance -- I get it early enough to get the pre-existing conditions waiver. And I get the high medical coverage that includes everything needed to be covered in Europe or be transported home on an emergency basis, as well as repatriation of remains. I put copies of the trip insurance contact card in multiple places like are described below, take the basic coverage description with me and leave the full policy with my husband.

Medical emergency information -- I create a small (about 7"x3") ID kind of form with who I am, who my emergency contacts are and who my doctors are, all with phone numbers. It also lists what I have wrong with me, the meds and dosages I take and my latest lab results that aren't normal. I put several of those in a variety of places like my purse, my phone cover, my money belt (with my passport), my personal item, my major bag, etc. All the redundancy is in case something happens to me that prevents me from communicating and my purse or phone goes AWOL. I hope the emergency folks look for a money belt.

It's probably easier for me to not worry too much about traveling solo because I was single for 12 years between marriages. During that time I lived alone and worked in Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Germany. I also traveled solo for 4 months in Europe.

Any of us at any age can suffer adversity whether at home or abroad. I try to do my best to prepare for it. I still hope to travel, but it won't be until next year (when I'll be 78) and it most likely will be a river cruise or maybe one that stops at ports in the Baltics. I'm scheming on some other options as well, but I need to be realistic. This year while my husband is on Federal Grand Jury duty in Tucson is a good one to figure out what being realistic now means for me.

Posted by
13242 posts

This is a very interesting thread and I think the common themes here are to think about what you’d do if you got ill or injured, go somewhere familiar for your first foray back and go!!

I’ll also add to look at what the general view is about Covid in your destination. I learned last Spring in UK it’s basically treated like a cold or other respiratory virus. Mask if you feel ill but otherwise go on with your life.

I’m 74. Since October 2021 I’ve done trips to France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and UK. I’ve had solo time but each time I’ve done a tour as well. I’ve done 2 Road Scholar trips, 1 Rick Steves, and am now on my 2nd tour with Seymour Travels (a former RS guide). I’ve been lucky enough to evade Covid both on travels and at home.

On my flights last Sunday I put on my N95 when my brother dropped me at the curb at the Spokane Airport and didn’t take it off except for meals until I got to my hotel In Aberdeen. I was one of few masked in any airport or plane. Zero on the flight to Aberdeen from Amsterdam. Yes, I got “looks” because a mask is not really viewed as protecting yourself any more but viewed as you protecting others from whatever you’ve got.

I’m sorry you felt isolated when you were ill. I’m also a bit of an introvert and when I’m traveling solo can go for a long time without talking to others, lol. I do have a couple of circles of friends I “talk” to daily via FB messenger, What’s App and email. We all live distant from each other anyway so keep In contact that way anyway!

I’ll add that when I first started back to travel in Oct 2021, friends I’ve made from the forum were extremely helpful, supportive and calming as I returned to France. It was really helpful to hear from people who lived in France as to what the situation was on the ground at that time. To me (even living in Idaho where there apparently was no pandemic according to some!!😏) the view of Covid is very different in the US as opposed to in Europe in general (large continent so probably not a good idea to make such a blanket statement).

I also figure I’ve got maybe 5 more “touring” years so I need to get cracking!

I hope you will decide to return to travel!!

Posted by
286 posts

This is such an interesting topic to me. I’ve been mulling all these issues over quite a bit lately. I’m 73, have traveled solo to Europe for 15 years or so, started doing RS tours in 2014 always with at least another week of solo time included. I’m blessed with good health and walk 5 days a week to hopefully keep me going. I’ve never worried about health issues until now.

My husband would travel with me if I asked him to but we travel together in the states a lot and spending hours in museums isn’t really his thing and it definitely is mine so why torture the poor guy😁. I text and send pics and he loves when I am on a tour because it’s that little bit of extra assurance someone knows where I am. But he did agree to the RS Greece tour this past May and all was great until he got Covid after 3 tour days, 7 in country days. We were vaccinated and masked, like you Pam, usually the only people in the airport or plane or museum in Athens in a mask.

I don’t know if I feel better or not, but it is amazing to read in this thread how many of us ended up getting Covid while traveling. Our cases were also light fortunately, very tired the first 2 days, light cold symptoms and mild temperature elevation.

Since then I’ve done a solo NYC trip in June, we flew to Alaska in July and I’m going to Prague Budapest and Vienna in Oct and Nov solo on a RS tour with extra days before and a week in Vienna on my own. I'm telling myself it can’t happen twice, can it? I wish all of us luck and good wishes from the travel gods because I definitely feel the need to keep moving, there’s no guarantees when you are in our age bracket. I’ve scheduled 2 solo tours in ‘24 and my husband and I are trying another shot at Greece next May as well.

So I’d advise, get back out there, better to try again while you’re able than stay home and regret it and always wonder….

Posted by
3801 posts

This post appears to be dominated by women so I'm hoping a male point of view is OK. My Mom is 91 years old and when the pandemic began her senior's manor was often in lockdown and she was isolated for weeks at a time in her apartment. During that time I began calling her every day on my drive home from work, and that habit has continued even though 2-3 times a week now she's too busy to take my calls. But when we do speak we can get philosophical and she often regrets that she wasn't braver in her younger retirement years. She did manage to get to Europe a few times with her twin sister/best friend, but despite the bond, they often had different interests, and my Mom wasn't brave enough to split up if they wanted to do different things (knowing my aunt, she probably felt the same way).

My Mom is a professional worrier, and that, above all else restricted her from venturing out on her own during those travelling years. During our phone calls she can be full of shoulda-coulda-woulda comments of what she didn't see. Here's hoping any of you with concerns and anxieties, find solutions to why you should keep on travelling and not excuses of why you shouldn't.

By the way Mardee, your comment is my favourite of the day

"but let's face it. It's a 68 year old body and it has some issues."

I'm not into my 60's yet but that doesn't stop my body from acting more than it's age on occasion. My mind screams go-go-go, but my knees scream go-sit-at-a-pub.

Posted by
9874 posts

I live in Europe, have made five trips around France, Spain and Switzerland this summer, two in large groups of 25 to 40. Like everyone else where I live, if I feel some possible cold symptoms, I just continue. If it’s Covid, it’s mild and building immunity. If it’s mild, it’s not going to show on a home test.

However, what I assume is the new variant got me this week a day after getting home from a trip. Within one hour I went from energetically making a meal to spending three days sleeping. Boom. High fever, aches. Where did I get it? In a Swiss village. Our daily waiter had a migraine and then days off work. Another employee looked very tired, too. My husband didn’t get it. I’ll get a lab test tomorrow to verify and learn the variant because it will affect when I get a booster.

Watch out for the new variant but don’t let it stop you. Choose your happy place for a return. Once you figure out what exactly was so horrible, hopefully you can change it. Dreary hotel room? Choose so you have a balcony or access to outside space. Isolation? Get friends and family set up on your FB, Messenger, or WhatsApp. Luckily, mild Covid is a non-issue for Europe and you can continue your trip. Bad Covid is the pits but you can get that anti-viral medicine Paxlovid here. If anyone gets a bad case, just come online if you have an once of energy. There are people knowledgeable about the systems in each country and we give tips for food delivery info, doctors who make house calls, etc.

Posted by
2869 posts

Another quote for you:
A friend here, who is in her mid seventies says :

“At our age we are nearing the end of the runway, so pull up and keep flying” ! 🛫

Posted by
46 posts

Thank you all for your great sharing posts, guidance and encouragements. Allan, I appreciate you relating your Mother’s perspective as well. It was thought-provoking and inspiring.
I’m looking at tour options right now 😊

Posted by
2445 posts

Wow, Allan, your Mom sounds like some of my younger friends who voice many worries that prevent them from traveling. They have me as an example- I’ve been to Europe 4 times since August 2021 and will go for the 5th time mid-September. A worrier’s mindset is deeply rooted.
I’m sorry your Mom now voices her regrets. I’m determined to have no regrets when I am no longer physically able to travel. But I have all the wonderful free content Rick Steves has created to take me on virtual trips to Europe. Europe is my happy place!
This is a great topic.
OP, I’m glad you are now looking at tours. I often travel solo on Rick Steves tours. Great experiences!