Life & Culture

Seniors Traveling Solo: Some Great Solutions


Today, more older Americans are traveling solo — and that doesn’t mean they’re looking for a mate. Solo travelers say they love their own company, want to make their own itineraries and prefer to travel at their own pace. Traveling alone also makes it more likely that you’ll interact with the locals.

Still, for many women especially, the thought of venturing out all alone can be intimidating. We worry we’ll feel lonely or unsafe. We dread sitting by ourselves at a café or restaurant.

It doesn’t have to feel that way.

We’ve come up with interesting international choices for solo travelers who want the option to connect with others — or even to be a part of something bigger. They’re not beach vacations; they are adventures.

1. Voluntourism 

“That 2-week package tour of Peru would cost far more than you are paying to spend two weeks making some toddlers’ lives happy in a Peruvian orphanage. And what you bring home from your volunteer experience is priceless.” Global volunteer Dorothy Conlon.

Merging overseas travel with volunteer service, voluntourism is a way to learn while you’re traveling, immerse yourself in another culture and give back in a tangible, significant way.

The opportunities to help are endless. You could provide care for orphaned children, teach English, build schools or assist in field research on coral reefs or among nesting sea turtles. Whichever you choose, you’ll be part of a specific project, allowing for both together time and opportunities to go it alone.

Because you’re older, you’ll probably find that the skills and patience you’ve developed will prove extremely useful all over the globe. And many voluntourists create lasting friendships with fellow project volunteers and the locals they serve.

The Basics

How long?  Trips can last anywhere from a few days to months.
How much?  As a voluntourist, you pay your own expenses, including a built-in donation to the project. If the voluntourism organization is a nonprofit, your costs — including airfare — may be deductible. Costs vary, depending on destination and trip length. Program fees in Peru or Costa Rica through the Global Volunteer Network: $250 application fee; $495 per week up to the first four weeks, then $200 per week. This includes housing, meals, airport transfers, supervision, training and coordination. Flights, travel insurance, Visa (if required) are not included.
Single supplement? Varies, but in most cases there is no single supplement. (Some organizations pair single travelers with other singles in a double room.)


We recommend picking an organization that is member of Among them:

Habitat for Humanity Global Volunteer NetworkTransitions AbroadTravel With a Challenge

A Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteer describes her experience:

2. Hosteling

“New friends and fresh knowledge: that’s what the hostel experience for an older independent traveler is really all about.” Bill Hrick 

When you think of hostels, you probably think of students backpacking around and sleeping in dorms. But after the summer, when students are back in school, hostels become a low-cost and community-centric alternative to hotels for seniors. Many offer single rooms, and the global locations and variety of accommodations, from remote country cottages to historic castles and downtown buildings, means there’s something for everyone.

Hostels emphasize the communal. While some ask visitors to pitch in with cleaning help, making for an all-in-it-together atmosphere, the global chain Hostelling International has abandoned that practice. But HI hostels do offer communal kitchens, and most have TV lounges, bars and cafes for leisure time. Others offer themed activities, such as environmental study, local cultural tours, special events and performances. And most hostels offer a range of accommodations — you can choose from a mixed or single-sex dorms and private rooms (in this case, you pay less for single occupancy, not more).

A few “cons” to consider: possible nighttime noise from the common areas or dorm rooms, even though there are quiet hours, and strict curfews — don’t be late getting back in the evening, because they really do lock the doors!

The Basics

How long? Book one night or up to several weeks at a time.
How much?  Varies depending on destination and length of stay. With Hostelling International USA, senior membership for ages 55+ is $18 annually. Rates for hostels in the HI chain or independents start from $17 + tax per night for a dorm room with 8 to10 people, to up to $99 + tax for a single room per night, which includes breakfast.
Single supplement? Not in a single or bunk room!


Read Bill Hrick on the senior hostelling experience, along with his senior hosteling tips. 

3. Hosted Accommodations

“Couch surfing has enabled me to meet some amazing people and have experiences I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve sailed with a host who is a skipper in La Rochelle, France and stayed in a hamlet in the Welsh countryside.” Stephen Bugno

Through so-called sharing economy’s “hotel alternatives,” Airbnb and Couchsurfing, you get to enjoy the advantages of travel solo without being so alone. Both options involve staying in someone’s home, and not only are seniors the fastest growing group of hosts — they also, according to a recent report, tend to be the most welcoming and friendly.

Couchsurfing International is a global network of people who offer a spare room or just a sofa for free to travelers as a way to connect with people from around the world. AirBnB is also worldwide (including, most recently, Cuba) and hosts charge per night. Both services require hosts and travelers to fill out detailed profiles that offer a sense of who they are and their lifestyle. Traveler and host review one another, too. Some hosts make a point of saying that they’ll leave you alone, so if you’re looking for company, read the profiles and reviews carefully.

The Basics

How long? Couchsurfing has no minimum or maximum stay, but you are taking advantage of someone’s hospitality; on AirBnB, some hosts stipulate a minimum of two or three days, and prior bookings by other travelers might limit the length of time you can stay.
How much? Couchsurfing is free. AirBnB is cheaper than most hotels. The 300-plus options listed for Vancouver, Canada range from $20 to $157 per night, with an average rate of $99.
Single supplement? AirBnB hosts generally charge the same for one or two people — but if you’re alone you don’t get to share the cost of the room.


Read the SeniorPlanet article about Airbnb
Read SeniorPlanet’s article about Couchsurfing

4. Special Interest Tours and Cruises

“I’m dancing on the top deck with a 71-year-old feminist and psychotherapist whom I’ve come to think of as the Twirler. We’ve spent two days attending seminars on The Nation magazine’s Alaska cruise…. Now, at almost midnight, my fiercely intelligent and opinionated new friend Charlotte is putting all the heady political talk behind her by bodily twirling.” Henry Alford

Have a hobby or interest you’d like to indulge in while traveling? Find a niche tour or cruise by entering “[your hobby or interest] + tours or cruises” into your Google search bar and surf the options.

These groups are usually small. Tours typically limit capacity to between 10 and 24 people, and cruises are on smaller passenger or expedition ships or might be a sub-group on a larger cruise ship.

A niche cruise could be the perfect travel solution for a first time solo traveler. You book a private cabin but have a community of people who share your interest right outside your stateroom door. You control the mix.

You can find niche tours geared for seniors only (Road Scholar — formerly Elderhostel) and LGBT travelers (Brand g Vacations). Some options include tours for theater lovers and literary tours to Italy or Paris that explore where a favorite author lived and wrote. You can find non-traditional cruises online for interests such as motorcycles, reggae, history, wine, Big Band and even craft beer.

The Basics

How long? Varies depending upon trip, but most are 7 days minimum and some are as long as 2 to 3 weeks.
How much? Varies based on destination and length of trip.
Single supplement? Tour operators and cruise ships have drastically reduced or altogether eliminated single supplement charges, but be sure to read the fine print before booking. Some will pair you with a roommate — a chance to make a new friend (if you’re lucky).


More Resources

Which if any of our options appeal to you? Share your thoughts — or your tips — in the comments section below.


47 responses to “Seniors Traveling Solo: Some Great Solutions

  1. As alternatives to Airbnb and Couchsurfing, there are several Hospitality Exchange Clubs that cater to seniors and offer hosted accommodations for $15 per night single / $20 for a couple. The Affordable Travel Club ( has been in business for almost 30 years and they have several thousand host locations worldwide. Membership is only $65 per year. The Evergreen Club is another hospitality exchange club that is very similar.

    1. Hello Gary!!! Thank you so much for sharing that link!! I’ve been solo traveling for several years now and I take 4-6 trips a year. (These past 6 months have been very hard on me!)
      I am going to check out that site now!! Perhaps one day we’ll bump into each other.
      Until then, happy traveling!

  2. I didn’t realize hostels were okay for older people. I don’t know…I guess I just thought they were only for college kids or around that age. Are there country-specific places you’d suggest? I’m looking for places that don’t have a bunch of people going to them.

    1. Hi Evan!!! I was introduced to Hostels while vacationing in Europe. I was in my 4it’s, about 10 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed them and have just recently (Deceber 2019) booked a hostel while in Hawaii! I was 3 walking blocks away from the ocean and paid $30-50/a night.
      What I LOVE about hostels is the fact that I not only got to meet new people but they offer the same amenities as hotels AND they ordered excursions, grp activities, and more.
      There’s a hostel in Chicago IL that I’m truly delighted to go see.
      I hope you’ll get to experience the joy and fun that I have had while hosteling!!

  3. Hello ;

    I am Ravi, a male Senior 64 on a 2 week Solo Trip to Italy commencing from April 19 and proceeding direct to Venice. I am a Vegetarian from India and first time to Europe. Would like to team up with any other willing Solo traveler for the remaining period from April 21st. Want to visit Florence and other places to understand and appreciate local lifestyle, culture, art – all mixed with Travel.Like to travel on similar footings to other places in Europe and everywhere.

    1. Hello Ravi,
      I’m looking at your comment several months later. I’m not a vegetarian and have been to Italy many times but am looking to travel to Spain and other destinations around the world. I live in the USA. My name is Preeti. Let me know if you are interested.

  4. I would like to meet up with seniors who like to go camping. Nothing elaborate (rent an RV, cabin, large tent or…) I live in southern California where there are great campgrounds, even at the beach. My favorite area is Yosemite (yes, I know it’s tricky to reserve a campsite there), the redwoods, beach sites. Fish Camp (near Yosemite) let’s you ride horses, camp, and explore.

    1. Hello Cheryl, I stumbled on this website and started reading the various options for seniors in solo travel.
      I am about to celebrate turning 65 this June and one of the activities I enjoy is camping. I’m here though in PA. I’d be willing to travel to meet you halfway to go camping with you maybe in the US. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon that might be a place to start if interested.

  5. Travelling by yourself means you are left to navigate your place in the world, to embrace or shun the ever-changing call of the wild. No matter where you go and what you do, it will change you.

  6. Hi
    I would like to travel , but with group and tour guide.
    if you can help , will be terrific. It always better to share what makes you happy…but not to enjoy alone.


    1. Hi Victoria
      Did you get any replies? Like yiu, I prefer the tour guide kind of travel. Love cruises and other countries with a tour group. Please let me know what you have learned. I don’t like the idea if paying the “single” rate mark up.

    1. I’m catherine. Just accidently happened upon this site. I’m 70 and a widow. Love to travel and want to meet new people. I would love to room with another lady I have one problem. I have chemical sensitivities. That means I can’t handle being around scented products. I always carry unscented shampoo soap deodorants, hairspray for myself and anyone else who wouldn’t mind refraining from using scented products in order to room with me. It’s really not so difficult if you’d be willing. I’ve had a number of friends in the past that have started going totally ‘chemical/scent free permanently, once they got use to it. I’m presently also looking to move out of the state I’m in (Florida) and hoping for a small community in which I may also meet new friends and do new things. Im also looking for a community where I do not have to drive everywhere, but can shop by walking, or public transportation (or even where car service is available) I’m in Florida but haven’t been happy here. Any suggestions for a move to the kind of area I’m looking for? I’ve been sitting home alone for too long – it’s time to start living a little, especially through travel

      1. I am in Maricopa, AZ. I moved here from Washington a couple of years ago. I like to travel and see new things. I lost my husband two years ago. Would like to find someone to travel and go on cruises with. When it gets too hot here in the summer, I go north with my motorhome. Lots of seniors here and very friendly. I wouldn’t like Florida either. Too much humidity. I am also chemically sensitive to scents. I worked in a moldy building and got sensitive then. I have been looking at cruises that leave from New Orleans and go up the Mississippi River and back. Its a 7day cruise on American cruise line. I like to look at old houses.

      2. Hi Catherine W. My name is Judith S. (You can call me Judy if you like.) I am 75 and live in Jerusalem. I, particularly after Covid passes, am looking for a travel companion. Places I’d like to see are Spain and Greece. I’m an artist (amateur) and I love to visit museums and older villages. I’ve been on boats but not been on a travel cruise. I’m definitely not the athletic type but I have no problem with my comanion and I splitting for a day or so giving a sports enthusiast time to climb, run and leap while I find a quiet place to explore. I am not particular about travel time, beginning or end, as long as the virus does not like the same places I do. If interested. Please reply with same objectives. I look forward to hearing from you.

  7. I am a senior who loves to travel but find it more affordable to have a sole sister and also more fun
    I know it is scary to hook up with a stranger but would like to email for a while to get to know. Is this the site to find someone like me?
    Ramona B.
    I am in Florida

    1. Do you know of any volunteer site’s where they
      pay you to travel to do volunteer work! Plus have a few days off. Unfortunately I only have my SS to live off of, and on a tight budget. I’m 74 female
      live alone, and got laid off my job. After 10 years,
      but would love to venture out. I have 4 grown children who all own their homes and are hard workers. 6 beautiful grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren. But they have their lives to live and have always helped if I’m in need. But I would like to do something without asking for their help. Thank you

      1. Actually – I’ve just joined and scribbled a profile, need a picture or yourself.

        Plan to check it out and see if there are seniors that’d like to travel with one or more like minded seniors.

      1. I’m glad I came across this site. And I’m going to also going to check out
        I’m ,61 I’m already faceing depression of being alone and ignored by siblings as if im not worst being in invited .specially holidays has been hard to be alone now all 3 pets of my no longer with me 2 pass away and one they not allowing me to bring to my supportive houseing even when I submitted a letter from my doctor and this is my 12 year old family cat. Now she’s stuck with a lady that rescues pets. It hurts.

  8. You keep saying ” for women especially” when referring to seniors. What about the single senior male? We aren’t ‘t lonely as well? Yes we are. I at least am not looking for another life partner. I enjoy human interaction when traveling, and don’t want to be treated any different. What I really dislike is being charged extra for being single! I avoid those travel companies.

    1. i am facing the same problems as others. Recent Widow for over 2 years and all my friends are still married. Tried church groups but not interesting enough. Looking for a traveling companion. Had plans to go on a cruise to Alaska before spouse passed away. Still interested in taking that trip. Don’t want to travel alone. Are there any groups for women over 70 in good health. Love photography, horse back riding, cooking, short hikes. fishing, camping.

  9. Good article, Linda. I would add one more solution: Study programs. I did a study program a few years ago to learn Italian. It was great! I had my own apt. (I could have shared for less $), morning classes, and evening activities. I loved it!

      1. In Italy, I studied in Florence at the Instituto Michelangelo, but I have also traveled with study programs through Saddleback College. Many community colleges have programs both long and short.

      1. Hi Catherine W. My name is Judith S. (You can call me Judy if you like.) I am 75 and live in Jerusalem. I, particularly after Covid passes, am looking for a travel companion. The study program you describe sounds great to me. Places I’d like to see are Italy, Spain and Greece. I’m an artist (amateur) and I love to visit museums and older villages. I’ve been on boats but not been on a travel cruise. I’m definitely not the athletic type but I have no problem with my comanion and I splitting for a day or so giving a sports enthusiast time to climb, run and leap while I find a quiet place to explore. I am not particular about travel time, beginning or end, as long as the virus does not like the same places I do. If interested. Please reply with same objectives. I look forward to hearing from you. Judith

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