Solo travel is becoming more and more popular among older women. We find that we have the funds, the time and the desire to travel but not always a companion. We are divorced, widowed, married with a spouse who doesn’t love to travel or who is busy working. The one thing we have in common is that we are tired of waiting for others to come with us.

travelling with someone is great, but there isn’t always someone who can go when you want to go

Because I spent my twenties working, living, and travelling abroad on my own, it wasn’t a daunting task to take my first solo trip. I did a few trips with my sister in 2019 and then a month-long trip with a friend in 2022. Until these trips, I had only travelled alone or with my husband of almost 30 years and felt ready to get back to some solo adventuring.

To celebrate turning 60 this year, I booked a three-week trip to Spain and Iceland. Spain, so I could experience Semana Santa in Andalusia (my birthday fell on Good Friday). I was offered free airfare to Iceland from Play Airlines and I took that as a sign that I needed to just do it on my own. I have wanted to see Iceland for years but nobody ever wants to come with me. This trip would mean driving alone in Iceland (a first) and taking myself out of my comfort zone as a warm-weather traveller. Perfect.

Book Group Activities

So, to combat loneliness, I had a strategy. I would book activities, mostly in the evenings, because people tend to feel lonely then. After a day of solo wandering and sightseeing, the evening can stretch out the day. A three-hour cycling tour of Madrid was the perfect way to spend my first day in the city. It was a small group and our tour guide was great. It gave me a better idea of the places I would visit on my own and it was nice to meet new people. Other than that, I kept my days free.

My first night, I booked an amazing food tour and two back-to-back flamenco shows on my second night. That way, I could have company, meet people, and engage in social activity safely. It worked like a charm. I didn’t do this in Cordboa because the Semana Santa festivities kept me busy until late. There are processions far into the night during holy week and so the streets are bustling at all hours.

I booked an Adventurous Appetites Madrid Tapas Tour with a man named James through Airbnb. James has led food tours in Madrid for over 20 years and knows the city inside out. He took our small group to four places with unique specialties and vibes.

I have been on endless food and wine crawls, and this was the best experience I have had. We ate and drank things that were new to me, we visited places that we wouldn’t have found on our own. He has a gift of making everyone relaxed immediately, and it felt like a fun night out with new friends.

Do not miss this amazing tapas experience in Madrid

Is Airbnb safe for solo Female Travellers?

I recommend booking Airbnb shared accommodations, where you stay with your host and possibly other travellers in an apartment. I only choose super hosts and/or guest favourites with great reviews. This is non-negotiable when you travel, especially in shared accommodations. I felt too old for hostels, and single rooms in them cost more than a room in an apartment anyway.

solo travel accomodations

This apartment in Madrid was perfect! My host, Alphonso, was friendly and helpful, and his placee was gorgeous. It was nice to know that another human was in the place and you could interact with a local. His apartment was so quiet and a fabulous respite in a lively city despite its central location. It was close to the train station and walking distance to all the action.

The amenities were lovely: a great double bed, nice linens, a fabulous bathroom and an elevator. I would live there in a heartbeat.

Stay with Alphonso in Madrid

I then spent a week in Cordoba in a lovely apartment with three other bedrooms. The cost for the week was a fraction of getting my own apartment or hotel, I never had to wait to use the bathroom or sit on the patio that overlooked the city. But, again, there was someone to chat with every day if I wanted to. You can keep your bedroom door closed or initiate a conversation in the kitchen. It’s up to you.

In Iceland, I tried every accommodation option

In Iceland, I stayed in an expensive boutique hotel in Reykjavik, a family-run motel in the middle of nowhere and a smaller hotel about 10 minutes outside downtown Reykjavik. My least favourite and most expensive was the boutique hotel, to be perfectly honest. I love a nice hotel with my husband, but it doesn’t feel as welcoming on my own. My room was tiny, expensive and I didn’t see another person the whole time I was there.

The family-run hotel was nicer as it felt more personal and warm. Same with the hotel just outside Reykjavik – the staff was friendly, and for less than my tiny boutique room, I got a giant room with a king bed and living room and the use of their hot tub. The woman who checked me in also hooked me up with the hot tub and then served me my beer later than evening.

My favourite stay was with a farmer and his family about 20 km outside of Vik. My room was warm and cozy; I chatted with a young Spanish couple over a lovely homemade breakfast and spent an hour with my host, Tímea, and Snædís Fjólaand, her beautiful toddler. When my rental car needed a boost, she called someone for me and made me a coffee while we chatted and waited for the tow truck guy. If I return, I will stay here again. It’s also affordable, with breakfast included in a country where food and lodging are expensive.

The best part was that it is right behind Drangurinn in Drangshlíð. This famous rock is the home of elves who would care for the livestock in the cowsheds. I had visited this site earlier in the day and was delighted to find it was adjacent to my airbnb!

Stay with Þórarinn  BED AND BREAKFAST at the old farmhouse Drangshlíð 2 in Eyjafjallajökull area

Apps to help you meet people when you solo travel

Eatwith lets you have personal experiences that you just can’t get in a restaurant.

I find that when you travel with people, you keep to yourselves. You have built-in company, so you close yourself off from meeting new people. When you are alone, people often talk to you, invite you to sit with them, and even join them on an outing.

Eatwith is one of my favourites. You book a dinner cooked and hosted by a local in their home. Some people offer cooking classes, others multi-course dinners including wine. You will be a guest with other travellers in the host’s home. I have only had amazing experiences doing this.

Backpackr finds travel buddies and connects with like-minded travellers. This is great if you plan to backpack to more remote places and might not want to do it alone.

Tourlina is an app for women that lets you find new friends while travelling. In the app, you choose the destination, check out who will also be there, swipe left or right, chat with them, and make plans. You can also find locals and travellers to meet up with once you are there.

Meetup is similar to Tourlina, but it’s not just for women; it’s more about finding activities. Search for events happening where you are. It could be a 5k run, a brunch meet-up, or a comedy night. It’s a great way to meet people who like the same things.

We are all different and have unique travelling needs. Some people like to cruise or do all-inclusives, and that is fine, but at 60, I don’t want to feel like that is my only option for solo travel. I am not ready to give up my wandering ways, but I also like to meet people when I travel. Don’t let the fear of feeling lonely stop you from taking your dream trip on your own.