Inspiring a Reader to Travel Alone While AARP Offers Tips for Solo Travel

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Christmas Light Canal Cruise with King Fisher Fleet and Banana Bay Tour Company, Punta Gorda, Fla., Dec. 2014

Christmas Light Canal Cruise with King Fisher Fleet and Banana Bay Tour Company, Punta Gorda, Fla., Dec. 2014

You have no idea how a much it means to me when someone tells me I’ve inspired them. Solo Travel Girl is meant to inspire others to travel alone, not lonely and Friday night, I had the pleasure of meeting up with one of my blog readers who has become a friend. Sherri from Canada is the founder of the St. Clair Surfwear Co. and was on her FIRST solo vacation. I was honored when she told me I was part of her inspiration for taking the trip.

First Time Traveling Solo
Her destination was Key West and to keep costs down, she flew into the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, spent the night and hopped on the Key West Express, a passenger ferry connecting travelers between Fort Myers Beach and Marco Island to Key West.

The Crew of the Banana Bay Tour Company Took Good Care of Us. This is First Mate Andy, Me and Sherri

The Crew of the Banana Bay Tour Company Took Good Care of Us. This is First Mate Andy, Me and Sherri

As Sherri’s plans came together, I agreed to pick her up from the airport. Within two hours of meeting at the airport, we were on a boat cruising the canals of Punta Gorda enjoying the Christmas Light Canal Cruise with King Fisher Fleet out of Fishermen’s Village. Although I had already been on the cruise twice this season, it was the first time I had cruised with the Banana Bay Tour Company which partners with King Fisher Fleet.

We talked a about her trip and although she was a little nervous, she did her research about what to do, what to see, and where to eat which I’m sure put her mind at ease. Sherri also learned things cost more as a solo traveler because you’re not sharing the costs with someone. Interestingly, one of the tour companies she booked an excursion with assumed she was a party of two. She also had passengers on her flight tell her she was brave for making the trip solo.

Sherri returns home this week and from what I can see from her social media posts, she’s having a fantastic time soaking up the Florida sunshine. Looks like she met new friends on the ferry and she’s stepped outside her comfort zone. I’m so proud of her making this trip and hope she feels empowered to tackle other challenges that may appear down the road.

Hanging with the Crew of the Banana Bay Tour Company. This is Capt. JT, Sherri and First Mate Andy.

Hanging with the Crew of the Banana Bay Tour Company. This is Capt. JT, Sherri and First Mate Andy.

AARP Releases New Research of Solo Travel
Coincidentally, I recently received a recap of research on solo travel conducted by AARP Travel, a valuable resource for America’s 76 million baby boomers (and Gen Xers in 2015 when the first wave of Generation X turns 50) who spend over $120 billion annually in leisure travel with 37 percent traveling alone. Solo travel has become a transformative way for people 45+ to have the freedom to set their own schedules and get away.

Key Benefits Americans 45+ Experience While Traveling Solo
Why do people 45+ choose to travel solo? The research found these top six reasons:

  • Just getting out of town
  • Seeing something new
  • The food
  • Meeting new people
  • Being somewhere new
  • Learning something new
Times Square, New York City, NY April 2012

Times Square, New York City, NY April 2012

Top Solo Travel Destinations for Americans 45+
Where do Americans 45+ like to vacation solo? Sixty-eight percent of the respondents took solo travel vacations in the U.S. as opposed to international destinations. Over the last two years the top domestic destinations were:

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Las Vegas
  4. New York
  5. Texas

Eighteen percent of respondents chose international destinations. Over the last two years the top international destinations were:

  1. Caribbean
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Mexico

Traveling Solo Isn’t Easy
Not surprising, the survey revealed these top 10 hardships in a solo trip:

  1. Sticking to budget
  2. Budgeting for the trip
  3. Coordinating ground transportation
  4. Identifying activities at the destination
  5. Dealing with solo fees
  6. Booking airfare
  7. Developing an itinerary
  8. Sharing and capturing moments
  9. Choosing the best time to travel
  10. Nothing seems to be a hardship
Samaná, Dominican Republic Feb. 2014

Samaná, Dominican Republic Feb. 2014

AARP Travel Offers Five Tips for Solo Travel
Whether you’re planning your first solo travel adventure or you’re a seasoned vagabonding pro, AARP Travel offers these tips for an enjoyable trip.

Select your destinations carefully – certain locales like resorts attract couples while others are more appealing for solo travels. Generally, cosmopolitan destinations and those with a thriving expat community are ideal for solo trips. Sherri selected her destination and another reader emailed me asking where I recommended she spend Christmas alone and I suggested Key West.

Go local with the transportation – Use public transportation as much as you can; it’s the best way to learn about the city, save money, and make new friends. In Sherri’s case, it’s easy to get around in Key West, as well as metropolitan areas as New York and Chicago.

A little planning in advance means you’ll be spending less time worrying and more time having fun. – With resources such as AARP Travel, solo travelers can easily customize their adventure or reference one of the pre-planned itineraries courtesy of AARP. http://travel.aarp.org

Get social! – Signing up for group tours and excursions are excellent ways for meeting travel companions and keeping costs down.

Trust your intuition – Going alone is not necessarily more dangerous or risky; it just requires extra awareness. Enjoy yourself but listen to your instincts.

AARP Travel Ambassador and Travel Channel host Samantha Brown and AARP Travel offer some valuable tips and even some discounts on solo vacations which can be viewed at aarp.org/solotravel.

Are you planning your first solo trip? Tell me about! Or maybe you’re a seasoned solo traveler. If so, where was your first trip?

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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