Women Over Fifty
As Solo Travellers

Many women over fifty would love to travel and experience a different culture, a different landscape, but are reluctant to do so because they have no-one to travel with.

Travelling solo has many benefits so I wish to share my experience of a recent holiday to the island of Bali, Indonesia.

My last visit to Bali was over 25 years ago, with children and partner in tow. My focus was definitely on them and how they would handle this exotic experience.

This time was different, I was travelling solo, and as I stepped off the plane into the warmth of the Balinese night I wondered how the next 13 days would unfold.

Although I had confidently travelled as an 18 year old and celebrated turning 50 by backpacking around Italy and the Greek Islands, this trip felt different.

Feelings of anxiety gripped me as memories of the bombings and recent reports of theft and violence played on my mind. Perhaps I should have invited a friend?

However, stepping into my transport for the long trip to Ubud, I reminded myself of why I was here. As a speaker and corporate trainer leading a ‘booked-out’ life, I needed some serious R&R, so the mantra for this holiday was “Relax Not Rush!”

Tegal Sari, my hotel in Ubud, was the perfect place for this.

Early mornings were spent in a private walled garden of green palms, frangipanis and hot pink bougainvillea. The peaceful sound of gurgling water and the joyful chirping of colourful birds combined to create an environment in which I could relax, embrace the solitude and feel gratitude for my life’s experiences and the many lessons I have learnt along the way.

Women over fifty who have travelled solo understand the many benefits of doing so. One can come and go as one pleases, be totally devoted to one’s own interests, read for as long as one wants, eat when one wants and go to bed when one wants.

As a solo traveller, you can immerse yourself in the surroundings and notice things you would not have when chatting to a friend. Additionally, the locals or other tourists are more inclined to talk to you.

I have found the most challenging part of solo travel is how to spend the evenings. Not being much of a TV fan and not wanting to waste hours in my room watching movies, I decided one evening to walk into Ubud and eat at one of the many restaurants.

Walking there in the early evening light was fine and choosing to eat at Bollero’s was a delicious decision, but walking back in the dark was not.

The pavements in Ubud are tricky in the daytime and downright dangerous at night. One has to be constantly on guard to avoid stepping into a gaping hole or tripping over rubble.

Even so, the persistent cries of “Transport?” could not persuade me to step into a strange vehicle to get back to my hotel.

Although there are now fewer dogs roaming the streets of Ubud, they are still about, and it was with a sigh of relief I stepped back into the peace and quiet of my courtyard.

Truthfully, such a dramatic change in lifestyle was difficult for me.

After struggling with this unaccustomed leisure, I decided to book a Balinese cooking class with Lobong Cooking.

The good thing about group activities is … the group, hopefully.

Our group comprised of two young Americans and three other women over fifty from Queensland. The first stop was a ‘walk and talk’ through the markets. Sundie, our host, shared how to keep turmeric and ginger fresh: keep in soil, not in the fridge.

Under the guidance of Chef Sade, the next four hours were spent chopping, stirring, pounding, tasting and laughing.

After all these years of cooking, I finally learnt how to hold a knife properly.

The best part was eating the food: aromatic, tender and totally delicious.

I could not leave Ubud without visiting the Monkey Forest.

The Australian Smartraveller website warns of rabies, yet the travel forums say there is no rabies. I watched as visitors, not reading the signs, were harassed by some very big monkeys who grabbed at clothing and body parts.

Women over fifty, who travel solo, will find Ubud is a desirable destination.

With intriguing little shops, cafes and boutiques, it is a haven for retail therapy. Be totally pampered in the many spas for embarrassingly small amounts of money. And being solo, you can spend all the time you like having all that stress massaged right out of your body.

And perhaps find many other women over fifty having as much fun as you!

I truly lived my mantra: “Relax Not Rush!”

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