How a trip of a lifetime turned into my first solo trip

Solo traveler snapshot

Deborah on a train in Sri Lanka

Photo credit: Deborah Ives

  • Last name: Deborah I.
  • Age: 62
  • Location: London
  • Marital status: Divorce
  • Favorite solo trip: Sri Lanka

Deborah has always loved to travel. An unexpected divorce forced her to see travel differently. Now she helps other women traveling alone. She started a Facebook group for women over 50. To date, over 150,000 members connect and share stories. Deborah explains some of her favorite trips and tips for getting out and about!

First solo trip

The journey awaits you: What was your first solo trip?

Deborah: I remember my first solo trip like it was yesterday! Coming out of an unexpected divorce, there was no way I was willing to lose the deposit I had already paid on a trip of a lifetime to Borneo for two, so I decided to go it alone . There were moments of sheer panic – instances of the sadness of being alone in such a fabulous place. But the fantastic and rewarding experiences have given me the confidence to continue my solo travels and to truly embrace the freedom and fun it brings.

Favorite aspect of solo travel

The journey awaits you: What’s your favorite part of solo travel?

Deborah: I love traveling with my friends and family but, for me, one of the joys of being alone later in life is that I can be completely selfish when it comes to my vacations. It’s about choosing the trip I really want to take and creating my own travel memories, one experience at a time.

My travel style is to go independently, booking most in advance. I love the security and peace of mind it gives me and I absolutely need to know that someone will be waiting for me at the end of a very long trip!

Favorite solo trip

The journey awaits you: What was your favorite solo trip and why?

Deborah: With so many wonderful solo trips, it’s hard to pick my favorite. I think I would say Sri Lanka. I have been there a few times. My last trip was my favorite as I combined it with a week on a local island in the Maldives.

Sri Lanka is incredibly beautiful, has the most amazing culture and food, the friendliest people, amazing beaches, wonderful wildlife, and is very safe. It ticked all my boxes. I am an avid diver and added a week to go diving with whale sharks on Dhigurah Island. Being an island local, I stayed in a small, no-frills hotel right on the beach. But it was all on the beach because it was such a small island. I had the time of my life. I saw whale sharks, which are always one of the highlights of my life, and had such a relaxing stay, without the trappings of the bigger resorts. I’ve actually stayed solo at one of these as well, but I prefer the local island any day of the week.

Solo travel’s biggest problem

The journey awaits you: What was your biggest concern before your first solo trip and how did you overcome it?

Deborah: I had so many worries when I first left. I guess safety was most important. I told all my friends where I was going, stayed in touch along the way, planned and confirmed my itinerary. Finally, I started! It took me a while to really relax, but my first solo trip to Borneo was amazing and probably life changing.

Group or independent travel

The journey awaits you: Are you traveling in a group or independently and why?

Deborah: I do both depending on where I’m going and for how long. Most of the time I go there independently, but I always have everything booked and know exactly where I’m going.

A big help for me is to always have pick-ups at airports when I arrive somewhere new.

I always meet people along the way and one of the biggest things I hear about solo travel is that people always end up making new friends. I recently booked a group tour to Jordan as this is an area where I would appreciate some expert advice along the way. I also go on dive group vacations, which end up being amazing.

The journey awaits you: Do you have a favorite group travel agency for solo travellers?

Deborah: I don’t use many, but I always look for companies that travel eco-friendly and support local communities, businesses and individuals.

Favorite Travel Product

The journey awaits you: What is the product that you cannot do without during your travels?

Deborah: A lovely friend of mine has her own organic and natural skincare brand, Alexandra Soveral. His very first product was Angel Balm. To this day, I cannot leave without him. It is a perfect product to take on a trip as it is multifunctional, serving as a cleanser, moisturizer, balm for burns or dry skin, and rejuvenating facial treatment. Plus it smells like paradise!

I would have liked to join a group for this trip…

The journey awaits you: Is there a solo location/destination that would have been better in a group and why?

Name of traveler: My second solo trip was to Argentina and it wasn’t a huge success. I started in Buenos Aires and chose a hotel a bit out of town which was small and had no bar or restaurant. I didn’t speak a word of Spanish and felt uncomfortable walking alone. I really didn’t see much as I was hanging out in a place where I felt safe. I recently saw a documentary about the city and it looked fabulous. I thought, Oh my god, I didn’t see any of that! I would love to go back and really explore with a guide in the safety of a group.

Top tips for solo travelers

The journey awaits you: What advice would you give to someone considering traveling alone?

Name of traveler: Do it. Plan well, be brave but reasonable, be open to all experiences and enjoy!

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