Q: "Are there more resources for a solo traveler? I am a senior woman and don’t travel as much as I would like to because of the exorbitant prices for a single person booking. It’s as though I am being penalized for wanting solo time!"
Q: "Hi, I’m old. 70 to be exact. After a lifetime of working I want to see some of the world before I die."
What is holding me back is the price of travel insurance. In Canada, where I live, for people 70+ get charged up to 50% of the cost of the trip. For me, this is extortionate!!!
As most of my desired trips are to Europe, is there anywhere I can get affordable travel insurance locally? Or is it that most people my age either don’t travel or travel without insurance? Any help/advice would be appreciated. Thanks!"
We’re combining these two questions, readers, because they hit on the same broad problem - if you’re an older traveller, or if you’re travelling alone, you tend to get over-charged.
Travel insurance abroad
Let's start with the reader who asked about travel insurance - our advice is that you should absolutely invest in it. (And do bear in mind that if you want to spend a longer period of time slow-travelling in Europe and end up needing a tourist visa, many countries will actively require proof of medical coverage.)
However, we probably wouldn’t recommend attempting to find a plan locally at your destination. This is for a few reasons:
- Some local insurance brokers do offer quotes for international visitors - for instance, you can buy a Manulife travel insurance plan either as a Canadian going abroad, or as a foreigner visiting Canada - but many others don’t. So this cuts you off from possibilities to find a good plan at a good price.
- When you’re researching your options, you might stumble onto a couple of pan-European insurance brokers which offer temptingly cheap travel insurance for international visitors across the entire Schengen area. But these brokers have almost universally bad customer reviews (even by the low, low standards of insurance companies more broadly) so we’d be extremely cautious about applying for a plan with them.
- Sometimes (see above), companies can let you down. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to place an insurance claim and it’s rejected unfairly, you’ll need to be able to follow the company’s complaints process and, if necessary, appeal to a higher authority. Doing this from abroad makes things much more difficult and stressful for you!
We’d recommend the boring but sensible option - start with an insurance comparison site based in Canada and review your options, double-checking the fine print as you go.
We used Insure My Trip Canada, inputted a birth-date of 1950 (so putting ourselves at 72 years old) and a $3,000 estimated spend, and found an all-inclusive plan for $500 - so still pricey, but at least not 50% of your total budget!
Since you’re planning on a number of different trips, you should also talk to your chosen insurer about what multi-trip plans they offer - it could be that you can save some money there.
Good luck and hope you have an absolutely fantastic time across Europe!
As for our reader who was asking about solo resources - yes, that's absolutely something we can help with.
There are a few travel companies out there which are geared towards supporting solo travel, finding reasonable accommodation for a lone wanderer, etc - Tripsavvy has a great round-up of their favourites here.
But if you want to go it alone, you could also check out some of the incredible peer-to-peer networks out there.
The Solo Female Traveller Network started up in 2016 and they're now a Facebook group with over 500,000 members - while they do run organised meet-ups across the world, they're also absolutely invaluable as a source of useful tips from real people.
(They also have a smaller over-40s group if you'd prefer!) Drop in, ask for advice about avoiding sky-high costs on your planned itinerary, and reap the wisdom from your fellow travellers.
Meanwhile, Lonely Planet and Which? have their own incredibly helpful recommendations on how you can save money as a solo traveller - and Women On The Road has a great list of links for budgeting (from cost calculators to suggested itineraries.
If your budget is particularly tight, there are also a few women's-only hostels out there which tend to be popular with solo travellers. (We've heard good things about Hostelle, which has branches in Amsterdam, London and Barcelona - and Orsa Maggiore Hostel For Women in Rome, a non-profit enterprise with both private and dorm rooms located inside the city's International Women's House.
Good luck and happy travels!
Flights to Philly
Are there any direct flights from Manchester, UK to Philadelphia, USA restarted yet? If not, any idea when they may start up again?
I'm unable to visit my family in the USA due to disability and unable to change flights and hang around the airport for 3-4 hours waiting for a connecting flight!
We’re sorry to say we don’t have any good news on this one, reader - American Airlines were planning to restart Manchester to Philadelphia direct flights back in summer 2021, but discontinued the route due to lack of uptake.
Right now, the only direct flight to Philadelphia from UK is from London Heathrow - and we appreciate that travelling down there from Manchester on the train may not be any easier than making the transfer.
We’ll keep an eye out for you - and we’ll keep our fingers firmly crossed that something changes.
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