Travel Resources for the Solo Traveler

As I travel the world, I have had a hard time finding a list of helpful travel resources for the over-50 solo traveler.   I have found some helpful blogs that give information about keeping down travel costs:

Regarding jet lag, it typically takes one day to recover.  But, steps can be taken to lessen the impact- how to avoid or minimize the effects of jet lag.

frogs with luggage walking around a globePacking Lists

What to wear and what to pack?  I like clothes from Travelsmith, Chicos, Columbia (like their convertible pants, although they are not particularly “cute”), and J.Jill.   Again, the goal is affordable travel clothes.  I have learned (from too many years of overpacking) is that you never need to travel with more than five pieces of any one kind of clothing (except for underwear).   I also learned to buy clothes that can function in a variety of climates and activities.   Finally, to be respectful of the country I am visiting, and because … hello – AGE! ... I tend to dress conservatively when traveling.  To that end, scarves come in handy, as do long skirts/dresses.  A longer button up shirt can multi-function (wear alone, as a tunic, or as a light jacket).  Clothes with hidden pockets are also a good idea, such as t-shirts from the Clever Travel Companion.

t shirt with pockets
Clever Travel Companion’s t-shirt with two pockets

What follows are packing lists from several websites of what WOMEN should pack when traveling to various climates. (I will create a packing list for MEN when I update this page.) For country-specific information, there is helpful information on the Travel Fashion Girl Blog.

Hot Climates

• 5 thin tank or sleeveless tops to mix and match with different bottoms
• 3 pairs of non-denim shorts or capris
• 2 long skirts or dresses for conservative locations
• 3 pairs of light cotton pants/leggings
• 9 pairs of comfortable underwear
• 2 pairs of socks (thin breathable material
• Hiking or running shoes
• Sandals/flip flops

Also include a hat with a brim to cover the face, a scarf (for evening or conservative places), and sunglasses.

Temperate (Moderate) Climates

• 3 tank or sleeveless tops
• 2 long-sleeved shirts
• 3 t-shirts
• 2 tunic shirts or dresses
• A pair of jeans or thick pants
• 2–3 pairs of shorts or capris
• A pair of leggings
• 9 pairs of comfortable underwear
• 4 pairs of socks: some for sports shoes and some for boots
• Boots or closed-toed shoes
• Hiking or running shoes
• Flip-flops/sandals
• An all-purpose waterproof jacket

Cold Climates

• 3–4 long-sleeved shirts
• 2 thermal shirts
• 3 sweaters and/or sweater dresses
• 1 pair of jeans/thick pants
• 3–4 pairs of leggings
• 9 pairs of comfortable underwear
• 7 pairs of thick socks
• Snow boots
• 1 heavy coat
• Gloves
• 1 scarf
• A winter hat (or touk, as we called them when I lived in Canada!)

Additionally, you should pack the following:

Documents
  • Your passport, and keep a photocopy and digital copy as well
  • Visas and paperwork showing onward travel (if necessary)
  • Wallet with an additional photo id, such as a driver’s license
  • Credit and Debit cards (I stash the cards in 2-3 locations in case of theft)
  • Flight and accommodation information
  • Insurance information
Toiletries
  • Toothbrush (unless you use your finger) and toothpaste
  • Razors
  • Tweezers
  • Nail clippers
  • Glasses and repair kit
  • Contact lenses
  • Towel
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup
  • Sunscreen
  • Hair bands, clips
  • Hairbrush/comb
  • Shower gel
  • Facial cleanser
  • Dry Shampoo or bar shampoo/conditioner
  • Feminine hygiene products
First Aid Kit
  • Bandaids
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Antibacterial cream
  • Earplugs and eye mask
  • Tylenol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Any medication (make sure it’s labeled)
Electronics
  • Cellphone and charger
  • Laptop (or tablet) and charger
  • Camera and charger (unless you use your phone to take pictures)
  • Universal power adapter
  • SIM card(s) if using a GSM cell
  • Headphones
Mobile Phone

Although my cell phone is GSM, I carry a cheap travel phone when venturing overseas. I don’t want to pay roaming costs, and I don’t want to freak out if I lose my iPhone. With the advent of Skype, WhatsApp, there is no reason to spend a lot of money.

Miscellaneous
  • Lock (keyed or combination lock)
  • Ziplock bags (for liquids)
  • Travel clothesline
  • Laundry bag/plastic bag
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Packing Cubes
  • Sleeping  bag (if necessary)
Luggage

The luggage you use as a carry on in the US may be too big as a carry on overseas. Airline carry on allowances vary. Before you take that flight, check your airline’s website!

Someone on Facebook noted that the most universal maximum sizes for luggage are:
Carry-on: 55 X 40 X 20 cm = 21.6 X 15.7 X 7.8 inches
Personal item 35 X 20 x 20 cm = 13.7 X 7.8 X 7.8 inches

To make sure you do not exceed weight allowances:

  • Start with a lightweight bag.
  • Wear your heaviest clothes/shoes and, since planes always seem too cold, wear a few layers.
  • Carry heavier items (cameras, batteries, cords) in your jacket pockets.
  • If there is no weight restriction on your personal item, make it heavy!
  • If needed, pre-purchase checked baggage. It’s way cheaper than at the counter.

An easy way to weigh bags is to use your bathroom scale.  Weigh yourself, then weigh yourself while holding your bag/s.  Obviously, the difference is the luggage weight.  You do not need to buy luggage scales.

A Word about Footwear

If you have wide width feet,  Merrill’s and Keens are a good walking shoe option, although not stylish.   For more stylish picks,  Clarks and Aetrex shoes are options.

If you have Narrow width feet, try  Salomon and Columbia.

If you are a woman who likes ballet flats, many people rave about Tieks.  They are pretty expensive ($175 and up), but are well-made and can easily fit in your carry on luggage.  A cheaper ballet flat option is Yosi Samra or Dexflex.

If you plan on walking a lot during the day, buy a shoe that is a one-half size bigger to allow for swelling and to minimize blisters.

Insurance

Two companies that many travelers recommend are Cigna Global and World Nomads.

Over 65, check out Insure my Trip.

4/29/19 Update: You may also want to comparison shop plans at Squaremouth.

A reader (thanks, Elizabeth) recently suggested a guide her company created for travel insurance on Reviews.com.  For solo travelers, they suggest John Hancock.  I do not know how budget friendly they are, but it certainly can’t hurt to get a quote and compare.

Lodging Options

Since lodging is usually the most expensive part of traveling, here are some cost-saving options:

Airbnb

HomeAway (VRBO)

Private Hostel (unless you don’t mind sharing a room), see HostelWorld

University dorms

Housesitting, using TrustedHousesitters and MindMyHouse

Mail Options

Earthclassmail

Traveling Mailbox

Helpful Travel Tools

How to get from one place to the next:

Rome2Rio using various travel methods

Man in Seat 61 for train travel

train in winter

For cheaper airfares:

Momondo

Matrix.ITASoftware

Skyscanner

Skiplagged

AirlineConsolidator