“You’re going on your own?! You’re so brave…..” This was the general response from friends when I told them of my travel plans in retirement. Family naturally took it in their stride. We had all travelled extensively as young children, living in both North Africa and India due to my father’s job, first with Locust Control and then with Fisons Overseas. We finally settled in London when I was seven, with my father still travelling frequently, accompanied at times by my mother when possible. Our house was often the overnight stop or more for visitors from abroad on their way to or from Heathrow Airport, so travellers and travelling were very much the norm in our household as I was growing up.
As an adult, I travelled less frequently than most of my siblings, never having anything like a gap year and with getting married and having children occupying me instead. I did take my son and daughter to Turkey and later to Latvia on somewhat unusual holidays for the time, as I wanted them to get a taste of the different experiences and cultures that lie beyond the UK. I also managed brief holidays to Spain; Hong Kong & the Maldives; Prague and Cuba during this period of my life.
Holidays were holidays though. What I really wanted to do was travel — spend some time in a country; explore it and get to know people living there; be self-reliant and pursue some of my interests at my own pace. I had always assumed I’d retire at 60 and had to take a long, hard look at my finances when the government suddenly moved the goalposts to 66! The desire to travel more extensively whilst I was still fit and able won out though, and finding that I could still do this if I lived fairly frugally and budgeted my travel plans accordingly saw me retiring one month before my 60th birthday. Given what has happened with the pandemic this year, I am so glad I did!
With travel curtailed for now, I’ve decided to write about my experiences over the last few years, hopefully interesting and entertaining readers along the way as well as encourage others, particularly single, older women, to possibly follow suit once travelling becomes possible again.
I’m not particularly brave — I’m just not scared, because for me travelling has always been an important part of living.