Travel Solo After 40
By Travel Writer and Photographer Melissa Banigan
Let's face it—the world isn't always kind to single women entering their middle years.
In 2010, I was a single mom living in Brooklyn, NY. I worked a series of 9 to 5 jobs (8 to 7?) in finance and education, and I was miserable. After paying rent and my kid's nanny's salary, I wasn't left with much else. I was hustling, but for what? It dawned on me that if I was going to continue working my fingers to the bone, I had better start enjoying what I was doing. In 2011, I decided to take back my life by developing a career as a freelance writer, honing my photography skills, and homeschooling my daughter so that we could travel the world. These were bold, terrifying moves, but with middle age looming and my daughter growing up quickly, I felt there was no time to waste.
My daughter and I spent months backpacking through Europe, hiked over mountains, got lost in the Amazon (seriously!), and widened our worldview in West Africa. Along the way, I ran out of money in Portugal and had my cash card cut off by my bank. We contracted serious illnesses and as a non-partnered single woman, I needed to single-handedly navigate international hospitals and place travel insurance claims. We stayed in affordable youth hostels with backpackers half my age and were invited to stay with lovely octogenarians in their castle towers and estates. Along the way I also dated, because contrary to society's obsession with youth, single women over 40 still date.
Over the years, my travel writing and photography has appeared in CNN Travel, BBC Travel, NPR, and Atlas Obscura, among many others. In 2013, I founded Advice Project Media, a nonprofit organization that offers journalism and travel services for youth and women in Cameroon, Peru, the USA, and on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. I've also traveled extensively to other destinations, including Scotland, Iceland, and France. A committed francophile, most of my travels are to francophone countries and overseas French departments, and I've had the pleasure of partnering with the French and Guadeloupean tourism boards.
Of course, traveling as a single solo woman after 40 is much different than traveling as a partnered woman or even as a younger woman. We have more responsibilities, yet there is no safety net if something were to go wrong and no partner back home to pick up the pieces or handle the calls to insurance agencies and hospitals should an accident occur. As solo travelers of a "certain age," we must form our own support networks. When I first started my travels, I wanted a resource for single women my own age. Although I found many blogs written by solo women and single mothers, I couldn't find any that were well-written and informative. I also couldn't find any that were entirely factual - it was clear none of them adhered to high journalistic standards. Therefore, I decided to create my own resource with the hope it would help connect smart, strong women just like me. Travel Solo After 40 is the fruit of this labor.
On this site, you won't find dry posts offering fluffy "travel tips," travel guides filled with "bucket list" adventures, or the sort of inane "listcicles" popular among many bloggers. Don't get me wrong - there are many great blogs out there, but I just haven't found many for my demographic. On this site, you'll find longform pieces that read like literature, shorter posts that offer insights about traveling solo after 40, only a handful of very carefully curated lists, and reprints of some of my travel pieces published by outlets such as CNN Travel and BBC Travel. I live boldly, on my own terms, and my stories are about my experiences traveling as a single mother as well as completely on my own.
I'm thrilled to take you along on the ride.
Travel Solo After 40