Phyllis Stoller: Travel Tips for Women Over 50!
For women over fifty, travel can be exhilerating, challenging, or even frightening if it’s your first experience! We are thrilled to have Phyllis Stoller, founder of the Women’s Travel Club, share her experience, considerable insight and helpful travel tips for women over 50 with our Fifty Is The New Forty visitors! Browse her article for travel tips to London, Paris, Hong Kong and China, Tuscany and Morocco!
First Time Travels – It Is Never Too Late
I remember my first time going overseas. I was 16 and on my way to a school in Switzerland. More than the overseas newness, it was also the first time I had ever flown on an airplane. The panorama has changed since this experience, which admittedly was in the 1960’s. Everyone now has not just flown but is a frequent flier. But since less than 10% of all Americans have a passport, we can assume that many of you out there are still dreaming about your first overseas adventure.
I strongly suggest taking a tour, which leaves some free time but has handholding for the first few days. A women’s tour is preferable as women talk more and will share their travel tips more readily. You will not waste time getting lost and details such as flight confirmations will be handled by experts. You can concentrate on the trip and on learning how to travel.
Here are some places for a first trip:
London: The obvious first trip for a woman new to international travel. Why? English speaking means more than understanding signs. It means being able to read events press like Time Out, being able to enjoy the television on that hotel night when you need a break from touring. It means pedestrians can help you with public transport saving you money on taxis. And if you want to pre-book theater or other events, the websites will be in English.
Tips for London travel: go in late Spring or early Summer when it is light very late at night (in winter it gets dark sometime after 4PM). Use weekends as many business hotels give deals on the weekend. Try for Heathrow Airport, a bit closer to town. And stay in what is called The West End for more pedestrian traffic. Suggest Hilton Green Park, Millennium Gloucester both for neighborhood quality.
Paris: If you do your homework on the subway system called Le Metro and study the map ahead of time, Paris is a wonderful place to wander even on your first trip abroad. Stay either near the Opera or on the Left Bank (suggest Lutetia Hotel on some main streets for safety) or Splendid Etoile which is next to the airport bus stop for convenience and safety.
Tips for Paris Travel: Look for prix fixe lunch specials, shop for picnic foods in supermarkets at Monoprix stores in the basement. Buy Pariscope a weekly magazine with an English speaking insert. Take a walking tour in English to meet others like you and do a half day on the Hop On Hop Off Tourist Bus. Take the English speaking museum tours. Use the Air France bus from CDG Airport for value with several stops in Paris. Map out what you wish to do each day.
Hong Kong and China: Since China tours are plentiful ( our company has one for $1799) and they are usually comprehensive, this is also a good starting trip. When you get to Hong Kong, you are back in a city where a map and some walking tours from the HK Tourist Authority will make your trip easy. Food here is easily gotten in food halls in shopping centers just like ours. Signs are in English, the ferry is a hoot, and the areas where you will want to visit are safe and walk-able. There are some off shore islands which give the flavor of Old Hong Kong also worth visiting. HK Tourist Authority is one of the best for assisting travelers. Start with them.
Tuscany and a Food Trip: If you sign up for a food trip to this area or really any area, you will make friends immediately. Any tour that includes an activity or hobby is by its nature friendly. We run a tour called Flavors of Tuscany, which gives you a stay in Montecatini, with daily tours to food and sightseeing sites. A single city stay is easier on your stamina and has its pros and cons. For a short trip, we recommend a single stay with daily trips.
Tips for Tuscany: Tuscany is an area with several airports and one usually leaves the airport for the first stop, which can be 2 hours away. Go on the group flight if that is the case, to avoid being alone and having to pay for a $300 taxi. Do not be ashamed to remove wine labels for keepsakes or to ask about US weights and measures if there is cooking involved. If bringing back goodies, make sure they do not have unpasteurized milk (some cheeses are not allowed but the worst that can happen is you err, is they will be taken away). Do not bring in products made of meat like Italian salamis or that contain seeds that can be planted
Morocco and The Desert: I usually include Morocco as the perfect first exotic locale to visit. Again on a tour not alone. Do include Fez, Marrakech and some of the Roman ruins. Morocco works well for Americans as the flight is so short: 5 ½ hours from JFK and because many people speak English and or French. Go anytime from October-May or June, winters can be rainy but mild on the coast and warm in the desert. 4/5 star hotels are a must, no lower and eat carefully.
Tips for Morocco: During your trip, try a Turkish bath just one: hammam and see a Berber pharmacy. When walking in souks, bring a guide and do not give in to vendors if you are not truly interested. Men’s shirts make great women’s gear; they are white with tiny buttons down the front and long cuffed sleeves. Suggested itinerary is to start in Rabat, end in Marrakech and fly home from the latter connecting in Casablanca. Do not waste your time in Casablanca overnight.
Lots of places to list but these are some of my favorites for the first timer. For more information , browse my website, The Women’s Travel Club to view our trips! We have many first time travelers who yearn to see the world and are not waiting for their friends to decide to join them.