Senior Women Traveling Alone

There was a time when a woman would never consider traveling alone. Security issues were too scary. Women who embarked on even “close to home” excursions were accompanied by family member, husbands or a female companion. Safety was always the priority.

Not so anymore. Things have changed drastically in the last ten to fifteen years. Today, not only do women of all ages move about the planet, but information abounds for planning a trip. Getting help is just a keystroke away. There are groups, organizations, and hospitality companies that serve the female traveler with newsworthy suggestions and amenities.

Seasoned travelers are more than willing to share the joys and disasters of their own experiences, and they would encourage you to read their comments, blogs and testimonies. To get a real feel for a place, you need to understand the local customs, and engage with the people. Handling everyday situations usually requires that you just ask someone. This includes how things work, local transportation, good shopping spots and directions to places of interest.

The Purpose of the Trip

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Is there a place you’re always dreamed of? Do you seek a spiritual pilgrimage? How about a connection with your ancestry, a leisure/study venture, or have the urge to climb a mountain? The truth is, you can go for any reason or no reason at all.

Women do travel completely alone. A little fear and anxiety is usually gone when they realize the local people are friends. At the same time, single women often join a group of other women with a shared purpose. Maintaining independence is the idea. You can stay together, or venture off by yourself for a while. It frequently happens that people sight-seeing together may not share the same interests.

Let’s say your purpose is to enjoy the sights and also take a class. You will probably be part of a small group of people with similar interests. Friendships have formed from these kinds of trips, though the participants may be from different countries with vastly different backgrounds. Road Scholar ( the new Elderhostel) has many offerings that may be for a day or two or a week or more, for both adventure and learning. You can also spend a week at Oxford, pursuing a short study of one of several topics.

Preparation

Before you buy a ticket or pack your bag, research the area you’ll be visiting. Buy a couple of books, surf the internet and talk to someone who’s been there, if possible. Some surprises aren’t all ooh aah. Find out about health concerns, food preferences, money exchange and safety concerns. These should always be on a traveler’s list – for men and women.

The time of year you choose to go may be critical to the success of your vacation. Weather is just one of several considerations. In some locations, the very best offerings for a vacation occur during one season of the year. If there’s something in particular you don’t want to miss, prioritize this. Fall foliage, the whales swimming south in spring, music or art festivals, and local fairs have a time constraint, and booking in advance may be essential to your ultimate enjoyment.

Modes of Transportation

Getting there from here has some options. Car, train, ship, airplane and walking are the usual choices, but it may come down to money matters before you make that final decision. It depends on where you’re going and what kind of trip this is. If you have your heart set on a trip overseas that will require meals and a place to stay, it could be costly. Add a plane ticket and the budget may be stretched to bulging.

Group travel doesn’t eliminate any of the expenses, but it does offer discounts. A tour company booking a dozen people in a hotel will get better room rates, and you may get breakfast with that. This may – or may not – be the same for the transportation. Do your homework and find a good match for your money situation. Hostels offer reasonable comfort and security. AirBnB has a variety of options, including some private apartments you can rent by the night for reasonable prices. You get what you pay for, of course, but if you can forego some extra amenities, it’s available.

Single supplements are worth talking about, because it’s a growing trend for hotels to offer accommodations at a “singles” price. Once, the single traveler paid the same price as a couple for a room. However, with the increase of persons traveling alone, it’s good business for the hotel to make this gesture. If it’s not posted, ask.

Speaking of Money…

The very subject of women and money is huge. Earning, saving, investing, spending and worrying if you will have enough is a constant in some of our lives, especially seniors. Two of the best ideas for funding your travel urge is to

  1. Figure the expenses down to the last cent (close as you can).
  2. Look carefully for “affordable” trips or excursions and see if they offer scholarships.

Once you start to travel and meet peple, you will gather a treasure chest full of ideas for future plans and vacations. Start a savings account just for travel, eliminate a few other expenses if you can, and keep a journal of suggestions and ideas. Have a great time.

Last Minute Tips

Traveling with a group gives you an experienced guide, who not only knows about the location, but also clues you into the do’s and don’t’s. They also help when there’s a more serious problem, like illness or accident.

River cruises are popular, and may offer the option to stay ashore a few days to do more sight-seeing. You can catch up with the group by train or car somewhere downstream.

Consider booking car service to the hotel instead of taking a taxi. The difference in price is usually worth it.

There are a million other tips you’ll pick up as you travel and, by all means, check out these websites.

https://www.women-on-the-road.com

http://www.journeywomen.com

http://www.sixtyandme.com

http://www.roadscholar.com

Google your own keywords and Happy Traveling.

A beautiful day.

Share a travel experience or leave a comment.

 

 

 

Financial Help For Women Crunching Numbers

The financial picture for women today has changed significantly since 1950. Women’s participation in the labor force rose from 33.9 percent in 1950 to 57 percent in 2014. And the number of women 55+ who are working has seen a particularly large increase, starting in the year 2000. Many women work because they wish to, and plan to pursue careers their whole lives. But for older women, the picture is different. When a woman loses her spouse or partner, she also loses much of her resources.

The need for help with finances is especially critical for older women. When a senior woman becomes single through death or divorce, her expenses aren’t cut in half. Actually, they are only decreased by about one-fourth to one-third. At the same time, when you crunch the numbers, her resources decrease by 37 to over fifty percent. The big ticket items are still there – housing, car expenses, insurance and taxes, but the cash flow is severely compromised. Where does she turn for help?

 Main reasons for problem

These facts usually come as a surprise to the newly single female. Her understanding of money matters is probably small. Older women have very little financial information. Earning and saving was something men managed. They were the primary bread winners and her work patterns were considerably less. Here are some facts to consider:

  • Women took time out to care for children or family members needing help.
  • Women’s pay was – and still is – less than men’s.
  • Women rarely had jobs with pensions.
  • Women’s savings were considerably less.

When a couple both retire, there are usually two social security checks and possibly a husband’s pension. Investment funds provide a foundation for a secure future. That may be jeopardized if there are health expenses not covered by insurance, or they don’t watch their budget. If the husband predeceases his wife, she will have less going forward than anticipated. If his pension stops with his death, which is usually the case, her finances are severely compromised. Pensions are retirement benefits, not death benefits.

The result of these disparities is that today, one in four older single women lives below the poverty line. Where does she go for help?

What the experts say

Today in America, only one-third of women sixty-five or older is married. So there are millions of single women needing help. Fortunately, the financial world is gradually becoming aware of the facts. Magazines, articles and studies address the subject regularly, often as a warning, and sometimes with concrete suggestions for fixing it. Government publications and websites are informing readers that this problem will only get worse if no changes are made.

The time to help women, of course, is before they retire. Ideally young boys and girls would both be taught about money matters. Children should grow up understanding the basic facts of earning and saving. The increase of females in the job market is only going to grow, and her financial plan should be individualized to her needs and goals. Joint plans can co-exist alongside a couple’s individual investments.

Fixing your money crunch

If you are nearing retirement, carefully go over all your assets. This doesn’t just mean your checking account and an IRA or 401k. Take a little time and determine the value of everything you own. Most likely there are items you no longer need or want. Pieces of furniture, pottery, glassware, or sports equipment can be sold online or by household sale. It may not seem like much, but you can increase your cash flow this way until you figure out a more permanent solution.

If a couple has a financial planner, that person should see to the needs and goals of each person individually, as well as a couple. Women need to know how much they will have, where it is (what kind of investment), and how it should be handled. According to the Department of Labor US government, “44 percent of people who tried to figure out their financial futures ended up changing their retirement plans.”

Today there are classes and tutorials on every aspect of planning and investing. Community classes, online webinars or e-books and informational investment gatherings will educate you on finance. You also may be able to get help for personal questions and situations. The best option is to ask knowledgeable people, and keep asking until you get the information you need. This includes asking your spouse, who may want to simply assure you that everything is in order. Women need to know the specifics.

After retirement

Let’s say you planned for your retirement, with or without a partner. Funds were adequate for you to live the way you wanted at this time of life. But life can throw a monkey wrench into the best of plans. Your finances begin to dwindle too rapidly, you find yourself single and you don’t trust anyone. HELP!

If you know someone who seems to have a good grasp of their own finances, have a talk. Get a reference or two from friends who are pleased with their investment planners. Research ways to bring in some money. There are many options available and the internet is loaded with ideas. Really think carefully about what you would be comfortable doing and make a chart or keep clear notes.

At the end of the day

The numbers can be crunched again and again. See what makes sense for you. Financial firms have tests you can take to calculate your needs and possibilities. It should be a beginning, not a final decision, but you can compile information and look for common ground. You may want to try something and see how it works for you. It’s ok to be an explorer. The good thing about being in the older generation is that we can lean on our years of experience. Experts consider this a clear asset for seniors starting businesses.

Only you can make your golden years “golden.” It’s your time in life to kick up your heels and just enjoy. Don’t forget to have fun.

Share your story or leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Proper Place For Women

Senior Women and Money is a website created specifically for older single women facing  financial difficulties. The reasons that women are feeling the crunch are numerous, and include:

1. Worked part-time during their work years.

2. Took time out to care for children or family members.

3. Were paid lower wages than men.

4. Had jobs that lacked retirement or pension benefits.

There are other reasons, but these four stand out as the leading causes of inadequate funds when women are older and alone. Today, one in four older single women lives below the poverty line. For the most part, those women who were married thought the retirement savings the couple had were sufficient. Many men and women were unaware that pensions – usually held by men -are retirement benefits, not death benefits. If the husband pre-deceases his wife, she loses most or all the pension he was receiving.

I do a lot of research on www.dol.gov, the Dept. of Labor for the goverment. Here is a short piece of information from a blog that appeared on their website on September 18, 2017.

Women face a higher risk of poverty in retirement and are much more likely than men to depend on Social Security payments. For 27.4 percent of women age 65 and over, Social Security benefits comprise 90 percent of their total income. Forty-six percent of all elderly unmarried women (including widows) who received Social Security benefits in 2014 relied on it for 90 percent or more of their income. by Tiffany Boimer, Mark Connor

When women are faced with the task of creating a cash flow to supplement their income, it’s important to know what is available and how things work. If your “proper place” today is in the workplace, rest assured that there are options and solutions to the money crunch. I love to do research, and I find facts, graphs and numbers everywhere – government websites, financial magazines, baby boomer blogs and newsletters, and more. I will be sharing with you frequently.

Stay tuned.

Judy