“Get out of your safe zone, not every trip has to be through a tour company or has to mean leaving the country. Not everyone you’ll make contact with at a meet-up will be your tribe, but all it takes is a small group and suddenly you have friends who are also your support group.” – Grace Ribaudo, Traveler from New Jersey
In six hours, this quote, posted on Facebook’s Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group, garnered more than 300 likes and 125 comments.
Look for Inspiration on Social Media
Social media, and that sometimes-maligned platform, Facebook, can inform and inspire our connections to each other and the world. A growing number of women over 50 are watching, reading, and then taking the leap to meet other travelers and hitting the road.
Social media is how older travelers often connect these days. And according to a Pew Research study, some 62 percent of internet users ages 65 and older use Facebook, and 72 percent of 50 to 64-year-olds report using it.
Find Women Online Who Travel
Women seem to be traveling now more than ever. According to an article in Forbes magazine, “Why Do Women Like to Travel More Than Men? published in December 2022, U.S. women dominate leisure travel by a 63 percent to 37 percent ratio over men. Even when families take vacations, women make 80 percent of all travel decisions.
I am part of a growing travel community of women from their 50s to their 80s. My cohort largely considers travel an adventure, a reward, and an escape. Being retired and having the time and means to travel are key drivers. Another inspiration is reading about life-transforming places where older women go. Social media provides a direct line to their stories of new experiences and new friendships.
Thankfully, travel these days is a lot easier than when I began in the late 1960s. Today, you can Google a destination or jump into social media to receive advice, information, warnings, tips, and lots of entertaining stories. However, to find a community of people who have been to a destination and who have real-life experience, I turn to Facebook.
Can You Trust Facebook Travel Groups?
Say I want to go on an African safari. Where would I find the most trustworthy information? Where do I look for information about the best times to travel, where to go, available tours, travel mates, safety and security, and what to take? On social media, I find travelers like me who have been there, done that, and who can share advice. Even if you are not a fan of Facebook, it is difficult to deny that digital technology and social media made travel easier and more inspiring.
Despite the negative criticism of Facebook, studies show that boomers use it. They seem to have more positive emotions associated with it than do millennials. Perhaps that’s because the 50Plus cohort largely uses Facebook to reconnect with old friends and find new ones and for family updates.
One of the most powerful aspects of Facebook is that it can offer travel groups very specific audiences. You can search for groups by gender, age, interests, and activity levels. There is information on Facebook groups about solo travel, small or larger group travel, bus tours, hiking trips, and cruises. And some groups are specifically for women over 50 whether single, married, divorced, or widowed. There are groups for those in prime hiking shape and those that need a hand or even a cane.
Finding Your Cohort
“Women over 60 are on the move, and this is a safe space for us to speak about the issues we face as older women in the larger world. My goal has always been to empower women to follow their dreams and build confidence in themselves one trip at a time.” – Ann Marie McCarthy, Founder and Administrator of the Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group
My world expanded since I started participating in Facebook travel groups for older women. By the way, I’m 75 and still going strong. I have plans for a six-day walking tour of Quebec with Road Scholar in September. In February, I have a trip scheduled to Costa Rica with a travel mate I met in Cuba, followed by a meetup with women from my Facebook Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group on the west coast of Costa Rica. I may also take a tour of Italy with my husband in April. My travel over the past years, most recently to India, Cuba, England, and Wales, was fueled by the experiences and advice of friends I made on social media sites for older women travelers.
Membership in Facebook Travel Groups
“Many older women are more comfortable with Facebook than with other social media platforms like Instagram or Tik Tok. That’s why I created the Over 50 Women Travel Community and Resource Sharing Facebook Group – to better reach and communicate with like-minded older women travelers.” Talek Nantes, Founder and Administrator of Over 50 Women Travel Community and Resource Sharing
To join most Facebook groups, you must apply for membership. Membership usually requires administrator approval, which is typically a check to make sure you are who you say you are and determine whether you fit the very basic criteria for the group. Membership groups are usually private in that only other members can see who is in the group and what they post. Members do not have access to the personal Facebook pages of other members. Fees or requests for money from group members are never acceptable.
Rules of Facebook Groups
Different Facebook groups have different rules, decided by the administrator. Most ask for kindness and respect toward other members. In addition, an administrator or moderator generally steers members from controversial questions or comments. Many groups also request that members not advertise their businesses.
My Three Favorite Facebook Groups for Women 50Plus
Many wonderful Facebook groups cater to older women. Here are a few that work well for me.
Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group
I witnessed this group’s beginnings at a small gathering in Ocean Grove, N.J. in 2019. Here’s a description of the group by creator Ann Marie McCarthy:
“The Over 60 Women Travel and Meetup Group has almost 40,000 members. Our members not only look for travel partners, but they also independently organize local meetups to meet other travelers in person and to talk about and plan future travel. We are an international group and meetups are organized (so far) on three continents. The members have hosted thousands of events since the inception of the group in 2019.
There are usually between 60 and 80 events scheduled each month, and the women in the group can choose to either stay local or travel to meet other women and attend an event. These events are3 often the first step to gaining (or regaining) the confidence for independent travel.”
Grace Ribaudo credits this Facebook group with basically changing her travels and her life. As she writes,
“Let me tell you what this group can do if you’re open to dedicating time and effort to new relationships with great women. This Friday I’m flying to St. Louis, Missouri to meet up with two women I met through this group. I first met Pat when she was vacationing in New York City and decided to create a meet-up while she was here (great idea, right?). Michele and I met in January during this group’s first international meet-up in Costa Rica.
Towards the end of the month, I have to be in Hershey, Pennsylvania for a family event, so I decided to go up the night before and I’m meeting Jill for dinner (another friendship created in Costa Rica). We’re all going to the Boston meet-up in September, along with so many other women from this group from several states.”
Over 50 Women Travel Community and Resource Sharing
I met this group’s Founder and Administrator, Talek Nantes, at our first meetup in Ocean Grove in 2019. We later met again at a lunch in New York City in 2020, and since then, I have been a member of her Facebook group. Last February I traveled to Cuba when she led a small group of women from all over the U.S. and Mexico. According to Talek,
“This group belongs to every 50+ woman, be they a travel newbie or seasoned voyager, or anyone who has ever wanted to explore the world either solo or with a small, like-minded group. It is for curious adventurers who love authentic travel experiences, local cuisine, and a little bit of comfort when they travel.
A special feature of the group is the cultural tours offered to exciting destinations like Cuba, India, China, and others. Here members can explore and book tours and find travel buddies and roommates.” – Talek Nantes
Over 60 Solo Women Traveler Group
“You aren’t alone, there are more than 20,000 women right there behind you.” Judith Woodruff, Founder, and Administrator of the Over 60 Solo Women Traveler Group.
This Facebook group, which grew to nearly 25,000 members in four years, is different from the previous two in that the focus is on women who prefer to travel solo. Judith seeks to support the brave older women who will take off on trips all over the world on their own. To them, Judith writes:
“I started the group because I didn’t see anything on Facebook that spoke to me as an older, independent traveler. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone with the same issues you’re having. We also are very supportive of women who have never traveled solo, and we are slowly helping them dip their toes in the water. Whether you are a road warrior or a novice, the group is here to provide advice, encouragement, and support.”
Ready to Find Your Next Travel Adventure Online?
The Facebook travel groups above are three of my favorites, but there are many more. When you research other groups, perhaps focus on finding members of your cohort by searching on ‘Over 50’ or ‘Over 60’ or ‘older women’ or ‘solo travel.’ You may find not only inspiration for your next travel opportunity but also a chance for you to share your own experiences with others and receive invaluable information about anywhere you might want to travel, from Albania to Uzbekistan. And perhaps you’ll get a chance to meet and get to know women you might never have met, from the U.S. and all around the world.
Ways to Find Best Prices, Destinations, and Directions
For reviews, transportation, hotels, restaurants, tours, travel forums, and much more.
For flights, hotels, and car rentals from hundreds of companies.
To discover distances between destinations, as well as transportation to and from anywhere to everywhere.
For basic research for places to stay, find airfares and flight information, and to book car rentals.
To find and list properties all over the world, from a shared apartment to a luxurious villa.
Road Scholar is a not-for-profit travel company that organizes educational travel experiences across the globe for older adults.
They have two Facebook travel groups worth checking out:
1. Women of Road Scholar – 16, 000 members
2. Friends of Road Scholar – both men and women, more than 10,000 members
Recommended Travel Magazines
The magazine and site reach more than 16 million travelers every month, and their team includes a network of hundreds of writers and photographers across the globe, all providing a local eye on the best places to stay, eat, see, and explore.
Online and print magazine and Facebook site (Women Who Travel) offers everything from Readers Choice Awards, Destinations, Inspiration, Food and Places to Stay, and much more.
A print and digital publication that is focused on experiential travel. It features storytelling that inspires, empowers, and enriches travelers through photographs, articles, trip ideas, and travel news.
About the Author: Barbara Winard
She began her solo travels in college, and during her 20s and 30s, solo traveled to Europe, Asia, and North and South America. After returning from a 6-month trip to Asia, she wandered off the street and was hired by the Asia Society in New York City to produce films and print materials for adults and children about Asian culture. She also worked as a film programmer and traveled to film festivals around the world. Barbara got her start in film with New York City’s public television station, WNET/13, and was a freelance documentary writer and producer for ten years. A Jersey girl, Barbara, and her husband moved from Jersey City to New Castle, Delaware, last year. She has been writing for Road Scholar, TravelAwaits.com, and several other online magazines; her blog is the babyboomer.blog.
Photo credits: Barbara Winard