Travelling grandma help !

Travel Forums Introductions Travelling grandma help !

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1. Posted by Finding Gwammy (Budding Member 4 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Hi there so I’m 51 and am going to be taking my first trip alone to Thailand in March ne t year. I’m going for a month and want to visit Laos too! I’m scared to death but excited , am I going to be the oldest backpacker there ? And please any tips or advice welcome.

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2603 posts) 5w 1 Star this if you like it!

I don't think you'll be the oldest! I'm also 51 and no plans to stop independent travel. :)

Thailand is a good place to start. Lots of other travellers, and lots of stuff pitched at you, so it's relatively easy.

You'll have a great time.

3. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 268 posts) 5w 1 Star this if you like it!

Quoting Tuppy2

Hi there so I’m 51 and am going to be taking my first trip alone to Thailand in March ne t year. I’m going for a month and want to visit Laos too! I’m scared to death but excited , am I going to be the oldest backpacker there ? And please any tips or advice welcome.

I'm 66 and just before Covid (2019-2020) I was independently backpacking round Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. One way ticket to the region and months seeing it (or parts of it). Travelling around using local buses/rivers, no itinerary, making it up as you go along and talk to locals, maybe book tomorrow night before you get on the bus to travel there ...

Year before 4 months wandering around Peru and Bolivia (and briefly Chile).

You will have a great time, nothing to be scared about. Enjoy it.

Advice is a difficult thing as it would normally relate to a specific individual but one thing I do feel some "get wrong" is you must talk to people. Don't wait for people to come up and talk to you. Talk to anybody and everybody. Phones are a disaster in this regard - so often you see people in a sitting area totally engrossed in their phone - phones are not that engrossing for such long periods and where you are is far more important than Social Media - I suspect it's a subconscious way to avoid talking to strangers. You can do Social Media once you get home but to let it restrict discovering where you are is just daft.

One example really disappointed me in Huaraz (Peru). When I departed the hostel in the morning to explore there were a group of 4 youngsters sitting around discussing what they were going to do tomorrow. Popped back at lunchtime briefly and they were still sitting around discussing tomorrow. Amazing carnival going on outside (happens only once a year) yet they stayed in discussing tomorrow. Next day breakfast and they were now sitting around discussing tomorrow - they'd missed the most amazing Carnival 100m away and I my guess is they were scared. OK they'd have got a soaking (water) as people on balconies were throwing buckets of water over those in the street and a water tanker periodically drove through the parade fire-hosing the crowds but what an experience to have missed discussing "what you are going to do ...". The example https://psamathe.net/huaraz-carnival/

Ian

4. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 268 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Tuppy2

Hi there so I’m 51 and am going to be taking my first trip alone to Thailand in March ne t year. I’m going for a month and want to visit Laos too! I’m scared to death but excited , am I going to be the oldest backpacker there ? And please any tips or advice welcome.

Additional thoughts:
When choosing where to stay avoid areas setup and targeting westerners. It's difficult to describe but e.g. in Thailand, staying in Bangkok, avoid staying KSR. Walk through it for a good laugh but it's full of youngsters paying three times the proper price for beers and burgers and the only locals around are those being so successful separating westerners from their money. I found somewhere maybe a mile away, fraction of the price, loads of tiny restaurants in the Soi's selling Thai food all at a fraction of the KSR price (but no burgers nor chips).

You can often see a lot more just as quickly and very easily by going independently. e.g. Ayutthaya. Many see it on a day guided coach tour from Bangkok and they see a couple of places but miss most of it. It's an easy train trip, book somewhere in the city online (easy) and in a few hours you'll see more than everybody on their coach tour. The big amazing places are great but some of the smaller unheard of places are quite amazing as well. I walked the main city and got a lift to the sites I wanted to see further out.

Ian

5. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 4409 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

"....am I going to be the oldest backpacker there ? And please any tips or advice welcome."

No you won't! There are quite a few "senior citizens" traveling Thailand! I am retired and older than you and will return when some medical issues are resolved. I have come across "little old ladies" in their eighties traveling Thailand alone in their tennis shoes and big floppy hats just having a ball!

Backpacker. Some tourists call themselves "backpackers" even when they stay in decent cheaper hotels and not have to eat the cheapest food to fill an empty belly.

"’.....am going for a month and want to visit Laos too!"

You haven't filled in your Profile so we don't know where you are coming from. The passport you travel with will determine the type of visa you will need. Some tourists can enter Thailand free for 30 days with "Proof of onward travel." Laos has their own entry requirements too. I have flown round trip to Thailand and within that 30 days I flew to nearby countries, then returned to Thailand for a few days before flying home.

You must determine how much your budget is for day to day spending after paying for plane tickets. In Thailand you change your currency to Thai baht. No old currency, no stains on the bills, no tears or writing too. I stick to the larger denominations to conserve room in my wallet.

You can use debit cards in ATMs to obtain cash. There is a price for this withdrawal but same price for a small withdrawal or the maximum you can take out. *I notify my banks that control my debit and credit cards when I travel overseas so they do not panic when charges SUDDENLY show up from overseas. (They may suspect fraud.) Some tourists do this and some do not. I personally do not use credit cards overseas. I do have them for emergencies and possibly paying for flights. Some tourists use plastic for almost everything. I pay cash for just about everything including my cheap hotels. (I have more than one debit card in case I lose or damage one I can use the other.)

Safety. Your safety may be compromised if you consume too much alcohol and take chances with people you barely know. You should have some sort of medical insurance that will cover accidents and other illnesses. There are scams you should be wary of. (Google search will give you some almost - instant information.)

Like previously sort of mentioned, it is easy sign up for a shared day tour in person when in major cities in Thailand. Either your hotel has a tour desk or nearby travel agencies can accommodate you. You choose one day and leave the next morning for day trips. There are some evening tours too. (River cruise perhaps.)

KSR, Khao San Road, or Banglamphu is popular for many younger (my opinion) tourists in Bangkok. My preference is a hotel convenient for using city rail service. Bangkok is a big city! Roughly similar square miles as London so there is lots to see.

Will you fly to Laos from Bangkok and return to Thailand for flight home?

For Thailand - Bangkok, a visit to Chiang Mai and a beach location good for the month you visit will give you a good look at Thailand.

Lots of time to work the little things out.

https://www.travellerspoint.com/guide/Thailand/

Good luck.

[ Edit: Edited on 2 Jul 2022, 14:16 GMT by karazyal ]

6. Posted by Finding Gwammy (Budding Member 4 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Thanks so much for your replies! I bought my backpack today and a map of Thailand and a map of south east Asia. I’ve started researching , watching and reading up on things I’d like to do when I’m out in Thailand.
Make notes in my travel journal, I think I might try and do a vlog as well if I can get time.
I’m wanting to have a peaceful , time out there , getting to know the local culture and getting to know myself too. Exciting times.

7. Posted by Finding Gwammy (Budding Member 4 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I will be getting an over night sleeper train to Laos , I’ll also be staying in whatever I can find. I’m not bothered by tourist parts of the country. I fancy getting a scooter just to get away from the “big tourist areas”.

8. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 4409 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I bought my backpack today and a map of Thailand and a map of south east Asia. I’ve started researching

Many tourists even use wheelies for their luggage. Most of the time your bag, pack, suitcase or wheelie is left in your hotel room. You don't need to walk around with everything you own on your back! A small duffel or shoulder type bag can carry hat, map, sunscreen, snack, and wetwipes/hand sanitizer. Include toilet paper in your walk-around bag too.

"I fancy getting a scooter just to get away from the “big tourist areas”. Hmmmm!

Even experienced motorcyclists end up a grease splat on the road! Check your license requirements too. (TripAdvisor has a lot of posts on this, Google type search works too.) Your medical - hospital insurance may not cover accidents by 2 wheel motor vehicles.

Rail service Thailand and to nearby countries.
https://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm

You must plan a daily spending budget separate from cost of flights.

For Thailand, research the visa requirements.! To enter free (before this Covid thing) some tourists could enter free for 30 days when they have a return flight. This is checked at departure airport back home. In the past only onward flights counted for free 30 day entrance.

Up to you!

9. Posted by Finding Gwammy (Budding Member 4 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I won’t be flying anywhere. Only to get there. My mate did Thailand and did it on a d outer and trains. I really don’t want to stay in hotels. I don’t like the tourist vibe. I would rather find places that tourists don’t do.

10. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 4409 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I have been in better hotels when my employer was paying for it.

Using my own money, I choose cheap hotels and guest houses. Roughly, around 600 to 900 baht per night. This is a room with hot water, private bathroom, A/C, TV and usually free wifi. And often a small refrigerator. Also round the clock security even if it is a desk clerk making rounds every now and then.

"I would rather find places that tourists don’t do."

You may not think so - but in some places where other tourists ignore - you may be the wealthiest person in the place!

Good luck and double check your entry requirements.