Traveling Solo

According to the latest statistics, as of 2014, “124.6 million Americans 16 years and older were single, or 50.2 percent of the population (Christian Science Monitor).”  That’s an increase of more than 15% in the last 35 years. More than half the world is single.

So why does the travel industry assume and price according to double occupancy?  It’s the travel and leisure industry’s way of appearing at the hostess stand and looking down their nose at you and booming “Just one???”  YES!  I’m single and I choose to eat in public by myself damn-it!  One day I’m going to grow some kahunas and say that very loudly…and perhaps over the intercom system.  That would be very tempting except I will already be the single beta fish in the big tank all by myself being watched with a wary eye by everyone else…”poor thing”

I’ve lived under the misguided notion that I needed to wait for that significant someone to enter my life and take me away from all THIS….my life.  It finally occurred to me that I like THIS life.  A LOT.  And I like to eat out.  And travel.  Why am I waiting on someone to become the other “occupant” to make me “double”?  I’m not.  Thus the new journey of solo travel has begun.  My new goals for this plus-50 life are:

Summering on a beach.  A luxury I’ve always dreamed of since I came to teaching.  That dream will happen this year on Tybee Island, GA.  Total island immersion!

Taking a cruise.  Currently researching the “single supplement“…more to come

Flying somewhere exotic.

Visiting a quaint New England town.  I’m thinking Stars Hollow-like, the fictional town of Gilmore Girls.

Finally seeing New York City.

Seeing Alaska.  Short of moving there permanently (and leaving friends), I’ll have to visit.

Teaching internationally (even if it’s just for the summer).

All of these WILL happen and I will be happily blogging about those experiences.  Here’s the dilemma in the planning stages….evidently no one travels alone!  Obviously that is not true!  So why does the travel industry continue to penalize solo travelers?

So the research begins.

This happened to me just this morning:  A vacation package company called me, Grand Select Cruises, and offered me a seemingly great deal – all for $776 per person ($1552 couple).  I explained that I travel solo and wanted a price for that and was redirected to a “supervisor” who explained that he could hook me up for $996 for the trip.  So technically I’m paying a penalty of $250 because I travel alone.  This should be against the law.  If nothing else, it’s rude and patronizing.  The unsaid tagline is “bless her heart, she can’t find anyone to travel with so obviously she will take what she can get”…obviously these people don’t know me…settling is not my thing!

Stay tuned.

I can’t make you more by making me LESS!

I love me a hard-working man…a manly man…a man that will climb out of the truck and whoop someone’s ass if necessary.  And I’ve rarely passed a passel of blue jean-clad, hard-hat wearing, up at dawn, men that I didn’t feel the testosterone barrier suck me in.  Something deep in my primitive brain says “that man can take care of me.”  And that’s where it starts ladies…right then and there…the hair twirling, the exaggerated sway of the hips, the licking of lips, the slight glance and innocent smile as you daintily skirt the construction zone that you can’t possibly navigate without the help of a big, strong man.  It’s a beautiful dance and one every southern girl worth her grits has mastered from an early age.

Whoa….yes, you could sop him up with a biscuit (the good ones your grandmother makes, not the canned ones) IN THAT MOMENT.  Been there, done that…several times…and loved every single moment of those early days.  And then the white collar/blue collar dance begins.  Some people can meld their lives into a beautiful shade of pale blue…but for most it’s an oil and water solution that no amount of simmering heat can mix together seamlessly.

Now before you get all up in arms and assume I’m saying that all construction workers are dumb, I AM NOT!  Far from it, skilled labor is an art that is quickly diminished in our society (that’s another post conversation) and a skill set few possess.  What I am saying is that the well-educated female brain harks back to its primitive brain and makes decisions only on that.  Which is fine for about 3 months and then you have to talk, go out in public, introduce him to your friends and family…all of which require long hours of talk….and  you have 2 choices at this point:  be who you are and risk it or start chipping away at yourself to make him appear “bigger and better” to you, to him, to them…

While I’m sure both men and women do this “downplay” of themselves, women surely hold the record.  I’ve yet to meet a woman that hasn’t stepped back from who she really is to make her partner feel more secure.  Maybe it’s the “I work so I can pay” or “I’m going to sell my house so we can start new in something we’ve both built” to a long myriad of excuses for the new partner that everyone knows IS less but you love anyway.  At least temporarily.

But the grip of someone dragging you beneath what you’ve worked, sweated, and clawed so hard for will eventually wear you down.  The “but he loves me” and “damn, he’s good in bed” only lasts through the glow of a honeymoon stage of the relationship before you inadvertently notice you’re slipping.  If you’re lucky, you will have friends that will support your new love but also won’t allow you to sink below who you really are….it’s usually in this period that you realize your two worlds don’t mesh.

AS I post, a gaggle of hard hats and safety vests pull up to the restaurant and I begin to fluff my hair….purely instinct I’m convinced.

 

Gotta love Steve Harvey

If you aren’t a lover of Steve Harvey, you are sorely missing out on some great entertainment.  I am particularly fond of his advice to young people and show it yearly to my high school students.  What I have found is that by the time students get to high school, they have been so conditioned to sit, absorb, and regurgitate that they are ill-prepared for a world that expects them to act….to think…to contribute.  And this is a terrible shame because, for the most part, these young kids are bright, respectful, and yearning to change the world.  Of course there are bad ones…always have been…but they are few and far between.  Our demise is not just around the corner as some would fear…at least not from the teenagers anyway.

As parents and teachers we must give them the skills to JUMP!  Resilience is vital.  Students need the buffer of the teen age years to mess up, regroup, and jump again.  Life is scary and fun, terrifying and triumphant, a roller coaster of emotions and events, but mostly, it’s very short…guidance and role models are essential.  I think Steve Harvey is a great example of doing something great with the powerful platform of entertainment.

Why am I here?

Well here goes…my first blog.  I started this endeavor because I was searching for a new direction in my third life (life before kids, life with kids, and now – my own life back).  I’ve gotten my life back and realized very quickly I’m not sure what to do with the new….I pause here because this is the dilemma of my life and the reason for this post…the “NEW” what?  Horizon?  Black hole? Adventure?  Freedom?

I thought this post-50 stage would be much more feeble than it is – you know that crazy 20 year old thinking you have about what old age looks like….this isn’t it…and honestly I thought I might be dead before I had to make such decisions as replacing the air conditioning unit and actually paying OFF my student debt.  But here I am, breezing along, living, functioning, sometimes barely motivated enough to get out of bed, but for the most part being forced to realize there is much more to do and finding the kahunas to do it.

A bit about me.  Divorced (we’ll just say a few times!) mom of 2 wonderful (mostly) boys, a couple of grandchildren, and no one at home to tie me down.  I teach high school (late comer to public education) and imagine that I will retire from teaching at a very old age (mostly because I have to wait that long to get any money from retirement) and I’m mostly ok with that prospect.  It does afford me the opportunities to do some of the other things I’d like to do…again…thus this blog!

I think (and hope) what makes me unique is that I wasn’t always an educator…I’ve had MANY jobs and learned MANY lessons.  This has given me a bigger view of the realities of life…some not as pristine as my colleagues who left college, went straight to teaching, got married, had 2.2 children, joined a church, joined a book club, and settled into “forever.”  I’m evidently not the “forever” type…I need change…I need adventure…I embrace “New” without wanting to sacrifice “Old”(think traditional here).  And with that living has come some lessons…that and the fact that I’m infinitely curious about everything….not sure I ever grew out of the “why” stage as a toddler.  I choose to consider this a good quality that has kept me young, for the most part current, and somewhat relevant.  Embrace the NEW with me!