Because of my husband’s dislike of travel, I am a much less adept air traveler than I would like to be. Traveling alone daunts me. I am short and have arthritis. These preclude me from using any kind of overhead storage and I am loathe to ask for help. However, I recently pulled up my big girl pants and went on a five-day ‘girls’trip’ to Charleston, SC with my best friends of fifty plus years and I am so very glad that I did. If you’re not an experienced traveler like me, or if you’re just starting to dip your toe back in, here are some basic takeaways from a fellow not-so-frequent flyer like myself.
1: ‘I will not be a slave to my suitcase’, has been my travel mantra since Spring Break 1980. But bikinis and cut-offs took up so much less room. In my 60’s I know better. Pack less. Such a simple concept but so hard for a person who puts herself to sleep dreaming up outfits (Truth!) What I considered options were just excess weight that I did not need to wrangle, wheel and wrestle with at check in, baggage claim or in and out of Ubers. Next time I vow to practice restraint. Here’s a simple ‘duh, why didn’t I think of that before’ tip: lay out your outfits day by day on the bed THEN put them into your suitcase. Delete one or two. I guarantee, YOU DO NOT NEED ALL THAT STUFF! Wear a pair of cute COMFORTABLE shoes on the plane and let them work for the trip. (Shoes are HEAVY!)
2: Be a follower, i.e. acknowledge your limitations on this tourist stuff and go along with the more experienced of your companions. Jamie knew the good restaurants, the interesting off-the-beaten-path places to explore. I would have had no idea how to book a VRBO so I trusted her expertise. I was not sorry. Our place was adorable, comfortable and in a safe, kind of quirky area. I went off a couple of times on my own but I felt confident enough.. I wasn’t a complete baby. God I love the Uber and the Google map walking apps. If I took a wrong turn here and there it only made the stroll more interesting.
3: Embrace meeting new people. Here are two of my favorites:
My seatmate, Kellen, on my flight down. I noticed him when he took out a music score book and with pencil in hand ‘conducted’, erased and replaced a few notes, cocked his head, erased a few more until he seemed satisfied and turned the page. He is the Assistant Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra as well as the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. He was on his way to reunite with his fiancee’, a Harpist for the Charleston Symphony. A lovelier, more interesting fellow as I’ve ever met…how lucky was I to listen to his background and his adventures. He was handsome and charismatic and I would have married him on the spot.
In true Liz fashion I was dancing a little to Blake Shelton in the store. A younger-than-me but not-young girl stopped me and said ‘you look kinda sassy, what do you think of this?’ as she held up a bright, flowy shirt dotted with peonies.
“I like it a lot. With a pair of white jeans and wedges.. adorable,” I replied.
“Oh great. It’s only $30. I’m gonna return this that I paid $60 for” as she pulled out a drab lilac top.
“So not you.”
And then she went on to tell me she was a flight attendant, divorced, dating a new guy whose high school nickname was… PENIS!
“Ooh. I hope he dropped that,” I told her.
She rolled her eyes, winked and declared ‘He did NOT.’ And winked again. Her name was Jennie and she was a hoot.
Our trip was a brief one, only five days but it renewed my appetite-and my belief-that I can travel on my own. A lot of prep and no small dose of confidence and I’ll be okay. My daughter called this morning.
“I’m going to Miami in May. Want to come?” When your adult daughter asks you that you don’t say no. Now to book my bikini wax. THAT I’m good at.