Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Reality of Dogs and Frugal Retirement-Or My Kids Left The Nest But I Still Have These These Dogs!

One year later, I like to think that I have positioned myself pretty well in retirement.  While I did not make the huge step of moving to a yard-less condo, I did position myself in such a way that I have minimal maintenance, lower payments, and the ability to be mobile when and where I want-an important part of my life.

After all, while my travel is limited to a month to three per year, I am still a person who wants to go when I go, homebody or not. My moving to 1300 square feet, renting from someone I know well (eliminating the pesky maintenance but allowing me to paint in turquoise and yellow) and overall lowering my expenses have allowed me to be more mobile AND allowed me financial flexibility.

There is, however, one area where my "free as a bird lifestyle" is, well, not so free. You see, I have two canines. These four legged family members have to be fed on a regular basis, let out, and played with.  While I may not have to get a sitter or plan dinner for the kids, I still have to go home and feed the dog!  I know that people all over the world manage to go to work with dogs crated for ten hours per day, after about six hours my pups rebel.

In other words, the "go for breakfast then go shopping, meet for lunch, go to knitting and then hit happy hour" lifestyle is not for me.  I try to be out of the house either the morning OR the afternoon. They need to be fed around five. Since I cannot even on my best day keep up with the dog or walk as long as he can, I need to have a dog walker.  When I travel, it's board or bring.  It goes on.

Having said all that, I would not live without either of them.  My previous dogs, which some readers may remember, lived to be 18 and 19 respectively.  They slept with my husband and I (and then myself) all that time.  They went to Germany with us, with all that entailed.  I was worried more about the dogs than myself-and I went to Germany hating to fly and deathly ill, ready to have surgery as soon as I arrived.

When I lost my second dog, I thought I would wait some time before inviting dogs into my life again.  I was wrong. My six month or a year hiatus turned into welcoming a new family member a couple months later-and I have no regrets.  Will I have dogs when these puppies leave me?  Probably not.  Might these dogs go to live with my son someday when he moves out?  Possibly, as they have grown greatly attached.

Meanwhile though, my canines are part and parcel of my retirement.  When I have to leave happy hour to come and feed them.  When I pay the friendly dog walker.  When we're driving cross country and one of them wakes up from the back seats and licks my neck. And when I'm trying to sleep late on Saturday and a wet tongue wakes me up-like it or not.  

What would I do without them, after all!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Things I'm Loving This Week In Retirement-And a Few I'm not...........

Retirement, as with much of life, is full of good things-with a few small aggravations along the way.

In my plus column this week:

  • I'm loving the fact that spring is mainly here. Yes, there may be a couple of small bumps on that horizon (77 on Friday, 38 on Sunday and 70 again on Monday), and I can't be sure we've seen the last nightly freeze, but I've begun digging out those shorts and crop pants and it's time for the feet to become sandal worthy.
  • I'm loving the creativity and relaxation.  Yesterday I dragged out my knitting and enjoyed three hours of relaxation at my local independent book shop with a great group of gals-comfy chairs, large tables and feet up, with no topics of the table. I also loved the last hour and a half spent on the patio for the local happy hour, with my Merlot and nachos!  I've read two recent articles/studies that showed crafting increases brain health!
  • I'm loving getting ready for Easter-pulling out the hand decorated Easter eggs for the tree, grabbing the Easter baskets for everyone. What can I say, we're all kids at heart. I have, however, resisted purchasing any peeps to date. 
  • I loving (but a big nervous) getting ready for my first dinner and activity for my local women's transition shelter.  I'm the first, so this will be a learning experience.  Meanwhile I'm making barbecue beef and piles of Easter shaped sugar cookies for decorating as well. 
  • Believe it or not, I'm loving my web researching gigs. They take up a few hours of my morning, and for the last couple of days I have been researching topics about which I know not a great deal apart, making this a learning experience.  Real time bidding ad exchanges?  A totally new concept for me. 
  • I'm loving my decision to allow myself to sleep during the day-whenever I feel like it. I'm generally up till between one and two and up again at eight-without necessarily sleeping all that time. Except for the days that I have afternoon plans, I'm fitting a nap in there - every day, without guilt 
  • I'm loving my decision to start reserving a weekday for exploring and checking out the area-even if that means there is "work" to makeup on Saturday or Sunday. the ability to do things on weekdays with less crowds is so refreshing.
  • Finally, even though I have to baby knees and hands sometimes, and even though I miss the heat enough that next year I may become a snowbird for two months, and even though my daughter is now twelve hours away (she was once an ocean away for a full seven years!) and I miss my women's group, I am a bit past my one year anniversary of moving. Which means I am loving this choice and wondering why it wasn't made earlier.
 Overall, life obviously is good.  But into every life a few aggravations must fall, and since I've again been accused of being too happy, here are my unloved things this week:
  • My smooth stop stove. Arrrgggggh. Owning a house requires priorities and this one may have to wait, but I simply do not get the attraction. A regular stove, please, now!!  If you have one a swear by it, please do not try to convince me. I was raised on gas and that is my first choice (have to check the gas lines). If not, give me good old fashioned electric, even if I have to lift up the top and clean out crumbs.  And as for canning and preserving?  I have to buy a whole new set of everything it would seem.
  • The four year follow up Colonoscopy I'm having on Monday. Yea, I know, this is a Good Thing, in theory. Still, I'm not lovin' it.
  • My front tree may become a love hate situation. I love that its large, pretty and gives much shade and beauty to the front yard. I hate that our last wet snow took of a HUGE branch and has left the tree uneven. I'm not sure how I feel about it being a crab apple-last year we had a late freeze and no apples.  I'll try and post before and after pictures soon-I am long overdue for some serious photo blogposts.
And so it goes, this week in retirement!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Becoming Part of A New Community-in Retirement, or Any Time

When I was living in Texas, I wavered over a year, on whether or not to move to Colorado.  During all of that time I was involved in my regular activities, including a two time a month woman's small group. As part of the discussions in that environment, I shared my questions on downsizing in place, as opposed to moving, and other options. About a third of the way during that time, one of my group (who is older) said simply "Whatever you decide to do, you should do it soon-so you can still make friends:  I'm here to say that, in general, she was right.

While I enjoyed Texas and eventually developed some strong relationships, I had a base relationship with which to start (family).  I was fortunate that in my move to Colorado the same was true.  The truth is that even in church, I did not develop "friendships" immediately when I moved.  Recently, I was sitting in the Tattered Cover with my knitting group and realized that, after being here a year, I was finally, truly becoming part of a new community.

Many of us move, earlier or later in retirement. Sometimes making friends is easier and sometimes more difficult. One of the advantages, I suppose, of a retirement "community" is that there are many activities on site, and the chance to interact immediately.  Often however, business does not equal friendship or community involvement. For myself, I've chosen a different option in terms of lifestyle.  And, while I am no expert as such, I have moved a few times in my adult life and have learned a few things along the way.

For example, it took time. Time to make friends, time to become part of this community.  This is not to say that I was bored, or alone  as such. I was going to church, working out at the recreation center, and doing other things within a few months of my move (and others as well)  Making friends with whom I was joining at happy hour? Or call up and see if they wanted to take a drive?  Another story entirely. Don't consider your move a failure if you don't have a new "best friend" or lunch group within the first six months.

I also knew that the onus was on me. I was the new girl in town. More importantly, people cannot welcome you, invite you, talk with you, or get to know you in depth if you don't put yourself in their sights first (for lack of a better metaphor). In order to find my small quilting group, I first had to join the large quilt guild (where I knew no one and had to stand up and introduce myself, and left after talking to three or four people). I had to go back to that group multiple times and meet others and participate in discussions before and after, as I met people, before it was suggested that I might like to come to a group once a week.

When I found my knitting group, I had to go to the bookstore with my knitting-where I was welcomed and invited to sit.  I now have a group of friends with whom I paint on another day, go places with on the weekend, and share a few glasses of wine with on Friday afternoon-all because I was willing to sit and listen and knit in the beginning.  Most readers know that I am big on church as community. It would have been easy to sit on the edge of that community. Instead, even knowing just a few people, I jumped in to one volunteer and one social project immediately. Not only did I meet people and become involved, I found my outreach calling because I took that first step.

I have  "compartmentalized friendships" and that's okay and good.  While many of us have had that situation already, there are many folks whose pre-retirement relationships are primarily build around neighborhood. Folks whose churches and schools are in their neighborhood or nearby may be especially used to socializing with the same group of people.  While I know my neighbors and visit with them as I walk, most of my socialization is done elsewhere.  My church is close, leaving me with "church friends" "crafting friends" and "dinner and a movie" friends. Sometimes these groups overlap, often not.

In the same vein, I don't require friends who are necessarily "like me" in terms of income, politics, hobbies and habits or anything else.  Many of us live in communities where folks have similar interests as we raise our families, and relocation changes that. I live in a multi ethnic, varied income neighborhood.  The folks in my dinner group are retirees and early retirees-from places like Flint, Michigan, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Washington DC and other locations.  Our lifestyles prior to retirement were very different.  The fact that we  have one or two things in common (good food) is enough, and all the other things get worked out.

Retirement and relocation is a time for many of us to try new things, and to meet new people. Denver is a mobile society, lots of folks choose to retire here. So many of the kinds of groups I join have other so called "newbies"-folks who are not only new to the group, but new to the pastime as well. Rarely have I been the only new person in a group, the only beginner in an activity (or the only experienced one).

Finally, and putting this in words is not easy, I consider this to be my home.  Admittedly, I had reason to do so, but I can see the difference around me between those who have embraced this as where they live now as opposed to those who are still thinking about how things were better at home or who are wondering if moving was the right thing. This is my home, this is where I live, and I embrace it.

It's worked for me-living richly in retirement.

Monday, March 31, 2014

To Blog or Not to Blog.............

Note:  No sooner than had I written this post earlier in the day than I saw that another blogger has been having seemingly similar thoughts.  I will miss Tamara's blog, but as someone who has been finding that life gets in the way, lately, I appreciate the perspective.

Recently this blog has been getting harder and harder to write, with increasingly fewer posts.  This is happening I expect, for a variety of reasons.  My volunteering level with homeless women has increased pretty dramatically in terms of time spent. I've become more active with groups throughout the week, becoming involved in book groups, knitting groups, a church movie group, two general "crafting and artistic" groups and more. The weather is again warm, and while I don't garden I enjoy the chance to go outside and harass the gardener, and longer times are spent sitting on the patio and appreciating the outside.  I'm working a bit on the side (by choice), and looking to spend time on weekend day trips and the like.  In other words, life is getting in the way.

Another side of the coin is that I sometimes feel repetitive. This blog was meant to be about living rich in retirement-proof that fixed income living can be rewarding and that life can be good.  I'm not sure how much more I can write, that's not either just day to day views on my life (not necessarily a bad thing) or rehashing of past writings.  I don't want to be that person who only writes ones every week or so. I'm convinced that to blog means to be regular, so that people know when, and how often to drop by.

So, what to do?  I do like to write, about some things.  However, the things I like to write about most are no longer necessarily retirement related, and this blog is definitely centered in that direction. I'm either the frugal Texas gal, or I live richly in retirement. These days, I'm more interested in writing about other things, with retirement being the background music at best, and limiting that writing to two times a week at the most, and perhaps once.

As I see it I have a couple (or perhaps three choices).  I can continue writing here, but make this a lifestyle blog.  This blog would keep the same title but it would have shorter posts about the things most important in my life-volunteering and low income women, my creative pursuits, general day to day life, and other things.  I can leave this blog and start what is basically a creative blog, with a name that says it as such. And finally of course I can just stop writing.

My inclination right now is the first choice-in fact I've thought about increasing and changing the focus before.  The reason I have hesitated is because while comments come and go in terms of number, my greatest views are those that have to do with tags like "fixed income living" I have no problem talking about those choices, I just want those conversations and writings to be secondary to others.

All this is to say, feel free to share, as I explore changes and see if this blog will continue. Perhaps readers will enjoy reading about recipes, home decoration, quilting, painting, writing, traveling, poverty in this country or any one of other issues. Or perhaps not.  In other words, life is an experiment and we'll see how, or where it ends, when it comes to this one.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Working in Retirement-Sometimes it IS About the Work (and other Friday musings)

Earning extra money in retirement-it's something that happens for many of us. Sometimes (often in fact), it's because we LIKE to work-we just want to be in control.  Sometimes working or having a business in retirement comes about because we want extra cash for-whatever.  Sometimes we work in retirement in order to let retirement savings/investment amount sit untouched for as long as possible.

As a retiree on a fixed income, I have had a home business for more than one of these reasons.  I enjoy the extra money (especially in years when I am looking at a ten thousand dollar inland waterways cruise in my future). I enjoy the process and rewards of having a business.  Being me though, I hate to have my retirement gig interfere with well, retirement. I still want to take off when I choose, keep the hours I want, volunteer intensively and for long periods of time, and sit and daydream or read whenever the mood strikes.  In other words, I want it all.

As many readers know, for a long period of time I had a home quilting and sewing business. I maintained an Etsy shop, a Facebook page and sold at craft fairs.  I did this because I loved sewing and quilting.  I believed (and still believe) that the best businesses are based on things that we enjoy. Unfortunately, for me, this particular business did not work, and I have stopped selling my creations (although I may do some local craft fairs and specialty sales.  Why?  Put simply, I was resenting the time that I spent making things for other people.  I also was not getting "any joy" as the saying goes, from making things that I would not normally make.

 Part of being a business person in this area is making what the market wants. I have, let's say, unique tastes. I consider lime green to be a neutral and my repainted bedroom is bright, bright yellow, with furniture painted in lime, turquoise and peach.  Hey, at least one room in this house has been redone. I like to experiment as I sew and quilt.  Also, this kind of business requires maintaining a web page and updating it daily, taking pictures of the process, and keeping immaculate records.  It was not for me, and I have gone back to using my artistic side for gifts, charity, family and myself.

That said, I did want to do some kind of part time gig.  But I didn't want to have to be quite so "businesslike" in terms of keeping records and such. I also wanted whatever the gig was to be much more portable. Putting my store and Facebook page on vacation (and losing sales) during travel or intensive times was not working for me. So I decided to rethink my lifestyle and look at my skills again.

Besides being an artistic person who never met a spring or summery color she hated, I spent a large part of my post stay at home years being an administrative assistant to the assistant chief of a government agency. This required doing piles of admin like tasks, especially in the research, proofreading, and Publisher and PowerPoint areas of life.  I can make a visual argument on any topic look appetizing. More importantly, I'm one of those folks who can scan a document page or article and pick out the important line or two in less than ten seconds. My brain has the ability to hone in on a single word that appears in a Google search, and I was experienced in writing book and app reviews

All this is to say that after some thought, I went to a third party site and registered as a "virtual assistant".  I specify the things I want to do and how I want to get paid, and I work as much (or as little) as I choose on any given day.  This work is extremely portable and requires nothing more than a laptop.  What's even more important about this work  is that it is surprisingly challenging and interesting. This part time (an hour or a two per day max) gig has not been boring since I began.  Shocking sometimes, but not boring

Much of what I do is web searching by the hour, and for an extra fee I write research summaries. In the past week or so I have researched organ (musical) societies and organ makers in the US. I have researched blogs on dog care. I've researched filming locations of science fiction and fantasy movies in Canada for folks who want to make a "map" of such things. I've researched scientific data on speed and online dating and "flirting". I've searched for articles on how people have altered their lives with small changes, I've researched "Moneyball" recruiting, and today I'm searching for a list of "open mic" opportunities in a large city for a client. I've researched travel requirements and prices for people who, unlike my friend Tamara, hate doing that type of thing. I've even written a couple personalized "three days in Denver" travel guides, dependent on age and interests.

As with any job, business or side activity, a little rain must fall here and there.  I did have to go back and make it clear that my book review would not include certain kinds of books (really. don't ask) and it is occasionally surprising to me how many academic or business management  types seemingly do not know the difference between a qualitative and a quantitative question. Overall though, its the perfect part time job for a lazy retiree. Work when you want, stop when you want, let someone else take charge of the collection and payments, and spend the money you've got. To say that I am extremely happy to date with this choice would be an understatement. It's working for me.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I'll tentatively be joining my "crafting group". I am eternally happy to have found a group of folks who would rather (make cards, knit, make earrings sew, draw, paint) than most anything.  Tonight my lovely sister is making steak, gnocchi with pesto butter and asparagus and lemon tart. Can I just say that the lemon tarts at Costco are to die for, and I consider myself a baker extreme?

Tomorrow evening I'm having ten from my church for dinner group. Fortunately, that just requires cleaning my still not completely unpacked or painted house, getting some kind of appetizer, setting the table and throwing a ham in the oven (hey, it's spring!).

Sunday will be church, golfing, hiking with the dogs and finalizing dates with family for my travel from now through the end of the fall (to ensure house coverage and dog care coverage, among other things).  I know I have some blogging friends traveling in some of the same locales, and it would be wonderful to have a chance to "meet up" somewhere down the line.  Who knows!

As for tonight?  I'll be saying a little prayer for Michigan State (even though I accidentally picked Virginia on my online bracket) and reminding myself that this college basketball year is the perfect example of why one should never, ever, ever bet on sports. Not even in the office pool.  Dayton?  Seriously??

And so it goes, this Friday in retirement.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Frugal Retirement Travel-New Adventures in Where to Lay My head

Travel, and it's place in retirement seems to have been in discussion around the blogging world. It's not particularly surprising.  We all have different comfort levels and experiences. I've said before that as a home centered person, I prefer to be at home eighty percent of the time, and travel (or vacation no more than twenty to twenty five percent. As a home centered person with this perspective, I definitely appreciated Tom's blog this week on "Do You Have to Travel In Retirement.  I occasionally face this issue as well, as I have friends and acquaintances who travel all the time, and wonder why I don't.  Overall though, I think we all have levels of travel or away from home time that works for us.

It occurs to me that at least half the time, what I do is "vacation" rather than "travel" if there is such a distinction.  My idea of perfect time away from home is staying a week at the gulf shore, eating seafood.  I tend to alternate things like my train trip to San Francisco with these types of trips. It's what works for me. Even my trip to Germany next Christmas is, for me, a returning to the hold homestead. 

Whether one travels, vacations or remains in their home environment, there is always plenty to do and one choice is not more challenging than another as such.  More importantly, age should not (for the most part) drive those decisions. There is no age at which we are "supposed to stay home more", or "settle down" as such. I'll be the sixty something woman with gray hair hopping on and off the train as I go down the Rhine, as well as the woman who will be staying at a youth hostel in San Francisco while walking around in my clodhoppers (Read: expensive Clark's sandals that I am not above wearing with socks if the situation calls for it).

Which leads me to the real topic of this post-the increasingly available alternatives for where to lay my head. In my twenties, I stayed in youth hostels or YMCAs during most of my travels, as well as camping here and there.  I'm not sure I knew that this alternatives existed for me still, albeit on a different plane-along with many other choices.  While I'm not ready to couch surf, I am open to almost any other alternative (that is not an RV or a tent).

For example, in the late summer I will be traveling by train from Denver to San Francisco and staying a week (I have not decided on the return trip choice yet). While I have not finalized my decision yet, at this point my reservations do not include a sleeping car-as much because I will be hopping on and off as for any other reasons.

When I arrive in San Francisco, I will be staying at a small, nicely appointed youth hostel. I've posted photos of this location before, briefly. Who would have thought it? Youth hostels have improved in my immensely, and I will in fact have a private room.  This hostel is right down town, has everything from dorm to private bedrooms, at half the cost of nearby hotels.  In fact this hotel is much like (and used to be ) a European pension hotel, which is my preferred method of travel. In truth, if I did not wake up throughout the night and was not a serious night owl, I would stay in a group room, the more people to meet. 

When I travel to Jackson hole and North Dakota, I will be using two alternative methods of overnight stay.  For the first part of our trip, I'll be camping-or rather Glamping. What is Glamping, you may ask?  By definition this means glamour camping.  In other words, I don't have to pitch the tent. It's a happy medium between the outdoors and hotel level comfort. I'll have a fully appointed tent with floor, a comfy fire outside the tent and more-the perfect level for me. The second portion of this journey, I'll be staying at what is commonly known as a cozy cabin. 

As I look to my east coast travels, I'm exploring airbnb,  which gives me the option of staying in someone's unused space-be it a room in an apartment or another option.  Although I LIKE the idea of home swapping, I have three dogs (and may add another one) as well as sometimes traveling when other family members will not be home. while that option is not open to me, this one is. Currently I'm looking in the West Village, where I'm exploring the option to rent a whole studio, or a room in a flat. Either way the options look good.

There are still all kinds of options out there unexplored, both new and traditional.  I won't sleep on the ground, I won't sleep in my car, and as I said, I think I'm probably too set in my ways to couch surf (not that I disapprove of the idea in and of itself).

When I travel along the gulf coast, I stay in cottages and Bed and Breakfasts.  When In Santa Fe, I stay in an old hotel in the town center (that I have stayed in before).  On my drive to Dallas I sleep in a Best Western (with the best mattresses of any hotel, ever that I have slept in).  When I travel to Galveston I'll probably check out a park model for a week. And of course here and there, I manage to stay in a regular, old fashioned hotel.

My goals to find a place to stay are comfort, price, and overall experience. So far I've done well. I'll let you know how it goes,as I do this vacationing in retirement thing!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Traveling Alone- Married or Single, Retired or Not

In an effort to more organized about my writing (on this blog and elsewhere), I've been making a list of things I wanted to blog about. Not necessarily a schedule, mind you.  Just a planned list of relevant topics, since I want to return to blogging at least twice a week. Among my future topics are Entertaining on a Budget (the rule of one), before and after my on a dime remodels, a group of single retirement topics, exploring your inner creative self, treating my knee naturally, and a group of frugal and single travel topics. In a bit of serendipity, this one came to the forefront today.

I read more blogs than I can count and rarely comment on many of them. I know I should, but I'm so busy reading!  One of my very regular blogs/sites is one called The Art of Non-Conformity. Chris writes about non traditional life planning and, entrepreneurship and travel. If you have not stopped by his website and blog I encourage you to do so at least once.  It's all about non conformity (surprise) and stepping outside the box.  I found the blog after I purchased his book the $100 Start Up (well worth of it's own review)!

This past week Chris wrote an article about How to Travel Alone-which I found intriguing since I have ALWAYS traveled alone some of the time, even during the many years of my marriage-as did my husband.  Even more interesting to me were the various comments that followed. 

This hit home to me because I am a middle aged retired woman who travels alone-by choice. Not always, just sometimes. Not because she can't find anyone to travel with her (my sister and I are going to Jackson Hole and Mount Rushmore this summer), or because I'm no fun, or because everyone else is working, or because I cannot afford to take a group tour. Because on occasion I like to travel-alone.

I started traveling alone before I was married.  In the military and stationed in Europe at that time, there were places I wanted to go that had no particular interest for those around me.  Sometimes I would wait until there was a tour, but sometimes I just............went.  All the time I was in Germany in my twenties, my parents lived in Brussels.  The over nine hour train trip was an excuse to make quick stops and experiment along the way.

When I married, as often happens early on, our vacations were kiddie trips or visits cross country to family.  Later on, we took family vacations. We also traveled individually, with and without children. My husband stayed home when I took out daughter to a Pennsylvania farm vacation for four days (he would have died of boredom).  I stayed home when my husband took a week golf tour with the boys (I can only shop and spa for so many days).  He stayed home when I went to the shore for five days, not loving the ocean.  When we managed to live in Europe, this situation increased. My husband was an avid skier who traveled to major ski resorts (sometimes on a bus with others and sometimes alone).  I went with friends on a wine cruise. Most of the time we traveled together, but we both were used to our "own time" either with friends or alone. In addition because was an at home wife during part of that time, I spent more than one occasion spending the day exploring a downtown city-alone.

Since I have returned to the states, I've taken many trips-some alone, and some with others. In the coming year, I am taking a vacation with my sister to Jackson Hole, Mount Rushmore, Wounded Knee and environs.  I'm looking at taking a tour through Road Scholar. I'm also taking at least one long rail and road trip.  Alone. By choice. I plan to revel in the solitude of a long distance train trip with stunning views, side trips to hot springs and cathedrals and explore downtown San Francisco. All alone. I planned it that way.

Some may wonder how one can travel alone.  The answer is, much easier than you may think. This could of course, be in and of itself a post on traveling alone. I suspect one may come along, as well as specifics suggestions. Meanwhile I do have a few thoughts on "alone" travel-for anyone:

  • In my experience, solitude is not loneliness and sometimes in retirement we get less of the former than we would like. Most of us did not have pure togetherness before retirement, and while being together can be a joyful thing, a little solitude never hurt anyone.
  • It's true that part of travel is on occasion the ability to share a wondrous thing with someone else. It's also true that there is a unique peace (especially in nature) of being able to observe something totally alone.
  • If you travel alone, finding casual companionship is not difficult. In this country you can find a meet up or group in almost any area at any time. There are websites and books that list overseas bars that tourists and expats frequent.
  • Your relationship is not in trouble if you travel alone.  For some reason, I expect I got this one much more than my husband,  but the.........."and you let him to to France by himself" comments always make me laugh.  And for all those singles out there (traveling or not), I'll add this one.  Just because you don't have a companion, that doesn't mean you are looking for one. This of course, applies to single hood and alone-ness in general.
  • Dining alone while traveling (or otherwise) is neither painful or embarrassing in and of itself. If it is there are solutions, but I have eaten in some wonderful restaurants, alone, with no regrets.
  • And finally, of course, the ability to be spontaneous, to do exactly what you want, when you want, where you want, at the last minute-that enjoyment cannot be put into words-and cannot be matched in group travel, be it two spouses or a tour group.

My main travel focus right now is a driving trip to the north during the summer, and another one to visit family (but driving alone) in late spring. I am looking forward to those so many ways.  I am also looking forward to my ten day, on my own vacation in September-with much anticipation!