“What does it mean to pre-board? Do you get on before you get on?” – George Carlin
It’s a first for me. My very first blog post about another first, my very first overseas trip — alone.
I have always admired those adventurous women who seem fearless — Amelia Earhart, Sally Ride, Karen Blixen, the pioneer women who somehow made it across hundreds of miles of the most challenging travel conditions imaginable. How did they make themselves do it? Weren’t they scared? I sometimes think of myself as a risk-taker, but in the same sentence with them I feel decidedly unadventurous.
Sure, I’ve been on a plane by myself. I used to live in Denver and flew back and forth from Denver to Des Moines to visit family a few times. I even flew to Dallas once to visit a college pal. But every time, there was someone I knew waiting to meet me at the airport. I’ve even taken off alone on a road trip a time or two. A couple of summers ago I drove myself up to Sheboygan, Wisconsin. For me, that’s pretty daring, but I was meeting my husband up there so I knew there would be someone to call if I got lost or something worse happened.
In January I started a new job after 25 years with the same company. Not only a new job, but a whole new career — from restaurant general manager to travel agency marketing director. Pretty gutsy, right? I haven’t been in the advertising field since my after-college days, and it’s very different today than it was in the 1980’s. I have never worked in the travel industry. On my first day in the office I felt like it was my first day of kindergarten all over again. What if I couldn’t do it? What if no one liked me? Why can’t I figure out the phone?
One of the requirements of the new job is learning new things. So when an opportunity came up to go on a FAM trip for destination weddings in Hawai’i, I said YES! then realized that I would be making this trip completely alone and got completely freaked out.
My husband and I have gone to lots of places together since we got married in 2010. St. Thomas, Cancun, Cozumel, road trips to St. Louis, Denver, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis. In Cancun, we rented a car and drove ourselves to Chichen Itza. Pretty risky , and not without a couple of panic-inducing incidents, but we made it. When we (finally) got back to the hotel we said never again, but two days later got in that same rental car and drove to Tulum. Never again.
Like many before me, I let my partner do the planning, or the driving, or the navigating, or the guiding through the airport mazes, and just followed along. Then, when I had to do those things for myself, I realized that I hadn’t been paying attention. How do you check in at the airport, again? What do I do when I get where I’m going? What if no one on the FAM likes me? At age 51, one would think one wouldn’t be thinking these things.
I am happy and proud to report that none of my fears about going to Hawai’i alone were realized. I checked myself in, got myself through security, navigated through new airports, made it to my hotel, got along with everyone in my FAM group and even made new friends. I fell in love with O’ahu, and when we had free time from our FAM activities, I went out and explored. Alone. I was never homesick, because Oahu made me feel right at home. I would go back there in a second, even alone if I had to. But from now one you can bet I’ll be paying closer attention.