When children are grown and live independently, essentially leaving the nest, the parents become empty nesters. As children grow and become young adults, parents’ focus can now be more self-centered. Parents tend to do things for themselves, and travel becomes more of a priority. Traveling as an empty nester is quite different from traveling with kids and family.
The empty nest syndrome occurs when parents experience loss and sadness as the last child leaves home. When my youngest left for college, I went through a period of depression and felt a loss of purpose. I had been fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom, and with nothing else to focus on, my life felt empty. It’s part of why I started EbonyTravelers, to find and explore my purpose.
When the children leave the nest, the ultimate understanding is that adult life is beginning, and life as a parent must also continue. There is a realization that parents can start a new chapter after spending two or more decades focused on their children. So, the idea of travel without constraints becomes a strong desire, and travel plans start to emerge.
For many empty-nesters, the focus is on the experiences that travel gives. For many empty-nesters, travel is no longer about just visiting places but enjoying the journey and the different experiences. Now that the children are gone, there tends to be a bit more disposable income. Travel tends to include premium travel and lodgings and involves more adult interests, like dining at more sophisticated restaurants and taking bucket list trips.
Once parents get used to the empty house, they look forward to seeing more of the world and visiting new places. They no longer must coordinate with school holidays or family schedules; they are free to travel whenever it suits them. Travel varies from beach getaways, romantic escapes, and African safaris to bucket-list destinations. Travel destinations are limitless with more money to spend and more time on their hands.
My travels now take on all the hallmarks of empty nester travel. I have more time to travel, so my trips are longer, my hotel choices are more first-rate, my dining experiences are more bespoke, and my travel is more premium. I highly encourage travel as an empty nester. Planning travel gives you something to look forward to and a great way to mark the beginning of the next phase of your life. Take advantage of your time and resources to travel the world. Have you traveled since becoming an empty nester? Are you encouraged to enjoy that phase of life? I’d like to know, comment below.
I focus on the lived experience because I don’t think people, things, and places become relatable until you genuinely experience them in real-time. We currently live in a very picturesque world, and I see so many people trying to get the perfect picture to prove to the world that they have experienced something. However, nothing trumps the experience, and it often cannot be relayed in the ideal image. In the lived experience, you must be vulnerable, and a perfect picture does not show that experience.
Being a flight attendant exposed me to so many different people and experiences. I remember people questioning my choice to be a flight attendant. How could I spend four years in college to earn a bachelor’s degree and become a “waitress in the sky?” The 23 years I spent traveling the world gave me more experiences than college ever could in hindsight.
I grew up in an immigrant family, and many of my early experiences came from being an immigrant. As a child immigrant to the US, I remember not wanting to be different and accepting the vulnerability of being different. As a young adult, I knew that my experiences were viewed differently and were unlike those of my peers, and it took me several years to learn to lean into my uniqueness.
When I first became a flight attendant, it was a time of genuine customer service and being “something special in the air.” Flight service included champagne and caviar service, and it would take almost two hours to complete a dinner service with cooked-toorder onboard chateaubriand.
Vulnerability is admitting that the first time I had chateaubriand was on an airplane. It was also the first time I had caviar, and I had been serving caviar for almost two years before I had the nerve to try it myself. My regret is not having tried it on day one! However, I did not want to be vulnerable and try it in front of my coworkers.
But that was my vulnerability, and I learned through my lived experience that holding on to the vulnerability of not admitting my naivety was only to my detriment. As airline services reduced year by year, I longed for the days of caviar and champagne service. It’s an experience few will ever get to experience, and I had the opportunity to experience it daily and didn’t for many years.
What are you giving up by holding on to your vulnerability? I promise you that the lived experience is much better than the picture opportunity. Live and be proud of your firsts, because they will not be your lasts. Have you been in vulnerable situations and learned from them? I’d like to know.
It’s true that not being able to communicate can be frustrating and scary. However, it should never be an excuse for not traveling. There are universal ways of communicating like yes and no, and many other common gestures. There are also plenty of mute, blind, and or deaf people who travel. Not knowing a local language is very similar in that a few key phrases or gestures will help travelers through most situations. Here are a few ideas on travel and the language barrier.
People communicate both verbally and nonverbally. If there’s one universal language that crosses all borders and cultural differences, it’s body language. Often, we don’t realize how much we communicate through facial expressions or gestures. When language is a barrier, the power of body language becomes enhanced. It’s incredible how much miming and pointing will suffice in any language.
Just as body language crosses borders, English is also considered the universal language of travel. Many tourist attractions have signage written in both the local language and English. The chance of traveling to a place where no one speaks English is very slim. However, communicating to locals in their language, no matter how inadequate your language skills, makes you a better world citizen.
It’s incredible how much we can communicate with our facial expressions. Our faces express and provide hints to our thoughts and feelings. Looking confused or worried will most often get you a response of help. A smile is understood universally as being friendly and open. With facial expressions, sometimes no words are needed.
Hello and thank you.
Just these two phrases will suffice despite any language barrier. No matter the destination, learning just these two phrases in the language of your destination will allow you to get by. Although these two words are not enough to carry a conversation, they will indicate respect for the language and people. Respecting the language of your destination will always get you the assistance you need for further communication.
The essential part of communication is giving and receiving information. When language is a barrier, it can be frustrating, stressful, and scary. However, travelers do not have to speak the native language to be understood when traveling to a country with a language barrier. Knowing a local language can enrich your travel experience, but not knowing should never be an excuse for not traveling.
Have you traveled and experienced a language barrier? How did you overcome it? I’d like to know.
Fall is a great time to travel. Leaves are changing colors, and it can be an excellent time for a road trip. However, the weather can be a bit unpredictable, and temperatures can drop unexpectedly. Here are a few ideas to consider as we head into the fall if travel is in your future.
Packing for a fall trip can be a bit tricky. Sweaters, hoodies, and jackets can be bulky to pack. One way to pack light is to think of dressing in layers. Layering long sleeves, vests, button-down shirts, and jackets make it easier to take on or off and adjust to weather changes. In addition, varying different items can refresh outfit choices leading to packing less.
Be prepared for weather changes.
Fall weather can be unpredictable so prepare for rain or sunshine. An umbrella or poncho will often come in handy. However, sunscreen and sunglasses might also be necessary. Mornings are usually cool and crisp while the afternoon warms up. In addition, rain is often in the forecast.
Fall travel is much less hectic than summer travel as many destinations are much less crowded. In addition, fall can be one of the cheapest times to travel, and prices on airfare, hotels, and activities tend to be lower. Food also tends to be more affordable as fall festivals and seasonal changes in food make fall dining an incredible experience.
More hotel perks.
The hotel industry tends to slow down in the fall season. There are far fewer crowds, so hotels and other places offer more perks to attract business. It is easier to receive hotel upgrades, and hotel points go further than in peak season. Hotel staff is usually more attentive as they have fewer guests to serve, so the service tends to be better.
Temperature drops, more rain, and humidity tend to increase people’s risk of getting sick. Due to the change in weather, fall is often a time many people experience colds and cases of flu. This trend, along with the realities of Covid, means fall travelers should be more careful of fall sickness and try to stay as healthy as possible. Getting more exercise and sleep is a great way to enjoy a fall vacation while maintaining your health.
Do you have any plans for fall travel? I’d like to know.
Being a mother is a never-ending travel experience. Just like taking an actual trip, preparation is vital! My recent journeys have been a bit different as I felt like my travel and motherhood journey was at an end. Yet the reality is that it is still at an inflight stage. Covid19 became part of my reality in 2020, and I could no longer consider myself an empty nester. Even though my children are in their 20’s, I immediately felt the mothering phase kick in; are you well, taking care of yourself, wearing masks, social distancing, and the like. I will always be a mother, but after becoming an empty nester, I lived my life as such, and so was an absent but present mother.
My oldest has graduated college, started a career in the USAF, and became a homeowner at 23 (shameful humble brag). My youngest is in her senior year of college and is doing well in her social and school life. She attends the number 1 HBCU Spelman College (prideful plug), responsible enough to have been a resident advisor, scholarly enough to be on the honor roll, and social enough to be on several school boards and activities.
2020 came, and the Covid pandemic was apparent. My youngest had to leave school in Atlanta, a ten-hour ride from our home in Texas. I am an empty nester, was +24 hours away on another continent. All I could do was advise. “Pack up the car and drive safely,” I said. For the next six months, I remained in Asia while my baby girl lived at home alone. The choices we made were heart-wrenching and although I constantly checked in, not being there was very difficult, so my “inner” motherhood travel journey began. Was I a bad mother? Should I be with my grown daughter instead of my husband? What were people thinking of me? Should I travel back home?
I have been home in Texas for a year now, and another inner journey has begun; am I a bad wife? Should I be with my husband? What is the right choice? How do I feel? What I do know from my lived experiences is that self-care and self-love are essential! We must acknowledge the inner journey. I live my life between two continents, North America and Asia, so my journey has to continue.
What will my next journey be like? I’m not sure, but what I do know is that I will share it with you, so keep following for more. Let’s take this journey together.
Knowing your travel personality is essential in finding joy from your travel experiences. Your travel personality is determined by how you identify yourself as a traveler. Knowing whether your travel is motivated by a thirst for adventure, to experience different cultures, or soul searching is essential. The fundamental descriptions of travel personalities are adventurous, curious, and laid-back types. If you have a luxury travel personality and end up at budget accommodations, you will, of course, not find enjoyment in your trip. Therefore, matching your travel personality with your travel plans makes a tremendous difference in the joy of your travel.
Travel personalities can range from adventurous to laid back. Adventurous travelers are usually up for anything. They are bold and independent, but they are thrill-seekers at the end of the day, and their travel choices will reflect this. Adventurous travelers are full of ideas and like to try new things. They also tend to be spontaneous, so planned trips with scheduled itineraries are not ideal for this personality.
In the middle of the travel personality range is the curious traveler. These travelers will want to try every bucket list or unique travel experience. However, unlike the adventurous travel personality, they will be attracted to in-depth tours with experienced, historical guides. Their thirst for knowledge will also often find them spending lots of time at noteworthy sites and long days of travel.
At the far range of travel, personalities are the laid-back travelers. These travelers are usually happiest at a beach destination. They are also very close in personality to spa travelers. They are generally not fussy about the destination and prefer calm and relaxing activities like the beach or pool and spa packages. In addition, they are not too fond of organized travel.
There are plenty of travel personality types to choose from. The adventurous, curious, and laid-back travel personality types are but a few. Some travelers may also be a blend of personalities. Travelers may be experiencing something in their life that makes them prefer a particular type of travel that may not fit their true travel personality.
Knowing how you identify your travel personality will go a long way in helping you to choose not only where you’d like to go but what you’d like to get from your travel experience. A bit of soul searching will help you try to find what vacation best suits you. However, if you’re planning a trip with others, knowing about their travel personality may help you design a better trip to suit everyone.
Do you know your travel personality? Do you think it’s important to know? I’d love to hear your thoughts.