Travel as an empty nester.

Travel as an empty nester.

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.

Empty nester.

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.

The realization.

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.

The experience.

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.

The destinations.

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.

Fall travel

Fall travel

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 light.

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.

Off-peak deals.

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.

Fall sickness.

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.

My inner journey.

My inner journey.

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.

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Know before you go-Covid testing.

Know before you go-Covid testing.

The travel industry has bounced back significantly despite the realities of Covid. One of the many reasons travelers chose to be vaccinated was so that they could travel. However, with all the developments around COVID-19, many destinations now require COVID testing before departure. While checking in for an international flight recently, I witnessed a passenger being denied travel for not having the correct testing documentation for travel. Here are a few ideas on Covid testing you should know before you go.

Covid testing.

There are two types of COVID testing available, diagnostic and antibody tests. Each traveler should do their research on travel testing requirements. In general, there are three types of testing, an antigen or rapid test, a molecular test, also known as an RT-PCR test, and an antibody test. As stated in the name, a rapid test provides results quickly, while a molecular test may take twenty-four to forty-eight hours for results. The antibody test uses blood and can be available the same day or 1-3 days, depending on lab processing. An appointment for testing is often required, along with proof of identity and insurance if applicable.

Travel requirements.

To be sure you meet the travel-specific COVID testing requirements, travelers need to plan accordingly. Each country’s requirement, although similar, may be different. One of the main differences between the antigen/rapid test and the molecular/RT-PCR test is that the antigen/rapid test may not detect early COVID-19 infection. Due to this fact, many countries will not accept the results of an antigen test. In addition, the timing of testing can be a factor. Some destinations require testing at least 72 hours before travel.

Do the research.

Doing your research is essential as the test timing can depend on departure or arrival at the destination. Travelers must present documentation before travel, so please check with the airline or destination to be sure of testing requirements. Many airports do not have testing facilities, and as stated before, a rapid test may not fulfill requirements for proof for travel. Airlines cannot override the specific country testing requirements.

Medical screening.

Additionally, due to COVID, passengers may be subject to medical screening. Some destinations will also require an antigen/rapid test upon arrival at the travelers’ expense. In addition, the USA still requires a negative COVID test before entering the US. There have been reports of travelers having to extend their travels due to a positive COVID test before departure. As always, I advise everyone to wash their hands frequently and wear a mask to protect themselves.

Have you had to be COVID tested for travel? How was it? I’d like to know.

What’s your travel footprint?

What’s your travel footprint?

A travel footprint is an impact you make in your travels. As a flight attendant, I got to see the best of people and the worst.  With the recent uptick in travel, many travelers seem to be leaving footprints less than desirable.  Here are a few ways that you may unknowingly leave a negative travel footprint behind.

The Covid virus exemplifies how much of a footprint we leave behind unknowingly.  We are urged to wash and sanitize our hands often. It’s one of the first things I do when I leave a public space, and especially when I board an airplane.  Airplanes can fly an average of four roundtrip flights per day. There is no way for a traveler to tell who has been sitting in the seat before them. Leaving your seat area in total disarray is not a footprint you want to leave behind. Try to hand off your trash to a flight attendant. Do not leave trash stuffed into your seatback pocket or lying around on the floor.

Similarly, when you go to a hotel.  Know that someone must clean behind you.  There have been so many times when I have passed an open hotel room door and been amazed at how the guests have left the room. Leaving such a footprint is partly the reason why hotels have a check-in time afternoon or later.  It takes a lot to clean a hotel room after it’s been trashed, and the people who are waiting for that room want it to be as spotless as they expect.

When vacationing, travelers expect to be catered to and treated well.  Try to leave a positive footprint with the people who serve you.  Say please and thank you to staff.  Acknowledge others around you and how your actions and behavior affect them.  Be kind to the wait staff and be gratuitous when possible. Having been in the service industry for many years, I know how much an appreciative and considerate customer can impact someone’s day.

Travelers should always respect personal space.  Taking your shoes off and resting your feet in someone else’s space is just rude.  Be courteous and keep your feet in your space. Most travelers know it’s difficult for small children and toddlers to be still in a confined space. However, allowing children to kick the seat in front of them as entertainment is disrespectful.   Giving toddlers food to play with and not cleaning up after them is also ill-mannered.

We all expect an airplane to take us to our destination, and it usually does.  However, all travelers must consider that there may be extended delays where you spend much more time with your seatmate than anticipated.  Some delays will have passengers together for quite a lengthy time, and if your footprint is less than favorable, this can be a very uncomfortable time. In worst-case scenarios of turbulence or unplanned landings, sometimes your fellow passengers become an essential connection.  Try to leave favorable first impressions.

Have you thought about the travel footprint you leave behind? I’d like to know.

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