Susan Bradley, founder of the Financial Transitionist Institute, is an expert on financial life transitions planning. There are four stages of transition, she explains, anticipation, ending, passage, and finally, a new normal, i.e., moving “from what was to what will be.” It’s the passage stage that gets messy, as you deal with “fear, chaos, possibilities.”
Adjusting to your “new normal” takes time, and often, courage. American writer and author of “Conversations With God,” Neale Donald Walsh, wrote, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
In a recent column we examined life transitions, especially those more likely at different age ranges. For example, U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that of the roughly one million people widowed each year, about 88 percent will be women. Nearly 50 percent of women over age 65 in America are widows, and seven in ten live alone.
Some couples reach retirement age and realize more and more that they have little in common. While they may stay together eschewing divorce, they pursue their own interests. Another trend is the growing frequency of “grey divorce,” couples late in life splitting up.
Of adults living independently of their own accord, 53 percent are women. Growing numbers of female solo travelers are piquing the interest of airlines, travel agents, cruise lines and tour operators. A 2018 British Airways travel study of almost 9,000 18-64 year olds across the U.S., UK, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, India and China, found that over 50 percent of women have taken a holiday by themselves, with 75 percent planning a solo trip in the next few years.
It isn’t just widows and divorcees traveling, but independent women across a wide spectrum. Married women with a partner who doesn’t like to travel are getting out there. Someone needs to stay home with the dog!
A nettlesome aspect of solo travel is the “single supplement,” an upcharge if you don’t have or want a roommate. However, some tour operators and others will waive the upcharge, or offer ways for singles to connect. Working with a knowledgeable travel agent helps.
A consistent goal of financial planning advisory clients, single or married, is travel, irrespective of age. Bespoke, quality, comfortable, and/or adventurous travel is not cheap, especially long flight itineraries to exotic locales.
A planning goal is financial independence, which provides choices, including the luxury of time and money to pursue interests, travel included. On a recent cruise, at a loyalty reception for “repeat cruisers,” a couple was introduced who had just booked their third “around the world cruise.” That’s freedom!
Couples know it’s highly likely that one of them in all probability will be single again at some point, a widow or widower. You want to plan so your surviving loved one has choices and freedom, financial security, not being a burden on adult children. You want to have fun and enjoy each other as long as possible, which is why physical fitness and good health habits are as important as fiscal fitness. That takes a plan! Retirement can be boring if you don’t have choices.
Many high quality tour operators offer small group travel limited to anywhere from 15 to 24 people. You’re not on a big bus with a herd of folks, one of whom invariably oversleeps, delays a departure, or gets lost in China or some other frantic and crowded place. Colleges and universities offer alumni trips and you’re likely to find like-minded and interesting people, good conversationalists, with friendships easily made. Ditto for church groups. High end and adventure oriented “expedition trips” featuring sleek and comfortable ships, gourmet food, plus top hotels and lodges, appeal to experienced travelers, convivial fellow adventurers eager to help each other.
Ed Hewitt, SmarterTravel.com, author of “15 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling Solo,” wrote, “As our daily lives become more fragmented and sometimes isolated, it may seem counterintuitive that solo travel can be an antidote to how alone we find ourselves in many ways. But the very fact of being alone forces solo travelers to burst their own solitude to find companionship among strangers in a foreign and exhilarating land.”
Lewis Carroll advised, “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.” Animal Planet had a TV series, “Get Out There!” Good advice. You live on a planet with seven continents, five oceans, and more islands than you can count. So much to see…so little time. Happy trails!