Solo Travel Can Be a BLAST!

Solo Travel:  Who Knew It Could Be So Much Fun?

The Button That Keeps on Giving!

The Button That Keeps on Giving!

The very thought of solo travel scared me.  I don’t know WHY it scared me, because I was perfectly fine doing almost anything else alone.  But the thought of boarding a plane, travelling hundreds of miles and spending a week alone in a location where NOBODY knew me was very intimidating.  And then it happened.

My (ex) friend Cindy and I had planned a trip to West Palm Beach for my birthday.  We were set:  flights were scheduled, beach-front hotel reservations had been made, and we were looking forward to a few days of relaxation.  Two days before the planned event, Cindy backed out.   She suddenly decided not to go.  The excuse she used was that her “foster” mother was sick, but seriously, it was just an excuse and nothing more because the woman lived in a different city than Cindy and had a dozen grown children who would care for her during our trip.  For whatever her reasons were, she decided two days before the trip that she wasn’t going.

My choices were but two:  go alone and make the most of a birthday alone, or stay at home and be thoroughly ticked off that I wasn’t at the beach in West Palm Beach, Florida.  I opted to go alone.  Yes, it meant my trip had just become more expensive, but I decided it was my birthday and I was worth it.

As I headed out the door to the airport early that Thursday morning, I grabbed a button one of my friends had given me and stuck it on my blouse.  The button proudly proclaimed, “KISS ME IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!”  It was purple satin with big kissy lips on it.  I had no clue what a neat trip it was about to become.

Fun En Route

One of the best things I’ve discovered in travelling is the Park and Fly service.  You arrive at their facility, and they load your luggage onto the shuttle and park your car before transporting you to the airport.  Your car is locked in a secure facility and you have to depend on NO ONE to get to or from the airport.  It’s a LOVELY set-up.  So I got to the Park and Fly lot that day wearing my button.  As the shuttle driver loaded my bags, he wished me a happy birthday.  Other passengers on the shuttle wished me a happy birthday.  The skycap at the airport SANG Happy Birthday to me.  The security personnel scanning my luggage wished me Happy Birthday.  And a dozen people at my gate wished me happy birthday.  Before I even boarded the plane, dozens of people had wished me a Happy Birthday.  What fun!

After the plane was loaded and the flight attendant pointed out the safety features of the airplane, the captain came on the intercom and gave the temperature, estimated arrival time, and flight elevations, and then wished me a happy birthday, leading the entire plane in a loud, off-key and hilarious rendition of the birthday song.

purplekissme-1By the time I got to my hotel on Singer Island, I’d been sung to (even in the cab), hugged, had been toasted, provided my favorite beverage (a margarita), and wished a wonderful birthday over and over.   Once I arrived at the hotel, the fun continued, with the desk clerk singing and inviting other checking-in guests to join him.  And I was only HOURS into my trip.

On the way to my room, I passed the swimming pool, and it appeared that there were just a bunch of little cuties at the pool.  My heart sank.  I’m not often self-conscious about either my size or age (at the time, 45 and 280 pounds), but when I saw nothing but tiny, scantily-clad, tanned, firm young people at the pool, it was more than a little bit off-putting.  I got to my room and put on my swimsuit, ready to go soak up some of the warm, gorgeous Florida sunshine… and then crawled into bed and covered up my head.  I was suddenly overcome with loneliness and grief, missing my fiancée who had died about a year previously, and wishing I had stayed at home, thinking that at least I’d have someone with whom to enjoy a birthday dinner out.

As I lay there feeling pitiful (I hate pitiful), the voice of the man I missed so much came into my head and said, “You’re not the woman I know.  The woman I know would slap that birthday button on her swimsuit and go to the pool and have a wonderful time.”  And he was right.  So I threw back the covers, grabbed my birthday button, my journal and pen, and took off to the pool.  I knew that there may be a crowd of tiny little cuties at the pool, but a big ole birthday girl deserved some sunshine, too.

To my utter and complete amazement, the cuties were gone, and there were few people at the pool.  I found a table and settled in for some writing, some introspection, and a leisurely late afternoon sunbath.  Ahhhh…. Exactly what I needed.

And the magic of that morning began again, with people stopping by to wish me a happy birthday, introduce themselves, and visit.  I was invited to dinner with a bunch of bowling girlfriends from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (which was hilariously fun) and met a couple who were amazing in their obvious love for each other (she was a quadriplegic after an auto accident, and he lifted her into and out of the water, turned her on a chaise in the sun when she needed, and kept her comfortable—they were a LOVELY couple!).

The next morning at the pool I received little presents and a birthday cake, and the fun went on.  Also during my trip to West Palm Beach, I took one of the 8-hour cruises to nowhere, and as I boarded the ship, I met three couples who insisted that I join them for my birthday, and we had a delightful visit during the buffet dinner and stand-up comedy show onboard.

I won’t bore you with every wonderful experience of my trip, but I will tell you that it was the most fun I’d ever had traveling.  I met fascinating, friendly people whom I wouldn’t have met if I had had a traveling companion.  I had a WONDERFUL time and enjoyed my birthday over and over with new friends.  It was a trip I’ll never forget, and I owe it all to one thing:  the little button I pinned onto my clothing for the entire trip.  In fact, ANYTIME I travel alone, I keep a KISS ME IT’S MY BIRTHDAY button close by.  It’s a great icebreaker and conversation started, and literally opened up a whole new world of travel to me.

To purchase your own KISS ME IT’S MY BIRTHDAY button, click here  for purple or here for green.  They come in green or purple.  I guarantee if you  travel solo and wear one of these–whether or not it’s your birthday–you’ll meet more people than you would have guessed.

As I always say, DREAM BIG!


%d bloggers like this: