Last Thursday evening, after 5 months away from home base in Tucson, we arrived home. If you read any of my blogs these past few months you know it was lots of laughs and fun – along with learning lessons about what not to do (and what definitely TO DO) when you are on the road for 5 months in multiple cities.
Sunday I backed out of the garage and knocked down our mailbox (yes, one of those steel ones with a concrete base that desert communities are fond of) even though I have a backup camera in my new car. The car got a few “boo boos” too. YIKES. Upon reflection, I think I have a bad case of PTTD — the mind melt and trauma that happens when you do not plan to travel differently, and plan easing back in after travel as a FabulousOver60 traveler.
Post Traumatic Travel Disorder is an affliction that I have noticed has been increasing in my life. While working full-time I traveled often for work – typically several trips per week flying to various places for consulting assignments. At a certain point, I had it all down to a science. Always packed bag ready, just what I needed and nothing else, and a clear focus on getting where I needed to be and doing what I was being paid to do. My days were pre-planned and many evenings as well – mostly I scheduled in working out to keep my stamina high.
Now, I continue to travel – increasingly as many of us boomers are – as part of being semi-retired or completely unemployed and finally having the time and resources to take off here, there and anywhere – or, at the least somewhere. But rather than having the travel “down to a science”, every trip seems like a fresh opportunity to over-pack, plan too many things for too little time, and making sure that any possible friend is visited or connected with when going to “their neck of the woods.” This is of course in addition to returning home not to the same routines, but often returning to my life and home that is ever evolving to meet our changing and evolving needs. In other words, travel used to be routine, now it is anything but. We have to plan for it differently, not attempt to go back to how we used to travel.
I truly believe that I backed into our mailbox because of PTTD (Post Traumatic Travel Disorder). Am going to see hitting my mailbox as a gift going forward – it helped me reflect and share what I now believe are important tips on being a fabulous traveler over 60, as well as for avoiding PTTD.
1. Unlike business travel, the reasons we travel now are more varied and sometimes complex, combining several agendas. Sometimes it is a family obligation (Uncle Ted’s funeral), or a social obligation (your 50th college reunion, where you also are on the board, not just attending the reunion). Or then again it could just be for fun (we’ve never been to Cleveland). That being with new or different friends with new and different routines and expectations of what matters when traveling (the Kelly’s love dawn running wherever they are).
Tip? Taking a bit of time before a trip to think about what is most important for you to experience from the trip, or a piece of it, is critical. It helps you with choices while planning, and for remembering that every choice includes excluding things – not just choosing things. A wise woman has expectations matched to her needs – and her plan.
2. Most of us feel blessed to have so many fewer obligations other than hobbies, or work we are truly passionate about, that we make the mistake of thinking it should be EASIER to do everything, including traveling. But novelty (a true key to being fabulous) often means doing things differently, and doing things differently adds stress – albeit good stress.
Tip? Be much more aware of how your travel now involves unique things that, even when fun or exciting, can be tiring and stressful. Plan to ease into going and ease into returning – rather than trying to recapture the head spinning efficiency of hitting the ground running when going or returning from trips.
3. God has helped create FedEx and the USPS. Use these services to pre-ship stuff to you destination – and ship home after the trip. There are no more points for filling the car completely or taking two carry-ons weighing 40 lbs. each on the plane. Not only pack more lightly but think about your neck, shoulders, and back for those times between, when you do have to carry things with you. Less is DEFINITELY more.
Tip? Ever lighter luggage is in, and all your old suitcases/trunks or old work travel bags are for Goodwill or its equivalent.
4. Do not bring the ugliest, most boring things you own with you – thinking the boring nature of what you are wearing will make it easier to keep having to wear the same thing over and over.
Tip? Bringing just those things that really flatter you and are light (terrific scarf, interesting gloves, simple dress, great earrings) and that you love wearing guarantee you can stand to repeat your clothes again and again and feel good as well as look good. You want to come back with memories that include you looking reasonable and happy with yourself. Packing right really helps. And attitude too of course – that fabulous attitude of looking at the bright side of the newness of everything.
5. Make friends with one department store cosmetics person – go to them twice a year for the best cosmetics for you. YES, this does have to do with travel.
Tip? These ‘wizards of looking good’ will give you samples of everything great or want to try. When it is time to travel you have lots of samples of everything you need to travel – make this a conscious effort and you will win on multiple fronts besides just travel. Your makeup will be up to date and help support the image you want. You will have someone to ask for advice on what works and doesn’t for you, and your lifestyle, and to help you decide what to toss and keep so you never have expired cosmetics. If you have decided to stop wearing makeup entirely – well, Cathy (co-creator/partner of FabulousOver60) and I want to suggest to rethink that one.
Thankfully PTTD is an unexpected syndrome that can be edited out of your life. We are so smart in so many ways – many of us just need to rethink outdated assumptions about travel in our 60s. There is a fabulous way to do it – and a not so fabulous way to do it. Coming home stressed and ill-prepared to take it easy and let the trip ease you into your home priorities is not conducive to being fabulous. Just ask my car dealer.
Note: PTSD is a real and serious issue. This blog post in no way is meant to minimize or dismiss it.