Dilemma: My dilemma is not a serious one, like some people have, but it's something I need to figure out and want your opinion. I'm a widow, age 76 in great health. My husband of 51 years has been gone for almost 18 months now, and I'm ready to begin traveling. Some of my girlfriends have invited me to join them on a European cruise later this year. It seems, though, that I'm quite spoiled in terms of travel. We only flew first class, had the best suites on the many cruises we took, and didn't watch our pennies.
My girlfriends, some from my building and some from my book club, don't travel like we did. Not that I count their money, but I suspect they're not as well off as I am They fly coach, share rooms and budget the shopping and day trips. They always seem to have a great time, but that way of travel isn't appealing at my age. It's hard to go back.
If I book first class and book a single room, or suite, the girls may be insulted. And I may feel funny with them in the back of the plane and on different floors. But if I go in their style to “fit in,” I may have big regrets once I’m traveling.
I haven't committed either way yet. Can I be honest with them or should I try to travel in their style? Or not go. I hate to be petty, but I can't seem to decide what’s best for me.
Meg’s solution: It's not petty...it's how you feel, and I totally understand. Fitting into a new life as a single woman has its trials, and this is one. Not knowing your girlfriends, I don't know how it would sit with them if you booked first class while they went coach, even if they said it didn't bother them, but I do suspect you'd feel awkward. Sharing a cabin and flying coach after your grand traveling may be a drag, and you may even feel frustrated or even annoyed. You're taking a risk with either compromise.
Not to be a snob, but I might take a pass on this trip (with a plausible excuse to them) in order to keep the friendships and not put yourself into acompromising position. Women can be tough critics, some downright mean, especially in tight knit circles, and you may not want to go there.
You’ll continue to see these friends daily, and want to continue to be part of the social life. You don't need conflicts, or people thinking you’re snobby.
You need fun. But rather than not travel, why not look outside this group for other travel opportunities? Believe it or not, many women like you have this same dilemma.....even dining out, never mind traveling. It can be awkward, I admit. If you can't find a possible travel buddy or two who travel in the style you prefer, then look into some of the women's travel groups out there, where you won't have to apologize for stepping it up. And if you're outgoing and adventuresome, check out some of the outstanding group tours where single women are welcomed into the group with open arms. Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck Tours, Kensington, National Geographic, to name a few that would present great possibilities. Talk to a travel agent to see what's out there, and see what "floats your boat". The first trip may be the hardest, be prepared, but with the right attitude, you'll find your spot in the sun.
Meg Green, CFP, is a wealth manager with offices in Aventura. Her money dilemmas column runs monthly in the Miami Herald.