Recently, I joined a new Facebook group for female travelers over 40.
I was surprised when I discovered another member from Chile. We started communicating and realized that we’re in the same city. This never happens to me. Usually, I’m the Lone Ranger who’s in Chile.
We agreed to meet up for tea and spent a couple of hours yakking and sharing stories of travel experiences. I enjoyed meeting a fellow traveler with so many things in common.
The following week, I read an article posted on Matador Network. The author was Cherene Saradar, and it was titled Yes, I’m over 40 and a solo female traveler. Stop being weird about it.
In the article, Cherene talks about how difficult it is to explain her lifestyle choice, that being a world wanderer, to people who just don’t get it. She’s invented five lies that she tells people when conversations become awkward. These include lies about her age, her country of origin, her marital status, her childlessness, and why she’s traveling alone.
I chuckled over this because I’ve been asked the same thorny questions many times, especially here in Chile. People think nothing of asking your age, which is odd because they tend not to be ageist here. My standard response is something about its being top-secret.
If they make a guess, I neither confirm nor deny. Especially if it’s lower than my actual age. I wouldn’t want to disillusion them.
I’ve been mistaken for British, Irish, French, Russian, Brazilian, German, Scottish, Spanish, and even Chilean. I’ve never lied about my country of origin, though in the present political climate, I’ve considered doing it.
Under certain circumstances, such as being followed by or hit on by a man that didn’t interest me, I’ve occasionally invented a husband and a story about being on my way to meet him.
I avoid the topic of children. I don’t deny that I had a child, but I don’t bring it up. There’s no better conversation-killer than to mention that your child passed away. People are usually stunned into silence (uncomfortable) or they launch into super-sympathy mode (worse). I don’t lie about it; I just don’t bring it up.
Cherene’s answer for being alone is that she’s joining friends later. I don’t usually invent a reason for traveling alone, unless the person asking me is a creeper. Then, my traveling companion is “back at the hotel, waiting for me.”
I’m sure that many of us female over-40 travelers have invented some “alternative facts” when we’ve been asked sticky questions. Can you relate?