Flying and Travel and Money, Oh My! Summer 2023 Updates
I struggled to come up with a topic for this week’s blog post, so here we are, doing updates.
I don’t have something standing out in my mind. No big trip planned, no hellish work experience to gab about, no fresh heartbreak to offer up. No sassy flight attendant quips about the stupidity of the flying public. (No offense, guys, I’m obviously not talking about you.)
I’ve been publishing travel content lately—two informational posts about the Camino de Santiago and one about the food scene in Providence, Rhode Island. And confession time: All three were written well before the start of summer. Last year, even.
Way back in September of 2022, before setting off on the Camino, I wrote a rough draft of my Camino de Santiago packing list. I wrote most of the Providence food post then as well—in fact, one of the bars I’d featured has since shut down and had to be edited out. The Camino de Santiago Accommodation post was written (or at least started) in the Notes app of my iPhone, from a bottom bunk, in a room full of strangers, on my first week walking the Camino.
Perhaps it is because of the time passed between the thinking and writing of these posts, and the editing and publishing of them, that I feel so disconnected from this space—the blog, and from you all. Perhaps it has more to do with the nature of the content. Superficial things: Lists, sleeping arrangements, travel tips. Important things to be sure, but what about the meat? The feeling? The special sauce?
The best I can come up with for today is an update—a catch up session between us. How flight attendant life is going, what trips I have planned, money matters, and, sure, maybe some relationship stuff.
If this isn’t what you’re into, that’s okay. Click around or just come back next time. I have more travel tips and flight attendant stories in the works that will be published soon.
Without further ado, let’s catch up, shall we?
summertime, and the living's easy.
Summer 2023 Updates: In The Air & On The Ground
So, what’s up with me? I’ll tell you what’s up with me. Lots!
On the Home Front
June was stressful. My 100-year old New England home drained nearly every ounce of my energy and every dollar in my pocket. My sweet girl got some major upgrades like a new fence, new heating system, and new dishwasher (which honestly was the most stressful one of all), and we removed some trees and an old shed from the yard. It feels terrible to be a tree cutter. I picture myself more like the little fairy from Ferngully, hand pressed against the wood, feeling its pain. But they were very tall and very old, very top-heavy, and very close to my house and two neighbors’ homes. It always felt a bit risky having them there, like they would someday decide they were done and then I’d be done too. I sleep easier now, knowing they won’t blow down and destroy any lives or property.
I’m experimenting with something new, renting out the furnished apartment that used to be mine, for a short while, to a working professional who’s traveled for a job assignment.
I’m excited to get the property into the green, cash-flowing positive, instead of paying to live there. It’s not necessarily a long-term arrangement. Once this person leaves, I’ll decide if I want to move back into my place or rent it out to someone else. I’m hoping, in the meantime, to get my financial ducks in a row enough to think about buying another place. Wouldn’t that be something?
I’ve got plenty of time to think about it, as I won’t be residing in Rhode Island for at least a few more months.
This may have you wondering where I’m living now. Fret not, friends, I am not living in my car. Celebrate not, hopeless romantics, I am not living through another international love affair. Instead, I’m splitting my time (when not working) between East Boston and Maine. It’s not a long-term arrangement, either, but it’s working out wonderfully right now.
And speaking of work…
Sorry trees 🙁
City views from East Boston, in the finest summer lighting.
Flight Attendant Life
Summer 2023 has been a shitshow for air travel in the US. Weather has been wild, and staffing is still down for both US airlines and Air Traffic Control, resulting in delays and cancellations.
Yet somehow, through all the chaos and cancellations, rolling delays and reassignments, I’ve been pretty lucky. A slight delay here or there, but overall my schedule has been proceeding as expected. And I’ve been working with phenomenal crews. This is great because I have been working A LOT. There may have been one other month, in all of my 114 months of flying, that I worked as many hours as I am in July ’23. I am HUSTLING. And it’s feeling good…so far.
This is a job where burnout occurs, and I expect it will for me if I continue flying such high hours. The beautiful thing is that when that time comes, I can just pivot my strategy. I’ll work a bit less or change up the types of trips I’m working. For now, I’m just grinding away, working a million redeye turns while I have the stamina and don’t hate it.
Don’t worry, though, I’ve got some fun trips scheduled, too. I’ve been enjoying the summer layover cities that we don’t always have. I’ve been to Salt Lake City and Portland, OR recently. Next month I’ll be in Seattle and Aruba—THREE times!
It’s nice that at my seniority I can hold both super productive trips and super fun layovers in tandem. Like half of the American workforce, I have a thing or two I could say about management, but overall my flight attendant life is really good right now.
Leaning heavily on Emotional Support Candy
And enjoying my layovers
I hired a financial advisor this year to help me get my sh*t together and to lay the foundation for a solid, secure, and vibrant financial future. “I’m in my outsource era,” I’ve been telling friends. It’s a sentiment I keep coming back to.
Outsourcing can, of course, have negative connotations. I’m part of a labor union, so that’s not lost on me. I’m also a writer, terrified, lamenting, bemoaning that ChatGPT can write a 5-page essay in the time it would take me to finish the fifth sentence. But outsourcing can also be something wonderful and freeing… If I’ll let it be.
I have the tendency to take on too much. To stick my little hands in as many pots as possible, to juggle and struggle with the things I have to and want to do.
But I’ve reached a point in my life of easing into acceptance: I can’t do everything. My time is limited. It’s my most valuable resource. And there are SO many things I want to do with that limited time.
My outsource era means taking a hard look at all the things on my list and delegating some out. Why mow my own lawn when it means driving two hours to get there and not particularly enjoying it? Why learn the ins and outs of HTML when I can hire someone else to do it—in a fraction of the time? Why become an expert in finance, when I’ve got so many other things I WANT to be an expert in? When someone else already knows the answers, and has the skills, and is required by law to work in my best interest?
I don’t have a good reason. So I hired people.
I’m working a new cash-flow system, a new investing strategy, and in the process am building up rapport with someone that I hope to be able to call in the future with financial questions—“What would be the best use of this cash?” “Should I get the next down payment from savings or a HELOC?” “Does this new business opportunity sound do-able?”
Of course, this hiring of a professional costs money, and of course, on some level, it feels funny to be spending money in order to make and save it. There are free financial resources all over the internet, and if I had all the time in the world, I’d try each one of them and determine the best strategy for myself. But I don’t have that kind of time. And I’m in my outsource era, baby.
Now I have someone to do that research for me. To know the ins and outs of my finances as well as I do, and to make recommendations based on years of experience.
What I’m hoping is that the accountability of having a team of people poking around in my finances will be an encouraging factor to stay on track, that the accountability of paying for this service will help me to realllly listen to their (not cheap) advice, and that it will all PAY off in the end. (wink)
Peace out, stress. I'm in my outsource era.
It feels good to have a plan, and this is part of the reason I’m working so much. Seeing progress makes you want to keep going—whether it is with your fitness or sobriety or a new financial strategy. Seeing my crazy high hours for the month has me amped to continue on this working-saving-paying-investing track. It’s the perfect time, too, since I don’t have many big trips planned.
I literally always want to travel. I get FOMO looking at other people’s vacation posts when I’m ON vacation myself. In my new cash flow system, there is room for travel, of course, but in the short term the goal is really to hustle, pay off a few things and get the savings up. In this way, it feels a bit like the things I want are competing—YOLO vs. Responsibility. Adventure vs. Austerity. This balance is one that I haven’t quite figured out, which is why my upcoming travel plans are mostly hypothetical.
Am I ``treating`` myself or ``investing`` in my work ethic?
(Ahhhhh, the fun part.)
The real deal
The trip that is not hypothetical is Canada in the fall.
I’ll be going to Calgary to run the World Airline Road Race, or WARR, with my flight attendant classmates.
If you don’t know “The Classmates” already, they’re a group of close flight attendant friends. We met at flight attendant training back in 2014, so we’ve gone through the ups and downs over these 9 ½ years largely together. We travel together every fall and usually fit another hangout in during the year. It’s impressive since we all live in different states.
In the past, we’ve traveled to Singapore, Victoria BC, and Amsterdam to run the World Airline Road Race. We are all stoked to visit a new city in Calgary, and to head to Banff National Park afterward—a place that’s been on my radar for years.
We have a hotel in Calgary booked and the rest of the trip is ‘up in the air’. This is your cue to send me Banff National Park and/or Calgary recommendations.
The maybe, baby
My aunt is traveling to Italy for 10 days in August and has extended the invite to her world-traveling niece. Despite loving gelato and pizza and every carb known to man, and despite being promised a birthday trip there by a former flame, I’ve still never been to Italy.
So I’ve, like, got to go, right?
Their trip is a 10-day itinerary that will include Rome, Pompeii, Grottomarinda (where apparently some long-lost family live), and Sorrento, Almafi, Capri, and Ravello. There are tours booked, and hotels, too; A carefully curated plan that will take the thinking out of the equation, so that they can simply enjoy their surroundings. It’s not the way I usually travel, but man it sounds nice.
There is something about having a good reason to go somewhere—a friend living abroad, a concert in the artist’s hometown, a family reunion—in Italy! It makes the pull a bit stronger, the trip more appealing.
In my new financially-focused life, I just don’t have the time or budget for this perfectly planned 10-day extravaganza. But I could probably swing a few days, eh? (Don’t worry guys, my financial advisor won’t read this.)
So, I’m considering spending a bit of time in Italy next month. This is going to have to be a gametime decision, made after seeing the fruits of this month’s labor. Wish me luck!
From the WARR 2018 in Singapore
If you were anticipating excitement in this section, I fear you will be disappointed.
I’m as single as a monk, with no plans on dating right now.
What I have been enjoying is lots of time with family. I got to spend the weekend in a house full of ten people—five adults, and five children ranging in age from 6 to 14, plus two dogs and a cat. It’s rare that I get to see all five of my nieces and nephews at the same time. We ate pancake breakfasts and spent hours at the little beach on the lake near my parents’ place. The sounds of giggles and, let’s be honest, screams filled the house for two days. It’s chaotic, but in the best possible way.
I’ve also fit in some quality one-on-one time: With the teenagers—a sushi date with my niece and a hike with my nephew, with my littlest nephew building leggos or reading stories, and with my grandmother on our shopping trips. I’ve had Netflix binges with my mom and pizza dates with my dad. These relationships all feel very solid. And a kind of coziness, usually reserved for colder temps, has seeped into my skin, despite the heat.
I’ve been spending time with friends, too; Those from my current life, and others from a time before this.
There was the surprise party I helped throw for my bestie Rachel in Orlando in June. Or the 4-day NYC/Salt Lake trip we worked together. There was the half marathon Maine weekend with my flight attendant classmates, or the upcoming Spartan Race they somehow convinced me to sign up for.
Gang's all here
Craving and seeking community, I attended an LGBTQ event in Boston last week. What started as plans with one friend turned into inviting every woman I knew who might be interested, and the result of this little social experiment floored me.
Most of you know I’m bisexual (I’ve written about it extensively in posts like Traveling While LGBT, Life in Bi: Pride, Passing, and Coming Out Forever, and The Other Gay Flight Attendant) But from the outside, my life still appears very hetero. I’m straight-passing, date men, and most of my friends are straight, cis women.
I don’t notice it much, the heteronormativity. That is, until I’m around a group of queer women, marveling at the fact that they found each other, at having this part of their identity be so seamlessly integrated into their (wider) lives. It’s not like I’m suffering here, I have the best friends in the world. But there is something different about having community that doesn’t just support you, but gets you—this one part of you, at least.
At this point, I’ve been out of the closet for nearly two decades. But still no community has been established; no group of queer women around to understand me inherently, to strip me of my uniqueness.
Or so I thought.
As I sent out casual invites to more and more contacts to meet up at this event, I was surprised to realize that, in fact, there are plenty of people to reach out to. Even more surprising was that some of them said “Yes.”
What transpired was a mashing of worlds and different lives—A friend from high school, a former colleague from a small but mighty website, several flight attendant friends, and the additions they each invited, whom I can now count as acquaintances.
As I looked around last Sunday in Dorchester at the phases of my life, and the women I’ve been able to keep in contact with over the years, it started to look like I could have community. Like maybe I did already—if I just looked from the right angle, thought of them, sent the text.
I didn’t make out with anybody, but it was a fun day. And despite paying $8 a pop for non-alcoholic beer, I left the brewery feeling infinitely richer.
This event won’t be the only flashback to friendships of a different era.
I have tentative plans with former coworkers from another phase in life—my bartending days. I couldn’t be more excited to catch up on all that’s happened over the past ten years, and to reminisce about the wild days of DJ Jimmy Ice and Tic Tac shots.
There are some people who, no matter how much time has passed, how much distance lies between, and how much life has changed, will always feel special to me. Bonds that were formed in clay and set in a kiln, they can’t be melted back to nothing now, no matter what.
The best friend from the ice cream shop. The partner in crime in Australia. The buddies and book club members from behind the bar. The douche la rouche. The first girlfriend, now married, a mom. The coworker who was never a best friend, but who has always felt like community—for she’s a writer, too.
I don’t consider myself a Swiftie, but in my life there are, indeed, invisible strings. These catch ups and meetups over summer 2023 have made it apparent. I can feel them. They stretch and twist, and perhaps they fray, but they endure. The hint of something that once was. Mere shadows of ties that were strong and vibrant in the right time and location. But why should that be cause for alarm? Life goes on, it changes, but my, look how these faint bonds, these invisible strings, remain.
Could it be that my community was there all along?
Shipyard Half Marathon with The Classmates
The Little Things
And beyond this, I’ve been enjoying the little things. A perfect summer sky in pastel hues, clouds backlit and brilliant in the waning sun. Snuggles from four-legged friends. A very “Maine” day spent peeping junky antiques and then launching myself into the Saco River, from the height of a bridge. The relief of a cool, hip coffee shop in East Boston, from the sweltering heat of midday, and the delight, after emerging, of finding the heat broken, the city alive, in late afternoon. Runs. Day sleeping after Redeye flights. Reading, purely for pleasure, two books at a time. Coffee on the front porch, shielded from what feels like non-stop summer rain. Birthday parties and ice cream cake. Awesome co-workers. Marco Polos with friends. Time spent in the car with my niece and nephews, getting to know, individually, the people they’re becoming. The sound of lapping waves and chirping coquis cutting through the dark and drifting into my San Juan hotel room, the pre-dawn heat following close behind, while I finish this blog post in bed.
I saw a recent post on social media about “Glimmers” and loved the concept. The opposite of “triggers,” glimmers are small moments that spark joy or peace. Appreciating the little things is not a new idea, but ever since reading about glimmers, I can’t stop categorizing things in this way. I’m noticing more just how much pleasure I’m getting, moment to moment, from these small joys. And I’m savoring them with all the languid, dreamy ease of a childhood summer.
Cafe Iterum, East Boston
River swimming: A Maine essential.
If the last few paragraphs make me sound contented to a wish-washy fault, then they’ve done their job. I’m happy. Life is boring, or, at least, it appears so on the outside. No big dramas, no huge celebrations. No cause to cry from joy or pain, no need to scream of anguish or excitement. My world feels peaceful. Simple and good.
I hope all of you are having an awesome summer, too. If you made it all the way to the end, thanks for indulging me. I know personal blogs can be really, well, self-indulgent. But it feels good to be connecting with what I’m writing and to feel “caught up”.
Feel free to weigh in on my ‘To Italia or Not To Italia’ quandry, if you’re so inclined, and let me know what YOUR big travel plans are for the Summer & Fall. There is nothing I love more than dissociating from reality to drool over other people’s travel adventures.
I’ll be back in two weeks with more travel and/or flight attendant content. I hope to see you then! Thanks for all your love and support and for taking however long these pages took to read.
Have a kick ass rest of your summer.
Hey you. Yes, you! Thanks for stopping by. I’m Toni and I run the show here at awheelinthesky.com. Here we talk all things travel, flight attendant life, and human emotions (woof). If you want to check out some of my other content, feel free to stick around. I’ll link some a starter pack of flight attendant and travel posts below. If you like what I’m doing, please consider subscribing to get the latest directly to your inbox, and if you feel so inclined, you can now buy me a coffee at buymeacoffee.com/awheelinthesky. A gift is never expected and always appreciated.
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Flight Attendant Life