A is for American Dream: White Picket Fence? Roll Aboard Suitcase? Both?

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My American Dream - Is it a White Picket Fence or Roll Aboard Suitcase?

My American Dream - Is it a White Picket Fence or Roll Aboard Suitcase?

I’ve grown up believing the American Dream is about marrying Mr. Right, raising 2.4 kids in a house with a white picket fence and a golden retriever running around the backyard. I’m 41-years-old yet don’t own a house, condo, trailer, or any other type of hovel to put down roots. I’m divorced and my children walk on four legs, wear fur and chase lizards on Sunday afternoons. (They’re cats, if you haven’t guessed.)

Flamingo Lodge in Everglades National Park, Condemmed Following Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Photo Taken in 2008.

Flamingo Lodge in Everglades National Park, Condemned Following Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma. Photo Taken in 2008.

Yeah, I Lived with Alligators

Since I went away to college way back when, I haven’t had a permanent address for more than four consecutive years. I’ve hopped from dorm to dorm, then cross-country from New York to Yellowstone to the Everglades (Florida) to Death Valley (California) back to Florida where, since 1997, I’ve lived at seven different addresses (that I can recall).

Okay, seven dwellings in 15 years doesn’t seem so bad but when it comes to packing and moving boxes then filling out address change notifications, it’s a little tiresome. With each move, I’ve unpacked fewer boxes.

Famous Last Words…

Back in 2004 I signed a contract to buy a condo while living in Sarasota but something didn’t feel right. The real estate bubble was growing and although assured I couldn’t go wrong buying because “real estate will always increase in value” I backed out of the deal. Looking back, I’m so glad I did because most residents in that condominium are now upside down in their mortgages.

Mexico: Great Place to Visit but Not for Me to Live.

Mexico: Great Place to Visit but Not for Me to Live.

Freedom of Travel

It was then I decided I wasn’t the type of person to put down roots. I was newly single and enjoyed the freedom of being able to get up and go and do the things I wanted to do. Renting an apartment also means I’m more mobile in relocating for a job.

I also decided I’d rather spend money on traveling rather than investing in a house. Since 2004 I’ve traveled to some amazing places including Afghanistan, Japan and Mexico along with incredible American destinations including Alaska; Portland, Ore.; and Asheville, N.C.; to name a few.

My American Dream has been traveling with a roll aboard suitcase. Rather than making monthly mortgage payments I’ve been paying for hotel room nights. Rather than picking out paint colors I’ve been selecting which food cart to eat lunch. Rather than putting up shelving in a garage I’ve been finding the best rental car deal.

My American Dream is Attainable

Today, I have a different mindset. My rent is going up $80 a month. My salary has decreased over the years while the cost of living has increased. Thankfully, the real estate bubble burst and houses are affordable for working-class people like me. I can have a mortgage payment about half of what I pay in rent which may still allow me to enjoy my traveling habit.

It’s been three weeks since I first went house-hunting. Honestly, it’s been frustrating because once I’ve looked at a house, it was off the market within days before I could make an offer. It’s March/April in Southwest Florida which means we have a lot of  vacationers looking to scoop up real estate as their winter homes.

I’m optimistic after Easter when vacationers return home, I’ll be able to find my white picket fenced-house to store my roll aboard suitcase. Fingers crossed!

This post is part of the 2012 Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Check back daily for a different letter!

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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9 Comments

  1. I’ll never be a solo traveller (that time has passed for me) but I can understand the appeal! Looking forward to following your travels through A to Z!

  2. Another solo traveller! Huzzah! I haven’t been to NEARLY as many exciting places as you have (Afghanistan?!), but I do enjoy travel. Just last fall I went back to Ireland for 10 days. And I have a house as well. It can be tricky to juggle the two, but not impossible.

    I look forward to reading what comes next!

  3. I loved this post! It was a great read and I know someone that is currently living the nomad life. I don’t know how you do it but I am glad that you have had your american dream. I will be following along

    Teresa

  4. I like to travel alone also. You get a different perspective when you travel by yourself,and there’s a whole different set of adventures you can have on your own that you can’t have when you travel with someone.
    Good luck with the house hunting.I hope you find your house with the white picket fence,and I hope it has room for your roll aboard luggage!

  5. Good luck with .. the challenge .. and great choice for “A” – really like what I met here.
    Want to see more.

  6. I traveled for work for 4 1/2 years, mostly solo but sometimes with my adult son on my crew. Harry has traveled the world many times. I grew weary of being away from him and now we travel together. There’s a completely different perspective to a woman traveling solo! Good luck.
    Stopping by for the A to Z Challenge from Debbie & Harry’s Kitchen!

  7. Sounds like you and I are a lot alike… I always thought I would be able to take off and travel alone.. but I met my hubby pretty young, while sailing in the Caribbean… never been a dull moment with us.- but hope to see much more of the world. Great start to the challenge.. looking forward to reading more fom you!

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