If you’re like me, you enjoy helping others. Almost two years ago, CityPASS helped me do something special with someone special at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
For more than nine years I have blogged as Solo Travel Girl, encouraging others to travel alone, not lonely. I have also lived life single for well over a decade and while I have enjoyed my solo life, it is time to find the perfect partner to share in what is left of my journey on this planet. Sure, for the last two years I have had my trusty canine to share on several road trips but I am hoping to find my soulmate to share in life’s adventures and importantly, fill the duty of instagram manager, and Instagram boyfriend.
Search for the One. The Instagram Boyfriend
Behind every successful female influencer there is an Instagram boyfriend (or husband), and probably a travel influencer agency nowadays. He is that rarely seen guy behind the lens capturing moments of the influencer enjoying life and exploits to be shared online. As a solo traveler, I have found creative ways of incorporating myself in photos including selfies, snaps of my shoes on a pathway, crooked timer photos, and shadows. Sure, I have asked strangers to snap my photo however, there’s usually lack of composition or they don’t capture my good side or they forgot to tell me I had spinach between my teeth.
It may seem hypocritical for a solo traveler to have a photographer but that’s now a thing for many solo travel influencers. After all, how else can they create the fantasy life on Instagram? And then I have contemplated ditching the solo travel girl persona to a more generic travel influencer.
I have spent a lot of my idle time, probably too much time, wondering if my solo travel girl persona keeps my single. When I discuss it with others, they first tell me I’m silly. Then they tell me I don’t act as though I don’t “need a man.” What? They explain, because I’m comfortable with myself, confident with what I do, and capable in life’s journey, the Universe has not dispatched my soulmate, or in my case, my Instagram boyfriend. Could this be the reason? Maybe and I need more idle time to mull that over.
Sidebar: If you are not familiar with the term “influencer,” it is someone who uses social media, whether it be a blog, vlog (video blog, like on YouTube), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., to influence followers to use a specific brand and/or experience.
Save with CityPASS
About two years ago I was given a pair of CityPASS Tampa Bay passes to experience how it works. It offers admission into five attractions and is valid for nine consecutive days once first used. It’s a savings of 51 percent if admission into each attraction is purchased individually. The Tampa Bay version is valid at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and either the Museum of Science & Industry or Chihuly Collection. CityPASS is available in a dozen more destinations, find them at www.CityPASS.com.
After posting on Facebook and asking if anyone wanted to check out Busch Gardens Tampa Bay with me, I was stunned yet thrilled when my crush responded. Admittedly, my stomach flipped and fluttered with butterflies.
“Have I found my Instagram boyfriend?” I thought. Yay! I will no longer fly solo at VIP and Media events. I will no longer need to hear the hint of a condescending tone when I ask for a table for one at a restaurant. Importantly, I will no longer need to worry about capturing a photo of me engaged in whatever fun activity because I’ll have my own, personal photographer. Or so I thought.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Serengeti Safari® Tour
“Have you ever fed a giraffe?” I asked when I confirmed the details with him. He thought it was an odd question.
Because I saved on admission into the theme park, I booked us on the Serengeti Safari® Tour, Busch Gardens’ 30 -minute off-road wildlife safari where guests hand-feed giraffes. My intention was to make his day special and memorable with this lagniappe especially since it was something he had not done. It is something I had the opportunity to do when I worked for the state’s tourism office many moons ago.
We loaded up the back of an open-aired safari truck and shared it with a family of four and a guide. There was room for more but we were glad for the extra space, especially for capturing those Instagramable moments. As the truck roamed through the 65-acre Busch Gardens Tampa Bay version of the Serengeti, we observed exotic animals as white rhinos, wildebeests, zebras, ostriches, and various species of antelope.
The highlight was extending our arms with hands of lettuce and watching giraffes curl their lips and reaching out with their 18-inch-long tongues to grab the leaves. Did you know a giraffe tongue is 18 inches long?! Even better, they posed perfectly for photos. The Serengeti Safari Tour was worth the $29 per person cost and something we both enjoyed.
Tip: The waiting area for the Serengeti Safari® Tour offers shade on comfortable couches and plenty of water to keep hydrated, which is important when enjoying a theme park. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen!
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is an awesome theme park for rollercoasters and one of my favorites is Montu, an inverted coaster that includes seven inversions and the world’s first simultaneous loop and roll. Wowza! Another favorite coaster is Cheetah Hunt. It is the park’s longest ride at 4,400 feet with three launches and reaches a top speed of 60 mph. The theme park also has informational wildlife exhibits and the day spent alternating between rides and touring exhibits with lunch in the middle. One of the exhibits we checked out was the Animal Care Center to see some of the animal patients receive care by the veterinary staff. This center is home to the TV series The Wildlife Docs on ABC (also available on Hulu).
If you are planning on spending your vacation, or two consecutive weekends, in the Tampa Bay area, CityPASS makes sense. If you are only interested in Busch Gardens, save by taking advantage of specials offered either by the theme park or online discount coupon sites.
A few days later I visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where I met Winter and other marine residents. As usual, I visited alone.
What happened with my crush? Well, he did a decent job at grabbing the photos I needed but it really was not an audition. It was an opportunity to spend time and learn more about each other. He told me he had a great time but I am still on the hunt for someone to step into the role as an Instagram boyfriend. Am I disappointed? Absolutely. But that’s life. Until then, I’ll continue my solo adventures, smiling for selfies after checking my teeth for stuck spinach, and keeping it real, vs. creating a fantasy life, on my social media channels.
Nuts & Bolts About Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
10165 N McKinley Dr.
Tampa, Fla. 33612
Tel: (813) 884 4386
An annual pass with the Fun Card starts at $99.99.
Single day admission starts at $79.99.
I recommend booking your Serengeti Safari® Tour in advance although you can play it by ear and see if they have availability at the park.
CityPASS Tampa Bay
Pass can be purchased either online or any of the participating attractions.
An adult CityPASS Tampa Bay is valid at five attractions and is $107.
Active military members receive one complimentary admission per year into Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for themselves and up to three direct dependents through when tickets are requested in advance through Troop ID. Learn more at www.wavesofhonor.com.
Disclosure: As a member of the media, CityPASS provided me with a pair of passes during IPW for the purpose of seeing how it works and sharing the experience. They have not reviewed this post and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links to support my traveling habit, this blog, and my special-needs dog.