We’re officially over the hill. Yesterday, I signed us up for membership in Hosteling International USA and received our first ever senior discounts. Now, while I was thrilled to save $10 each off the individual annual fee of $28, I have to say that I was less than enthusiastic about the reason for the deduction: those 55 and older receive a “senior” rate. Are we seniors? Really? It’s for others to judge just how far along we look and act, but we sure don’t feel like seniors. I’ve noticed, especially since we both turned 55 in March, that most senior discounts have moved up to 65+ years. Again, I’m happy to accept the gift of the reduced price but should 55 really be considered senior? Maybe it’s all in how you look at it. Becoming a senior in school was definitely a positive and being a senior manager/director/teacher/whatever, is generally better than being a junior. Maybe I should just accept the discounts, be happy with the senior label and move on. After all, senior can mean experienced, wise and clever. It means you’ve been around the block, know yourself reasonably well and aren’t quite as naive as you once were, right? A former colleague suggested that rather than call our year away a Gap Year, we call it our Senior Year Abroad. I have to admit that it didn’t grab me at first, especially since I was a youngster of 54 when he offered the comment last year. But the term is growing on me, especially now that I’m a “senior” member of Hostelling USA. Junior Year Abroad includes living in another country, exploring unchartered territory, experiencing adventure and ongoing learning. We’ll be embracing all those things during our twelve months away, so maybe Senior Year Abroad is the better term. We’ll just be doing it at 55 instead of 21 and if we’re lucky, there’ll be many more senior discounts in our future. I wonder if Relais & Chateaux hotels offer reduced rates for seniors?