One of the biggest travel trends of 2014 is said to be the rise of the PANK. That’s Professional Aunt No Kids, for those not in the know. The idea is that these single ladies, without a ring on it and with money to spare, spend their extra cash taking their nieces and nephews on vacation. Thus is born a new marketing target for theme parks, dude ranches, cruise ships and other destinations appealing to the family travel set.
Despite the fact that I am, demographically, a PANK, I abhor this term. I put it right up there on the irritating index with Girlfriend Getaways (demeaning) and Stay-cation (an oxymoron). Why am I nonplussed about PANK? Let’s ponder the images conjured by the term. First, one thinks of a professional aunt with no kids as either an aberrant Auntie Mame type or a spinster with a Victorian-era.fashion sense. It doesn’t help that the term PANK sounds so similar to SPANX, a new-age girdle for Gen X’ers. And PANK sounds like pink, a prissy, demure and oft-timid color (although the artist known as Pink might disagree). So, my overall picture of a PANK is a slightly out-of-shape woman wearing pink SPANX. Reading glasses are flung around her breasts via a pearl necklace (no, not that kind of pearl necklace). She also sports a progression of persnickety eccentricities that make her wildly unappealing to the opposite sex.
I can’t help but wonder why so many of the travel industry’s most annoying terms exist for women only. Mancations never caught on the way Girlfriend Getaways did--and when you see the term in print, it is mostly used in a tongue-in-cheek manner. And you aren’t seeing the introduction of the PUNK--the Professional Uncle No Kids. Maybe because PUNKs don’t run around in SPANX? I don’t know. All I'll say is if you refer to me as a PANK, I’ll SPANK you, no questions asked.