Recently over Thai food a friend of mine asked me to tell her all about my trip booked with PhotoFly Travel Club where I spent 10 lovely days in Ireland. I’ve been traveling since as long as I can remember. Some times for a good reason, and some times not so much. I attended school in three different states for First through Third grades. Not just 3 different schools, but in entirely different states! Every summer my older sister and I flew to Kentucky and spent the summers there. We got to drive back each August winding our way through all the states, fighting in the backseat until I got to sit up front. I confess that’s when my love affair with road trips and my obsession with Stuckey’s milkshake, car games, and the need to exit so I could see “THE THING!!!” began. Stuckey’s are long gone but my heart continues its wanderlust.
The day I got my passport I wasn’t sure where I was going to go, I just knew I wanted to fill it up. Spain, Greece, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica, Turkey, South Africa, Bali, Thailand, my list went on and on. When I was in my twenties, I didn’t really have the money for that kind of travel, neither did my friends. Okay, so what money we did have we spent it mostly on clubbing. Plus I had a serious comic book and football collection that required my attention. When I reached my thirties I thought about traveling again but I wanted to travel with someone. Ah yes the romantic in me heard the stories from my friends about their weekends, their holidays, their vacations to exotic places with other couples and so I waited for my other half so I could join them.
My passport was sad; sad and empty. It begged me to take it somewhere for crying out loud! It mocked me every time I opened up that lock box until I couldn’t take it anymore. I wasn’t going to keep waiting for the fictitious travel partner! I charged straight ahead to take a trip, until I saw how much they charge you for being single. (Here’s where I emitted a loud loud sigh) Punished for being single, solo, party of one the travel prices were almost double what they would be otherwise. I tucked my weeping passport back into its dark chamber so I couldn’t hear it.
Not long afterwards, a co-worker told me about a trip that she was going on. It was a group of friends and family that took a vacation every October. She said there was room for me if I wanted to join them. Europe. My tiny little heart skipped a beat – history, artwork, architecture, and FOOD! It didn’t matter that I only knew one person on the trip that was a tiny detail. I could travel, my passport would finally get a stamp and it wouldn’t cost me my life savings to do it!
Over that Thai dinner my friend said she was looking at my Facebook friends and wondered how I ended up with such an eclectic group of people. She said someone (I had an idea who) speculated that it was because I tried to please everyone and never had a solid thought. I told her it was because I was interested and open to experiences, to people and other things. My eyes aren’t focused on just what was in front of me; I had the desire to experience what other people valued. I collected people. When she said those words I was struck by how right it sounded.
That long ago Europe trip was my first time traveling with a group of strangers and despite the airlines losing my luggage for five days I loved it. I had found my way in to traveling. Since that first trip to Europe I’ve taken 3 more group trips and several solo trips. Each time I not only explored a state, a city or a country I came back with new friends. I have a friend in Bali, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and a tattoo artist from Brazil who has his home base in Amsterdam. What could make travel for a single person better? Cost effective, someone else does all the hard work, and you just have to show up. Travel to Egypt, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Iceland, Hawaii, and more. Adventure, beautiful historical places, and of course all kinds of food. In a group you don’t have to put your camera at arms length to get a photo of yourself somewhere. You always have someone to grab dinner with, wander around at a stop, look for that elusive souvenir and as a woman it makes me feel safer to be part of a group in a foreign country.
When someone asks me “Who are you going with?” in response to one of my planned vacations I answer, “I have no idea”. That’s part of the adventure. I get to meet other people and my passport no longer weeps from its small dark box in the corner of the closet. It isn’t full but it finally has stamps and we plan to add more to them especially now that I found a singles and photography travel club that help us with our people collection.