Traveled Down the Road and Back Again

by Nancy Bestor

What is the secret to finding good travel companions? Chances are you travel well with your mate and your kids (unless your kids complain a lot when you’re walking in Thailand and it’s hot and humid—but I digress). But what about friends and relatives? Just because you get along on the golf course, at the office, or at Thanksgiving dinner, doesn’t, in my humble opinion, mean that all will be fine when on you’re the road.

I believe the key to good travel companions is finding like-minded folks. Are you the type of traveler who likes to dine at expensive and trendy restaurants? Then you probably don’t want to travel with someone who prefers to eat at hole in the wall spots (aka Bob & I). Do you enjoy walking the entire length of a city and exploring different neighborhoods? Then don’t travel with someone who prefers a hop-on, hop-off bus experience. When you wake up in the morning, do you like to sit in peace and quiet for 30 minutes, enjoying a good cup of coffee and a lovely view? It’s likely then that your ideal travel companion is not the person who starts talking immediately the moment they get out of bed, and is ready and raring to go as soon as they get out of their pajamas.

Bob and I have been fortunate enough to travel with other folks. Now I know that sounds like we don’t enjoy traveling alone together, when indeed we do (right Bob?), but it’s also been very fun to travel with friends and family too. Last fall we took our first-ever tour, a bike trip in Jordan. Eight of us traveled together for eight days. We spent pretty much all day every day together. While we knew four of the people on the tour, only one was a close friend. The other three were Ashland folks who we hadn’t spent too much time with, but, from sharing travel stories, we figured it would work. And it did. (Just look at how much fun we are having in the elevator photo—thank you Sean for the goofy group selfie!) At the end of our adventure, I was sad to say goodbye to everyone and I can honestly say that every single person on that tour is now a friend. In fact, some days I find myself longing to spend quality time with them again.

We also spent two weeks earlier this year in Japan with Bob’s parents. This was our first vacation as a foursome, and although I can’t speak for them, it was indeed an excellent time for us. We enjoyed many great experiences—that mostly revolved around sharing in Japan’s culture and eating delicious food.

Here are a few things I believe make a trip with friends and relatives more enjoyable:

  • Being OK with splitting up to do the things you want to do, without worrying about hurt feelings. In Japan, most days we would spend the morning and early afternoon with Bob’s parents, and then we would head our separate ways for several hours, and connect back up again at dinner time. Some days some of us went back to the hotel and napped while others were out pounding the pavement. Other times some of us visited stores and sites that not everyone was interested in. But then, when we got back together again for dinner, it was fun to share our separate experiences.
  • Recognizing there are times when you just want to have some alone time. One of my traveling friends told me in Jordan that she was going to tour Petra on her own one morning to feed her inner introvert. I loved that phrase. As much as I enjoy being around people, I also really enjoy being on my own. Even if I’m just reading a book or surfing the internet. Everyone needs time to recharge their social batteries.
  • Compromising. This is the trickiest one, because really, who wants to compromise? But maybe one night someone has strong feelings about where they want to eat dinner. Perhaps it’s not your first choice, but being willing to compromise should mean that you’ll get to eat at your spot the next night.
  • Choosing the right kind of trip. One of the things that made our trip to Jordan so fantastic was that we all enjoyed biking, and knew most days would be spent in the saddle. This would not have been the right trip for people who don’t enjoy bike riding. Bob and three of his friends toured India for three weeks a few years ago, and stayed in low to mid range hotels, and ate lots of meals at roadside food stalls. Someone looking for high-end lodging and white tablecloth restaurants would not have been happy on their India trip.

I’d like to think that everyone I know would enjoy a trip with Bob and me. But the truth is, maybe not everyone would find me to be an enjoyable travel companion. And I’m okay with that. Or am I?

 

 

 

 

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

by Nancy Bestor

As I write this story, my mother-in-law is traveling through India with a girlfriend that she has known for 45 years. This has got me thinking about traveling with friends (as opposed to significant others and/or family) and how fortunate I am to have great female companions that I can travel with. About 11 years ago, I started going on an annual trip with three friends, and although the trip changes from year to year, and some years not everyone can make it, we’ve managed to travel somewhere together every single year for a decade. I think that’s pretty amazing.

Bahamas 2005 010

“Girlfriend Getaways” have grown in popularity over the last 10 years. More and more women are apparently hitting the beach, or the slopes, or the big city, with other women. There are websites dedicated to the idea, rankings for the top 10 or 15 girlfriend getaways, and story after story about where and how women should travel together.

Over the years, my girlfriends and I have tried several types of getaways. The most popular for us has been the beach getaway, whether in Mexico, the Bahamas, or even the Dominican Republic. But we’ve also tried the outdoor/hiking getaway, in Lake Tahoe. And the big city getaway, in New York and San Francisco. One year, we even took our spouses along to San Diego for the beginning of our trip, then shooed them home after a few days.

new york

It’s great to reconnect with my friends, and get caught up on the details of their lives, even though I live across the street from one of them. True story, I live directly across the street from one of my closest friends, and can literally go days—and sometimes even weeks—without seeing her and talking to her. I think I can safely say that all of us bring little or no agenda to our getaway, other than getting to spend quality time together. Ideally, I like it when we can throw in some form of activity, whether it’s hiking, walking, or doing yoga/exercise in a fitness center. Frilly drinks must somehow enter the equation as well. We’ve been known to get a little silly, probably thanks to the frilly drinks. But I can say without hesitation that we have never woken up to a tiger in our bathroom. Thank God.

IMG_0157

A common denominator in the girlfriend getaway stories I’ve read seems to be “stress-free.” Little cooking, little cleaning, lots of relaxing. That’s about how our girl trips go. We cook as little as possible, choosing to eat out or “make” appetizers instead of a full meal. And other than some form of exercise—walking, yoga, hiking, etc.—we spend our time under a cabana or an umbrella, or sitting around a table, talking, laughing, reading, and drinking. But not necessarily in that order.

We like having a kitchen on our trips, so we can make pot after pot of coffee in the morning, and pop bread in the toaster for breakfast. And a blender comes in handy for cocktails after five noon. When we first started our girls’ trips, we’d willingly cram four of us into a one bedroom condo/hotel room. Two of us would share a bed in the bedroom, and two would share a pullout bed in the living room. Alas, we’re older now, and really all prefer and are willing to spring for our own bed. Other than separate beds and toasters/coffee pots/blenders, the rest is negotiable. Being together is our number one priority.

bahamas

Thirty years from now, I hope my girlfriends and I are still traveling together, getting silly and drinking fruity drinks. Because the older I get, the more I realize that my friendships with other women are just as important as my relationships with my husband and daughters. We all know, my husband doesn’t want to listen to me ramble on and on about my feelings, but my girlfriends? They’re right there with me, feeling all the feels at the same time.