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Choosing your travel mate

I read on Twitter that an 88-year old woman traveler stated that the best type of friend to go with on tour is one that doesn't spend the entire vacation talking about her miserable marriage, or searching for her next boyfriend. Instead, she lives in the moment taking in the polar bears, elephants or whatever site is at hand.

That made me laugh...until I got to thinking about that thought a little more carefully. Good advice.

It is quite common for people traveling never to leave home behind. They are unable to detach from their own small place in the world and grasp the importance of where they are in the present.

On safari in South Africa, one woman in my vehicle spent her entire three weeks figuring out how to use her brand new camera - common mistake - missing shots and wasting other people's precious time asking for assistance. For my own sanity and to get the most from my travels, I had to zone out and concentrate on observing the wildlife passing on the left and right. It was a dream come true for me.

Speaking of travel mates, this novice camera hound and a "friend" were looking to see if they had commonalities in order to get into a steady relationship - both had lost their spouses - and had chosen to travel together after only going out two or three times. Seriously? Apparently, I'm no detector of what makes for a good relationship as the couple ended the trip with smiles on their faces and a date for the wedding. Secretly, the rest of us - 13 folks - took bets predicting the outcome, and even a district attorney, financial planner and several teachers lost. Cheers to the couple, though, for a happy and lasting marriage.

On a recent trip to Ireland, I had the pleasure of being with a father - daughter combination, and they were delightful both together and separately. She had recently graduated from college, and dad got his first passport to go with her on a vacation. It's lovely to see when multi-generational bonding works like a well-oiled machine.

On a trip to New Zealand, a solo woman traveler introduced herself and said, "I was told by the tour company that I would have fifteen friends by the end of the trip and not to worry about coming alone." She was a gregarious lady that had no trouble finding companions.

I saved the best for last.

Two women met in Spain on a tour. Both were the same age. Both were married. Both had a similar take on life. They instantly connected and became friends, although they live on opposite coasts. Since then, they have traveled together five times - they keep separate rooms - and are waiting for a riverboat trip next year where they will share a cabin. "Maybe that will be the downfall for our traveling together," one said to the other jokingly. When they are on vacation, they quickly catch up on each other's life and after that, they drop it all to concentrate on the adventure. That's my personal story in a nutshell.

In Tokyo, Japan two traveler partners enjoy a warm day.

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