In the final analysis friends may be the best reason to travel and we have not explored the joy of friends and travel enough so this article is about friends.
This last week Charlene and I took a 10 day trip to Arizona and Mexico. A big part of our trip was spending 5 days with our old friends Sonny and Susan Rone. We are back in Florida now, unpacked and settling back into our daily routine. When I sat down a few moments ago I didn’t have a clue what I would write about today and then it struck me that in over a year of articles I have failed to talk about the best Geezer Travel Tool there is.
The best Geezer Travel Tool is friends.
First, I want to stand back and just look at the wonder of making, visiting and hosting friends. Over the years we have made friends all over the world and as we travel we look them up. Charlene is amazing and some how, thru Facebook, e-mail or phone calls manages to keep in touch with hundreds of friends and when we travel we seek them out.
When our friends come to Florida they always have a home away from home in our guest room. As a host you always want to share the wonders of your home but the reality is that when we show our friends the fun things in Florida we are often seeing those local attractions for the first time ourselves. Hosting our friends stimulates our own explorations of the experiences in our own back yard.
An example; our daughter Sara has been visiting and for the first time since we got to Florida Charlene went to the beach with Sara. We love the beach but just never quite get there. Charlene and Sara have been to the beach twice this week and they walk and talk and pick up the trash that has washed up on the sand. Walking the beach and picking up trash is one of those little things that make life rich and happy. Sara’s visit caused Charlene to enjoy a pastime that has been right in front of her that she never embraced. I’m sure in the next few weeks I too will be out walking the beach and picking up trash because the magic of friends is contagious.
When you travel there is a joy in just exploring new experiences but that joy is richer if you get to share it with friends. I can’t remember the last time we took a cruise and didn’t make new friends on the boat. The best part of cruising is making friends and I have to admit Charlene is the master friend maker. I’m kind of an introvert but not Charlene, she has a gift for finding perfect strangers and turning them into life long friends. Thanks to Charlene’s “gift” many of our friends around the world are our old “cruising friends”.
One experience that gave us a wealth of friends was when we worked as volunteers in Thailand. Volunteer work in often a difficult experience and that difficulty bonds you with your fellow volunteers. When we travel to South Africa, Thailand and Holland we always visit our friends from our Thailand volunteer experience and when they come to America they stay with us. Working as a volunteer allowed us to make several very rich relationships that we cherish today. Lets be honest the pay for us was in friendships we developed but, the living conditions are usually poor and the food is interesting but not something you would normally seek out. That said, we love our volunteer experiences because of the people we meet and the life long friendships that are forged during the minor difficulties of volunteer work making the experience amazing.
When Charlene and I say, “you need to come visit us” we mean it, and when our travel friends invite us to come visit we show up.
Building a network of friends takes time but is time well spent. When we travel I’m in charge of most of the planning. Which flights we take, what hotels we stay in, etc. Charlene is in charge of the fun and the biggest part of that fun is visiting our old travel friends.
If you don’t have any other Geezer Travel Tool in your travel tool box make sure you have the travel friend tool. It’s easy to acquire, you just open you heart and let as many people as you can into your life. Charlene should be writing this because she is the master of this Travel Tool. I’ve been watching her closely and I believe, the art of building a travel friend’s network is First, being open and making friends during your travels. Second, taking the time and effort to keep in touch. Third, opening your home to traveling friends and finally, taking that little step to let your friends know you are going to be in town and arranging to see them. Some times they insist that you stay at their house some times you just get together for a drink or dinner. No matter what the contact is with your travel friends the contact will make your day and your life richer.
Like building air miles and researching the best flight, enjoying travel friends takes effort, but there is no better time spent then the time spent discovering and enjoying friends. May your travels be vast and your friendships be many!
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