I just returned Monday from a wonderful trip to Spain with 34 fun women. I’ve been doing “Girlfriend Travel” now for five years with my travel buddy, Kathy Adkins, and it is a little like an extended slumber party. We begin with some girlfriends who know each other from the community, some who are making their fifth trip with us, and some newbies who have no idea what lies ahead.
As their “travel mom,” I have drummed into their heads the importance of packing their passports and arriving at the airport a full two hours before our scheduled departure. I have freaked them out with tales of potential traffic jams, forgotten cell phones, and foreign currency left on the dresser. Trust me, it happens.
When we finally gather at the gate and begin the big sit, the chatter begins and we are quickly identified as the people no one else on the plane wants to sit near. This year to help my travelers identify each other at the airport in Houston and in Newark where we met our girlfriends from other states, we gave each one a pink silk rose to pin on their shirts. We were quite a sight with almost 30 of us wearing the pink roses.
Anticipating the questions we would receive about our group, I explained to our “girls” that we were former top 10 runners up in the Miss America contest “over the years,” headed to our annual convention in Barcelona. Then I informed them that they would each have to tell what their talent was and why they did not win. To illustrate, I told them that my talent was twirling flaming batons which was breath-taking until one slipped and set my tiny costume on fire, leading to a serious wardrobe malfunction. My sister, Janet, ever the animal lover, told us that her innovative talent was performing a first-ever ventriloquist act using a real dog. Sadly, the dog took a small bite out of one of the judges.
Something magical happens when you take women out of their everyday world and surround them with others also set free of their daily routines. I like to say that when we board our tour bus, we all become 15 years old again, and even if it is just for a week or two, it is a wonderful place to be!
Why women are more fun to travel with than men
1. We have a real sense of adventure. Instead of always taking the freeway, wouldn’t it be more fun to take the scenic route? OK, so it turned out to go by a landfill, several refineries and a gravel pit. At least next time you go by that exit, you’ll know you’re not missing anything.
2. We never mind stopping. Flea markets, antique barns, outlet malls, fruit stands … who knows what wonderful things you’ll find if you don’t stop?
3. We aren’t determined to beat the time it took to drive it the last time.
4. We believe you can never have too many bathroom stops.
5. We always bring along refreshments, even if it is just Tic Tacs and two sticks of gum.
6. Just because you can’t read the highway map, they do not get mad and say things that would have to be bleeped on TV.
7. Women understand that being able to refold a highway map is not something that people instinctively know how to do. If it was important, they would be teaching it in school.
8. For women, stopping to ask directions is considered effective time management. For men, it is roughly equivalent to having “I am an imbecile” stamped on their forehead.
9. Men believe that one small suitcase is more than sufficient for a one-week vacation. They do not understand that women, having spent way too much time with children, pack for the unexpected. We are haunted by the “what ifs.” What if we go to a fancy restaurant? High tea? Impromptu costume party? Gain 10 pounds and need an entirely different size? A cold front passes through? Okay, it is July, but you never know …