I just returned from a 10-day tour to a country in Europe. I went with a friend I knew through my membership in The Transition Network, a terrific women’s organization in New York City (and in several other cities in the country) that is for women over 50 who are transitioning into retirement: thetransitionnetwork.org/chapters-new-york-city
Even in our relatively small tour group of 20, most of whom were retirees, there was a pattern I noticed that existed on other tours I’ve taken. To a large extent, people socialized in somewhat predictable and socially comfortable patterns reminiscent of junior high school. Three groups of married couples traveling independently nevertheless hung out together; one pack of of 5 travelers who all came on the tour together pretty much didn’t socialize with anyone else; 2 pairs of sisters also stayed together as did another pair of friends. My friend and I were the only duo who tried to invite the one woman traveling solo to join us when we had free time. In the interest of full disclosure, she was a challenging companion–with many distinct food and location preferences when we tried to pick a non-tour-sponsored restaurant. She was, unquestionably, not an easy travel companion.
My friend said I didn’t have to sacrifice our enjoyment for hers but I couldn’t justify leaving her to her own devices unless she specifically asked to be alone, which sometimes she did. During our last breakfast together, she sat across the table from me and confessed to “not having a very good time at all” and was “very eager for the trip to end to go home”.
This solo traveler, and her difficulties, inspired this nugget of touring wisdom: try to go with a friend or acquaintance and not to travel alone if you can help it. That way, you can always be sure of someone with whom you can pal around and don’t have to rely on the potential kindness of strangers.