Group traveling seems like such an attractive solution when you have reached a certain age and are happy to delegate all the burdensome aspects of a trip. Isn’t it nice when someone else takes care of bookings, transfers, organized visits and other tiresome details? Sounds good, right? The trouble is that I never learned the trick of sticking with my party and have accidentally strayed more times than I can count. It seems that I don’t care for being herded along in a group. It feels like being tied to a long rope like a kindergartner on an excursion. So I somehow manage to detach myself. (by the way, I also don’t like name tags.)
The first time I strayed was in 1967, The American Library Association had organized a four-island tour to Hawaii for which I signed up. On Maui, our bus stopped for lunch at the Sheraton. I was so enchanted by the beach that I decided to go for a quick swim after eating.
Unfortunately the bus left without me. The hotel found out where it was and I had to take a taxi to rejoin my companions. Lucky they hadn’t left for the next island!
Another time was on a trip to Tahiti with my daughter. We were on a cruise ship. One day they scheduled a bus trip to some attraction (I forget what it was) and on our first stop we were having such a good time admiring the display of crafts that we did not notice the bus continuing without us. We decided to walk to a beach to swim and relax. We eventually rejoined the ship on our own.
Two other misadventures occurred during a group tour to Italy and Sicily. After a visit to Pompeii I had lingered a little and lost sight of my co-travelers. I walked and by some miracle arrived at the place we were supposed to reassemble. On the same trip, I was overwhelmed by the crowds at the Vatican and felt I might be swallowed by the sea of tourists. To be sure I didn’t lose my group, my entire attention was directed at the guide with the yellow umbrella. As a result I had no eyes to spare for all the splendors.
On a Dnieper river cruise, we visited some very interesting Ukrainian towns. One day we took a little boat to see a village where we were greeted by small children in colorful garb. Many beautiful crafts were on display and again I lost track of time. Suddenly I looked around me and none of the faces were familiar. Fortunately I remembered where our little boat was moored. The crew was still there and I asked one of them whether he knew where the group had gone. Thank God for cell phones. He got busy and presently he was leading me some distance to a building where everyone but me was having lunch. Whew!
Here is one more example of my talent for getting lost. This was in Poland on a tour celebrating a Chopin anniversary. We had many concerts everywhere. One evening in Cracow we attended a klezmer concert. We were traveling in several little vans. Cracow is a very
old city and many of the streets are too narrow for big buses. I enjoyed the concert immensely. Walking back at night, I somehow lost my way and could not remember where the vans were parked. I stopped some people on the street and asked where I could find a taxi. They gave me directions and I was lucky to find one. Fortunately I also remembered the name of our hotel and had visited an ATM that morning so I had local currency. When I got to the hotel the others had just arrived and no one ever knew that I had been missing.
Nowadays my travels occur vicariously via the big screen and high definition technology. I can revisit all the sights at leisure and remember, rediscover or simply see for the first time what I had not seen then. In fact, I saw the Vatican this way in much more depth than when I was there. Of course some things are missing: the sounds, the smells of a different place and the feeling of “being there”. Those are some of the trade-offs we make. The thing is to make the most of where we are and what we can do. Happy traveling!
This comment came to admin:
Enjoyed reading your adventures in group travelling. To me planning a trip is more fun than an actual trip. So I took a group tour only once.
Interesting as always, great to think of all the places you’ve been lost =) And surely seen great things that your group friends missed.
I prefer traveling on my own as opposed to with a group also. It can be a lot less expensive and, as you mention, it’s so much easier to have everything taken care of for you. But, the regimented scheduling is very difficult for me to deal with. If I’m in a museum and see something that really interests me, I don’t want to only have a few minutes to view and be forced to move on. That takes all the fun out of exploring and discovering new things.