I am one of those hyperactive ‘worriers.’ You know the type: those people who run scenarios in their heads anticipating all the crazy things that could happen. So when I set off on my first Zephyr adventure, I worried: 1. I’d be traveling with über athletes and couldn’t keep up; or 2. I’d get lost; and ultimately, 3. I would not fit in.
Eleven Zephyr tours later I can wholeheartedly report: I have traveled— and kept up with people of all fitness levels, and yes, I did get lost a time or two. But, what I didn’t expect was how many friends I would make along the way. Everyone fits in on a Zephyer tour.
I should not have been surprised. Like myself, the average Zephyr traveler is someone who chooses to spend a vacation actively exploring the world rather than lounging under a beach umbrella. Combine a crazy mix of collective experiences— like getting lost in rural Burgundy— with similar interests and the result is a perfect start to a long friendship.
I smile all over when I think about the day Devon and I lost our way during a 76k bike ride through the vineyards and villages surrounding Burgundy. Since neither of us spoke much French, it became comical when we stopped to ask for help. (Note: do not stop at a pharmacy for water; they just may give you bath oil!) Both of our hearts soared when a kind, non-English speaking French woman turned her tiny car around in a narrow alley then gestured us to follow her to the road to that led back to our hotel in Buxy. A bond formed between the two of us that day!
Devon is just one of many wonderful souls I look forward to seeing again on my next Zephyr adventure. A Zephyr trip is kind of like that potato chip slogan: you can’t take just one; they’re addictive!
And thanks to Zephyr’s alumni website, Facebook, email, texting and yes, snail mail, I have transformed simple acquaintances into true friendships. Just last week 2006 Burgundy/Paris Multisport alumni Roberta, Janet and I spent an afternoon posting photos from the tour on Facebook and laughing about how we’ve changed. Though Roberta lives in upstate New York, Janet is on the West Coast, and I am in South Carolina, we have found that supporting each other with our everyday lives is what keeps our friendship fresh and strong.
Remember that comment about my fear of not being able to keep up on a Zephyr tour? Well, a couple of years ago my best friend talked me into training for a triathlon. I joined a training group and quickly rediscovered that as a group, everyone achieves more. My Zephyr experiences gave me the confidence!
Janet saw a series of photos from my first open water tri I posted on Facebook and was inspired by how toned I had become. She decided to enter a training program herself, looking to me for training advice. We became online training buds. I was so proud when she finished her first event last August!
More than a decade has passed since my first Zephyr tour. Now I am the über athlete I feared I couldn’t keep up with. I’ve discovered getting lost simply adds even more adventure to traveling. And, I am abundantly rich with memories and friends I’ve met along the way.
My only worry now is having to decide which Zephyr tour I’ll take next!
This guest post was written by Marlena, an artist, tri-athlete, yogi, weaver and all-around dreamer who believes life is better when both your mind and body are active. She lives down in Carolina with her husband and favorite travel companion, G. Michael.
One thought on “The Unexpected Friendships of Small Group Travel”
Such a fun post Marlena! Oh how I miss you and Michael… its true, there is something about Zephyr folk that you just can’t get enough of 😉 Hopefully see you soon! xoxo