Ultimately, what could have been a disaster for Suz and Amy turned out to be the start of a beautiful travel buddy friendship.
When Suz and Amy, both in their 60s, first met in New Zealand in 2015 their travels weren’t immediate plain sailing. The original plan, hatched on Thelma & Louise, had been to travel in a campervan with two other women, but after various powwows failed to solve some bickering, the group split and Suz and Amy struck out on their own.
“But goddess bless Thelma & Louise because a lovely Australian woman living in New Zealand who had originally wanted to come on the tour but felt tied with her dogs and husband turned up, took us home, fed us, gave us lovely single rooms each, listened to our woes, lent us a flask and two cups and other bits, advised us about the usefulness of Op Shops (NZ charity shops) and took us to the rental place the next morning. How lovely to have this woman's network to help each other, all facilitated by Thelma & Louise. We then proceeded to have a phenomenal time!”
Before I joined Thelma & Louise, I travelled to Costa Rica and Southern India on guided tours, which meant I could go alone but neither were very satisfactory on the social front. In Costa Rica, I shared with a great woman from Halifax (I'm from Yorkshire too) but she was a very heavy drinker. Southern India was a disaster – just four of us and the guide. I had to share with a quite difficult Australian young woman. There was an Australian couple too but they left the tour because they wanted to escape the third Australian.
Then someone told me about Thelma & Louise and I thought it sounded a great idea: women only, specify age group and type of holiday and hopefully meet them beforehand. I find it easy to tell if I'm likely to get on with most people.
“I'm so grateful to Thelma & Louise for allowing me to find such a brilliant travel companion as Amy and to have opened the door to such rich adventures through travel.”
My favourite trip? Anywhere I go with my Thelma & Louise travel buddy Amy! But the very best has to be our latest trip to South Africa…
From Cape Town via seals, an Ethiopian dinner and the delightful harbour area to self-driving to the penguins of Simons Town, along the Garden Route with its bays and gorges and stunning beauty and wonderful eating venues to Addo Elephant reserve for close encounters with elephant families. Meeting and discussing the present political situation with everyone we met. Then a night in the lovely Elizabeth Town and a flight to Johannesburg and another hire car drive to Kruger. Staying in Kruger National Park and meeting every conceivable African animal and bird in close quarters including cheetah, hyena, painted dogs, hippos and lions; watching elephants cross rivers. You name it we saw it and loved it and photographed it.
We are planning to go to Canada and Montana with its national parks of lakes and mountains and the glacial routes and First Nation cultures. Also, I have friends in Great Falls where we can stay. We will meet up with Cheryl, a friend that Amy made on the trip to China that I had to opt out of because of a wrist broken roller skating. Cheryl lives in Canada so she would join us there - there is still a fourth place in the car available and we will be advertising this in Thelma & Louise shortly, once we have finalised the dates.
“...there is still a fourth place in the car available and we will be advertising this in T&L shortly.”
- If possible meet up with your intended buddies in advance - you don't want to arrive the other side of the world and find there is a personality clash.
- Make sure you like the same kind of holidays. We both like adventure, exploration, trekking and packing a lot in. If your buddy preferred a beach holiday topping up their tan that would not work.
- Look for buddies who are flexible and can be accommodating of others' wishes. If someone cannot exist without coke, mars bars and McDonalds and you are travelling to the outreaches of rural China that might spoil things or if one of you needs noodles or vegan food or fish then be prepared to try and allow for that. If one or more of the party snores it's no good complaining that they are spoiling your sleep; just get some effective earplugs.
- Agree together where you will go and what you will do, the sort of accommodation you will book, number of days etc. Have a clear itinerary. Amy usually plans out a route with Google Maps and others make contributions to that
- Ask everyone beforehand: what is their bottom line. It might be ‘I cannot manage without en-suite toilet facilities’ for example, or ‘I don't want to spend more than two nights in a city en route to other places’ (that’s me!).