How one traveler found like-minded travel companions for an amazing journey to China
By Dale Enman, 3-time traveler, Deerfield Beach, Florida
After traveling to Egypt with Grand Circle in 2004, I got the travel bug again last year—and was ready to explore the world. So, I went onto the Grand Circle website and began searching their trips. I’d never been to Asia—and when I saw Grand Circle’s China’s Cultural Capitals vacation, I was intrigued by the cities that were featured, and all of the things I’d be able to see along the way.
During my trip to Egypt, I traveled by myself and had a great time. This time, I was interested in seeing if there was anyone who might like to travel with me. So, while I was searching Grand Circle’s website for trips, I was excited to find the Travel Companions online community. This section allowed me to create a profile sharing my hobbies, places I’ve visited, and anything else I’d like to have in common with my travel partner. I clicked right on it and a whole new world was opened up to me. I had no problem creating a profile for myself … it was so easy!
And believe it or not, the very next day, I received a call from a woman who saw my Travel Companion profile!
Carol, Dale, Gloria, and Susan stand outside of their hotel in Shanghai.
Carol Caldwell, a 5-time traveler from Bentonville, Arkansas, and I started chatting and we soon found that we had a lot in common: We were both RNs and very outgoing. So, we began discussing places we’d like to visit and the possibility of traveling together. And although I’d never really thought about traveling to China, since it’s so far away, within three days of talking with Carol, we both reserved our trip to China together!
Carol had already met another traveler, Susan Donahue—2-time traveler from Vancouver, Washington—through Travel Companions. After asking Susan if she’d like to come to China with us, Susan quickly agreed. Carol called me a short time before we were scheduled to depart to tell me that another woman who had contacted her through Travel Companions—Gloria LaPerle, a 3-time traveler from Spring Hill, Florida—was interested in joining us too! She asked if I would mind sharing a room with Gloria, since Susan and Carol had already planned to room together. Since I tend to get along with most people, I told her I had no problem rooming with Gloria.
And as it turned out, Gloria and I were wonderful roommates!
Dale enjoys a special taxi ride in Beijing with her roommate, Gloria.
Our trip to China was even more wonderful than I expected it to be. The fellow travelers in our group were so interesting. Gloria and I liked to sit at different tables during dinner so that we had the opportunity to meet the other members of our group. Both she and I were adventurous eaters and tended to gobble up everything put before us. It was another wonderful trait we shared.
China was a special treat for me because I love archeology and enjoy watching special programs on the Discovery Channel about interesting locations around the world. That’s where I first learned about the Terra Cotta Army. So, when we visited this impressive sight in Xian, I was in awe of what I saw. The entire place was concrete and it resembled an airplane hanger. What I loved most was that it is a working archeological site—one of only a few places in the world where you can actively witness part of history.
Because of her love of archeology, Dale especially enjoyed her visit to see the Terra Cotta Army.
Of course, my visit to the Great Wall was incredibly special. As we were driving on the bus through the countryside, you couldn’t really see the Great Wall—but all of a sudden, I had an amazing view of the mountains and started to see split sections of the Wall peaking through.
The day we visited the Great Wall was a national holiday in China, so our Program Director told us that we would encounter many locals—something that you rarely see when visiting on any other day. It was so interesting to see such a wide variety of cultures—and to be able to experience the Great Wall for the first time amongst the Chinese people was even more amazing. When I stood before the Wall, I realized how truly impressive it was. And I even made it to the second level!
Dale visits the Great Wall during a national holiday in China—so she was able to enjoy the experience with many locals.
I had such a wonderful time in China. And my experiences planning this trip made me realize that you really need to be prepared for anything life throws at you. I never dreamed I’d travel to China, but after meeting Carol, Susan, and Gloria thanks to Grand Circle’s Travel Companions, something just clicked. You could even say it was serendipitous.
Explore the archeological treasures and friendly people of China on our China’s Cultural Capitals vacation.
Looking for a travel partner for your next Grand Circle trip? Visit our Travel Companions online community to find like-minded travelers that share your same passion for exploring the world.