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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

The Friendship-Boosting Secretive Travel Club

Rocking the boat is a typical Travel Club surprise activity. Oysters as fresh as they get cannot be praised highly enough. Matching wine served by an in-boat sommelier, of course.

So you don’t like to travel alone? Do not despair, there are a lot of options as I have discussed earlier. But not much beats travelling with good friends. Five mates and I are part of what we call Travel Club. Once a year one of us is in charge of organizing a trip. The others know nothing about the destination, what we will do there or who we will meet (if anyone).

Tomorrow we are at it again, for the fourth time running. And this time I am in charge. Given my infamousness when it comes to strange, odd or mad travels, some of my friends are a little shaky about this year’s trip. And bets are of course on: Where will we go? The winner (if anyone guesses the right country) will get a bottle of bubbly from the others. History has shown they will be shared anyhow, so not much of a penalty, really.

It is important to have some strict or semi-strict rules when you have such a “club”. You may otherwise end up arguing about pretty much anything. And mind you, I have already broken the first rule even talking about it: “You do not talk about Travel Club.” Admittedly slightly inspired by a famous Edward Norton film. I’ll risk it. Without me, the remaining five will have nothing (this year, that is – I might be expelled after writing this post). Only I know where we are going, when and how. As fixer of the year I have to take care of tickets, accommodation, some activities (but not so many that it resembles a guided tour) and book at least one mouthwatering restaurant (since reservations are often needed). The wine bars we tend to locate as we go. And for some reason, the owners always invite us back the next day.

Experience has shown us that the rules should include something about membership. Because, believe me, “everybody” wants to join such an exciting, eye-opening and thrilling club. Several of my non-member friends have asked, begged or not so subtly hinted about joining. But of course it is not up to me to decide, not alone at least. Some such clubs are for the founding fathers or mothers only, others are exclusively for stamp collectors, nurses or footballers, whereas our club is open to anyone. In theory, that is. We debated whether to let 50 % or 75 % of the members approve a new member, or whether consensus was needed. We decided for the latter. Not because we are particularly nasty, but because Travel Club can easily grow so big that we don’t really get properly talk together when we are out and about. And those that are already in shouldn’t feel that they are being squeezed out because a new person they really don’t like is taken on board.

Our trips are in the spring. Which means that we meet early winter to decide on the dates. You will also need a budget. We all chip in a set amount to the bank account of the organizer. No one has done a runner. Yet. (Tempting, I know). Such a club can be for anyone, whether your budget permits nothing more than camping in tents by the fjord, a hitch-hiking adventure to the nearest town or a luxury wine and dine weekend in Okinawa or Kuda Huraa. Your budget will most often limit how far you can go, but you might also want to put a cap on how long you are willing to be transported and how long you can be away. Our trips typically last a long weekend.

It might furthermore be a good idea to theme your club. Maybe your lot is into fishing, gourmet dinners, ballroom dancing, shooting ranges or binge drinking. Or a combination of the above. We lack an official theme, besides travelling, but it mysteriously turned out that we all like adventurous food, bubbly drinks and fun experiences. There might be three reasons for our friendship, after all.

Travel Club has made us get to know each other better and learn from each other. Not to mention that we have generated shared experiences and stories, yet always have another potentially weird trip to look forward to. And, of course, we get to eat and drink and laugh together not only when on tour, but also when preparing for each trip. I shouldn’t forget to mention the excitement about where we are going and what the hell we are going to do there, the large amount of very bad jokes and the occasional decent story. This year, I hope my friends are into parachuting from Sovjet era aeroplanes.

My fellow travellers don’t know much about the next few days. At least they know that we’re not going to Iceland, Poland or France. Yeah, of course we have yet another rule for that. We cannot revisit a country Travel Club has been to before. Which means we’ll run out of countries in a couple of decades. Unless planes move a little bit faster then.

Then again, there’s always SpaceX.

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