Diana McLeod used to travel frequently with her husband, Wilfred. As expatriates, they even lived across the globe, from Europe to the Far East. Then in 2005, her husband died. Diana continued to live on Hilton Head Island, but never lost her desire to travel.
The problem became finding someone to travel with her. She found what she was looking for in the Women's Association of Hilton Head Island.
Women Traveling Together is a group within the association that does exactly that -- travel together. If a woman is single, widowed or if her husband just doesn't want to come along, the group welcomes her to travel with them. Over the past four years they've gone on three trips to locales such as China, Italy and Eastern Europe. In February, they plan to go to Spain and Portugal.
The catch this year is that their trip can benefit a good cause. If they have 15 travelers, their travel company, Grand Circle, will donate a check equal to one full trip to a charity of their choosing. The plan is to donate the money to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, said group member Carol Wolf. The upcoming trip costs about $2,700 a person.
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Wolf helped start the group shortly after her father died. Her mother still was looking to travel but was looking for a partner or group to go with. Wolf knew of other women in similar positions and decided to form the group through the women's association.
"It's a great idea for women who want to travel but who don't want to go alone," Wolf said.
The trip is organized as part of a larger tour through the travel company, which provides a plan for the two-week trip. Jenifer Gajdalo had never gone on a tour before and always wanted to visit Amalfi Coast and Tuscany. She learned of the group through the association and decided to go herself after her husband said he was not interested. She appreciated that the trip was organized but there still she was also able to visit places on her own without the whole tour group.
For McLeod, the trip to Italy was a highlight in her life. The small group wandered the countryside and meandered through the historic cities. The trip was not only a way to see the country but to get aquatinted with old and new friends.
"The sites were wonderful. The food was wonderful. The wine is great," she said. "And the company is great, too."