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A Dream Becomes Reality (Continued)

Contacting tour operators, such as Trafalgar, seemed the best way to start, but I was quickly disillusioned when the information arrived in the mail from my local travel agent. They offered the type of tour that gives "whirlwind tour" its name. I pictured myself on a bus surrounded by forty strangers, staring out the window as we whizzed past the places where I could have spent an entire day.

I posted on the Scotland message board at AOL's Travel Channel seeking advice and was overwhelmed by the encouraging responses I received from other women who had been in the same situation in which I found myself – longing to see Scotland and England on my own terms.

Research of flight schedules and prices took up most of the month of December. By the beginning of the new year I was getting disheartened; I knew there were bargains to be had – where were they? Then, early in March I found what I thought was a great deal, given that I planned to travel during the "high season" – $750 round trip from Washington DC to Manchester, England. The restrictions worked for me; travel had to be on a weekday between June 15th (the day before the school year ended) and July 15th. The tickets had to be purchased by March 17th.

I had three months to find travel companions to share expenses.

I posted a message on AOL's Scotland and England travel message boards seeking other females who would be interested in a "road trip." I knew from the responses I'd received earlier that they were out there somewhere. I just had to find them.

Enter Dana, mom of a seventeen year old son from San Jose, who had taken a tour of Scotland the previous year. I knew from her first e-mail that we could get along on an extended trip together. Her candor and humor were refreshing and fun.

Enter Robin, mom of four from Little Rock, who had visited England and Scotland three times in the past two years, the last two trips acting as a guide for others. I could tell from her e-mails and the trip report/journal of her first trip that I'd found a kindred spirit. I had found the person I wanted to guide me on this dream-come-true trip.

Enough with the preamble ... let's hit the road.