We’ve all won a cruise. You know, the kind that pops up in bright flashing colors right as you’re in the middle of reading a webpage. But that’s not the kind of winning a cruise I’m talking about.

I am in a Facebook group called Girls Who Travel that is a safe place for women travelers to share traveling stories, tips, and photos. There are many travel agents and bloggers in the group who are very experienced travelers. One of the travel agents, Mandy, got a free stateroom on a new cruise, The Norwegian Escape…Perks of being a travel agent! She thought it would be fun to meet a new friend in our group of now 18,000 members. How cool is that?!IMG_5134 To pick someone, she posted in the group that she wanted to take one of us with her on the cruise and asked the following questions:

1. Have you been on a cruise? If so, how many?
2. Where do you live?
3. List 5 adjectives that best describe you.
4. Your favorite holiday and why?

I commented on her post and my answers were:

1. I have been on a cruise! I’ve been to Mexico twice, Hawaii, and Alaska. I also was supposed to go on a Caribbean cruise, but there was a hurricane coming so we had to go to Mexico again! haha I love cruises… like I’m obsessed. Also, fun fact: I had my first kiss on a cruise!
2. I live in Huntington Beach, CA
3. Loving, Fun, Honest, Flexible, Adventurous!
4. My favorite holiday is probably my birthday. I’m an only child, so it was always a big deal.
I also just started a travel blog so this would be perfect for me to get to do! That’s so awesome that you’re offering this up to us! I appreciate it! Well I would love to go & could 100% commit! Hope you have an awesome time whether I get to go or not!!

And the rest is history. Mandy and her franchise owner picked me! I couldn’t have been more excited. I am a pretty adventurous person, and I was excited to go on a trip with someone I had never met. I knew it would be a little out of my comfort zone, but doesn’t the best stuff happen when you get a little uncomfortable? We could have met, hated each other, and had to spend the rest of the weekend sleeping in the same bed!IMG_5228

I didn’t tell many people that I was going with someone I had just “met” online. My family already thinks I’m slightly crazy for all of my “risky” traveling endeavors, so I tried to leave out the details of my trip for as long as possible. Besides being nervous about other people’s opinions, I wasn’t too worried about the trip. It’s not like we were complete strangers… We’re in the same Facebook group! That counts for something, right? Maybe… maybe not. The trip really could have gone in any direction—good or bad. I think I’m pretty easy to get along with, so I didn’t think that would be a problem. I was just curious to how our interests would match up though because we really didn’t talk much before the trip except to discuss the logistical stuff.

I know that this blog post would be a lot more exciting to read if Mandy ended up hating me and throwing me off of our balcony and into the ocean, but the trip went pretty flawlessly. I had the greatest time with Mandy. She’s such an awesome person and it was such an exciting experience to go from strangers to spending 3 days straight with her. We hung out the whole trip and became close friends. I think it was even more fun to go with someone I just met than it would have been to go with a friend. I learned so muchIMG_5194 about traveling and the travel agent business that I never otherwise would have known. I love starting new relationships, and taking a trip is a great way to jump right in! In my experience, traveling together is the best way to get to know someone. You get to see them at their best, at their worst, and after they’ve only slept for 3 hours which says a lot about anyone. When the 3-day trip was over, I was sad to say goodbye. I truly hope that Mandy and I will remain friends and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity.

The moral of my story is this. Get uncomfortable. Do things you normally wouldn’t do. Make new friends. Explore the world while you’re doing it. And always take a free cruise with a stranger.IMG_5256