Strangers meet up for impromptu holiday; now they're the best of friends
Josiah Burton wanted to travel, but his friend did not want to travel due to the pandemic. With a yearning to explore following months of being in lockdown, he did the unthinkable and took Therese Rocca, a complete stranger, with him.
Burton spoke to CNN Travel about his decision.
"I was supposed to be going to Japan with a friend, but Japan is now closed. So, I was looking for a country open to Americans.
"My friend decided he didn't want to travel during the coronavirus, but I still wanted to go. I was originally looking at Croatia, but you needed a negative Covid test within 72 hours. Turkey didn't have any such requirement, so I chose there.
"I didn't really want to travel alone, so I posted a message in the 10XTravel Facebook group that if anyone's interested in coming or meeting up, or who will be in Turkey at the same time, to let me know," he told the publication.
Rocca from Denver responded. She too was in the same predicament and needed to explore like Burton.
She took off work as she was supposed to be in South Africa, but the country is closed to US travellers.
The pair chatted online, sharing their details on their travel styles and securing all the details-from travel insurance, tours and other travel plans.
All this happened four days before meeting at Chicago airport before their flight to Turkey.
"I recently travelled to Turkey...with a stranger. I booked the trip one week in advance, flew business class and stayed for 9 nights in 4/5 star hotels. My total out of pocket expense for all flights and hotel: $158.87! I’ve had countless people ask me how I did it. I’ve been asked to plan their trips and share my itinerary. I’ve been asked why I don’t have a travel blog. Well, remember that stranger? We were interviewed by @cnntravel on the last day of our trip. I now call him my friend, and he calls me Theresita. I also call him my new blog and business partner," she posted on her Instagram page (sic).
The travel buddies have cemented a new friendship, forming a connection while exploring a new destination.
"The first thing we did after checking into the hotel was to take a ride on a hop-on, hop-off bus so we could see exactly where we wanted to go and where everything was.
"We did almost every major tourist attraction in Istanbul - Taksim Square, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia. We also took a Bosporus cruise. It was amazing," they told CNN.
They started a business together called Vacation Pursuit to help others find great deals and travel buddies.