Have you ever experienced wanting to go somewhere but didn’t have anyone to go with you? As difficult as it is to admit, your best friend isn’t always available for your spontaneous weekend getaways or doesn’t have enough vacation leave credits to take advantage of that airline seat sale. So what choice are you left with? If the thought of travelling alone paralyzes you or you simply find it too tedious to plan your own trip itinerary, then joining a group tour may be the way to go.
A group tour is basically a trip package with a fixed price and a structured itinerary. Destinations are pre-determined, logistics including transportation and accommodations are pre-arranged, so you basically just pay the fee and the travel agency will take care of the rest. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Oh yeah…I forgot to mention that you would have no idea who will be joining you on the trip. For those socially awkward creatures, this can be a totally new nightmare that you would have to deal with but for those who think that adventures necessitate the expansion of comfort zones and being open to new things, the fun begins the moment you step into the van and not know a single person’s name.
If you need more convincing, here are 10 reasons why you should try travelling with a group of strangers:
- You’ll get to prove that you are a strong and independent person. I have always admired people who are able to make decisions without having to know the consensus of the group. These are people who know what they want and are ready to see it through no matter what. So if you are itching to travel someplace but your friends are not available, break the stigma and go on your own. Life is too short to spend it waiting for the perfect time when all your busy schedules finally align. Go on a group tour and you get the best of both worlds: you get the sense of empowerment of being on your own but you avoid the boredom of not having anyone to share the experience with.
- Your faith in humanity will be restored. When you’re living in a big city, chances are, you’ve developed a natural distrust of strangers. You’ve been overexposed to news of random muggings, of pickpockets, and of cab drivers with less than honorable motives that you’ve basically been programmed to be wary of people you don’t know. However, being stuck in a van full of people in the middle of nowhere can be quite enlightening. From needing hand sanitizers to mobile phone chargers and even sharing mobile wi-fi hotspots, you’ll realize that people are in fact very helpful and will even be willing to lend you their personal backup stash of feminine pads when you really need one. There are moments when humanity redeems itself and it’s precious to be able to realize that when it happens.
- If you do anything embarrassing, you can go on with your life pretending it never even happened. People say that when something embarrassing happens to you, your friends will tell you “It’s okay. It can happen to anyone.” Your best friends, however, will laugh right at your face, post it on facebook, and tell everyone you know back home that you did a glorious faceplant on the sand dunes while attempting to go down the slope. If you’re travelling with strangers, rest assured that they don’t have the social capital to call you out on your epic failure. You should also be thankful of the fact that there is only a very slim chance you’ll cross paths again so you can just leave out that embarrassing moment when you tell your friends and family about your whole trip.
- You’ll discover that you’re not nearly as weird as you thought. Okay. I’ll admit that going by yourself on a trip is a little unconventional. Most people would prefer to spend vacations with family members or friends for obvious reasons. However, you might meet people on the trip who actually have a predilection for solo travel because they find it more convenient. You may also find out that half of the people on your tour have at one point or another, travelled by themselves even to foreign countries. Their stories may actually end up inspiring you to keep pursuing your passion for travel and you’ll even pick up a few pointers from them.
- You’ll actually have the time to take great photographs. Have you ever come back from a trip and notice that all your pictures are filled with your faces and you can barely make out the place where you took them? Have you ever wanted to put up frames of great landscapes from your travels and not have a single shot where you’re not flashing a peace sign or attempting to make that perfect jump shot? Well, travelling without companions will allow you to explore the places you visit on your own pace without being pressured into turning every spot into a photo background. You can take your time to let the place sink in and allow your artistic side to evaluate the space and take meaningful photographs that you can later proudly display as part of your travel logs.
- You finally have the perfect excuse to take as many selfies as you want. Let’s get real here. Reason Number 5 is legit but you have to admit that you also need to have proof that you actually did go to that tourist spot at one point in your life. Much has been said about the narcissistic culture we now have because of the selfie craze but come on….documenting your travel is a perfectly good reason to use that monopod. You don’t want to be known as the person who keeps photobombing other people’s pictures so it’s better to bring your own camera. You also don’t want to keep bothering other people by asking them to take your pictures for you. Remember, they’re not your hired help. This is exactly why the selfie-sticks were invented in the first place! Photos may be your only souvenir from a certain place and in this instance, your monopod will be your new best friend.
- You’ll meet new people and even make new friends. More often than not, we only get to hang out with the same crowd day in and day out. Our lives mostly revolve around work and home with very little time to go out and expand our social circles. Going on a group tour will give you the opportunity to meet new people from different walks of life, different industries and age groups, and you’re basically stuck with them for the next few days. You may come from different backgrounds but you are all unified by your common passion for travel and adventure – and that alone can be a great starting point for meaningful conversations. You split meals together in order to try different viands. You share beds and bathrooms because you don’t get to have a private room. You group together because you can’t go solo on a 4×4 ATV ride. And even if you can, you don’t want to go night swimming alone. It’s fun to discover that there are people out there with the same interests as you and you get to share wonderful experiences with them that you would never have been able to do if you didn’t come on the group tour. These memories will stay with you forever and it might just be the beginning of several wonderful friendships.
- You’ll force yourself to have conversations with actual people. It’s a force of habit to grab your smartphone and scroll through your social media accounts instead of having to converse with the people around you. When you’re travelling with a group, however, you can’t avoid having to talk to each other may it be about what food to order, or you’re killing time waiting for it to be delivered, or you see something funny on the road and you just can’t help but share it with the entire group. There’s also the standard getting-to-know you moments that may start off kind of forced but you end up actually getting interested about the people you’re going to be living with for the next few days. For us introverts, this exercise is kind of daunting but it’s part of the adventure to challenge yourself and push your limits. You’ll realize there are actually a lot of interesting people in the world and knowing their life story will enrich your own.
- You can reinvent yourself even for just a few days. I’m not saying you should pretend to be someone you’re not. The idea of going on a vacation is to have a respite from your usual day-to-day self and put your responsibilities on pause. If you’re day job requires you to be a stoic coat-and-tie exec, now is your chance to let your fun-loving, flip-flop-wearing alter-ego loose for a change. Savor the opportunity to break away from the stereotype you have allowed yourself to become to your colleagues and friends and let your free spirit roam.
- You’ll have the quiet time you rarely get to have while on vacation. Instead of being a restful reprieve from the demands of your real life, vacations can turn into a frenzy of activities and partying when you travel with your buddies. Once in a while, you dream of just floating weightless in water, feeling the warm tide washing over your head right down to your toes, and not having a care in the world what you’re going to do or say next. You just want to relax and have the peace that comes naturally when you watch the day break over the horizon. These moments of solitude are perfect opportunities for you to reflect on your life, evaluate your goals versus your current path, and take stock of what you are thankful for. Vacations are great when spent with friends, but they can be even more meaningful when spent with yourself.
It’s an enriching experience and for those who are still getting used to the idea of travelling alone, going on a group tour is a perfect stepping stone. Just a reminder to anyone planning on booking a trip like this, make sure it’s with a legitimate and trusted travel agency. Read reviews from people who have gone on trips with them before or better yet, ask your friends for references. Although it’s an adventure, safety should always be your topmost concern. I personally recommend Barefoot Travels. You can check them out here: https://barefoottravellers.wordpress.com
Written by: Katrina Tordilla
This is not a paid post and was written voluntarily by the author.