I’m Rachael – Nutella lover, binger of Netflix crime documentaries, and ardent solo traveller. I did an epic 2.5 years of travelling solo between 2014-2017, and on my way around the world I joined on to some group tours (because who wants to do everything alone?!) So I’ve compiled a list of 9 reasons it was amazing travelling as part of a group – as much as I’m an advocate of going off on your own…
I had people to take photos of me
When you know people by their first name it’s way easier (and less awkward) to ask them to take a photo of you. It beats waiting around carefully scoping out a trustworthy candidate to take that snap or attempting a cringe angled selfie.
Ever tried to do that and get Uluru in the background too? Cue a glorious triple chin.
I made life-long friends
Being a solo traveller makes you way more approachable to other people, which means it’s easier to make friends. On an overnight trek in Myanmar I met loads of people I got on with – one girl I continued the rest of my Myanmar trip with. I also had a pal to handle the dreaded food poisoning with when flying back to Bangkok. Those experiences bond you together unlike any other.
I got to share some memorable experiences with people
Sure, experiencing amazing places on your own is great, but when you’ve been travelling solo for a while it’s a nice change to have other people to share it with. Camping in the Australian Outback under the stars in a swag wouldn’t have been the same if it was just me on my own (plus, being scared of being eaten by spiders/snakes/dingos was much less scary when there were other people afraid of the same thing).
I had people to get through a death-defying experience with
Speaking of scary moments, you will have them at one point. I took a two-night sailing trip around the Whitsundays and met some really cool people, and we had an incredible trip. However, on the way home we got stuck in a storm (legit thought it was the end) and being there with a big group of people who were all trying to make each other laugh so we wouldn’t cry (we had a hangover to go with), made it so much more bearable.
I had people to chat to so I didn’t go crazy
I absolutely love the freedom of travelling on your own, but every so often you need another human to chat to – for your own sanity if nothing else. People who save you from those road trips around winding roads, by chatting away to you, are a gift from God. Travel sickness is the devil.
I gained valuable travel info
Being part of a group means you’ll always be chatting to someone, and the number of stories you share means at some point you’ll probably find out about a place, or hear a tip about somewhere that you didn’t know before. For instance, I had no idea that Pai in Thailand existed, and I probably wouldn’t have thought about visiting if I hadn’t heard about it from a couple I met snorkelling – and it ended up being my favourite place in Thailand.
It made me push myself to do things I wouldn’t usually do
I’m really not a fan of swimming, diving, snorkelling, or anything to do with water really. But because I didn’t want to look like a baby in front of my new friends, I ended up doing things I wouldn’t have done if I was on my own, e.g. sliding down a natural waterfall, snorkelling or driving a scooter around Pai/Bagan. Granted, I used a floaty noodle to slide down the waterfall so I didn’t die, but I DID IT.
At times, it made me appreciate travelling on my own
Occasionally you’ll meet people on these group trips who, to put it plainly, are a pain in the arse (“I may have come on a hiking trip, but I realllly don’t want to walk up that hill”) Seriously Susan?! Or you’ll meet friends who argue in front of everyone over something ridiculous. These times make you so grateful that you’re travelling on your own – no one to fall out with or compromise your own plans for.
It helped me feel more independent
On my trip I was mostly on my own, so when it came to joining groups I’d have to be confident enough to chat to people and get involved. It’s helped me so much now that I’m back in the ‘real world’ because I’m so much more confident in networking situations, when meeting new people, and I also enjoy spending time on my own because I got so used to it when I was away.
All in all, travelling on my own was amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing, but joining groups for many active parts of my travels made all the difference – I made new friends, I experienced some incredible places and now I know people from all over the world (and I have great photos taken by them to prove it!). Interested in some group travel adventures? Have a look at these tours!