10 March, 2017

My feelings about the idea of group travel as a man used to be pretty straight forward:

I didn’t want to spend two weeks making awkward conversation with people I had nothing in common with, following itineraries that just seem really bland.

So what is the single male traveller in their 30’s and 40’s to do? This is the era where the ‘lads’ holiday’ to the Med or Prague starts to feel a little undignified but yet there’s still (hopefully) many years to go before a barge on the Norfolk Broads or a B&B in the Cotswolds begins to appeal.

Read more: “How I learnt to embrace solo travel”

So I had an idea. I’m a former photojournalist, and my CV includes some extensive time spent at the sharp end of reportage; covering the Egyptian Arab Spring, and being one of the first journalists to find the body of deposed Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi.

After visiting over 100 countries for work, I think it’s fair to say that I had doubts that my thirst for adventure whilst on holiday would be quenched by the choice of group tour holidays that I started browsing through.

Solo Travel guy

Me on my world adventures

Obviously, I didn’t want to put myself in insane danger, but I did want a group holiday that wouldn’t be too distinctive and still had a bit of an intrepid element to it.

The image of these trips that other tour operators were selling all seemed so outdated and boring. Nothing seemed to speak to me as a single guy in my 30’s at all. It was obvious there was a big gap and the needs of solo travellers in their 30s and 40s were being ignored by the travel industry. The group tour industry was catering to budget backpackers or luxury holidays were scoped to people aged sixty and over.

Read more: Why every man should take a sabbatical

Fast forward two years and I’m finally on my first ever group tour – an epic adventure through the wilds of Myanmar. So had I finally managed to find my own ideal tour operator? Of course not. I just set up my own company instead.

Flash Pack is an outfit that wants to redefine group travel as a cool, lifestyle choice for busy professionals.

Covering group trips to destinations as diverse as ColombiaPeru and Philippines, I found myself with a genuine business success on my hands. Though there was one element which I wasn’t expecting, in that I didn’t realise just how much more popular Flash Pack trips would be with women!

Hiking Rainbow Mountain in Peru

If you’re a single man and you want to meet new people and share adventures then this really is great. I still go on a lot of the Flash Pack trips myself and I have to say that I’ve never craved male company or banter. It’s starting to make me wonder what single men are actually doing on their annual leave. I worry that they’re wasting it faffing around at home or going to too many weddings!

Read more: 5 great reasons to travel with strangers

With Flash Pack growing by 400% each year since it began, I think a lot of the success down to the fact that, with my partner Radha Vyas, we have the first-hand experience of being on disappointing group trips as guests. So we know exactly what male and female solo adventurers can’t stand and what really works.

Lee Thompson selfie

On top of Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio

When I first met Radha she asked me if I would ever go on a group tour and I scoffed at the idea immediately. It was only by us asking ourselves what other single people are doing about this issue, and investigating the market, that we managed to find an answer.

Read more: 9 Epic Experiences for travellers over 30

For the man with the restless spirit in his soul who has grown out of backpacker hostels but isn’t quite ready for an all-inclusive family resort, then the Flash Pack vision for how travel should be for 30 and 40-somethings has truly resonated.

I suppose it all comes down to asking yourself one question as a man –  Do you want to stay at home? Or do you want to experience the world in the company of adventurous women and men all searching for the next unique experience?

Suitcase packed…Case closed.

Images: Flash Pack, Lee Thompson



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