Real tales of adventure, told by real Flashpackers. This piece is written by a member of our incredible Flash Pack community. To share your own Flash Pack story, drop us a DM on Instagram and we’ll be right there.
Dear future Flashpackers,
My name is Melissa and I’m from the US state of Georgia. I travelled to Australia with Flash Pack in 2018. I was 42 at the time and VERY single, and I wanted adventure more than anything in the world.
Being in this age bracket, travelling with friends isn’t easy. Most of my friends are married with children, and have completely different responsibilities to me. I didn’t want circumstances to hold me back, however, so I tried joining a (non-Flash Pack) group travel experience.
Alone and overlooked
The guided tour I first joined was geared towards families and honeymooners, rather than someone travelling solo. They had no idea how to deal with me, and sat me on a bus all by myself.
I had my own hotel room, most of the time I ate alone a lot – unless we happened to have a group dinner scheduled. Needless to say, it was NOT a fun experience; it felt horrible. They made no special arrangements for me knowing that I was travelling solo.
The guide on the tour was not friendly or warm in any way, I was by myself and I felt completely alone because nobody really took me under their wing. My fellow travellers were nice, but they were with their families, making memories together. I know it wasn’t me, it was just the circumstances.
Travelling completely alone as a woman was a scary thought for me. But I knew I never wanted to travel with a generic guided tour again. When I came across Flash Pack’s ad on Instagram it was like a gift sent from God.
A different kind of adventure
The first thing that I would like to say about Flash Pack is that anyone who’s travelling alone should try this experience. In terms of planning a vacation, it is so easy: everything is done and ready for you. EVERYTHING Flash Pack even arranged our pick up and drop offs at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about anything; it was worth every cent I spent.
Even before the Australia tour began, Flash Pack introduced everyone via WhatsApp so we could chat before the adventure, and get to know each other as we talked about what we were looking forward to. It was just a fun and easy way to break the ice. Knowing everything was taken care of – with details such as these – was a huge weight off my shoulders. This experience has changed so many things in my life.
When I decided to jump into Flash Pack solo travel adventure, naturally my previous experience of a group travel tour meant that I felt scared. I was scared that I would be ostracised again. That everything I went through before, I would go through again – the feeling was like I was about to start middle school all over again. That I was the awkward fat kid who sat in the back of the class.
I didn’t know anybody, I was terrified, shy, scared, completely out of my comfort zone, and scared I wasn’t going to make any friends.
I was so shy. I was completely against being in front of the camera. That was the first thing I stated after I introduced myself to my Flash Pack Australia group. We all went around the circle to introduce ourselves. When it was my turn I stood up and said… “Hello my name is Melissa, I’m 42, from Georgia and I do not want my photo taken!”
That is how I introduced myself to the whole new group of people and hopefully potential friends. Our pack leaders Conrad and Rhen were so understanding, gentle and sweet with my self-consciousness; and with everything that came with me being afraid of being in front of the camera. They both made me feel so comfortable, included and wanted.
After the very first day, I ended up being in every single photo they took! Because of them and that adventure, I now embrace getting my photo taken, and being in front of a camera instead of hiding behind one. Their understanding and the gentle way they handled my feelings for myself meant that that small moment alone began a new path for me. It transformed how I saw myself in the mirror and in front of the camera.
Heart, mind and soul
What it means to be a Flashpacker to me is being open-minded, curious, and willing to try new adventures that take you out of your comfort zone. Your experience with Flash Pack will open your mind, heart, body and soul to new people who are completely different than you – people that you would normally never meet. But they are still just as like-minded as you are.
The people on our Australia adventure were so wonderful, we laughed all the time. Because of all the fun games that Conrad and Ren had us play on the bus while travelling to every destination, we all got to know each other and understand each other.
We laughed at dinner, we laughed on the bus, we laughed while we were on the mini-adventures. I don’t stay in touch with everybody but I do stay in touch with a good amount. I wouldn’t have changed anything about this trip or anyone on this trip. Everyone contributed something different to the experience.
And thanks to that Flash Pack adventure, I now have the greatest travel partner any girl could ever ask for – my now best friend, Dina. Dina and I hit it off immediately in Australia, and spent every waking moment together.. We laughed together, we joked around together, and we got dressed up and went out together. She and I were instantly friends, from the first hello. We have been inseparable ever since.
A best friend for life
Dina lives in California and I’m based in Georgia (around a four-hour flight away). So we travel back and forth to see each other, and have explored so much of our home cities together. Dina calls it “being a tourist in your own city”.
We also travelled across Europe together during the summer of 2019 for over a month, and then a road trip across the United States together during the summer of 2021; again for over a month. And it’s all thanks to Flash Pack.
I was beyond blessed to get a best friend out of this experience. I also stay in touch with many of the other people I travelled with, too. We stay connected through social media, which is amazing. We see pictures, and videos of what is happening now. I have seen one friend have a baby, one start a business, one get her first house, one find a new job abroad, one get married, and I myself shared my 60lb weight-loss journey with them via social media.
There’s not one single moment that I would erase from my experience with Flash Pack adventures. I highly recommend travelling with this top-rated company. The customer service was impeccable and they went out of their way to make sure we were safe, happy, and got everything we wanted and expected – plus so much more.
Flash Pack provides you with life-long memories, stories to tell and long-distance friendships you will never forget. Not least a new best friend and travel buddy for life!
Flash Pack’s adventure to Australia is not currently running, but you can check out our full suite of live adventures right here, from Bali to Croatia and beyond.
Photos: With thanks to Melissa Capocci.