Once upon a time, group travel got a bad rap. This, we imagined, was the domain of stale coach trips and a languid, “through-the-window” brand of tourism. Of guests who have nothing in common, being led around by a guide with a giant inflatable finger.
Then wanderlusters Lee and Radha came along, and conjured up a whole new concept. This new vision was all about like-minded people who actually get on – a group of solo travellers united in their passion for great adventure. Of trips that really gets under the skin of the place, with local hotels and bold, authentic experiences.
In this new blueprint, group travel is not just about safety and security. It’s also the starting point for dazzling adventures, and delicious friendships – of the kind you’ll struggle to find by yourself. Put simply: it’s a recipe for all that is new, unique and dynamic about life.
Sound like your bowl of phở? Here are some unsung perks of this new type of group travel, to light you up from within.
1. Group travel breaks you out of your comfort zone
As a traveller, you have three broad options: travel with people you know, travel on your own or travel with strangers. The last choice is possibly the most daunting of the trio – because you simply don’t know what you’re getting into. Who are you to say that the people you travel with will actually be nice? That they’ll have a similar attitude to adventure as you, or share your values or curiosity for the world at large?
So, group travel is a major leap of faith – but the good news is, it’s worth it. Since our community is made up of like-minded souls of a similar age and life stage, Flashpackers often tell us that their groups are not just good; they make the adventure. They’re the reason people book again, and keep coming back for more.
Because there’s nothing more satisfying than dipping your toe into the unknown – and finding out that the experience is not just OK, but more fun and uplifting than you could ever have believed.
2. Group travel revamps your friendship circles
It’s no secret that our friendship circles narrow as we get older – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As we head into our 30s and 40s, we tend to get more discerning about the people we hang out with, and prune according to those who really count. Still, the one advantage that the younger lot (e.g. students) have, is that they come across lots of new faces in daily life. They’re not too set in their ways.
Group travel is a chance to press reset on the people you know, and surround yourself with. It’s an opportunity to look beyond your loved ones – that wise/ worldly/ wayward lot you call friends – and meet yet more wise/ worldly/ wayward or whoever-your-type-is people to vibe with.
3. Group travel broadens your world view
Running on from the previous point is another lovely reality: that new people will shake up your world and give you a whole new range of opinions to draw from. Because let’s face it, much as you love Tom and Jaz, or whoever your go-to folks are, you could probably recite their views on anything from pub roasts to Brexit in your sleep. That bone-deep familiarity is, in fact, why you love them.
And yet – it’s always fun to mix things up. Group travel will bring you face-to-face with people from all walks of life. People you might never come across in your normal existence, in the neighbourhood or job you’ve been in for years. Better still, sharing a global adventure gives you time in the real world – away from all your usual demands – to really get to know these new people with their fresh ideas and perspective. So while you’re broadening your world in a physical sense, you’re doing the same for your mind as well. How great is that?
4. Group travel means you can try on a new version of yourself
One of the delights of long-time friends or family is that they know you inside out. That knowledge is so comforting – but it can also be stifling. We go through so many layers of experience in life, and travel is a golden chance to try on new sides of yourself that you weren’t aware of before.
Maybe your loved ones know you to be risk-averse, but you’re actually pretty bold when it comes to, say, swimming with octopi in the kelp forests of the Cape Peninsula, or hiking a backdoor route to the ancient kingdom of Petra, Jordan. Perhaps you’ve always had a reputation in your circle for being “the Monica” – a little uptight, or obsessed with detail – but group adventure taps into that relaxed inner koala you never knew existed.
“Being with a new group of people gives the opportunity to practise new ways of being,” psychotherapist Karin Peeters tells Flash Pack.“I don’t mean being fake. I mean being more yourself than you’d ever dare being with those who know you, and have already formed their opinion of you. Feel the new-ness of the situation, and the fresh energy it brings.”
5. Group travel reignites your appetite for life
Above all, it’s the novelty of group travel that makes it such a goddamn elixir. When you choose to explore the world together with people you don’t know – but who fast become friends – it’s like putting a fresh coat of paint on your life.
In a moment, routines that were a little “meh”, or jobs that lacked gusto, are replaced by something shiny, daring and deliciously new. The people you travel with on a group adventure will challenge your worldview. The experience of being in a group will push you to do things you probably wouldn’t try if you were alone – things like ice-hiking an Argentinian glacier, or staying on your own private island in the depths of Finnish Lapland.
All these incredible experiences, shared with a new group of people you barely know, means you’ll look out at the world with fresh eyes. And the real beauty is, the newness of it all comes with a supercharged effect – so when you return to your everyday life, you’ll be inspired with new ideas, or different ways of tackling challenges that previously held you back. What’s not to love?
Join Flash Pack on a group travel adventure and amp up your life: check out our destinations right here.
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