Co-traveling is the new co-working: here’s why you need to be part of it

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With the freelance economy growing, co-working is having a zeitgeist moment. A global pandemic has only fuelled this trend, with the demise of the office leading more people to work flexibly in shared spaces – whether or not they’re self-employed. This new reality has posed the question: if we can work well with strangers, why not travel with them, too?

When border restrictions around the world eased, co-traveling also started to have its hour in the sun. Like sharing a workspace, co-traveling is all about engendering a community of like-minded souls. You travel the world together based on a mutual appreciation for all things adventure. And, it’s a no-strings arrangement. You can explore new countries exactly as you please, with the friendly back-up of a broad group of strangers. A group of people coming together from different places and backgrounds, but united via a shared passion for fun, free-wheeling travel. So, here’s everything you need to know about the co-traveling movement.

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Your co-travelers form a friendly, supportive base

The beauty of co-working is that you’re surrounded by other freelancers or small business owners just like you. They share the struggle of late payments, and are ready with tea and sympathy for the particular strains of freelance life. At the same time, they’re typically not your colleagues – and that’s a beautiful thing. Co-working cuts out the office politics. You’re not there because you report to anyone or feel obliged to act a certain way. It’s simply a blank slate for mutual support.

Co-traveling works in a similar style. The people you travel with are drawn together by a mutual love of adventure. They’ll share your thrill in tracking down that perfect bowl of phở in Hanoi’s Old Town, or in stumbling upon a tiny Colombian beach bar. They’ll be your drinking buddies on 15-hour train trips, your second opinion on whether to take a late-night cyclo — they’re the people who’ll keep you grounded during travel struggles. At the same time, there’s no shared history with them. Your co-travelers merely form a friendly, supportive base from which to navigate the world.

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We all bought our own individuality to the tour

Because there’s no expectation with co-traveling, you can simply turn up and meet people on your own terms. “You can just be yourself at whatever confidence level you find yourself on at the time of travel,” says Bella Stevenson, who traveled with Flash Pack to Sri Lanka. “All of us Flash Packers had different personalities, expectations and life experiences, but we all bought our own individuality to the tour and, in turn, created a group memory.”

Contrary to common perception, there’s no pressure to be loud or gregarious, either. “As an outgoing introvert (meaning I can do social situations but I definitely need some downtime, too), I was slightly concerned [about the group dynamic],” says Delphine Chui, a journalist who travelled with Flash Pack on a pop-up adventure to Scotland. “But really, I needn’t have been. At dinners, conversation flowed as freely as the wine and whisky.”

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Flash Pack seemed to take the hassle out of it all

Like co-workers, co-travelers tend to be an independent lot, drawn to one another through a shared interest (being self-employed, traveling the world). Yet, this common ground doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. “Sometimes a couple of hours just doing your own thing and having a meal by yourself is all you need to recharge,” says Debs Ashby, who joined Flash Pack in Jordan. “The beauty of Flash Pack is that this was totally fine. There were evenings when one or more of our group did not go to the dinner, choosing to have some alone time back at the hotel. No one thought it was strange or anti-social.”

Co-working takes the hassle out of setting up your workspace, and introduces you to other freelancers like you. Co-traveling does the same, in the form of adventure. “I’m single and fiercely independent. I live alone and run my own business, but I booked the Bali trip because Flash Pack seemed to take the hassle out of it all,” says co-traveler Paul Grey. “I didn’t want to spend hours at a screen researching different options, so [Flash Pack] is a trade-off between traveling with independence and autonomy, but also embarking on a trip that is formatted for you, as well as social.”

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A new group of people opens up a whole world of experience

Humans can also be creatures of habit. We see the same colleagues day in, day out. Socially, we gravitate towards the circles we always have. Typically, these circles get smaller as we age, but it’s only when we step out of these deeply ingrained norms that we see what we’re missing. Whether co-working or co-traveling, the chance to meet new people can be transformative in ways that you couldn’t have predicted. It’s a subtle process – perhaps you won’t even notice it at first – but suddenly you’ll be faced with new opportunities, ideas or ways of seeing the world.

“Going with a new group of people opens up a whole world of experience,” says co-traveler Craig Holiday, who joined Flash Pack in Peru. “Meeting people that you wouldn’t necessarily come across in normal life, making new friends, and meeting people from different countries. For me, it all adds to the experience.”

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Co-traveling is a way of meeting real people again

In the past, people were tied by tight-knit networks that lasted a lifetime. Generations of people lived together in the same home, and neighbors were intimately acquainted with one another’s business. On the other extreme, in today’s world, we can sometimes barely connect at all. Loneliness is at an all-time high, especially in urban areas, as we increasingly retreat behind screens. In an age of Instagram, we’re at risk of losing the thread of what genuine connection means.

Co-traveling finds a balance between these two spheres. It’s a way of meeting real people again. You have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships that are full of substance, and thrive on shared interests (travel, adventure, food, entrepreneurship). Yet, at the same time, these communities are fluid and flexible enough to accommodate modern life. When you’re co-traveling, you’re constantly making new connections – all in an easy going, no-pressure setting. Some will stay with you for life, others will fade away. As Lee Thompson, Flash Pack co-founder says, “When you travel with a group of people you don’t know, it’s just really good fun. It’s about sharing something incredible; something that might change your whole perception of life.”

Ready to join the co-traveling revolution? Join Flash Pack today with other like-minded travelers.

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveler like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

Images: Flash Pack

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