Group travel was a turning point for me. I now have friends all over the world

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It’s not often that you find yourself opening up about your life to people you’ve only just met. But that’s exactly what happened to me on Flash Pack’s group trip to Argentina earlier this year.

I booked the trip on a bit of a whim and had no idea what to expect. I was actually pretty nervous about the prospect of traveling with strangers. I’m at a stage in life where a lot of my friends are married or saving for a house, so organizing a trip together can be challenging

Group travel, on the other hand, opened up a whole new world to me. Everyone’s in the same boat, and from day one, everyone in our group bonded. In fact, our first evening together in Buenos Aires was an amazing experience.

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Our group dynamic felt really solid from the get-go

By way of an introduction to the country, we got together for an immersive dinner party at a local restaurant. We drank a lot of great wine and then we learnt how to make cocktails and local delicacies, like empanadas, together. 

Everything was brilliant; the vibe was so positive and the food was amazing. I remember telling my dad, who is a cattle farmer in Ireland where I grew up, that Argentina has the best steak I’ve ever had in my life.

I think we were lucky with our group because the dynamic felt really solid from the get-go. It didn’t matter who I was next to at dinner or on a walk, the conversation always flowed openly and easily. We were a pretty laid-back group, yet it also felt like we had come together at a point in our lives where we all had something going on.

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I was really struck by the amount of strong women in our group

I’ve spent the past four years working in corporate governance on the tropical island of Bermuda. Life is quite transient there and people are always coming and going. The social life revolves around the beach, watersports and socializing. You never really notice who’s married or who’s got kids. The focus is just on getting together at the beach, on a boat or for a game of squash or pickleball. People don’t really think about life or world events beyond the island itself. 

On my Flash Pack adventure, I was really struck by the amount of strong women in our group who were making bold decisions and living life on their own terms. Everyone had their own story and we were all happy to share our experiences and journey with the group. We were all navigating our own path, but it felt like a safe environment to open up, be vulnerable and share those experiences together.

I don’t know whether it’s because the trip itinerary was pretty intense, or that you end up getting more friendly, more quickly when you spend everyday together. But to me, the group felt non-judgemental and open-minded.

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Being part of a group structure helps stretch your comfort zone

I liked that everyone listened without judgement to each other’s experiences. It was a unique and special environment to be in.

Being part of a trusted group structure helps you break out of your comfort zone, too. I hadn’t researched the Argentina trip at all before I arrived, so I had no idea how tough the day-long hike to the Laguna de los Tres viewpoint in Patagonia would be. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know because I probably wouldn’t have done it – but I’m so glad I did reach the top. 

Most of the trail was fine and the views were stunning. But the last mile was relentlessly tough because it’s so steep. Every time you think you’ve reached the top, you look up and realize there’s further to go. But because we had this group mentality going, I didn’t want to give up. It was definitely both a mental and physical challenge for me.

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The locations were breathtaking in Argentina

Instead, we worked as a group and took on the challenge together. And everytime anyone reached the top of Mount Fitz Roy, they did so to huge cheers and roars of approval from the rest of the group already there. 

It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The cabin we stayed at nearby – the Laguna Condor Mountain Hut – was amazing, too. We all huddled around the log fire at the end of the day, surrounded by delicious food and these sweeping, no-filter Patagonian views. 

The locations were breathtaking in Argentina but above all, it was the people who made the trip. We had such a strong group of amazing, successful women. We shared some brilliant conversations, and I genuinely didn’t expect to open up in the way that I did. It felt like we’d known each other for a lifetime and not just two weeks. We all laughed so much and drank good wine, especially on the last night, having toured the vineyards of Mendoza.

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Having had my first taste of group trips, the more I want to do

I felt quite isolated during Covid but this trip was a turning point for me, in so many ways. Now I have friends all over the world and we’re already planning our next adventures together. In fact, some of us are going to meet up in the US this summer. I’m also hoping to meet some of the girls when I stop in London for a night on my way to Ireland at Christmas. 

Having had my first taste of group travel and meeting such brilliant people, I feel like I am much braver in life and willing to make bolder decisions going forward. And the more I travel in this way, the more I want to do. It has definitely ignited my passion for travel.

Karen Crowe is originally from Ireland but lives and works in Bermuda. She traveled with Flash Pack to Argentina

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: courtesy of Karen Crowe and Flash Pack

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