Solo Travel Is Not Always Alone
I never thought I would be the type of person who enjoys group travel. Collecting travel experiences on my own fueled my independent nature and drive for challenge. I have had amazing experiences and terrifying ones. I’ve found myself on the wrong train heading to a bad part of town in Paris, been stuck late at night in Italy without a hotel room, and felt so deeply lonely that I was planning to cut a trip short and go home. But I’ve also been invited for home-cooked meals by strangers, had friendly locals lead me back to safety, and met kind train conductors who made sure I got off at the right stop. For me, the good experiences outweighed the bad. So there was nobody more surprised than I was when I joined a group trip and discovered I liked it!
A Bali Experience
My first group trip was to a yoga retreat in Bali. Together we practiced yoga twice a day, rode bikes through rice paddies, toured temples, and shared most meals. Although I loved the friendships I developed, what surprised me the most was the sense of ease that being with a group afforded me. Since my itinerary was planned, I didn’t have to worry about navigating a foreign country alone or missing a must-see site or experience. With all the details taken care of, I felt more relaxed and a little safer. I was literally able to soften and just enjoy the country.
My next group travel experience was in Cuba. There were 10 of us: two couples and six solo women ranging in age from 35 to 75. With these demographics, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would we have anything in common? Would there be a distinct divide between couples and solos? Would the couples group together and sit at one end of the dinner table and the solo women at the other? As it turned out, any reservations I had were quickly put to rest. My fellow travelers were interesting, fun, intrepid people, and the group quickly bonded. It didn’t take long before we were drinking mojitos, dancing samba, smoking cigars, conversing about Cuban politics, and toasting to each other. Although there was some camaraderie among the solo women as we did rum shots and flirted with the local musicians in Havana, there was a common bond between all of us because we were all experiencing Cuba together.
Moroccan Road Trip
My group trip through Morocco was so epic in length I was sure it would shatter my positive view of group trips. We spent 19 days together on what I called our “Moroccan road trip.” The demographics were different from my group trip in Cuba: nearly all the travelers were solo women. This was also a smaller group (just eight of us) and it took a little longer to warm up to each other. But there’s nothing like spending hours on a bus together, seeing things that no one at home would ever believe—such as goats in trees and the stars of the Sahara night sky—to strip away the layers of personal armor.
We moved quickly through the country, but we always stopped to enjoy meals together—marveling at the sights of Morocco, sharing travel stories, and talking about life. After a few days it was clear that I was with some extraordinary people and I felt extremely fortunate not only to be in Morocco, but to be getting to know a group of inspiring women whom I never would have met otherwise.
Halfway through our 19 days, our adventure took us to Erg Chebbi desert camp in the Sahara. This was the highlight of the trip. We rode camels to our exclusive candlelit camp, sipped champagne as the sun went down, listened to local Berber music serenade us, watched stars and comets shoot across the night sky, and finally fell asleep lulled by the sound of nothing. For me, this was such a profoundly sacred and soul-expanding experience that I wanted a witness to make sure it was real. I needed to know that I wasn’t going to become a part of the midnight sky and fly away. I needed to feel grounded by others who were having a similar experience. It’s hard to explain, but these people, my group, became witnesses to a spectacular moment in my life and I know that if I see any of them again, all I will have to do is mention that night, that sunset, that sunrise, those sand dunes, and they will understand me.
I still plan to do some solo travel alone, but every now and then, especially when I want to go to a place that feels a little edgy, I will always, without hesitation, choose a group trip. And from my experience, I'm sure I won't be the only one.
# # # # #
Story Kirshman is the Director of Digital Marketing for GeoEx. When not practicing yoga in Bali, dancing in Cuba, or riding camels in Morocco, she is gazing out of the window at the GeoEx headquarters planning her next adventure.
To explore GeoEx's many options for group trips and custom journeys (tailor-made for you), browse our destinations. To see which group trips have especially attractive single supplement pricing, view our solo collection.