What to Expect as a Solo Traveler on a Group Adventure

August 8, 2019 by Jessica Jones

I feel lucky that my wanderlust has taken me to so many magical places. I’ve seen sunrise over the Mekong Delta, found myself in a sea of fuzzy baby penguins, held ancient manuscripts so beautiful you could cry, and danced till three a.m. at an underground club in Cusco. Like I said, lucky! Looking through my travel photos, you’ll see me smiling and laughing with friends from the summits of mountains and the backs of bicycles, so folks are often surprised when they hear that I usually travel solo.

I had the best time getting to know Sharon as we hiked the Via Francigena in Tuscany.

It’s not that I lack for traveling companions. When you’re traveling with someone, it’s just too easy to get trapped in a bubble. You talk together on the train, at meals, in the lobby of your hotel. Meeting people is a big part of why I love travel, and one of the best ways I’ve found to make connections with like-minded wanderers has been by joining a group trip. I enjoy the security of knowing the major details are taken care of. I don’t have to worry about finding a ride to the hotel or trying to navigate the airport in a jetlagged haze—I know that everything will be ready and waiting for me when I arrive.

Exploring Australia with new friends Bernadette and Kira.

I’ve found that my guides are dedicated to making solo travelers like me feel part of the group from the very first day. After all, they’re usually solo travelers themselves and getting to know them has been one of the highlights of my trips. They’re usually charismatic, natural storytellers with a ready joke, piece of advice, or bit of encouragement exactly when you need it. I’ve known some of my guides for so long that I’ve watched as they’ve fallen in love, had kids, and done some epic exploring of their own.

Exploring ruins of ancient water systems in Ecuador with my guide Eduardo.

Right from that first dinner, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you start to bond with your fellow travelers. No matter where they come from, it turns out that simply having a shared love of travel really brings people together. And as a foodie, meals are probably the best part of traveling solo on a group trip! Often dinners are served family-style so that you can pass dish after dish of local specialties and get to try absolutely everything. Seated around a big family table, it’s a great time to share stories and talk about highlights from the day.

My safari guide in South Africa had the best stories (and the best smile)!

I prefer active trips, especially hiking trips. I love how we naturally break into smaller groups based upon everyone’s preferred speed that day. Whether you’re leading the charge at the front of the pack or stopping to smell the roses, you know that you can hike at your own pace with other people who want the same thing. Since there are usually at least two guides, I never have to worry about missing out on what the other hikers might be learning about the history or geology of the area.

Exploring the rainforests of Thailand with my travel buddy Lauren—we were both solos on our first trip together!

I’ve made life-long friends with people I first met on a trip. I still stay in touch with the folks I met over Thanksgiving in Nepal—way back in 2011! I regularly chat with Anna, Maggie, Carlos, and Vivien, friends I met while on safari in South Africa. We often talk about taking another trip together—this time as friends.

About the Author Jessica Jones

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