How bringing my friend on an Intrepid trip brought us closer together 

written by Liisa Ladouceur May 27, 2024
two women sitting together sipping tea

Good friends who make good travel buddies are keepers. Here’s the truth about what to expect when you take a group trip with your bestie.

I’ll admit it. I’m the annoying travel friend. That person who is always talking about my last trip, my next trip and trying to get everyone I know to come along on an adventure. Ever since my first Intrepid trip, I’m also the one talking up the benefits of small group trips. I don’t actually need anyone to come with me –that’s the beauty of joining an Intrepid trip. I just want the people I care about to have good times in their lives, and some of the best times I’ve had have been on these tours. 

Finally, after years of my proselytising, the timing was right. A girlfriend, Carolyn, and I were going to Jordan together.

We had both been dreaming of visiting Petra since seeing it in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, had “floating in the Dead Sea” on our travel bucket lists and could take the same vacation days. She was also one of my favourite people to travel with but had moved across the country, so we’d not seen each other as much lately as I would like. Explore Jordan was the perfect trip with the perfect pal. 

As exciting as that was (and I can tell you that it was very exciting), a few things made me nervous. 

Would Carolyn enjoy the small group tour experience as much as I? I did feel responsible for hyping it up. Would I get to meet as many interesting people?

This would be my fourth trip with Intrepid, and I had become quite comfortable with throwing myself into the company of strangers from around the world. Having dinner conversations with doctors and photographers and retired archeologists and people who seen Antarctica doesn’t happen in my everyday life. I wanted to make sure I still had that experience even while travelling with a friend. I also worried a bit about time to myself, which is important for me while travelling. 

I didn’t need to worry at all. Here’s what I learned from joining an Intrepid tour with my friend and how it brought us closer to together.  

a group of travellers smiling for a photo in wadi rum

Our fun started on the first day. The group wouldn’t meet until dinner, so we had a free afternoon in Amman. In the past when I arrived early I would take a nap, jump in the hotel pool or maybe walk around the block to find snacks, but it was cool to have a buddy to safely explore the city with.

I wanted to do a DIY walking tour of street art while Carolyn wanted to meet up for high tea with a colleague who relocated to Amman. So we did both. I got to see two very different parts of this country before the trip even started, and practise one of my essential tips for travelling with friends: say yes to other people’s suggestions. 

The welcome meeting is always so interesting. You don’t know who will be in your group in advance, but you can be sure it’s a fascinating mix of like-minded travellers. I have been one of several solo travellers in a group, and I have also been the only person not travelling with a partner or family member. It always worked out and I’ve never felt like a third wheel. But it’s human nature for duos to cleave off at times, and I’ve noticed people who arrive together tend to sit together, so my friend and I split up on opposite sides of the table, where we’d be less likely to just talk amongst ourselves.

I can’t imagine a single other person who would surprise me when I was wilting by pulling out a pan flute in the middle of the ancient ruins of Jerash and serenading me, accompanied by local musicians.

It was a great way to meet our tripmates right away. We would use this seating tactic often over the next eight days, at restaurants or on the drives in our private van. Which brings me to another fave travelling tip that worked out perfectly on a small group trip: don’t be afraid to split up. 

I’ve found that no matter how much you love your travel companion, everyone has their “moments” when you get tired, or hangry, and might need a break from one another. And even when you’re getting along great 24/7, there are times when you have different sleeping schedules, stamina or interests.

On a group tour there’s always someone else to hang out with, and I took advantage of that on the very first night. After the group dinner Carolyn headed back to our room while I joined a few of my new tripmates for drinks. If we were travelling alone, I would have gone back to my room too. Instead, I had the chance to check out the nightlife on Amman’s famed Rainbow Street, where we found a cool bar decked out in neon lights to enjoy non-alcoholic cocktails and tea and the first of many great conversations. 

No, I’m not going to write only about the ways in which my friend and I split up on our trip. Because the true joy of this tour was the moments we shared together. 

One of the highlights of our Explore Jordan itinerary was two nights’ camping in Wadi Rum. The landscape in this desert is out of this world, and one of the things I was most looking forward to on the trip was sleeping under the stars here. Except on the first night, it rained. Such is nature. And our Bedouin-style tents were very cosy. But on the second night, Carolyn was determined. No matter how cloudy or cold, as long as it wasn’t raining we would take advantage of the open-air sleeping area just outside our tents.

two best friends in the wadi rum posing for a photo

It was cloudy again, I was tired and I know that if she wasn’t there to literally drag my sleeping bag out for me, I would have wimped out. Instead, I had one of the best nights in my life, waking up to clear dark skies and a universe of stars above. We were the only ones from our group out there. We ooohed and aaahed and giggled like kids and I feel so lucky to have shared that moment with someone who will be in my life when I’m old so I can say “remember that time?” and relive it all over again. 

There are so many reasons why being on a group tour with a friend was a great way to travel. We could share different dishes to try more local food. Spread sunscreen or Dead Sea mud on each other’s backs. And we could cheer each other up with stupid jokes when the heat was zapping our energy. Okay, that was mostly her.

I can’t imagine a single other person who would surprise me when I was wilting by pulling out a pan flute in the middle of the ancient ruins of Jerash and serenading me, accompanied by local musicians. It makes me laugh out loud just to think of it now and I imagine it will forever. 

Could we do these things if we were just the two of us? Maybe. But the benefits of an organised tour meant that we didn’t need to waste any time figuring out bus schedules or lining up for tickets or other things that can make you cranky on the road. Instead, we could use that time to truly be together, have deep conversations, enjoy the adventure and make more memories that will last a lifetime.  

I originally signed up for a small group tour when none of my friends had the same wish list, schedule or budget for travel. What I learned this time was that even when friends can join you on a trip, it’s still a great way to see the world. And I’m not sorry that I will now be hassling the rest of my friends to come on the next one. 

Find an adventure to take with your bestie and make memories that last a lifetime.

Feeling inspired?

You might also like

Back To Top