The solo travel bug came early for me, and the courage to act on it came much later.
In my teens and 20s, I daydreamed about going out into the world solo, yet my lack of courage to act on it held me back.
It wasn’t until my 30s that I did act on it. My first solo trip abroad was at the age of 32 with a group trip in New Zealand. I traveled with a group of awesome people I had never met from different parts of the world in the south island of NZ. After that positive experience, I never looked back.
Now in my 40s, this is my go-to mode of travel. I prefer solo travel, and a great way to do it is through a group experience either at the beginning of a trip, or for the whole duration. This summer, I did a group trip with Intrepid Travel in Portugal called Portugal Real Food Adventure, featuring Galicia. This trip starts at the end of the Camino trail in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and ends in one of my most favourite cities: Lisbon, Portugal.
Here’s more about it, along with the top 3 reasons why I prefer group travel when solo:
3. Your itinerary is already planned for you, including time on your own
With the Intrepid group trip in Portugal, we had a great schedule lined up for us each day. What I loved about the trip was the nice balance of solo time and time with the group. For example, on our first day in Porto we were given a general walking tour of key areas in the city and then had a group dinner. It gave us a general feel for the city and was made special thanks to our local leader, Isabel (who was an amazing guide and all-round person).
Porto is Isabel’s hometown, so she gave the group a few insider tips that we would never have found otherwise. Each morning, we had free time to explore on our own or with other people in the group. I really loved having that time to go back and see more of what had interested me in our walking tour.
2. People on your tour are like-minded and share similar interests
Our tour was food and wine-themed, and it attracted people who love food and wine as much as I do, so a comfortable rapport was established from the start. One dinner we had together stands out in my mind, when we went to the Alentejo Farmstay outside of Lisbon. We ate amazing food that was from the area, and exchanged stories, recipes, and had a few laughs about travelling mishaps!
I learned so much from the other people in the group, about their favourite wines, cooking tips and we had inspiring conversations about other places to travel to drink wine and eat food (of course!).
1. You meet interesting people that you may never would have met otherwise
One thing I love the most about traveling solo is that you are more open to meeting new people. It gets you out of your comfort zone and motivates you to get to know people who you would never cross paths with otherwise! In my Portugal group trip we came from four different countries all over the world, and were different ages that ranged from 35 to 60+.
My friends on the trip were wonderful people with different life perspectives, but we all shared a common bond: a love for travel.
It was a wonderful way to see the world and expand the perspectives from our daily lives.
Ready to explore the world via small group tour? Here’s everything you need to know about solo travel with Intrepid.
(All images courtesy of Liz Oke and taken on Intrepid’s Real Food Adventure in Portugal.)