A Social Experiment (Part 3): The Conclusion

Travel is so much better with curious, congenial friends with a great sense of humour. If that’s not possible, make new friends with the people you meet.

Anonymous

WHO’S TAKING YOU TRAVELLING?

I recently posted this picture on our facebook page, it’s just one of those harmless fun games. Many people were tagging friends and family in jest, thanking them for their impending trip around the world. 

However, one lady commented that NO way would she go anywhere with the last person who had sent her a text.  She stated,

‘Travel is so much better with curious, congenial friends with a great sense of humour. If that’s not possible, make new friends with the people you meet.’

She nailed it.

Clearly her last text was from someone who didn’t fall into that category.

THE EXPERIMENT

But what if you don’t have congenial friends available to go travelling with?

Without a doubt there is an increase in the number of people who have this problem. They may have a partner and/or plenty of friends but not necessarily someone to go travelling with.

This prompted me to take part in a social experiment; I wanted to see what it is like to travel on my own and join a group of strangers on a tour. 

My tour was a seven-day active adventure through the north island of New Zealand with 15 other people.

You can read the background story here.

What did I learn?

USE A GOOD TOUR COMPANY

If you want to go on a tour, pick one that suits your needs, budget and equally as important their company values match your own. 

Ask your travel agent and friends what they know about the company. Check out reviews and scan their website beyond just the tour you are doing.  Do they care about sustainability, do they care about the communities you are visiting or is it just a ‘bring and brag’ set up? 

I didn’t do anywhere near the amount of research I would normally do for a client when booking this tour.  However, I used a tour company who I knew well, their company values aligned with mine and the price and timing worked perfectly.  I was in. 

USE A TRAVEL AGENT WHO LISTENS TO YOU

I was chatting to a couple of girls at the airport, they were fun, fit, independent girls around 30 years of age.  Last year they wanted to go to NZ and their travel agent sent them on a coach tour.  My jaw nearly hit the ground; it was not rocket science to know this was not the ideal holiday for them.  They came home frustrated.

A good travel agent should listen to what you are looking for, keep within your budget and find something that will suit your needs/interests. 

BE YOURSELF

If you’re travelling alone, nobody knows you, they have no preconceived ideas of who or what you are, they judge you purely on what they see. This is your chance to really be yourself or the self you want to be.

Our tour guide gave a perfect example of this, he had to be confident, firm and fair, this is not easy when you are the youngest person in the group.

He told me his schoolteachers would never believe it if they saw him now.  As a child, he was painfully quiet and shy, and this continued on into young adulthood.

In his early 20s he went on a six-week tour of SE Asia, taking himself completely out of his comfort zone.  He was tired of being the shy one; he believed he missed out due to his lack of confidence.

However, on this tour, no-one knew him, no-one was going to judge him or question him if he wasn’t being the same shy person he’d always been.  In those six weeks, he taught himself, or forced himself, to be confident and out-going.  He formed new habits; he shed his shackles of shyness and flourished into the confident young man who now, took control of our group.

So, be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

CHOOSE TO FIT IN

I use the word ‘choose’ mindfully.

Probably of most concern to a solo traveller is ‘will I fit in?’ 

There is always the concern others on the tour will form their own groups and you are left a bit stranded.

If you are travelling as a couple you always have each other as a backup, but if you are on your own, you have no one to turn to if the group doesn’t gel.

Before departure, doubts may run through your mind.  The easiest way to alleviate this fear is to ask the tour operator or travel agent about the basic demographics of the group.  They can do this for you.  They can give you an idea on gender split, rough ages of the group and how many other solo travellers there are – don’t ever assume you’ll be the only one.

Your holiday destination might be fantastic but fitting in with the group is going to help you enjoy your time even more. No one can guarantee you a good time – a lot of it depends on your attitude, hence I use the word, ‘choose’ to fit in. 

And remember there is often (if not always) that one person in each group who needs to grumble, they are determined to find the negative and therefore unable to enjoy themselves. 

If you remember nothing else, remember just this . . .

DON’T BE THAT PERSON!

4 Responses
  1. Alison Beitzel

    Great read Suzanne,

    I committed to a 3 week trip away last year with Icon Adventures, venturing away without hubby or family. Met so many lovely people it was amazing.
    I left my comfort zone, best thing ever.

    1. Icon Adventures

      It’s funny how so often when we leave our comfort zone the magic really does begin. And boy did we have fun on that 3 weeks in South America!!!

  2. Candy Norris

    Yes indeed, a great read Suzanne. On my first overseas trip in my early 20’s, my travelling partner dumped me. I, like your young tour guide, was extremely shy but decided a tour was easier than travelling on my own. I found myself travelling solo on a 3 week Contiki tour of Scandinavia and Russia – it was the best thing I have ever done. I have subsequently dived onto a 3 month London-Kathmandu trip and a 3 month round Sth USA solo. Travelling solo opens us up to more possibilities than being “safe” with a friend and others include a solo traveller when perhaps they might not include a “couple”. Pros and cons to both solo and travelling with a friend – as long as we are travelling, all is good!

    1. Icon Adventures

      What a great story, Candy! I love how travel, at any age, is so transformative. I truly believe travel is about connections; connection to the people around us, to the destination, to the environment and finally to ourselves. When we push ourselves out of our comfort zone and make connections we may not necessarily have made, this is when we grow and learn what we are really capable of. It’s heady stuff!

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