December 9, 2023

Why I Loved My Experience with Group Travel

Travel is sacred to me. I’ve been traveling solo or with a partner for years, never having dipped my toes into group travel. With the abundance of social mediums, however, I discovered a person a while ago that I have been following. She seemed (from social) to be down to earth, likable, and I liked her vibe overall. I’d been watching these group travel trips she would lead all over the world and decided it may be time for me to try it out myself. When she announced a European Christmas Market tour, my husband and I decided to jump on the chance. We put our deposit for the trip down almost a year in advance, which was both nice and scary, and then we waited. My experience on this trip was like none other I’ve been on, and I’ll tell you why I loved it. I’m not giving up solo travel, but this group thing gave me more to think about. Here's why.

At a Castle I Would Never Have Gone to without the Group Trip

The Majority of the Itinerary is Planned

For a person who spends countless hours on itinerary and activity planning, group travel was very different for me. My trips are not rigid and overflowing with nonstop things to do, but I map out options for myself. When I say I didn’t look at a single thing before the trip started, I’m not lying. Part of that was because I’d been to two of the three cities in the past decade, so I wasn’t totally unfamiliar. But I loved having things planned that I most certainly wouldn’t have planned myself. It took the guesswork and hours of research out of it, and that was quite fun, if I’m being honest. Some of the activities didn’t interest me so I skipped, but mostly I was impressed with the ones we did and I liked.

Lindsay and Me on the Final Night

You Meet New People

This was one of the most anxiety-driving factors for me regarding group travel. Not only am I an introvert, I generally dislike being around groups of people. As the trip got closer, I wondered what on earth I could’ve been thinking when I signed up for this. After meeting the group, though, I could breathe. Everyone seemed pretty normal, quite nice, and around our age. During the trip, little micro groups naturally formed, which was nice especially for the solo travelers. To our great surprise, there were two other couples on the trip, giving us some opportunity to get to know them. When you’re with a solid guide who has a solid group trip following, it makes it more assuring that other great people who attend will be palatable. That was accurate in this case, and I’m so glad I did my research with our guide, Lindsay.

Krampus and Me, Before I Got Whipped

Insider Scoop with a Local Guide

I don’t know exactly how the trip companies pair guides up, but they did a bang up job with Lindsay and our local guide, Vanessa. Their practicality and professionalism were really awesome to experience. The group's and my personal connection with Vanessa was also phenomenal. She had some scoop on an intimate concert at a venue in Vienna where the musicians played classical music (featured photo). It was my second favorite thing we did. The first was the Krampus run in Salzburg that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to top. I have so much gratitude for the way the trip companies set up this partnership. Even if it was pure luck, I consider myself a very lucky lady. Now I’m trying to convince Vanessa to come to the states - my guest bedroom is calling her. Group travel at its best!

Drinking Glühwein at a Market 

Got Out of My Comfort Zone

My comfort zone is relying on myself for so much. I’ve never been great or comfortable at asking for help or assistance, so group travel was hard for me to embrace. Yes, I was paying these people to plan my trip, but it still felt weird. The minute we walked into the hotel from a long day of travel, Lindsay met us with her big, beautiful smile. She made us feel like we were all old friends meeting up for a good time. It helped that we followed each other for about a year before meeting in person, but apprehension is always there until it’s not. The whole trip was out of my comfort zone, and now I look forward to the next one. When I wrote about it in my newsletter, a single friend reached out and said it sounds like something she would like. None of her friends can/want to travel abroad, but why should that stop her? Guess what? She is booked for her first group travel trip! Book the trip and don't look back.

Finally Some Time Alone to Snap Photos!

Flexible Schedule

You don’t have to do all the things they plan for you. That was key for me, as some days or times of the day I want to go off with my camera and just walk. They made it crystal clear at the beginning that that was perfectly acceptable, and I took advantage of it. My guess is that I did around 65% of the activities they planned, but the rest of the time I wanted to separate. If you’re a bit of an introvert, or you just don’t like something then you want flexibility. I also wanted to continue to build my photo collections, so it was important to me to have solo time. Group travel can provide that if you’re on the right trip. There will naturally be delays or issues that pop up throughout the trip, so flexibility all around is a key component to group travel. Don’t be afraid to take space while traveling in a group. Just let the guide know so they don’t send the national guard to find you.

Christmas Markets Galore

Group Travel Success

Since this was my first rodeo with group travel, I really claim to be no expert. This is my one and only experience thus far, but I am very pleased with it. I am a hard nut to crack when it comes to relinquishing control. This, however, exceeded my expectations. The entire trip I took stock of how I felt, whether it was something I liked or didn’t like. This group trip has definitely sold me on future travels, and I know now that if I want to go to a particular destination and no one I know does as well, Lindsay is always going to be there for me. Until she decides she is sick of leading us goofballs around, that is. If you’re considering a group trip, I say go for it. Choose your guide and/or company carefully, and things will fall into place. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. If not, don’t come at me!
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