Dear future Flashpacker,
My name’s Liz, I’m in my thirties and I became a Flashpacker on my adventure to Argentina in 2019. Nervous about group travel? I got you. Not sure about the people? I get it. Wondering if you could do it better solo? I asked myself the same thing. But give me ten minutes of your time and I’ll tell you why taking the plunge on a group adventure could be just about the best decision you make this year.
Take the first step
For me, group travel was an unplanned, happy discovery, after having been given a sabbatical at the company I’d worked at for eight years. I was at a point in my life where I’d worked really hard and I decided I wanted to travel, take a little time off and just do a few things. I’m sure you know how I felt.
I’d always wanted to go to South America, but my friends couldn’t get the time off work. And I didn’t really want to travel alone because I didn’t know anyone there. But a friend of mine told me that a friend of hers had traveled with this company called Flash Pack to South America. I hadn’t heard of Flash Pack. But when I spoke to her, she told me all about this incredible trip, with the best group of people from all over the world. She was actually doing a reunion with them the following weekend in New York City. And she said, “Liz, I know it might seem a little bit different doing group travel when you’re used to traveling with your friends. But I’m telling you, it was incredible. It’s like-minded people and it’s great.”
I literally hung up the phone with her, picked my dates and signed up for Argentina with Flash Pack there and then.
Take the leap of faith
It’s a little scary to think about group travel with people you don’t know. What if I don’t like them? What if they don’t like me? What if my roommate’s terrible? I’d had a strong recommendation but I was still nervous about putting my money and my time into something new like this. And it was so funny because the minute I started meeting people and we went through the week, I ended that week thinking, “thank goodness for Flash Pack.” More on why further down.
I was also a little bit nervous about sharing a room. But everybody on my adventure actually chose to share a room and I thought, you know what? I don’t want to be left out of the group. I’m just going to go and get stuck in. And if it’s bad, I’ll figure it out. My roommate turned out to be the absolute best. She was a doctor from Scotland, and every morning she would make sure I was out of bed at the right time. She was incredible.
It’s going to surprise you, these people are going to be wonderful.Liz, Flashpacker
Future Flashpacker, the unknown is scary. But what you have to remember is also what you’ll be doing together. It’s solo travelers in their 30s and 40s, just like you. You stay in boutique hotels and all of the activities you do are off-the-beaten-track, but well-known enough to be things you’d want to do if you went to your destination solo.
Group adventure may feel like a leap of faith, but you’ll get to discover the country you really want to see, do the things you really should do when you go there, and then the people will just take it to a whole new level. I’m so thankful I had someone there to provide a strong recommendation for me, so I’m here to do the same for you.
Fall in love with the people
The people you’ll meet are very like-minded. They’re solo travellers. They want to experience something new. And they’re in the same place of not having anyone to go with. It’s going to surprise you actually, these people are going to be wonderful, and it’s just going to be the best experience. I’ve got first-hand evidence of this.
On your adventure, there’ll be a really nice balance of free time and planned, hard-to-do-by-yourself experiences. In the free time you can do whatever you like, on your own or with others. On my trip to Argentina, the whole group was really inviting about what they were doing and a smaller group would always go do it together. Throughout the whole trip that happened. Everybody would wake up in the morning and we’d have the WhatsApp group going; who’s doing what, who’s going where.
And by the end, a lot of people wanted to be together. Having hiked in the mountains together and drank at wineries in Mendoza together, we wanted to share the same experiences because we’d laugh so hard throughout. We wanted to share our memories together. And I think it was because we found such like-minded people. We enjoyed each other’s company. And it’s so weird to think eight days prior, we’d never even known each other.
Trust me on this, you might think the destination is going to be the best bit – and it’s going to be incredible – but the people will make it just that little bit extra special.
Share the best experiences, together
The other thing is: I’ve traveled alone.
I’ve gone to the Colosseum and got a night tour for free on my own, then walked to a restaurant and had dinner in Rome by myself. There’s a part of that that was great. But I didn’t have anyone to say, “Oh my God, we just saw the dungeons of the Colosseum. We just got a night tour in the Colosseum. Like, could you even feel what it used to be like?”
When I went to Patagonia with my group, I experienced it with others. You share the memory. And the cool thing is, you might see something one way but somebody next to you might interpret it a completely different way. Or somebody next to you might say, “I’ve saved every penny of my life to be able to come here,” and you’re like, “Me too.” It’s magical.
There’s this cohesion between everybody when you’re in a Flash Pack group, because everyone has wanted to see that destination individually. But when you come together, it makes it such a richer, feel-good moment when everybody’s accomplishing something they’d always wanted to go see. You’re doing it with new friends and new people and you get to hear why it’s important to them and see the beauty they see.
For example, in Argentina, when we were in the Patagonia region, we hiked for two days. It was about 15 miles each day and it was beautiful. On the second day, our guides warned us it was rough terrain and, at first, only two people in our group were 100% in. But we all started talking, about how we were nervous and that we weren’t sure if we wanted to do this. But because of the group and those two people saying, “Listen, we’re going to do it. We’ve heard that it’s tough, but we think you could do it and we’re here to help you,” it ended up getting the majority of the group to go and it was one of the most beautiful, gorgeous scenic hikes we’d ever seen.
We walked through all these rocks – some people went at different paces, but the whole group would then stop and wait. We’d lift people up over some of the boulders. We’d sing some songs to get through and over them. At the top, we sat up there eating lunch in the stillness. You hear the crunch of people’s feet on the gravel and gasps of amazement. But we all felt this sense of accomplishment, and that this random group of people is what got us up here. It creates a soul soothing moment that says: this is why we love to travel. And this is why it’s such a great thing to go with people like you.
Do something you’ll never forget
I’ve never laughed so hard as I did in that Argentina group. I made the best memories, pushed myself in areas that I thought I couldn’t, doing things I thought I wouldn’t want to do. We did horseback riding, dancing and hiking. The group didn’t force me to do it, but it brought new ideas to me and they helped me get excited about them. If I’d have gone solo, I don’t know. I probably wouldn’t have had as many different experiences as I did.
Experiencing an adventure like this with new people pushes you out of your comfort zone, and it makes you grow. I grew in the best ways and reminded myself how great it is to not hold yourself back, to go experience the beautiful things in life and do the things you want to do. Because being with this group of individuals that I really, really grew to love over just a week and a half opened my eyes to so many different things. I remember thinking, “Flash Pack is one of the best things to happen to me.” Because it stopped me holding myself back.
Now being someone who’s gone through it, had some nerves about it and come out the other side, my take is that I’d do it again a hundred times over. I get why you might be hesitant, future Flashpacker, but you don’t need to be, not by one ounce. And if you’re in a place where you want to go see some more of the world and you want to go with others, I want you to know Flash Pack is the answer to it and you will have, I think, one hundred times more fun than going solo.