Traveling solo for the first time can be daunting. Traveling solo for the first time as a woman can be even more intimidating. Legacy news media perpetuates the worst-case scenarios of solo venturing and highlights the added dangers of doing so as a woman.
But then how come there are so many examples of women boldly and successfully solo traveling all over the globe? And why aren’t you among them?
These may be the thoughts that cross your mind when itching for a big adventure but don’t have a travel buddy to plan with. And it can be hard to take that leap toward adventuring alone.
Maybe you’re not quite comfortable with traveling ALONE, alone. Not yet, anyway.
But what if I told you that there’s a way to get a taste of the solo travel experience you’re looking for with the added comfort and benefit of traveling with others?
Small group tours are a great option for first-time solo travelers.
Here are some reasons why:
You don’t have to wait for schedules and interests to align with any of your travel partners
This is one of the biggest factors which prevent many people from traveling in the first place: Craving adventure, but not being able to line up schedules with those you wish to travel with.
Time is one of the only non-renewable resources we have, and it slips through our fingers so fast. If you’re waiting on the stars to align to be able to travel with your BFF or partner, you may never take that trip.
Joining a small group tour allows you to solo travel with other people to places you’re interested in and when it works for your schedule.
You’d be surprised how many in the group are traveling solo as well!
It takes the pressure off of itinerary planning
There’s a ton that goes into creating a memorable travel experience.
From booking activities, finding the perfect accommodations, mapping out different historic sites, determining the transportation to and from those sites, making restaurant reservations, and seeking out authentic, hands-on experiences— Itinerary design is a full-time job. (Just ask CTC founder, Tara.)
Joining a small group tour as a solo female traveler takes the immense pressure off of planning your day-to-day itinerary. With so much to think about during your first solo trip, taking the logistics off your plate can remove a bit of the stress around leaving home behind, alone, for a new destination.
Small group tours do the legwork of researching the destination and putting together your days in a way that allows you to experience the essence of a destination, its people, and its culture.
Just book your flight, pack your bag, show up, and enjoy the adventure.
You hone the skills required for your own solo travel adventures
Even though all the details of the itinerary are laid out for you ahead of time and you’ll join a small group of other travelers, you’re still taking the leap and traveling alone. And that takes courage, my friend. But courage comes before confidence, and confidence is one of the many benefits of traveling alone.
Some of the other skills (aka rewards) that are by-products of solo travel?
Waking up on time.
Being aware of your surroundings
Keeping your belongings light and organized
Patience and flexibility
Open-mindedness and acceptance
Relying on intuition
Being a good friend
Small group tours are the perfect container for developing the skills (and desire) for planning your own solo travel adventure next.
You meet some fantastic people and make new friends
Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of solo travel is the people you connect with.
During your first solo travel experience, you may be a bit reserved. When you’re in a new country everything feels foreign. When you’re exploring it as part of a small group tour, however, you and your fellow travelers have that in common: you were all interested in the same destination, and your values and personalities influenced your investment in the same group tour.
That’s enough of a start for anyone to vibe on.
A few shared meals and hands-on workshops into the tour, and you’ve some unforgettable memories and some global lifelong friends.
Safety in numbers
Let’s face it: Travel has the potential to be dangerous, no matter where you travel to. There’s petty theft, political unrest, and straight-up uncomfortable misunderstandings.
And there’s nothing like experiencing a major mishap in a foreign place, by yourself, to turn you off from ever traveling alone again.
But, as you’ll learn from your travel adventures, incidents are pretty rare, and risk can be mitigated with some research and planning.
If it’s your first time traveling abroad, joining a group tour reduces the risk of being an easy target for crime. You have the support of the tour group company, the expertise of the local guides, and the friendship of your fellow travelers.
Balance of bucket-list activities and downtime for self-reflection
If you have the desire to travel solo, then it's likely that you’re interested in discovering a bit of yourself on the journey. It’s the departing from the comfort of the familiar that pushes your perceived limits.
The destination (and all the wonderful things it offers) is only a part of the solo travel experience. When you book a small group tour as a travel solo traveler, you get a good balance of must-see and must-do experiences AND scheduled free time to do some exploring on your own. Use that time to get into some solo travel experiences, hang with your new travel buddies, or reflect on the personal growth you’ve experienced during your first solo travel experience.
And don’t forget to celebrate those wins!
Things to look for in a group tour if you’re a solo traveler for a greater experience:
Small Group limits: In order to better appreciate both the journey and the destination, it’s important to keep the tour group small, with a limit of 10 people. This allows a more intimate experience for all travelers.
Local Guides: Having locals lead the way in sharing their communities is THE best way to experience them. Not only will you have the comfort of knowing you’re in good hands as a solo traveler, but you come home with a better understanding of the culture, and
Positive community impact: If you’re going to travel, travel in a way that benefits all involved. Opting for small group tour companies that prioritize the local community is
Options for accommodation upgrades: Rooming with another traveler may not be in your comfort level during your first solo travel experience. (Though you may just find that having a roommate makes the whole experience way more fun! Push those comfort zones)
Immersive experiences: Why travel if not to experience the essence of a place? Immersive travel experiences make a lasting impact on your soul– make sure your small group tour includes them.
If you’re looking for ways to travel with more intention, subscribe to our mailing list, and follow Conscious Travel Collective on IG or FB. We craft private small group travel for those looking for meaningful connection to places and people, so when you are ready to experience for yourself, we are here help make it happen!
The author of this blog is the oh-so-talented, Shelagh Hogan.
You can find out more about her work on our team page