Whether you are just getting started traveling or you have traveled enough to know exactly what you like, joining a group tour as a solo female traveler can be a rewarding experience. But let’s start by clarifying one thing: Being a solo traveler doesn’t have to mean that you are alone. In fact, quite the opposite is true- when you travel solo, you are more likely to chat, interact with, and learn from other travelers.
My Definition of a Solo Female Traveler
Solo Female Traveler: A woman who makes her own decisions about when, how, and why she travels. She isn’t alone, but rather belongs to a community of other women cheering her on.
Until a few years ago, I never thought I was a “group tour” kind of traveler. I then had the opportunity to visit Morocco with Intrepid, and they showed me that group tours are so much more rewarding than I could have imagined. I’ve since joined Intrepid on tours in Peru and Sri Lanka, so my opinions on group travel presented in this article are largely influenced by my positive experiences traveling with Intrepid. This post discusses the following topics and you can click the links below to skip ahead to a particular section:
Benefits of Joining a Group Tour
Support from the company
When you travel on a group tour, you are led by a local guide that can provide you with advice, recommendations, safety tips, and can assist you with any language translation should you need it. Having a local guide gives you access to insight about a culture, and is a wonderful resource while visiting a destination.
The most significant benefit of joining a group tour is having a planned itinerary designed by professionals. And aside from having all logistics taken care of, travelers on a group tour have the support of the company before they even arrive in the destination. Customer service teams can give you guidance or point you in the right direction when applying for visas, preparing for any activities, and even when you are wondering what to pack for your trip.
Support from your fellow travelers
On a group tour, you can make friends and socialize as much as you want, and you will be traveling with other like-minded individuals who will respect your independence. Depending on the tour company choose, you can have the option to join specific groups that are only for solo travelers or only for women. Keep an open mind and go with the flow, as the other travelers are there for the same reasons you are: to explore and enjoy.
Balance between free-time and scheduled itineraries
What I loved about traveling with Intrepid is that their itineraries are structured to allow some free time. A traveler can decide exactly how she wants to spend it, be it exploring on her own or with a new friend, catching up with friends or family back home, or relaxing in the peace and quiet of her room. This structure is perfect if you’re still toying with the idea of solo travel, as you will have a few hours to yourself to “test it out”. You can also choose to join a group tour at the beginning or the end of a solo trip and get the best of both worlds.
Get more for your money
Group tours are usually offered in packaged deals and may or may not include airfare. (Intrepid trips do not include airfare but do include all accommodations, ground transportation, some activities, and some meals). Travel costs for groups are generally offered at better rates, and the tour company gets to pass on the savings to you, the traveler. Not only do you get better rates on major expenses when traveling in an organized group, but you also get to do more things like guided walking tours or in-home cultural experiences that you wouldn’t necessarily get to do if you were alone.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Tour Company
How big or small are the groups?
When researching a tour company, find out the average size of their groups and choose a size that you are comfortable with. I personally prefer smaller groups (10 or less) so things can move along without many delays. Groups of 20 or more are too big for my personal preference, and any bigger and you start to feel like herded cattle. Intrepid groups are capped at 16 but they average 10 travelers per group.
What are the company’s values?
Choose a tour company whose values align with yours. If traveling ethically and responsibly is important to you, choose a tour company that makes their values known. If you find a company that doesn’t make an effort to share their values or you can’t seem to find any information when doing your research, there’s a chance that ethics and responsibility are not major concerns for them.
How long has the company been established?
Traveling with a tour company that has been established for years means there is less risk when booking your reservation. Choose a company that offers guaranteed departures so you don’t get stuck if there’s a last-minute cancelation. Established companies that have a worldwide presence, a good reputation, and in-country contacts are also better suited for handling any emergencies or unexpected hiccups during your travels.
Read past travelers’ testimonials
Read testimonials from past travelers so you have a better idea of what to expect. For established companies, you should be able to find testimonials on the company itself as well as for the specific trip you are interested in. The company should communicate what to expect in regard to accommodations, activity level, amount of walking that will be required, length of car rides, etc., but reading honest reviews from past travelers can be a valuable resource.
Group Tours for Solo Travelers and Women Only
You are welcome to join any of Intrepid’s regular tours, but if you prefer to travel only with other women, only with other solo travelers, or only with others in a similar age group, you can choose from the below options and more on Intrepid’s website. For most destinations, there are departures available all year long.
Solo Traveler’s Tours
Have you ever traveled on a group tour? How did it compare to your expectations? Let me know in the comments!
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