Solo Travel In a Group - Best of Both Worlds - Part 1

Solo travel in a group – part 1

This is not against solo-traveling and pro group-traveling. This is about getting the best value while traveling with the biggest amount of learning nuggets and the most authentic experience of a land you can imagine. With ON BOARD we are on a mission to make traveling the most authentic way to learn, using the world as our classroom.

Our thinking is inclusive. This is reflected on the way we travel and the kind of people that apply to join us. We travel visiting all the popular places and the ones people have barely heard of. The kind of people joining ON BOARD are solo travelers, group travelers, and more specifically remote workers (digital nomads), students, business owners, entrepreneurs, people in sabbaticals and travelers who want to see a country through the eyes of locals.

Why you travel

One of the last big adventures where you embrace uncertainty is travel, unless you have scheduled everything beforehand. Traveling with ON BOARD is when we have a day structure but make amendments according to what our small travel group prefers. We are actually like a little republic with two facilitators (Marcela and Alexander) who, when their responsibility requires it, make use of their authority, but are otherwise just part of the travel group.

We travel together within the boundaries of one destination but all come from different backgrounds and contexts. Therefore, everyone has their own reasons for traveling. Some examples:

  • Seeing the big, wide world as your first time abroad,
  • family vacation,
  • personal quest,
  • group retreat,
  • longing for new perspectives,
  • preparing to start a new life,
  • job quit,
  • filling the gap year,
  • spiritual exploration,
  • wandering inspiration,
  • testing when out of one’s comfort zone,
  • escaping the city,
  • fleeing from all-day life,
  • traveling while working remotely
  • seeing other realities with your own eyes and comparing it to yours back home,
  • searching for something you haven’t figured out yet,
  • searching for answers of pressuring questions,
  • feeling like a hero,
  • feeling empowered or in power (again),
  • escaping the routine,
  • finding options for a new beginning,
  • adventure,
  • fun,
  • (inner) peace,
  • truth,
  • happiness,
  • enlightenment,
  • contemplation,
  • meditation,
  • going a spiritual path,
  • or educating yourself while on a journey of personal transformation as a professional.

Travel makes you feel like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa. It gives you strength. Travel is the kick-off for a new path, your temporary path or will become your way of life.

Travel makes you feel you can transform the world for better
Travel makes you feel you can transform the world for better

Travel makes you feel full. It even makes you feel rich, like the richest person in the world. Feeding your eyes with new views and nourishing your soul with mindful reflections, attentive observations and brillant conversations gives you the wide-angle panorama you are not able to see sitting at home in your chair watching TV – it can be nice though.

You are permanently in a mixed state of being uncomfortable and getting comfortable again. You run into situations of vulnerability and uncertainty. In these scenarios you stretch your boundaries and expand your personal comfort zone to eventually grow and return to your family and friends as an enriched person.

Think about how much you actually need these states of not knowing what to do, where to go, what to ask, because in portions it is beneficial for your wellbeing, makes you live and keeps you alive.

There are, broadly speaking, 3 different ways to reach this level:

  1. On your own in a solo travel
  2. In a group travel (see part 2 of this article – online in 1 week)
  3. Part-time-joining a group (see part 3 of this article – online in 2 weeks)

Solo travel means

Solo traveling builds up your personal confidence because you are on your own. It also means empowerment of yourself, freedom to live life, do what you want and travel when, where and how you want. Unexpected experiences and change of plans won’t cause a problem. There’s no need to compromise with someone else. There is no one else and, therefore, it’s all about you. Use it. Appreciate it.

The freedom to see you

Freedom brings responsibility – a responsibility you mainly have for yourself. This doesn’t mean that you won’t meet other people or have social times (with respective responsibilities, norms, etiquette or protocol, depending in which cultural context you are). It’s just that you can be yourself and can go crazy without someone looking what you’re doing and how you’re looking doing that.

The freedom to see you
The freedom to see you

How does my „real me“ look like?, is one question you are after when solo traveling – if you are aware of it or not. You are on a mission to discover who you are when no one is looking. You don’t have to fulfill the expectations of your friends and family who presumably know you very well, and expect you to be like you have always been. So, maybe it’s good that you don’t want or can’t show them this side – it could be surprising or scary.

Your own boss and fears

You make decisions for which you are completely responsible, may they be wise or not. At least you’re not a burden to anyone, and know that at the end of the day there’s only you with yourself.

Your friend or partner has no interest in joining you for travel, but you can’t stay home. If you took him with you, you knew it would not be because he/she really wanted to. That would make you a very bad, especially selfish person. When you travel solo you’re not forcing your wants, needs and desires onto another human being.

On a solo travel your time is totally free for anything. You are able to be completely selfless and generous with everything surrounding you. You’re not tied to people and obligations making you stick to a group and be one of many instead the one “who went forth to learn what fear was“.

The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was
Wikipedia: The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was

Being on your own can seem scary or awkward to people. This doesn’t need to interest you. For you it’s important to gain a positive outlook on things. With this mindset your travel will be even better with more paths to go and ways to explore. Since ON BOARD travels are democratic learning journeys we listen to your voice as solo traveler or pure group traveler and decide as a group where we go. So we welcome you with open arms joining a small group of learning travelers like you.

Be good with yourself

You pursue your own interests at your own pace. Stay if you want to stay. Go if you want to leave, and follow “your nose” without feeling bad about it. Because you don’t compromise you gain access to aspects of the world, their culture and various forms of life that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Live a full-frame, panorama life
Live a full-frame, panorama life

If your goal is a full-panorama life, you want and need this experience. And it’s  not selfish to travel solo because you’re not exclusively concerned about yourself. Having finished your journey and returning – whether temporarily or permanent – you will be the best non-solo person your friends, family and foreigners can imagine.

Getting aligned with yourself is the absolute basis. Agreed. Traveling to rejuvenate is crucial. For sure. Being happy yourself because you travel is life-changing because it leads to making others happy as well. So it’s not only about you. Exactly. You grow as a person and become your best self when you put yourself into the service of others. Refreshed and empowered through your time-off traveling you are ready to continue pursuing your responsibilities to care for those important people in your life.

Solo travel also means

There are many privileges, benefits and advantages of solo traveling. It’s a unique experience that everyone should try at least once in their life.

Yet, it also means that you are exposed to many moments and hours purely on your own. It’s enjoyable and enriching but it can also be lonely and solitary when you have the feeling you would like to live that moment with someone else or talk about what you experienced more in depth with people willing to listen and share their point of view.

Your emotional intelligence certainly grows traveling on your own. In rather “dark moments”, whatsoever, you won’t know how to deal with some emotions, feelings or needs. That’s when our tendency is usually to create a refuge with the people we already have, for example back home. This is when you isolate yourself from the new, adventurous place although you were supposed to be out there discovering like crazy, meeting new people, having potential new friends and connections.

On your own also in "dark moments"
On your own also in “dark moments”

From our experience traveling connections are rather vague, instant and sometimes repetitive. Small talk about the places you’ve been and the same story of why you are traveling can make you lose your drive as a traveler completely. Nevertheless, shallow conversations are fine and part of traveling but they should not rule your travel, because the deep conversations with in-depth exchange will lead to connections that last and won’t vanish when leaving the hostel.

And it’s not about remaining friends on Facebook because you were brave enough asking to connect there. You wouldn’t even need Zuckerberg’s  platform. A real connection, may the shared memory yet so small but meaningful and profound, will create and strengthen a remaining friendship even only having occasional video calls or written letters.

While we will have a few more words on group traveling in part 2 of this article, let us say that traveling on your own can make you pay extra for things that could be cheaper and funnier if you are with a group of people.

Philosophizing, asking questions, sharing wonderful thoughts, stories, moments, experiences, having someone being accountable or just someone who can wake you up if you fall asleep are some examples you sacrifice when traveling on your own.

Invitation to come over

While you’re more likely to create your own bubble around you traveling solo, you’re not lost. You’re actually creating curiosity in the people you are occasionally surrounded by.

Invitation to come over
Invitation to come over

So. If you happen to be camping in the wild at this terrific spot — it’s getting dark, you cooked your meal, prepared the fire and opened the book for the perfect solo time — don’t make the sad or angry face when suddenly a couple or group of travelers finds that spot as well. Relax. It’s not sacredly yours. You share the planet with a lot of people. And you don’t have to spend the night or next day with them. Just say “Hello”, be nice, and maybe offer to share that big can of pre-cooked pasta with them. It’s still warm. They will love you for that.

The same goes for the group or couple entering the camping site. Don’t look at the solo traveler like he/she was from another planet. It’s not a person you need to feel sorry for just because he/she is on his/her own. Say “hi”, be nice, offer a hand, or invite him/her to have a beer together after you shared the meal to eventually be captivated into sharing great traveler’s stories.

Beer, snacks, storytelling in nature
Beer, snacks, storytelling in nature

So. Let’s have a beer, and come to the other side, respectively.

To be continued in 2 weeks.

Can’t wait 2 weeks? Join our community email list and read it in 1 week.

Or send your application today to jump straight into your next big life adventure.