Laura Pattara | 3 October 2017
Read about the benefits of being a solo traveller
Worried about joining a group tour as a solo traveller to Latin America? Don’t be. You may just end up being the envy of everyone else.
There’s a myriad of reasons group tours are popular in Latin America. You’ll be surprised how much fun, entertainment, support, convenience and safety arises when you bunch a group of like-minded adventurers and send them off to explore new horizons, with an experienced and knowledgeable guide at the helm. Fact is, when you join a group tour as a solo traveller in Latin America, you may well be in the best position of all. You’ll have the freedom to make new friends without feeling like you’re neglecting the one you brought along and the independence to do as you please without compromising for the sake of your travel partner’s wishes. On top of that, you’ll enjoy the convenience, safety and cheaper prices that go along with group travel.
I should know. I did it for years.
Sandboarding in the Peruvian desert, with a great bunch of new friends
The benefits of being a solo traveller on a group tour
The very first time I traveled solo to Latin America, back in 2004, I chose to travel through Peru and Bolivia on a group tour for 3 weeks. Being as it was my first time visiting this vast continent, it was a relief to know someone would be waiting for me at the airport; that I would literally have an instant friend (the guide) and possibly more (fellow group members) within just a day of arriving. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about transport, buying tickets to national parks, communicate in a foreign language, explore the local cuisine and trying to navigate my way through foreign countries.
Most of all, I loved the feeling of safety that comes from group tours. There’s safety in numbers, it is often said, and it is immensely true. Over the 3 weeks, not only did I make lifelong friends but I learnt so much about myself (away from the constraints of being ‘me’ at home) and, just as importantly, I learnt a lot about travelling in South America, in general.
Traveling solo in a group tour gave me the confidence I needed to then continue onwards, solo, for the next 3 months. And then you know what I did? I joined another tour. I missed the company of other travellers. I missed sharing my best travel moments with someone who appreciated them just as much. And then I just kept joining tours until the poor tour company had enough of my enthusiastic glowing reviews and offered me a job instead.
Being a part of group tours, anywhere in Latin America, makes for unforgettable memories.
Of all the continents on earth, it seems that Latin America is the one which attracts the biggest number of solo travellers on group tours. It’s not hard to see why that would be. The logistics of travel here can be substantial, especially for the travel-novice or, in actual fact, anyone who craves a hassle-free travel experience. It takes a hefty amount of work just to organise anything, to book accommodation and activities, and then to confirm them and reconfirm them. To buy tickets for buses, to even figure out where everything is and why nothing really runs on time. To know what to buy and at what price, where the best tamales are served and how does one visit Patagonia on public transport, anyway?!
The beautiful irony of group tours in Latin America is that they all seem so easy to run, from a passenger’s point of view. When in reality, the behind-the-scenes-work that’s necessary to pull off a successful and rewarding group tour would probably make your eyes pop. I should know. I did that for years too.
As a solo traveller on a group tour of Patagonia, I got the best of both worlds: help in reaching the farthest reaches of the region and plenty of solitude when I craved it. Here, I am hiking the W Walk in Torres del Paine.
When you travel solo on a group tour, you can be sociable when you want to be and have plenty of solitude when you crave it. You’ll never feel compelled to do something – or skip something – because of a travel partner. Don’t let the fear of aloneness hold back your wanderlust. Don’t have a like-minded friend to travel with? Do what I did….go anyway. You’ll make friends, easily and swiftly. You’ll still have a buddy at hand to share those stunning sunsets in Rio, that delectable fancy meal in Lima, that day out shopping in Cuzco and that sunrise balloon ride in the Atacama Desert.
And how can Latin America adventure travel get better than that?
Better a stranger who shares your interests than a good friend who doesn’t
There, I’ve said it. Shoot me if you like…but it’s true. When it comes to travelling in Latin America and Antarctica (or anywhere really) it is infinitely more advisable to share your journey with a like-minded stranger (soon-to-be-a-friend) rather than a good friend who really doesn’t want to be there.
As a guide, I saw the ‘tag-along’ friend scenario many times. More often than not, it turned into a compromising ordeal of colossal proportions, one that should have never happened in the first place. Trust me, from one solo traveller to another, you don’t want to be dragging a friend on a 5-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu if it isn’t their dream too. I didn’t dare and I’m so glad of that now. My first trip to Peru was phenomenal. Mostly, dare I say, because I travelled solo on a group tour.
If you’re headed to Latin America on a long-dreamed, once-in-a-lifetime trip, don’t risk ruining your dream. Travel solo anyway. We’ll be there waiting.
At Viva Expeditions, we match like-minded solo travellers from all walks of life and organize group tours that are tailor-made to include solo and group time, always. We prefer small groups to keep the vibe intimate, increase flexibility and to give our experienced guides the chance to offer a more personalised service. If travelling to Latin America is something you’ve been dreaming for years but are afraid to travel here solo…join us.
Together, we’ll have the adventure of a lifetime.
Check out our group tours and contact us for more info.