I was one more National Geographic kid when I was younger, pouring over the glossy pages of exotic locations and cultures on my time off, ogling the photographs with a sharp eye, keen curiosity, and desire for exploration beyond what my age could allow. I finally booked my first solo trip overseas when I was eighteen. I had put aside enough money working summer jobs after high school, saving just enough to buy a round-trip ticket and book myself into a week-long stay in an old sugar plantation home that had been converted into a hotel on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.
As I grew older, continuing to travel extensively alone, I realized that while there were many important benefits of venturing out into the unknown solo, I was also missing out on another side of travel that is equally as gratifying. I enjoyed coming and going as I pleased, changing my itinerary last minute, the peace of having beautiful places to myself, and being embraced particularly more closely by concerned locals. However, I also came to see that I was missing out on unique experiences which only group travel can provide.
First, group travel offers the opportunity to meet like-individuals and get to know them over the course of more than just a day. I met many amazing characters on my journeys, traveling through on their own schedules on adventures of their own choosing. Occasionally it is wonderfully possible to link up on a shared course with other travelers, joining them for adventures you hadn’t thought of or heard of doing, but often, economic or time limitations inhibit the ability to spend time together for an extended period. The journey is not less sweet for it, but the advantage of group travel is the ability to meet people with your shared interests, from various places, each bringing their own unique perspective to the tour. You can end up developing lifelong relationships and incredible experiences with others from the type of self-sorting that group travel can provide.
Secondly, there were many times that I was turned away as a single individual because there were not enough people to make tours or excursions a “go”. As an example, finding a dive boat in remote places willing to take just two divers when it is low season is a hard sale. When I was younger and had the time, it meant waiting it out, spending an additional night or two until someone else showed up in town wanting to dive as well. Being able to have the power of numbers in these cases means a guaranteed experience that would have been off the table otherwise.
Obviously one of the most common perks of booking group travel is that the research and planning has been executed for you. In a world of so many options, the ability to fine tune a travel itinerary and select the best of the best attractions has become an art. You can easily drown in the information overload placed on you with simple Google searches, cascading into queries far from the trip ideas you had originally planned. There will always be more to see and more to do on any trip. A good travel coordinator will be a trustworthy, relatable source to advise you what Google searches cannot – what the reality on the ground is – and how best to save your time, energy, and money to get the most out of your experience.
While I still enjoy travels alone, obviously one of the largest concerns was and still is for my own safety and security. The ability to read people and situations, and being adept at handling testy situations, are talents which some are born with, but which many others must learn from their own ride through life. Solo travel is extremely rewarding because of the navigational confidence it can build, but it is quite common to have a constant, heightened degree of awareness throughout your trip – the feeling that your senses must continually be more attuned and more “awake” than if you were traveling accompanied. Enough cannot be said about what traveling in numbers can do for safety. It can turn a solo traveler from a bulls-eye into a passing visitor. Especially worthwhile to consider is how vital it can become to have people around you as a support system – especially in cases like a serious illness, a theft, or to share the memory of your first jump down a roaring tropical waterfall with.
Finally, there’s always a lot of discussion on which is more cost effective – going it alone or going with a group? While a consensus may never be reached on this, it is true that traveling as a group affords the opportunity to experience lodging, tours, and attractions that are made more affordable by a group’s purchasing power. A hotel which may be unattainable paying alone may suddenly be within reach when booking in a group as a double occupant. It is a mathematical sliding scale, with group travel generally being a cost-effective way of experiencing a destination by sharing resources.
We strive to always be honest and upfront about our trips with you, and to give you realistic expectations about what to expect and how to prepare. Sirena Adventures was born from a desire to offer adventure travel, especially SCUBA diving travel, differently. It was partly conceived to address the need to have a comfortable atmosphere for solo female dive travelers to adventure and explore areas they may have always wanted to visit but may not necessarily be comfortable reaching on their own.
Regardless of your decision on how best to travel, we hope you keep in mind the importance of keeping it sustainable, educational, and essential.