Let's Travel Alone...Together
March 7, 2014 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Solo traveling mefites! Have you found active travel tours that tend to learn a little to the younger crowd. I'm not trying to find a singles-ready-to-mingle tour, but would hike with folks who are more excited about the hike than the souvenirs. I'm comfortable traveling solo to most places - but, who wants to go on a safari solo? Ideas for companies or feedback from those who have taken REI-type travel tours would be great! Thanks globe-trotters,
posted by msfrizzle to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
I've travelled as a single with both Imaginative Traveller and Intrepid Travel and would recommend them both. They're very similar companies and from what I saw attracted those mostly in the 20's and 30's age range, although there were some very active folks in the older age ranges. The type of trip you take can vary, but I did an Intrepid trip to Borneo that was very hiking intensive. All of the activities are optional, but from what I experienced most people were enthusiastic about the hikes and were there to really experience the culture and learn as much as they could. Not everyone was travelling solo but I always felt comfortable being part of the group and was matched up with roommates at my request to cut costs. I liked the format of the trips because I also felt like I had the freedom to explore on my own when I chose to do so.
posted by shornco at 9:45 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've also done an Intrepid trip and had a great time. I do think it's a bit of a crap shoot about what the group dynamics will be; you could end up with a group that has a lot of just post-college people who want to party or end up with a group of younger/older professionals who are happy to socialize but also want to explore.

I've also done a trip with Wilderness Inquiry and they really attract more outdoorsy types. Their trips are more camping/hiking/kayaking oriented, but on some trips you'll be in lodges and such. They really are a great organization and I'm planning on doing another trip with them later this year.
posted by brookeb at 10:09 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

There are companies like Explore Worldwide and Exodus.

There may be some highly active older people in those groups too. The nature of the trips means if you're not comfortable hiking up a mountain or using a sleeping bag some nights, you wouldn't go.
posted by philipy at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2014

Another one in the same vein is G Adventures. (Used to be GAP Adventures if you are Googling.) I really enjoyed the Guatemala-Belize-Mexico trip I took through them a few years ago. Young crowd, not a lot of couples, tons of hiking.

One thing to watch out for: your "long" two-week vacation might actually just be a linked segment of a six-week trip that a bunch of gap year people are doing. So half the group might know each other already, or they might have already spent a couple of days in the starting city.
posted by smackfu at 10:37 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is obviously heavily dependant on whether you like swimming but I cannot recommend Swimtrek holidays highly enough. Usually groups of 12-15 and mostly people in their mid-twenties - thirties, although they get people of all ages. In my experience the other people are usually pretty interesting to get to know and firendly so going alone is not an issue at al.

They aren't especially cheap but IMO good value for money as you are very well looked after and the swimming is fantastic. Mostly Europe based but they do do a few trips a year in Mexico and the British Virgin Islands.
posted by *becca* at 10:39 AM on March 7, 2014

Another voice here for Intrepid. Our small group on our China trip (11) had some older folks, but there were three young 'uns who hung around together, and just about everyone was fit enough to handle our biking and hiking and other activities. And we all had a lot of fun together too. Intrepid tends to attract a lot of people from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, etc. versus just a bunch of Americans, and is quite accurate about the activity level projected for each of its trips.
posted by bearwife at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2014

Btw, since you mentioned a safari, you may want to look into Earthwatch.

The average age will likely be higher than some of the other companies, as it's relatively expensive, but in terms of a wildlife experience, it's on another level to just going to look at it.
posted by philipy at 11:55 AM on March 7, 2014

Haggis Adventures is fantastic. I went on their tours to Scotland, Wales, and Ireland (a couple with friends, a couple without). Most people were in their twenties, maybe thirties. The Scottish tour was exceptional, the best guide I ever had.

I'm not sure if they're as outdoorsy as you're looking for, because they're bus tours and focus on culture and history more than the natural environment, but the groups were generally really fun and nice (easy to make friends), and are great value.
posted by rue72 at 12:14 PM on March 7, 2014

I recently completed a solo RTW trip where I did a lot stuff by myself but would sign up for group tours occasionally.
I did two with G Adventures that were very good but had very different group dynamics. The first was in India and was not very intense physically. There was a broad range of age groups from early twenties to sixties (I'm early thirties). Everyone got along fantastically and there was a great vibe.
The second was an Everest base camp trek. Much more physically intense. Younger crowd. It was more cliquey than the other group.

The guide were excellent both times but it is a crap shoot with the group that you get.
posted by drugstorefrog at 2:29 PM on March 7, 2014

I kept running into a G Adventures tour group while I was trekking around Mont Blanc last summer and they seemed like they were having a pretty good time... not good enough to make me regret going solo on that trip, but definitely a good enough time to make me consider them for other trips in the future. People seemed to mostly be in their 20s and 30s with a couple of people in their 50s. It was a smallish group, under 20 for sure. With a hiking-intensive trip you get a younger crowd I think, but there's no way to make sure everyone's going to be at the same level and that's always going to cause at least a bit of friction in a group of strangers...
posted by mskyle at 2:31 PM on March 7, 2014

I was coming in to recommend Intrepid, G Adventures and Imaginative. Keep in mind that each of these companies (and others) tend to be stronger in different parts of the world so I would rank them differently depending on where you're off to.

Of course the group is always a crapshoot, but as a former tour leader with one of the companies above, I like to remind people that you're not captive. If you'd like to tweak the itinerary or need a break from the group, you can often sign yourself off the tour for a day or two as long as there is a way to catch up with the group later. And if you're doing so in order to change up the itinerary (ie stay an extra day in a city you loved or skip an activity), your tour leader should be willing to help arranging the logistics involved in reconnecting with the group.
posted by scrute at 8:05 AM on March 8, 2014

Nthing Intrepid and G.
posted by benzenedream at 6:25 PM on March 9, 2014

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