Readers and members of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook often ask about solo travel with a group, especially when they are taking their first trip. STS member Sacha won a two-week whirlwind tour of Europe. Here, she shares her experience of finding solo time on a group tour, and how she made it work for her.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to set off on a European Wonder tour by Topdeck. I was over the moon to finally have the chance to see and explore Europe in all its glory. I spent two jam-packed weeks experiencing a mere sliver of what the continent has to offer. Wandering down cobblestone alleyways in Paris, witnessing Pope Francis speak to the general audience, gazing into the distance as the Swiss Alps surrounded me, and taking in as many sunrises and sunsets as I could, the experience of that first European trip is something that I will treasure for a lifetime.
When I set off on the tour, I didn’t really know what to expect. One of the biggest questions I was asked was, “are you going alone?” I was, but I wasn’t worried. I wasn’t worried about making friends, knowing that I’d be joined by a young group of travelers who were probably just as excited as I was to take in the sights. I did wonder if finding solo time on a group tour would be a challenge. What I certainly wasn’t expecting was that once the tour got underway I would be known as the group’s wanderer, almost right off the bat!
Topdeck, through our fantastic tour guide Time, provided a great base of knowledge in each different city we visited. After the team walking tours and activities were over, we were provided with a fair amount of free time to take off and do our own thing.
Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a group with the sudden urge to break free and explore on your own? Well, that urge kept hitting me again and again and again. My feet were itching to move. We’d be eating a meal and I couldn’t help but think – “Ok, I can eat faster or later but I can only explore now! Where do you want to go, feet?” And off we went.
I broke away whenever I had the chance, whether that meant merely walking in my own direction, ghosting away from the group or straight up saying “I’m going to hang back here and explore some more.” I found the alone time I needed whenever I needed it, and I’m glad I did.
Looking back on my trip, some of my favourite memories are the ones I shared with myself, like the time I hung out with the musical cows in Switzerland or watched the sunset over Rome followed by a beautiful terrace dinner or the time spent wandering the streets of Amsterdam, umbrella in tow. Now, this doesn't mean that I didn’t have a great time with the rest of the tour group, because I certainly did. There’s just something special about having those secret, “only you” memories.
Finding solo time on a group tour is absolutely possible. Breaking away can be a challenge, but let the wanderer in you take over and see what it wants to show you.