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Planning, Posted by Amy, Traveling Alone, Types of Travel
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The Different Types of Travel

If wanderlust is getting the best of you, and you’ve been daydreaming about getting out of a town for a while, it’s time to start thinking practically about planning a trip and the different types of travel you can choose from.

There are so many different ways you can travel, and each of those ways is going to affect almost every aspect of the trip. If you’re traveling with young chidren or your 60-year-old parents, bar hopping is probabbly not in your future. (Unless you have really adventurous parents, in which case, first beer is on dad!)

In my opinion, there’s no best option – it’s whatever works for you based on where you want to go and the time you have. When I’m thinking about my next trip, the choice of destination goes hand in hand with the type of travel I want to do.

This list focuses on shorter trips (a few days to a couple of weeks) rather than longer trips or backpacking.

Solo Travel

The idea of traveling by yourself might elicit a negative reaction from people who have never done it, and a “hell yeah!” from those who have. (Or a “heck yeah! from those who have but don’t swear when they get excited.)

Deciding to travel by yourself can be scary, but there are a lot of positives:

  • You can take a trip, even if there’s no one in your life that has the same interests and availability as you
  • You get to decide everything without worrying about anyone else
  • You can change your plans on a whim
  • You can opt to not plan any part of the trip
  • Being alone leaves you more open to opportunities than a set agenda with other people
  • It’s a great time for introspection and appreciation
  • There’s a lot of pride in being self-reliant enough to figure everything out on your own

Of course there are some down sides:

  • There’s not always someone to talk to
  • You generally eat alone (which is hard for some people)
  • You have to trust strangers with your camera or take a lot of selfies
  • Exploring nightlife is less appealing (unless you make some quick friends)

Amanda and I have both traveled solo (Amanda spent over 6 months traveling by herself!) and we’d both highly recommend this type of travel if you don’t have someone who’s schedule and travel desires match up perfectly with your own. And realistically, how often does that happen?

For me, eating alone was the hardest part of traveling alone, and while it still sometimes is, it’s nothing that should ever stop you. Instead of feeling lonely or like people are judging me for not having any friends, I think about how awesome my life is that I was able to be in this place at this time and change that negative feeling into gratitude.

And in the end, none of my memories of solo travel include feelings of loneliness. They include amazing experiences that I never would have had if I hadn’t been willing to venture out on my own.

Eating Fondue alone at Le Dezaley in Zurich, Switzerland. Delicious!

Group Trips

One great type of travel that you can do, with or without others, is go on a group trip organized by a travel company. With this type of travel, you show up in a starting city to join your group, and then spend the next few days or weeks partaking in various pre-planned activities. The whole trip could take place in one country, or span multiple countries. The company takes care of all of the lodging and transit, leaving you free to just enjoy your experiences.

Positives:

  • It’s fun!
  • You’ll most likely make friends with the other people in your group
  • You often get to do things that are not available to people traveling on their own
  • There are many travel options you never would have thought of on your own
  • It’s for the most part stress-free
  • If you’ve never traveled before, you can see how it works without being responsible for all of the details

Negatives:

  • Your itinerary is set – no changes on a whim
  • You lose the “figuring it out on your own” part of travel, which is important to some people

My first international trip (outside of the US and Cananda) was a group trip with G Adventures, and it was perfect for me. I spent a week with about 25 people living on a riverboat on the Amazon and its tributaries. In addition to visiting villages and spending a night in the Amazon jungle, we went out every day with nature guides to spot animals, many of which I had never seen before. (I can verify that pink dolphins do exist!) This trip was something I would not have been able to do on my own, so I was very happy to do it with G Adventures.

Even though I went on my own, I quickly made friends with some very cool and fun people from other countries.

I lived on this Riverboat for a week while on a fantastic trip to Peru.
'Welcome to the tourist lookout where the Amazon River begins.' I still get a little choked up thinking about how cool it was to be at the very beginning of the mighty Amazon.

It’s been a few years since I’ve taken this type of trip, but I can’t wait to do it again.

Traveling with Friends

Just you and some friends? Time to party! I kid, but only sort of.

Traveling with people in a similar age group, especially if you are younger, gives you the opportunity to do almost anything, since you are not limited by children, older parents, or being alone. The world is your oyster!

If I want to go to a place that is known for drinking and partying until late into the night, I’m going to wait until I have a friend to travel with so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on an important aspect of the place.

Even with friends, I sometimes miss the freedom that traveling alone gives me, and will take off for a day or two to do my own thing. I loved being in South Korea with a group of friends, and for one day they went off on a hike (which they loved) while I went to the DMZ and stepped over the border into North Korea, which I loved. WIN WIN. (Of course, now I have an insatiable desire to go to North Korea for a real trip.)

At the border between North Korea and South Korea. Inside the center building you can cross over to the North Korea side.

Traveling with Family

Traveling with family can be tricky. There may be many different age levels, interests, and comfort levels that could be traveling together. It can be difficult to balance making sure everyone is going to have fun and at the same time be comfortable with the type of travel you are doing.

Things to keep in mind when choosing a destination with family:

  • Language barriers: You can get by with English in most places, but some places are easier than others. I wouldn’t take new travelers to a place where they would be extremely frustrated communicating
  • Physical abilities: Not everyone has the same physical abilities, so consider how much walking, hiking, climbing etc is going to be required for what you want to do. Young children also throw a big wrench into this one.
  • Amenities: Are you with people who don’t mind roughing it, or do you need to make sure there are nice hotels with AC?
  • You’re most likely going to be doing daytime activities, so choose a location that’s not all nightlife

I recently planned a family trip with my parents and sister, who had not traveled out of the US & Cananda before. We chose to go to Paris, a typical travel destination that caters to tourists, and Mauritius, a more exotic destination but where English is the official language. I knew my family would appreciate nice beaches and some cool animal encounters, and Mauritius had both of those to offer in spades, making it the perfect destination.

My sister feeding Giant Tortoises at La Vanille Crocodile Park in Mauritius
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