“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”.
This quote by Saint Augustine can sum up most people’s feelings about travel – we all frequently lament that if only we had more time and money, we would cross off all of the destinations on our bucket lists. So when you finally put aside those vacation days and top off your vacation fund, you want to be sure that your trip is everything you’ve dreamed of. But of course it can rarely be that easy, especially if you’re factoring in other travel companions. While I love traveling with my friends and family, sometimes a solo trip is just what I need so that I can go exactly where I want and base my travel style on my own budget. Travelling by myself is one of my favorite ways to see the world and to grow in exciting new ways. For example, on my weeklong adventure in Australia I became more comfortable spending time with myself, by volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata I created lifelong friendships based in faith and service, and on a tour in Cartagena I stepped out of my comfort zone by initiating conversations to meet new people. One of the best ways that I’ve been able to accomplish all of these travel goals is by going on group tours – they take the stress out of planning, ensure I won’t miss any of the top sites, and pair me with other likeminded travelers!
As exciting and joyful as travel can be, it can also be very stressful, especially if you’re worried about making it to the train station on time, whether you’ll find a restaurant with open reservations each evening, or spending too much time waiting in lines at top tourist sites. One of the reasons I love group tours, especially when traveling alone, is to relieve myself of some of the planning burden. When I forgo a group tour, I end up spending countless hours googling things like ‘top things to see in Sydney’, ‘how to beat the lines at the Eifel Tower’, and ‘best pizza in Rome’. But with a tour, there is no more worrying about which taxi app is the most common in a city, how the public transportation system works, or how much time to allow to get into a museum. It’s always such a relief to book a trip and know that everything will be arranged by the experts who know these cities inside and out, and who will ensure the trip is as great as it can be.
Which brings me to the next thing I love about tours – not only are the people planning them experts on the destinations, but also the tours are led by local guides who can’t wait to share their cities with you. When planning my own trips from afar, it’s easy to stick to what the internet describes as top places to see, which means I can end up spending all of my time in tourist-filled spots rather than in the true hidden gems of the city. For instance, my one regret of my Summer abroad in Paris is that I only ate at the flashy and overpriced restaurants on the main avenues, rather than asking my host mom about her favorite places to eat! We all know the locals know best, and that’s why they are central figures in Select International’s tours – from helping to plan the itinerary, to accompanying you the whole time, ready to answer any and all of your questions about the history of the city, the unique aspects of the culture, and most importantly, the best gelato places.
But without a doubt, the best thing about traveling by myself in a group is meeting new people. On these tours, you already know that the other people will share your love of travel and your interest in the destination. As someone who is only mildly extroverted, it’s always a good growth opportunity for me to empower myself to initiate conversations with my fellow travelers and learn what else we have in common. Learning about everyone’s motivations to go on the trip, what they’re looking forward to the most, and how the trip compares to others they’ve taken is always a fascinating discussion that can lead to many more. The friends I’ve made on my travels in India and Australia remain in my life today – even though we live far apart, I still remain in contact with them, from sharing life updates, to offering spare rooms, and even featuring some of them on my blog!
So the next time you’re thinking, “I would love to go to France, but I could never convince anyone I know to go with me,” remember that there are many likeminded individuals who also can’t wait to experience the City of Lights and the healing waters of Lourdes, and with that in mind check out the great tours that Select International has planned and let your wanderlust begin.
About the Author
Gracie Rosenbach is an international development professional who is passionate about travel and loves experiencing the beauty of Catholicism all over the world. Working in international food policy by day and sharing stories of the Universal Church on her Instagram and blog by night, Gracie hopes that her experiences meeting new people and visiting Catholic sites around the globe will inspire your wanderlust and help you to grow deeper in your faith.