What It's Actually Like To Travel With 12 Strangers & Leave With Lifelong Friends

Have you ever considered traveling the world with a group of strangers? At first thought, this might sound a little unusual. However, what do you do when your friends or family can't join your adventures? What do you do when you're tired of waiting to fulfill your wanderlust? It's not always easy finding the perfect time to plan a trip with your big friend group, and sometimes, you just need to go for it solo. These days, there are a variety of companies that cater to solo travelers who want to see the world. I'm here to tell you what it's like to travel with a group of strangers, and leave with lifelong friends.

Solo travel isn't for everyone. Visiting a new country and planning every detail can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you've gotta do it all on your own. I recently went on a seven-day trip to Ecuador with Contiki and had an absolute blast. It was a breeze because I didn't have to worry about any of the logistics. I could just show up, meet likeminded people, and enjoy the beautiful country. Traveling with a group of people I didn't know felt nerve-racking in the beginning, but it was one of my best adventures thus far.

I Met People From Around The World
Hey Ciara

Traveling with other people isn't always easy. There are always different personalities and interests at play, so it's normal to be nervous about traveling with a group of strangers. You wonder whether you'll bond with anyone in the group and how things will go.

Our first day in Quito included a group tour and craft beer tasting, so we all had an opportunity to bond very quickly. The rest of the trip was uphill from there. I met people from Australia, London, and even Canada. It was a relief to discover that we all had so much in common.

In the end, we salsa danced, volunteered, zip-lined, and went horseback riding together. These kind of activities created a bond between us all very quickly because these were moments where we all felt a bit vulnerable. This gave us plenty of opportunities to get to know each other so well in what seemed like such a short amount of time.

If one of us forgot money in the room, another person was there to loan them some. When I got sick, my fellow travel mates were right there to make sure I was OK. By the end of the trip, we were having mini-sleepovers sharing details about ourselves and our lives back home.

I Didn't Have To Plan A Thing, And Could Truly Relax
Hey Ciara

As a full-time traveler, I spend a large amount of time planning trips. I'm constantly searching for flights, hotels, and things to do — whether I'm on the go or planning the next trip.

Joining a group tour was a major relief, because I didn't have to worry about any of the logistics. All I had to do was show up and have fun. There was no concern over which bus to take or how to get from here to there. I also felt a sense of comfort and safety knowing that I was traveling with a large group of people. We all relied on each other, which made the trip a lot more enjoyable.

While figuring it out is part of the adventure, there are times when you just want to enjoy your trip and bond with people, without any hassle along the way. This is crucial for anyone who wants to travel, yet struggles to find the time to plan a trip.

We Saw The Best Of Ecuador Together
Hey Ciara

When you're traveling to a new country, it can be difficult to know where to start. Guidebooks don't always reveal the best that the country has to offer. Our local guides knew exactly where to go and what to do.

We were able to truly see the best of Ecuador without doing the difficult leg work. For example, the bars were closed on our first night in Quito. However, several bars and restaurants opened their doors to us and we were able to enjoy ourselves in private because we were traveling with the Contiki tour group. This wouldn't have happened otherwise, so it was awesome to learn that traveling as a designated group comes with many perks.

The best part was doing all of this with strangers who love travel just as much as I do. My family and friends all have different interests. For example, my mom and dad wouldn't dare go rock climbing. However, with a large group of travelers, it was nice to know that there was always someone who was down for the adventure.

There were nights when some people chose to go dancing, and others chose to stay in. There was freedom in knowing that I could stick with the group or do my own thing.

We visited visited Quito, Baños, and Guayaquil. We stopped by coffee farms, participated in chocolate tastings, joined boat parties, and so much more. Now I've got a group of friends that I can reach out to because I know they'll always be down for another unforgettable trip like this one.