I want to be honest with you. When I started El Camino Travel, I was very hesitant about the idea of group travel. I envisioned large tour buses, with hoards of tourists pouring out, who would then follow around an uninterested guide who was waving a flag in the air, and giving a very impersonal tour of the destination.
The reality was that to be able to have a talented photographer on board and to create one-of-a-kind elevated experiences (like renting a private island for the day), having the ability to spread out the costs across a group was the only way we could make these add-ons (usually only available to the luxury travel market) more accessible to the type of traveler we wanted to be part of our #elcaminotravel community.
I also knew that if we were going to do group travel, we were going to have to do it completely different from the current standard. Three years later I am ecstatic because I have proven myself and many others wrong about the notion of group travel. We have seen over and over again that group travel actually can enhance the experience. Below are a few reasons group travel is actually critical to the El Camino Travel experience.
We attract a certain type of traveler.
“There is no way we would have been able to truly saturate ourselves and see Cuba on this level had we planned this ourselves. Katalina and her crew have crafted and curated something that does not feel overly artificial and touristy at all. I feel like I met up with friends and we all hung out. My husband and I went on the first El Camino trip to Cuba at the beginning of the year and it has certainly been a highlight of my year and one of the best trips we've taken together. You know those enviable insider guides on all the different places you want to explore around the world, the ones that show you the places that tourists can’t even access but the writer has a friend showing them their favorite haunts around town, meeting the guy who makes the best conch salad on the island and the woman who grows and roasts coffee beans on the plantation that’s been in her family for three generations? That’s El Camino.”
- Danielle Delarue (you can find all public reviews here)
We are clear on all our platforms what we stand for when it comes to travel. Prior to booking you must click a box that ensures you understand what the #elcaminotravel experience is all about. For that reason, we get some INCREDIBLE travelers. Our travelers form quick bonds during and after the trip, becoming best friends and even traveling to other destinations together. Remember that feeling of anticipation before summer camp when you were little? I remember being so excited about all the new people I would meet and who would become my new best friends. This is the same excitement we want all our travelers to feel when packing up for their trip. Sharing such unique travel moments with a rad group of people allows for the opportunity to get different perspectives and insights into the destination that you may have not thought of. You also have tons of people to chat to and digest everything you are experiencing. I know this firsthand as many of our travelers have become very close friends of mine.
You can avoid all the pitfalls of traveling alone… especially if you are a woman.
“Over the years, I've learned that commercial tours, and prepackaged trips never appealed to me. I crave authentic, off the beaten path experiences, which is why I've always opted for solo travel. As rewarding as it is to be a solo female traveler, I had to confront the trade-offs and limitations of traveling on my own. My trip to Trinidad and Tobago with El Camino, however, made me reconsider. Thanks to El Camino, I no longer had to choose between authentic experiences, and the benefits of traveling with a group - I could have both! When I signed up, the primary appeal was that it saved me hours and hours of research and trip planning that would have taken me weeks to prepare on my own. I was nervous about traveling with a group, but I connected with the others in the group in a way that exceeded any and all expectations! I couldn't have asked for a better group, or trip leader.”
- Vanessa Sandler (all public reviews can be found here)
We have heard over and over again from many of our solo female travelers that traveling with us allows them to fully immerse themselves in the destination, without being so concerned about their safety. However, they know that they do not have to sacrifice the quality of the experience because they had to go with group travel. They trust that we would seek out the same boutique experiences that they would seek out on their own, and even get access to experiences that they would never be able to plan themselves. We even have solo travelers who have returned to a destination they have already visited, because they know going in a group would be a completely different experience than the previous trip. They can fully relax, not have to eat every meal alone, and can actually go out at night and enjoy the nighlife that is so important to the culture of many of the destinations we visit.
As a woman who backpacked on her own for six months around South America, I completely understand that anxiety. I remember that tension of always having to feel like I needed to watch my back and many sticky situations that I found myself part of. I am so proud that El Camino Travel has become a catalyst for solo female travelers to travel to destinations they might not travel otherwise alone, while getting an even better experience, and an opportunity to be part of a community of intrepid travelers.
There are several other reasons why group travel can actually be a great experience (but we hope you'll figure those out for yourself.) So what do you think about group travel? Are you hesitant about it? Why? Be honest, we want to hear it all!
Ready to find out for yourself? Click below for details and to book 2018 travel with us now!