Travelling as a couple is amazing! You always have a friend to share your experiences with, someone to take your photo or watch your bag when you nip to the loo and a dining partner for every meal. I’m fighting the urge to break into a Michael Jackson singsong here… “You are not alone…!”
Ahem, where was I? Ah yes so, because of this constant companionship, you can end up being a little unsocial at times. You don’t have to put yourself out there and make friends the same way as solo travellers do – you have your very own perma-travel buddy! Most of the time we don’t stay in dorms, when we consider the cost of two dorm beds it often works out cheaper for us to get a private room or our own apartment so hey, why not have some privacy? We need couple time after all!
We’re Not Weird Loners – Honest!
Now, wait a minute, we’re not weird loners who don’t want to talk to anyone else and only want to be with each other! We do make friends on our travels and people do travel along with us from time to time but we understand that because we are two, it can be that bit more intimidating for fellow travellers to approach us and spark up conversation. No one wants to be the third wheel, now do they? Also, because we have each other to watch Netflix and chill with in the evenings we don’t always seek out banging nightlife on our travels. (Not because we’re a little older; no not at all!)
Travelling With a Group
Last month we went on Busabout’s Iberian Adventure for a week, a travel company we had never heard of until quite recently. What is Busabout you say? It’s a travel company that literally ‘bus you about’ – they specialise in hop-on-hop-off, freestyle bus trips around Europe, kind of like the interrailing ticket but by bus. You get on and off at different destinations, you choose where you stay, eat, what you do, etc.
They also have some more organised, trips for one or two days, to a week or more and the Iberian adventure is one of these more organised guided tours. As hard core independent travellers we didn’t quite understand why backpackers would want to be ferried around from place to place without planning and sussing out everything for themselves. Is that not the whole magic of travelling?
BusAbout Iberian Adventure
With a week to spare before our house sitting assignment started in Southern Spain, we wanted to visit some places we hadn’t been to yet in Spain, like Granada and Cordoba and have some typical Spanish experiences like seeing a Flamenco show and eating more tapas than we should! This trip was ideal to see as much as possible in our limited timeframe and with our last minute planning, we would never have lined it all up in time. Although it was quite a whirlwind, whistle-stop tour, visiting three countries and two continents in one week was really enjoyable. In fact, in one day, we had breakfast in Portugal, lunch in Spain and dinner in Morocco – pretty cool!
Most people on the bus were taking a break from planning their itinerary all the time and instead, just sitting back and enjoying a week of being guided around before returning to independent travel. Some people said they loved having all the stress and hassle of planning bus and train times and booking tickets taken out. With limited time, people wanted to maximise their enjoyment and experiences – makes sense to us.
The Social Element
The social element and time saved by doing one of these trips are clearly the main draws. By the end of the week we were like a little family, with our amazing guide Marysol and driver Bruno being the unofficial mum and dad of the group! In Lagos, Portugal we even had an entire house just for the Busabout Crew, with our own private pool- incredible! Everyone got along great and we had a brilliant group of people on our trip. We met amazing friends from South Africa, England, Portugal, Venezuela, and of course ‘Stralia! (Stralian for Australia!), those Aussies taught us well!
The Pros of Group Travel
We stayed in dorms, we played drinking games and had fun with icebreakers on the bus. We all shared travel tips from our home countries or places we’d been that others hadn’t and were heading to next. Everyone’s bucket-lists grew massively from swapping stories throughout the week. It was like a backpacker networking session! We did all the add-on excursions on the trip and it was such a joy not having to worry about booking tickets, arranging times and all the usual odds and ends that come with organising things yourself. Of course, travelling independently is a huge part of how we like to travel but it was nice not having to worry about missing a bus, train or flight.
Busabout, we never thought it possible, but you opened our eyes to the pros of group travel!
Do you prefer to travel independently, in a group or mix it up? Let us know in the comments below.
Noelle is a pescatarian foodie, travel junkie and a massive dog person. She’s a self-diagnosed chocoholic and loves tea, coffee and red wine. She also loves to do yoga and therefore is the sensible, grounded one in the relationship! Noelle loves to really get to grips with the culture of a country and the mindset of the people. She also enjoys picking up a few words in the local language wherever she is and, of course, sampling the local food!
Sign up for our free travel photography Ebook "Faces of Nepal" and you'll also receive our monthly newsletter.
Great post, an excellent way to travel. The social side of group travel is the biggest plus I find and I absolutely agree what you say about being insular as a couple.
Thanks so much for your comment! Glad you liked the post! 🙂
Great post! I also prefer solo/independent travel, but a group tour in Thailand with Contiki changed my mind a little bit! Since then, I’ve been on 2 more Contiki tours and 2 more with Topdeck travel tours. There are definitely pros and cons to group travel, but the no hassle is definitely the biggest PRO! It takes such a load off not to have to worry about that. Also, like you touched on, group travel encourages camaraderie and I’ve built some strong bonds with fellow travellers that will last a lifetime! I do still prefer independent travel most the time, but when I want to hit up many cities in a short period of time or when it’s a destination I don’t feel entirely safe going alone (such as Egypt), I would most definitely take a group tour. I think everyone should try it at least once 🙂
Cool- a lot of the people on the tour had previously done trips with both Contiki and TopDeck and had nothing but good things to say. We’re in the same boat- independent travel will almost always win but it’s nice to mix it up from time to time, meet new people and experience visiting places in a new way! 🙂
Great post! I am surprised by how many places you fitted in, in a week. Did it feel rushed at all? I almost always travel solo and independently. Only taking short day trips or tours with a company, but you’ve opened my eyes to a potential new way of travelling. I have never heard of Bus About, but I’ll look into them.
It was a lot of places to squeeze in in a week but the whole trip was very well managed. It was a nice place to see some of the places in Spain that we hadn’t been before and a fantastic way to meet other like-minded people. It’s the social aspect of it that we really loved- we would have preferred more time in each of the places but that’s us- we always want more time wherever we go! 🙂