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No Travel Partner? No Problem.

A good travel partner is hard to come by; even if you get along with a person on a day-to-day basis, that friendship doesn’t always translate on the road. But I have been very fortunate to have had two wonderful travel partners over the years, my great friend Holly and my husband Michael.

It’s not often you can spend six months with someone, 24 hours a day, and not have a disagreement, but that’s what Holly and I did when we backpacked in Australia and New Zealand after graduating college. From that experience, our passion for travel bonded our friendship and we continued to have some incredible adventures in Nepal, Thailand, Belize, Guatemala, and even the Pacific Northwest.

And when I started dating Michael, I knew he was a keeper when he jumped at the chance to join me in my pre-planned trip to surf camp in Costa Rica. We’ve since had great trips including our nine-week career break to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Laos.

But there have been times when I’ve wanted to travel but my partners weren’t available. I’m a pretty independent person and many people will talk up the wonders of solo travel, but travel is the one thing I don’t like doing alone. And it’s not that I am afraid to travel alone, it’s just that I like having company while on the road – but not too much company that I want to join a large tour group. 

And sometimes I want to do something where it isn’t exactly ideal to do alone, like camping in Alaska and the National Parks of the South West. When a place calls me, I have to go! So what’s a solo traveler to do when they don’t want to travel solo? I found the answer in small group tours.

My first experience with a small group tour was in 2001. That trip started in Nepal and Thailand with Holly, but we parted ways as she traveled back to Australia and I went on to Vietnam and Cambodia - two places I had wanted to go to for many years. I was very nervous about being a single female traveler in those countries so I found some small group tours to join.

I went through Intrepid Travel because I found them to be an expert in travel throughout South East Asia. Plus, I liked that their groups were no larger than 10 people and the tours I chose also used locals as the tour guides. In addition, we weren’t locked in to a schedule the entire time. In fact, in Vietnam, our guide helped us get from point A to point B (which was excellent when it came to navigating the rail system) and gave us an over view of the places we stopped, but once there, we could do what we wanted. So the tour gave me the comfort level I was looking for but the independence that I thrive on.

After that extended trip, I decided that for my next travels, I wanted to explore my own country for a bit – especially the National Parks. But I ran into the same problem – no one was available to go with me. That’s when I remembered a company called Trek America.

I first heard of Trek America when I was in Australia in 1995. Some other backpackers from Europe had mentioned that they used them when they came to the States and I was intrigued. So intrigued that I actually applied for a job with them and was offered one as a tour leader (I ended up taking another job in the non-profit sector). Here I was seven years later and finally doing my first Trek trip!

I had wanted to visit the South West – especially Bryce Canyon, Moab, Monument Valley, and the Grand Canyon. Trek America had a perfect trip that encompassed all of these areas. They provided our group of 10 with a driver/tour leader, camping equipment, a van, and the route. The rest was up to us, including food shopping, sharing cooking duties, and choosing activities. And as most clients are generally from overseas, as the lone American in the group, I loved making new international friends in my own country!

I had such a fantastic experience with Trek on that trip that I decided to also do a trip to Alaska with them the following year. They have a wide selection of tours throughout North and South America that can last from as little as seven days to two months. And they also have lodging tours in addition to camping.

So if there is a place that is calling you, don’t let the absence of a travel partner deter you from going. Small groups tours are a great option that offer you the comfort level you may want and the independence you desire. 

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