Group travel has come a long way from its outdated reputation. In the past, it was associated with traffic-blocking buses, screechy megaphones, and overcrowded landmarks. However, a new generation of travel companies is revolutionizing the concept, catering specifically to millennials and Generation Z. These innovative group trips ditch the tour guide flags and invite solo travelers to explore remote corners of the world with like-minded individuals. This article explores the exciting transformation of group travel and highlights some of the leading small-group operators for modern travelers.
1. Redefining Group Travel for the New Generation:
In the past, group travel may have had a bad reputation, but that’s changing. Today’s group tours focus on immersive cultural experiences, striking a balance between work and play, and even enabling travelers to pursue their passions or volunteer. This shift is a response to the societal move towards more individualistic experiences, which has led to increased loneliness and disconnection. Michael Youngblood, co-founder of the Unsettled travel community, shares insights on why more people are actively seeking group travel to belong to something and bond with others.
2. FTLO Travel: For the Love of Travel
FTLO Travel, founded by Tara Cappel in 2016, is on a mission to help solo travelers in their 20s and 30s explore the world and connect with fellow adventure enthusiasts. With 250 unique trips to 30 destinations and counting each year, FTLO immerses travelers in once-in-a-lifetime encounters. Trips range from five to eight nights and include a maximum of 15 people, most of whom join solo. FTLO takes care of accommodation, transportation, activities, and meals, while leaving room for spontaneity.
3. Sojrn: Group Travel with a Twist
Sojrn, a sister company of FTLO Travel, taps into specific interests and hobbies, offering “adult study abroad” experiences. These educational trips dive deep into fascinating topics, such as art and architecture in Barcelona or wine in Tuscany. Trips last two or four weeks, allowing participants to explore a new destination and bond with fellow travelers during hands-on activities.
4. Unsettled: Connecting Remote Workers and Creative Professionals
Unsettled, founded by Michael Youngblood and Jonathan Kalan, offers a global travel community for remote workers and creative professionals. They prioritize meaningful personal connections and adventure while embracing a slower pace of travel and better productivity for remote work. Unsettled’s approach attracts a diverse crowd, combining remote work with offline adventures, creating a strong sense of community.
5. G Adventures: The Pioneers of Solo Group Travel
G Adventures, founded by Bruce Poon Tip in 1990, offers organized trips that blend the thrill of solo travel with the convenience of traveling in a group. They have expanded to offer over 750 tours across all seven continents, catering to various trip styles, including active journeys, wellness escapes, and immersive “Local Living” experiences. The introduction of Roamies by Hostelworld in 2021 caters to budget-conscious young travelers.
6. Travel Girls Getaway: Empowering Female Travelers
Vanessa Rivers founded Travel Girls Getaways in 2017, bringing adventurous women together to explore new places, acquire new skills, learn about local culture, and establish lasting friendships. The company offers impactful adventures, including the eight-day Malawi Safari & Charity quest.
7. Flash Pack: Upscale Adventures for Solo Travelers
Flash Pack, founded by Radha Vyas and Lee Thompson in 2014, provides upscale holidays for solo travelers in their 30s and 40s. Their trips focus on active bonding experiences and unique activities, making it easy for travelers to make new friends later in life.
8. Under30Experiences: Independent Travel for All Ages
Co-founders Matt Wilson and Jared O’Toole established Under30Experiences in 2012 to help people travel independently without feeling lonely or overwhelmed. While the name suggests a younger audience, the company caters to various age groups, offering affordable getaways and immersive journeys.
The transformation of group travel has ushered in a new era of exciting adventures for millennials and Generation Z. These next-gen group trips prioritize community, connection, and immersive experiences, making them an attractive option for solo travelers seeking meaningful connections. The growth of small-group operators reflects the increasing demand for this type of travel experience.