Group Travel vs. Solo Travel: Why DIY Isn’t Always The Way to Go
With all of the hype surrounding travel as a way to break out of your comfort zone and grow, should you choose solo travel or group travel?
When we first developed the idea of the work and travel program, we got a lot of questions. 1) What does that term even mean? 2) Why would I join a program when I could just work and travel on my own?
All great questions.
Let’s start with the first inquiry: what is a work and travel program? A work and travel program is an organized experience in which participants have an opportunity to keep their jobs and work remotely while traveling the world.
Second question: why would I want to do that?
The real question is: why wouldn’t you?
In today’s digital age where most work can be done remotely, you might have considered taking your work on the road. You imagine yourself in cities like Medellín, Valencia and Kuala Lumpur, excelling in your career while living a “dream life”. You’ve seen those photos of people “working” from crazy places like at the top of a mountain or with their toes in the sand. Seems like a pretty nice life.
The one thing nobody talks about when it comes to working remotely? How much effort it takes to do it in a meaningful way. Whether it comes down to the hours, the cost, or even the headspace, traveling on your own while working can feel like a second job.
That’s where work and travel programs come in. If you’re looking for a way to see the world while continuing to grow professionally, without the extra stress and anxiety that comes with solo travel - we think you’ve found your solution.
There are definite downsides to solo travel, even though it may appear like a glamorous opportunity for personal development and growth. Solo travel gives you flexible, customized experiences (since you’re handling everything yourself 😊), but also comes with a ton of responsibility (because you’re handling everything yourself ☹️).
With so much on your mind (work, flights, Airbnbs, work again, internet, etc.) you’re bound to run into an issue and make a mistake or two. Then you’ll be on the hook to find a solution.
Work and travel programs not only alleviate, but eliminate, the challenges associated with solo travel. Not only do they make traveling more manageable from a logistical standpoint, but they provide a few extra benefits you wouldn’t get from going it alone.
Traveling on your own can provide you with a lot of opportunities for self-reflection. Every time that you land in a new city, you’ll have time for all the peace and quiet you want. And alone time. And then, more peace and quiet. And alone time.
When you finally start to crave human interaction, it’s on you to not only find and introduce yourself to other people, but it’s on you to keep the relationship going. The truth of the matter is this: it can be difficult to truly connect with people when you know that you’re going to be heading to a new destination in a few weeks, let alone a few days.
Exhibit A: the surface-level get-to-know-you conversations.
You’ll be sick of asking, “Where are you from?”, “How long will you be here?”, “How long are you travelling for?” or “Where are you going next?” before you know it if you travel on your own. Sure, you’ll get some great recommendations for where you should head to next, and yet…
You don’t feel connected. These aren’t really “your people”. Though your interactions with them are meaningful in the moment, once you’ve moved on to your next destination they become memories more than connections. They don’t belong to you anymore than the sea outside your window or the sun as it sets over the city that you’re living and working in. They’re great companions for now, but as soon as you head to the next place, you won’t bring them with you.
The thing you may not know about solo travel? It can be lonely and isolating.
But with a work and travel program, you get a built-in community… on day 1. That means, month after month, city after city, you work and travel with the same group of people. This continuity, this community, gives you the opportunity to develop close bonds, instead of having to start over whenever you travel to a new city.
Communities on remote work and travel programs are built on a foundation of trust, support, empathy, generosity and new beginnings. These friendships are almost indescribable - and hands-down the most life-changing part of the entire travel experience. These are the people that keep you grounded and give you the comforting sensation of having “roots”, even when you’re flying around the world. These relationships are forged over nights spent singing along to acoustic tunes around a campfire on the beach, bolstered while braving it through a challenging hike to the top of a mountain that provides the best views you’ve ever seen, and solidified when you realize that you never want this adventure to end, because it means that you’ll have to give up seeing these beautiful souls every day.
These are the types of meaningful connections that you create while on a work and travel program that aren’t guaranteed when you’re travelling on your own. Would you want to miss out on that kind of magic?
Think about your current average day-to-day workload. You’re busy right? There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get your work done and, when you do check everything off of your list, you’re exhausted, only to find there’s another to-do list waiting for you tomorrow.
Do you really want to add extra hours of work to your week? Time spent searching for flight deals or your next Airbnb when you could be exploring the city that you’re living in? That’s what it’s all about isn’t it - having a more flexible schedule so that you can experience the things that could make an impact on your life?
On a work and travel program, everything is handled for you. Your flights are booked ahead of time, all you have to do is show up to the airport, bags in hand, ready to take on the world. You’ll have door-to-door transportation from the airport to your accommodations. Travel days have never been so smooth.
When you arrive in your new city, you’ll make yourself at home in your accommodations for the month. Often these are apartments in popular, safe, central locations so that you have access to all of the incredible things that the city has to offer. You’ll probably be living in the same building as other members of your work and travel program, so a friendly face is only an elevator ride away.
The area that you live and work in are scouted ahead of time to ensure your safety. Along with choosing ideal locations for you to live, work and travel programs enlist the help of other resources to make sure you’re good-to-go throughout your journey. After spending years becoming staples in the local community, work and travel programs have established trusting relationships with local governments and emergency services. By relying on a work and travel program company instead of your own individual resources, you can be sure that your safety is always a priority.
Finally, when you’re ready to get down to business, you won’t have to spend a day or two finding a café with great WiFi. Work and travel programs hook you up with 24/7 access to a coworking space near your accommodations. Coworking spaces are inspiring, productive and often have a unique cultural flair to remind you that you’re living like a local in an amazing city. Think: room with forest-inspired wallpaper filled with bean bags to get you in a relaxed state of mind, or a vintage car that has been turned into a booth where you can set up a day of efficiency. You’ll be able to book time in private call rooms when you need to have a video meeting, or collaboration stations when you want to hold a brainstorming session with other remote workers.
Unique Local Experiences
As a traveller, you’re exposed to to-do lists, recommendations and guides on how to “See Everything in Europe in a Day”, or something similarly farfetched. You probably already take them with a grain of salt, but there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on some of the more enveloping experiences that your destination has to offer, simply because you’re a traveler, not a local (yet!).
Work and travel programs have on-the-ground staff members who are locals in the city that you’re visiting. They’ve either lived there their whole lives, or for a significant portion of time so that they have a unique understanding of what makes the city tick, what its history means to its people and what experiences would be most contribute to personal development for a traveler.
For example, if you traveled to Buenos Aires with a work and travel program, you might take tango lessons from a renowned educator. You might join an Argentinian family for a genuine asado and ride horses onto a polo field with actual athletes. In Split, you could set sail for a day on the Adriatic, then have work with local women to prepare a meal with the catch of the day. In Kyoto, you may hike to the top of Daimonji, and enjoy a sunset over a home cooked Japanese meal. These experiences would be incredibly hard to come by on your own without longtime connections in these cities.
If you’re looking for a challenge, something that requires detail-oriented work and multitasking, you might be interested in solo travel. Planning each step of your adventure could be appealing to you, instead of stress-inducing. However, if having a community of like-valued people to support you each step of the way sounds more your speed, seek out a work and travel program. You will still have every opportunity to experience the world in new ways, growing personally and professionally along the way - just with a bit less to worry about.