I’d always dreamed of exploring Patagonia and it was with that thought that I ended up signing up on my own for an epic group adventure with the Flashpack.
As with most of my escapades it started with a kernel of an idea that I couldn’t shake and quickly escalated. I found a great trip through Argentina and I almost signed up until I realised that out of 12 nights, three would be spent on long distance buses. Been there, done that and got the t shirt from my backpacking days and like my participation in Tough Mudder it was ‘fun’ at the time but I have no desire to do it again!
I’ve done plenty of travelling since then, two week trips squeezed into annual leave and planned to the nth degree to see as much of the country as possible as combined with my growing love of cool and funky hotels. This time it was just me with the travel bug so I ume’d and ahh’d for a bit about whether I really wanted to go to the other side of the world with a group of people I had never met!
The Flashback had me at hello with their ethos of adventure and backpacker spirit combined with luxurious and interesting hotels. So, feeling brave I booked my place and I’m so glad I did. From white water rafting down Petrohue River to watching the sun set from the sand dunes of the Atacama desert it was a fantastic experience. If you’re wondering about taking the plunge, here’s a few things I learnt along the way:
I don’t always have to be the travel agent.
Now any of my friends that have travelled with me will be scratching their heads and looking confused at this point as they know that really, I do! I love to research routes and options and find awesome places to stay. So, initially it felt a bit weird trading ownership of my route but in return I got something really quite awesome. One of the highlights of my trip was the Atacama Desert. It took me by compete surprise – we hiked, cycled and got up in the middle of the night to enable us to see geysers at dawn. I would never have picked it out on a map (yes, turns out I’m one of the only people who hasn’t heard of it!) but it is one of my favourite memories.
Active holidays are so much more energising than lying on a beach
For me a good holiday is one where I can combine exploring, exercise disguised as adrenaline filled activity and doing absolutely nothing. Whilst I’m not adverse to lying on a beach I really wanted to experience an action packed adventure. We did lots of stuff that pushed me out of my comfort zone at times and also balanced this with down time. I came home feeling energised not lethargic and half a stone heavier.
Travelling with a group of solos is as much of an experience as the adventure you embark on
What if I don’t like someone in my group? To be honest that might be the case but the groups are a nice size to spend time together or apart and the overriding thing is that everyone is in the same position as you – they have paid to experience an amazing adventure in a cool country and they really want to enjoy it. My group bonded quickly and I’ve kept in touch with a number of my new friends.
That said, it isn’t the same as travelling with people you’ve known for half a lifetime, it’s a different type of trip but to me it was a life experience that I will never forget. Compromise is good for the soul and seeing things through the eyes of others is brilliant for opening your mind to new possibilities.
Solo travel is the greatest act of self-care
I’m a typical extrovert, I love people and if my boyfriend is to believed I can be a little chaotic. A few years ago I would never have dreamed of travelling on my own, I would definitely have worried about not having anyone to talk to, but the older I get the more I realise that taking time out to just be and experience the world is really important. It made me realise I can do anything I want to do.
Buy really, really good waterproofs!
The Chilean lake district is just like the UK one except with even more rain! Enough said. Oh and the hot chocolate is amazing – I picked up a bit of an addiction.