Is it the place or the people that define a travel experience?

Where to go and who to go with?

The two biggest questions of travel. The places we go and people we travel with make or break our travel experiences. But the real question is, what's the overriding ingredient of success for the ultimate travel experience, is if the place, or the people?

With 65% of people agreeing that experiences are the most important things in life, you’d think it would be the destination, but is actually the case?

The Place - Lit bucket list destinations

Whether jetting off to blue skies or snowy white mountain tops one thing is for sure – the world is home to some pretty dreamy destinations and if you choose wisely, you’re in for a treat.

Trouble in paradise? We highly doubt it, after all dreamy destination = not much to be blue about! But if you make the mistake of teaming up with an incompatible (read – whiney, lazy, paranoid) travel partner or struggle with the idea of solo travelling, it can be the difference between dream vay-cay and f’ing nightmare.

santorini cliff jumping

The People – Creating incredible memories together

But when you do travel with the right people, holy hell are you in for an absolute win! For anyone who’s travelled before, you’ll know that the bond you create when travelling is insanely intense, after all these are the people you live with, laugh with, learn from and go through a rollercoaster of highs and lows with. Everything is magnified when you travel, you’re stripped back from your surroundings and comfort zone and you have the opportunity to experience something new. The surroundings, heightened senses and adrenaline filled experiences are scientifically proven to sear memories deep into our subconscious, and make them easier to recall. Be it strengthening a relationship with someone you already know or meeting your future best mate, these are the people who will make your travel experience that bit better and the guys who you can look back and reminisce with in years to come.

splashing people in sea

The Place - The experiences on offer

Sure the people can create life long memories, but so can the place right? Be it snorkelling off a coral reef, sightseeing in a historical city or trekking through the outback or remote mountain range – these are the experiences that make travelling so irresistibly addictive. When we go home to our friends and families, what is the first thing we normally talk about? Chances are it’s the beauty/history/intrigue of the place, as that’s what tends to be front of mind.

swinging into lake in new zealand

The People: Strengthening and learning about yourself

BUT, it’s not just the experiences that challenge you when travelling; meeting new people is absolutely key to strengthening your character and taking you out of your comfort zone, especially when it comes to solo travel. Increased confidence is the number one thing you’ll hear solo travellers say again and again, but travelling with new people in general will see you gaining more independence, enhancing your communication skills, challenging your insecurities – all the confidence boosting skills needed to be an A+ person.


girls holding hands in paris

The Place: Experiencing new cultures

Just as the people help you learn, so does the place. Cities inundated with history, wonders of the world, significant monuments, new cuisines and ways of life are an eye opener to say the least. Experiencing a new culture can be everything from jumping on public transport to immersing into traditional festivals and street markets. These are the experiences which make us richer with cultural knowledge of the diverse world we live in.


Italy culture gardens

The people: Learning about different people

Learning from new surroundings also extends to learning about the people you meet in your new surroundings. Travelling is a sure fire way to meet people from all different walks of life who you wouldn’t normally come across. Having interactions with these people will broaden your outlook, challenge you, and help you learn about them; where they are from and their way of life. And it’s not just your fellow travellers who enhance your travel experience; it’s the people who already live there – the locals. To have a truly authentic travel experience that fully immerses you in a new culture, the locals are your way in. These are the guys who know where to go, what to do and have a wealth of knowledge about your chosen travel destination. Yup. people can be pretty great!

So we ask again – is it the place, or the people?

Yes the destinations are what we seek, but the social element is what we crave. 74% of Contiki travellers said the social experiences are the most integral part of their travels, followed by cultural experiences (59%) and food & culinary experiences (57%). Finding the balance between an unforgettable destination and a kick ass travel buddy is absolutely the sweet spot to an incredible travel experience, BUT when we really dig a little deeper it’s the people who make travelling an amazing experience. These are the guys you create long lasting memories with, the people who challenge you, support you, open your eyes and you’re understating, so for it’s the people we’re plumping for as the key ingredient to any unforgettable travel experience.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to head on over to The Travel Project to read more stories on how travel changes lives.