Solo travel vs group travel in Canada – what’s the difference?
How many is too many times to go to Canada? I hope the limit doesn’t exist because I’ve been four times. It was my first solo trip, a home while I worked there one summer and despite being a travelling content creator, it’s the one place I always return to. You might say I knew everything Canada had to offer, but that all changed when I went on a Contiki and experienced it with a group.
Over the last three years I’ve been lucky enough to have the freedom to solo backpack around different parts of the world and I had fallen in love with my solo adventures so much that I hadn’t done much group travel. However, after traveling alone for an extended period of time I would often get annoyed that I have to keep planning the next day when it comes to accommodation, transport and activities. Was group travel the answer?
Like most people, I had the expectation that it would feel quite restricted or limited compared to doing it solo, but boy was I wrong! Doing Canada & The Rockies with Contiki meant travel that was already planned out, scheduled and booked! This meant I could just sit back and enjoy my trip to Canada this time without having to worry about my next reservation or where I was going to sleep tonight which made my trip so easy and fun. Group travel ended up being nice and flexible as we were constantly given different options for the day, but what truly surprised me was the people.
I have never met so many awesome people in such a short period of time. It is amazing how everyone on the trip can become so close in just 11 days! Some of the friendships formed on the trip were so tight that they ended up being in a relationship after the trip ended! We had Australians, British, Canadians, Americans, Mexicans, South Africans and a couple Kiwis, so straight away I had friends from all over the world and that (plus all the inside jokes and shared moments) is something that can only come with group travel. It definitely changed my opinion about traveling in larger groups as the whole experience is just as rewarding to that of a solo traveller.
It was so refreshing to explore Canada with people that haven’t been to the country before. For some it was even their first time outside of their home country full stop! It gave me such a fresh perspective on locations I’d seen before as I was experiencing my group experiencing them for the first time. I can’t confess that my previous knowledge of Canada came in handy when others were asking questions (that’s what the Trip Manager is for haha), but seeing HUGE mountains, lakes, bears, deer and even squirrels through everyone else’s eyes made it feel even more special.
For example, I had seen Lake Louise many times before and I knew it was beautiful, but when the group saw the famous Canadian landmark for the first time it definitely changed how I saw it too. The wide variety of reactions from everyone as they gazed on the crystal blue water of one of Banff’s most loved lakes made me re-appreciate where I was and what I was experiencing. In all honesty, that happened every day in different little ways as we travelled through the beautiful Canadian landscapes. It wasn’t just landscapes though. When my Contiki mate Amanda discovered TimBits for the first time (if you don’t know what TimBits, they are a very yummy donut here in Canada) it was so much fun watching her get addicted to their deliciousness just like me.
The other cool thing was that even though everyone was different and had different interests, the trip catered to all styles of adventure. Whether you love cities like Vancouver, or are all about the nature and want to see what Banff has to offer. We fit SO much into everyday and I don’t think anyone came away thinking Canada didn’t have anything to do! We would often get to the end of the day and be shocked at everything we had accomplished. Canoeing in the morning, a gondola after lunch, zip lining in British Columbia’s Kamloops in the late afternoon, followed by a great dinner at night.
My personal favourite experiences (if I can only choose three) were the zip line in Whistler, walking on a real glacier in Athabasca and KARAOKE! Karaoke just has a way of creating a very unique bond with you and the rest of the group. Someone volunteered my friend Rudolph and I for a rendition of Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On”. Let’s just say Rudolph and I shared a special bond for the rest of the trip that cannot be undone haha!
If you haven’t been to Canada, I’d obviously recommend it. Seeing it with a group made it a totally new experience, and even if you’ve done that before, seeing it in a different season is a must as well. Canada has a huge flip in seasons, with the summer being really hot and the winter being really cold. It’s a great country for those extremes and your experience will change depending on when you go. After seeing the national parks in summer, it only makes me want to come back in winter more to see the same locations in a different season. I can only imagine how pretty the lakes and mountains would look frozen and snow-capped instead of green and lush. Plus, skiing and snowboarding down mountains in Whistler that I’d previously hiked in summer would be epic!
To sum it all up in three words, experiencing Canada with a group was all: adrenaline, laughs and friendship.
Want even more Canada? Check out our Canada trips and why it’s the ultimate all rounder here.