Do you love adventure but are afraid to travel by yourself? Does the thought of visiting a new destination alone scare or frighten you? I had these exact thoughts, up until I experienced my first ever solo adventure abroad. Last October, Contiki asked if I wanted to experience Peru on their (truly) epic 11-day Inca Panorama trek. Of course, I said yes but I had no idea what I’d signed up for.
When I first told my family and friends about this trip, they were excited for me. But they all asked the same question: who are you going with? I responded with an “I’m not quite sure” because really, I didn’t know who would be in my group. So, I began to overthink. I asked Contiki if there were any other Canadians who would be part of this trip and they told me another content creator by the name of JR Alli was going to be travelling with me. I already heard of JR from his YouTube videos, so I sent him a DM on Instagram and we began to chat until our departure time. Although I was nervous and a little afraid of what may happen during this trip, I was so excited. I absolutely love travelling. It’s just that I’ve never done it solo.
Departure day arrived and I remember saying goodbye to my girlfriend and leaving my condo building early in the morning to catch my flight to Peru. Over 10 hours and one connecting flight later, I arrived into Lima’s airport at night. I had spoken with JR and he was supposed to meet me at the airport, but with no cell phone service or WiFi, we had no way of contacting each other. I remember feeling sick to my stomach, and nervous because it was night, and I had no idea where to go to meet him. Thankfully, I eventually found him after 30 minutes and we made our way to the hotel.
The trip began with a kickstart meeting and it was a great way to meet everyone that would be part of our mini Contiki family. As the days progressed, I slowly began to familiarize myself with everyone in our group. It was inevitable that I was going to meet new friends on this nearly two-week adventure. With early mornings, immersive travel experiences, late dinners and clubs, I began to open up a lot more – more so than when I’m back home. My experience with Contiki never felt unplanned or boring. We were constantly on the go, and that made for endless stories that I will cherish forever.
So, you might be wondering what travelling with complete strangers for the first time is like compared with travelling with family or friends. Three words: different but good. Travelling alone is one thing but travelling alone with Contiki is quite another experience. Exploring the world with Contiki just teaches you so much more than doing it yourself. You become so much more independent, open-minded and just free. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy travelling with family and friends, but this was a completely different experience. It really forced me out of my shell. Meeting new friends from different parts of the world, exchanging stories, and all while experiencing one of the Seven Wonders of the World – priceless.
Fast forward about a week into the trek, and we embarked on our journey to Machu Picchu. This has always been on my bucket list. I have never felt more excited waking up at 5AM to pack up our gear and set out on this adventure. I admit, this wasn’t the easiest of hikes, but we all knew it was going to be worth every ache and sore. Being able to proudly say “I hiked to Machu Picchu” is something not everyone can brag about.
Five hours into our hike, we started to see through the clouds. Low and behold, we had arrived! It felt like Christmas morning for me. As tired and exhausted as I was having just hiked for five hours, I somehow found another source of energy and put it in high gear to race to the end. I was the first from our group to arrive with no one behind me. I remember being covered in sweat, blisters on my ankles and being out of breath. But none of that mattered because I had made it. I stood there just staring at this magical, indescribable, unbelievable view. Standing up in the mountains, seeing the clouds fly by, feeling the cold breeze flow through my hair. I had never seen or felt anything like it. I would have never been able to finally experience Machu Picchu had it not been for Contiki and me getting over my fear of travelling alone.
If you’re on the fence about travelling by yourself, believe me when I say it will change your perspective on life and travel forever. It will teach you how to adapt to any circumstance, make new friends and make socializing so much more pleasant. I still chat with my “Contiki Family” in our group chat on Facebook and I will definitely plan a reunion soon. I would recommend starting small, maybe a weekend trip by yourself and slowly progress from there. I absolutely loved my experience with Contiki. Being able to travel across Peru is incredible on its own. But to share these memories and experiences with new found friends is indescribable. This was truly an adventure of-a-lifetime. I will never forget this beautiful journey with my new #ContikiFam.