Size does matter
Dec 2, 2020
It’s approaching 4pm on the first day of a trip. The group’s about to meet for the first time and there’s a sense of anticipation, excitement, and nerves in the air. One of the guys is getting ready in their hotel room, another is a few drinks in at the bar already, but both are thinking the same; “will I like everyone in the group? will they like me? will my trip leader be all that I’m hoping for? will this be the trip of a lifetime – one that I’ve been saving up for and dreaming about forever?” That sort of thing.
I’ve never taken a cruise or one of those big coach tours, but I would imagine the anticipation joining a group of 50 or 5000 travellers would feel a little different to joining one with just 15.
Ever since I was 19 and begun venturing overseas on my own, I’ve been drawn to a more intimate group travel experience, one that would allow me to really connect with my fellow adventure-seekers. I know lots of people who have gone on big group tours and had an absolute blast! But I always wondered if those people ever got the opportunity to really get to know their travel companions the way I like to.
In all the years I’ve lead trips with Detours, I’ve lost count how many genuine connections I’ve witnessed among guests, not to mention those I’ve experienced first-hand, there’s just nothing like it. Friends always ask me what I love most about my job, I always tell them despite being a tough job navigating a million moving parts simultaneously, the reward for me is the same; getting to know (and I mean really getting to know) so many wonderful people from around the world. It’s inspiring!
It’s when I look across the dinner table and see guys in deep conversation, or when I happen to catch a glimpse at exactly the right moment when someone’s breath is taken away realizing their dream came true. It’s also the laughter I hear from a gaggle of gays first-time ziplining, zorbing, rafting or hiking in a jungle together. But perhaps more than anything it’s the times when we’ve all worked as a group to solve problems even the best team-building text book couldn’t come up with – like holding a fallen tree off the road in torrential rain so that the residents of a small Thai island can pass and get home to their families, navigating an impending typhoon, or the world shutting down due to a virus unlike anything we’d ever seen before. You get the idea.
When we plan out our big trips, we often think of the sights we'll see when we're there, or how we'll greet someone in their language, or maybe what the local food will taste like, but incredibly, it tends to be a lot of the other times that we least expect that will become our memories of a destination, like the conversation we shared with someone passing the time during a van ride between destinations, or dancing in the rain to cheesy 80's music from drinking one-too-many cocktails, or the moment we pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone and experienced something for the very first time, with someone we'd only just met.
Thinking back to that first day of the trip, when each of those guys were anxiously awaiting their first meeting, I bet none of them knew back then just what adventure would lay ahead, or the connections they’d make from sharing those experiences. They may have taken a risk by agreeing to travel with a handful of strangers, but they returned home with some new friends and lifelong memories because of it. I’d say that’s a risk worth taking. And if it was the smaller group size that made all the difference, than I’d say the answer to that age-old question is true, size does matter.