group travel-cover

I landed in Managua without any expectations for my upcoming Under30Experiences trip through Nicaragua. When my flight touched the tarmac at Augusto C. Sandino International airport, I had the same questions and pre-trip jitters I remember having when on my first group trip to Morocco the year before.

Who would my trip mates be? Would we get along? Would I fit in? Would there be cliques?

On that past Morocco trip, I had been the only American amongst a sea of 16 Australians and although they were wonderful to travel with, I often was on the outside of inside jokes about their home country. The issue was this: it seemed that when it came to group travel, younger Americans were a few steps behind the rest of the world. While Europeans and Australians had openly embraced organized group tours as a way of life, the stigma of rigid itineraries and fanny-pack toting tourists still clung to the image of group travel back in the states.


I met with my Under30Experiences group in the food court of Managua’s airport. One by one, each girl rolled up with a smile on her face and a shy hello as we introduced ourselves and where we came from. Much to my surprise, my trip mates all hailed from the United States, which seemed to challenge those previous notions that group travel has yet to catch on with Americans. Each girl had come to Nicaragua for a different reason–some to escape daily routine, others to soul search—yet the common thread for choosing group travel was for its convenience and ability to easily fit into their work schedules back home.

Solo travel can take ample planning to come up with a route, research the destination, connect with other travelers and ensure your safety. Traveling with friends can feel like herding sheep as you struggle to find a perfect time, price and destination to suit everyone’s liking. Group travel, on the other hand, is like the perfect compromise as it takes away the task of trip planning but retains the promise of adventure and meeting new people. It’s a trend that seems to be catching fire–even in the United States–as more and more people are opting for the ease of a planned, group trip that fits their budget and schedule.

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Following my Nicaragua trip, I had decided to attend an Under30Experiences happy hour in New York City hosted for travelers who have been (or will be going) on a group trip. As each person grew starry eyed while recounting their adventures in Costa Rica or Iceland, I noticed that the main selling point behind them choosing group travel was how seamlessly it fit into their busy, work schedules. Whether in marketing, finance or another industry; these travelers had managed to find a way to both balance a full time career and their love of travel. With countless articles touting people’s decisions to quit jobs and travel the world, it can often seem that balancing a career and wanderlust is impossible; yet here was a group of people that had managed to find a real way to do it.

My Nicaragua trip was no more than 5 days, yet in that time I relaxed on the beach, tried my hand at surfing, volunteered with children, learned about local artisans, danced the night away with my trip mates and even went hiking to scenic views. I could see the appeal of these short but satisfying group trips and how someone with only 10 paid vacation days a year could take a quick trip that would show them a new country and introduce them to amazing people. It seems that group travel is the new way to journey into the world; the perfect middle ground between solo travel (as you arrive in a destination alone to meet a group of strangers) and traveling with friends (as your trip mates quickly become your family abroad).


I’m back in New York now as I think back fondly to late night mojito-fueled conversations and lazy, beach days in Central America. My trip mates and I have all gone our separate ways–scattering to the wind and returning to our lives, jobs and relationships back home. The end of the group trip is always bitter sweet but no matter where life takes us, I know we’ll always have the memory of Nicaragua.