Group tours can be a confidence booster

Stephanie Warner and her travel companions trek through the jungles of Costa Rica. Photo Supplied

Stephanie Warner and her travel companions trek through the jungles of Costa Rica. Photo Supplied


, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

Heather McIntyre always wanted to fly to the other side of the world.

The idea of venturing to far-off lands made her tingle with excitement. The thought of doing it by herself, however, was somewhat intimidating.

The 26-year-old Edmontonian had travelled alone to California, but to get off the continent she needed some assistance.

A former co-worker from Australia was going home for three months and encouraged McIntyre to visit. McIntyre accepted the offer to spend a week in Sydney, then joined a tour with Contiki, which introduced her to the world of group adventure travel.

"I am fairly independent, but to go a few weeks by yourself would get kind of lonely," said McIntyre, who was itching to sign up for another group adventure when she returned home to Canada. Within a month she was booked on a tour of southeast Asia.

"It's kind of nice doing the group thing because you know where you are sleeping that night, but you are still having a sense of adventure."

According to Timothy Chan -- of Canadian-based G Adventures, which has operated globally for 22-years -- nearly 40% of people who sign up for their tours are travelling solo. G travellers come from all walks of life and take tours for a variety of reasons, he added.

Most want to make an authentic connection with the places they visit, which the company does by using locally owned businesses, restaurants and accommodations. A knowledgeable guide also gives travellers unique experiences they won't find in a guide book, Chan said.

Others simply enjoy being with 10 to 12 people who have a plethora of stories to share about their journeys around the world.

"They are looking for adventure, wanting to get out of their comfort zone and try something different," Chan said. "It's a great way to get your feet wet if you are new to travel or haven't been to a specific destination."

Stephanie Warner always wanted to travel alone before she walked down the aisle. In 2010, the engaged 28-year-old Calgarian decided on Costa Rica for a solo adventure before her wedding.

But Warner was uneasy about the safety of travelling alone in a foreign country, especially since she didn't speak the language. She signed up with with G Adventures for a three-and-a-half-week group tour, and plunged into the experience of a lifetime.

A local guide created the deep cultural experience Warner was looking for, but she still had the freedom to do some adventuring on her own.

Warner is now hooked on group adventure travel and plans to do it again. Next time, however, she'll bring her husband along.

"Being with complete strangers for weeks, they become your best friend(s), like you've known each other your whole life. I didn't expect that," she said. "I would do it again in a heartbeat."

For more information on G Adventures, visit