Being “on form” is something that I quietly dread. I’m not exactly shy – on those ridiculous extrovert-introvert scales that are churned out now and again, I fall squarely in the middle – but nevertheless, the idea of banter is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. I don’t want to perform, or be pulled into a subtly competitive scenario where everyone is trying to outdo each other with their shining wit (jokes are part of the problem… what if you don’t laugh in the right place?). And I like meeting strangers, but only on the proviso that I have an escape route. Otherwise the pressure gets too much.
So, I fully understand how the concept of a group tour might be a turn-off for introverts. Here you are, stuck making conversation with people you don’t know every night for two weeks. You’re in the depths of Colombia or the Myanmar countryside, so pulling a Houdini – my favourite party trick – is out of the question. Worst case, you’ll be surrounded by luminous, guffawing characters with whom you have absolutely nothing in common. You’ll feel awkward and ill-at-ease, and the whole thing will be less of a holiday and more of a paid-for ordeal.
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Only Flash Pack isn’t like that. Our small group adventures are versatile enough to accommodate all manner of people, whether you’re a perennial social bee or someone who craves their own space. Here’s why:
The adventure does the talking
For us, travel is about the thrill of the challenge. We’re not Bear Grylls but equally we’re not going to lie around by the pool for a fortnight. We want you to come away from our trips feeling sated and alive, like you’ve stretched yourself. As travel writer Jonathan Thompson, who has joined us for several adventures, puts it: “Flash Pack manages to cram more elements into their long weekends than you’d ever dream possible”. We do the same for all our expeditions, whether you’re navigating a snowmobile across the Finnish outback, climbing the peaks of Peru or mastering the art of ninja fighting in Japan.
The point is, when your days are overflowing with epic experiences, the pressure to chit-chat is off. You won’t struggle to think of what to say to your fellow Flashpackers, because you’ll be too busy trying to work up the courage to bridge swing above the River Orchy in Scotland. Lulls in the conversation won’t be a thing when you’re playing volleyball on Brazil’s Copacabana beach.
Intimacy comes naturally
Simultaneously, these standout activities lend a natural bonding point for our groups. Forget forced banter or manifested hilarity. Life-altering moments have the uncanny knack of weaving genuine and indelible connections between our Flashpackers (check out our reviews to see more on this). You’ll be drawn closer without even realising it as, together, you conquer Cape Town’s Table Mountain, or release baby turtles from a hatching project in Sri Lanka.
“When you come on a group tour with us, we remove all those pesky everyday obstacles – there’s no northern line commute or bills for you to sort out,” explains Flash Pack’s co-founder Radha Vyas. “Instead, you’ll fill your time doing epic things with epic people. These kind of experiences bring together people quickly but naturally, and create meaningful, long-lasting friendships.”
The best bit? You’ll barely even notice this process is happening. No effort or painful silences, just good old-fashioned intimacy…
You’re treated as an individual
In her smash hit Ted talk, The Power of Introverts, American writer Susan Cain recalls how, as a child at summer camp, she was told to stop reading books because it was anti-social and didn’t foster camp spirit. Flash Pack categorically disagrees with this approach. Our groups are typically made up of not only of a.) grown-ups but also b.) independent solo travellers. People who know what they like, and are curious to discover new places. Our small formats (14 at the max) provide a framework for security, logistics and moral support as you do this. But rest assured, we’re not going to make you hold hands, wear hats or sing group songs.
While all of our trips feature relaxed opportunities to get to know your fellow Flashpackers – over beachside drinks in Bali, say, or a cooking lesson in Sicily – we also schedule in time for you to spend by yourself (if you wish); whether that’s reading a book, exploring the local town or hitting the beach alone. We trust you to do what you want to do, and we’ll take care of the rest. For introverts, the beauty of this is that you have room to be who you want to be. You can hang out with the group, or you can take some alone time. There’s no overpowering group culture that’s foisted upon you. Some Flashpackers form lasting friendships, others simply enjoy hanging out together on the trip. The choice is yours, and the pressure is off.
Our groups are carefully matched
Flash Pack specialise in bringing together like-minded travellers for incredible trips: and the like-minded bit is crucial. We only do adventures for solo travelling professionals in their 30s and 40s. It’s the magic of what we do. We think very carefully about putting together groups, and if you’re sharing a room, we’ll do the same. Room-sharing may well be a sticking point for introverts but lots of our roomies really connect, remarking afterwards how well-matched they’ve been.
“It’s sort of like online dating but for the ideal travel buddy,” notes writer Delphine Chui, who recently joined us on a Highlands road trip. Flash Pack, she says, “make sure you’re matched up with someone like-minded and in return, you get to do incredible new experiences with fun, new people”.
If you’re an introvert who comes aboard for a Flash Pack trip, the chances are you will love your group. As well as age and professional background, you have curiosity and a passion for travelling in common. A ream of exhilarating activities will pull you closer, and also mean you’ll be far too busy doing stuff to be self-conscious. It’s pretty hard not to connect, in other words.
That said, you have the freedom to be who you want to be. If that means taking some alone time at night rather than heading out for a drink, that’s totally fine. Flash Pack is a no-strings framework for adventuring in style, with people like you: no imposed “fun” or banter required.
Photos: Shutterstock and Flash Pack