It’s been more than a year since we’ve learned about COVID-19 and its devastating impact. After the states started closing one after another and implementing restrictions on social life by introducing quarantine measures, the society began to undergo many important changes. While we constantly hear from the news, TV and social media that our economy has been hit hard, the travel industry has suffered significantly and unemployment has been at its highest in generations, one important aspect that has been downplayed and oftentimes overlooked is the shift in relationships, our limited communication with friends and family, and the emotional hardships triggered by that.  

As an immigrant, I lacked both the opportunity to see my family who live abroad and to connect face to face with the few friends I was able to make when I moved to the US. Luckily, my husband and business partner were here with me. Regardless, my heart was going out for those people who were on their own, without a way to reconnect with their best friends, celebrate important family milestones or simply catch up on the latest events of each other’s personal lives. And speaking of personal lives – meeting new people and dating during COVID became even more challenging than before.

With restrictions becoming more relaxed and the borders opening up, we have an opportunity to travel, resume our social lives and meet with friends again. However, we lost more than a year of shared experiences and memories and it may take a while and lots of effort to bring friendships to the pre-COVID level and to make meeting new people less awkward. Do you still hug and give kisses on the cheek? Is it still acceptable to order a shared dish at the restaurant?

As a co-founder of a travel marketplace, I’ve been seeing more and more people booking their vacations, trying to make up for the lost year and starting to explore the world again. Our company has always prided itself on offering group tours that help to connect people by identifying matching personality traits and finding common interests within a group of travelers. At the end of the day, we are all about connecting people and building meaningful relationships while discovering the world and creating life-long memories.

And while we’re happy to welcome all of our travelers back, we’re even more excited to be a place that gives people an opportunity to make up for the long year of missing face-to-face interactions, shared experiences, and being surrounded by other humans. We’ve been encouraging our clients to bring friends along on a tour with them because we believe that many of them want to enjoy time together with those dear to their hearts and do something together – whether it’s climbing mountains or exploring new cities or helping the locals restore their village in a remote non-tourist area.

Here are the three main benefits of group travel for anyone who’s been struggling with isolation over the past year:

·       Build long-lasting friendships or solidify your existing relationships: Whether you decide to bring your best friend or travel solo to meet new friends, a group tour is a perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and turn these connections into long-term friendships. Meeting and bonding with new people in a casual everyday setting may be challenging as it takes time to discover the new person and see what you may have in common. By embarking on a tour, you already have a few things in common that you don’t need to dig for, and this common adventure experience can help you become closer in a matter of days.

·       An easy way to break the ice: For those who may not be social butterflies, building connections doesn’t come naturally. Especially after a year of isolation. Signing up for a group tour may seem like a challenge at first, however, once you’re a part of it, the friendly environment and like-minded fellow travelers make it easy to break the ice and find a kindred spirit.

·       Create long-lasting memories with a supportive group: Traveling solo has its benefits – you can be as free as a bird, follow your own schedule and do things without adjusting to the others’ lifestyle. However, how often do you run into the challenge of not having anyone to share your excitement with or even take an Instagram-worthy photo at a breathtaking location? Being a frequent traveler and taking solo trips in the past, I can relate to that. Traveling with a tour of like-minded individuals helps you experience your itinerary to the fullest, discuss the most memorable moments, share your excitement, and recharge your own energy levels by being surrounded with the excitement of others in the group.

Like rebuilding the economy post-COVID, re-establishing human connections takes time and effort, and I believe that group travel is an opportunity to not only explore the world and satisfy your wanderlust but also to get closer to your existing connections, make new friends and have life-long memories of a great experience together.