One criticism of group travel is that people aren’t as likely to lose themselves in a place or culture. People say offbeat places are only for solo travelers and group travelers will miss out on those. Alex Martin of Off The Path Travel has set out to fix that.
His website offers “authentic responsible itineraries throughout Asia” and “intimate small group tours” that focus on taking travelers beyond the tourist route and the guide book. In an interview, he spoke to Bobbi about why he prefers traveling in small groups, his experience going with local guides to tiny villages in Thailand, India and Bhutan.
Tell us about one experience when you went on a holiday with friends, workmates or family?
I’ve done a lot of group travel and I have loved most of it. One of the most memorable experiences was when I first started guiding, tours I took an internship with an educational tour company and traveled with them in Thailand, India and Bhutan. We spent most of our time in small villages while students did different independent study projects. Our group was wonderful. Everybody was very close and acted as a great support system for each other. The director of the program said that when the only problem a group has is being a few minutes late to meetings, mostly because they’re so busy experiencing the culture, there really isn’t a problem at all. This was that type of group.
Where do you think would be the ideal destination for groups to travel to and why?
I prefer traveling with groups to off-the-path villages. In smaller communities, everybody is very tight knit and when a group comes in, they are able to sometimes relate to that more than a solo traveler. A good group acts almost as if they are a tribe and villagers can relate to that type of value system. I also think that traveling in more rugged places, such as parts of India, hill tribe villages in Thailand, or Mongolia are ideal places as having a support system during tough experiences can be very beneficial.
What is one tip you have to traveling with other people?
Just because you are traveling with a group doesn’t mean that you need to conform to them or the other way around. Celebrate everybody’s individuality and you’ll learn a lot more from the people you travel with.
Who is a random person you’d like to go on a trip with? Why him or her, where would you go and what would you do? Famous, real, dead or alive, it can be absolutely anyone.
I’ve wanted to take my parents to India for a very long time. They’ve visited me in Thailand and Vietnam before, but haven’t found the time to tackle the subcontinent. I think it would blow their minds. I especially want to take them to Varanasi and trekking in the Himalayas.
What is one annoyance you have with traveling with other people?
Not really anything annoys me, but there are challenges. Traveling with a group causes you to look at yourself and how you react towards others. When you are with somebody all of the time, you’re bound to have disagreements and different opinions. I find this to be a very healthy thing as it challenges both people involved to consider other points of view on the world and life. It’s a great way to influence personal growth.
Thanks for speaking with us Alex!
If you want us to interview you for group travel chat, leave a comment below and we’ll be in touch.