We like to tout ourselves as the leaders of independent travel. But what exactly does that mean? Over the past year, we’ve really hammered down what we believe indie travelers value in both their everyday lives and when they hit the road. We’ve discussed our company’s four core values, what they mean to us, and how we not only work with these core values in mind, but live by them as well.
We published the Indie Travel Manifesto, which perhaps best encompasses how we enjoy our travel. We didn’t do this to define what it means but rather to share what’s important to us, so we can surround ourselves with like-minded people.
The thing about indie travel, and all travel for that matter, is that there is no black and white, despite what you may read or hear from others. Indie travel isn’t about what you look like, who you travel with, how much money you spend, or whether or not you take a guided tour. Indie travel is all about mindset. It’s about getting something more out of a trip than simply seeing sites and relaxing (you can still get more out a trip while seeing the sites and relaxing, by the way).
Families and indie travel
We are always in communication with travelers, offering tips, assistance, and motivation to get on the road. One of the excuses I hear most often about someone not taking an indie trip is because they have kids. When discussing our travels with anyone who has a family, I’ve heard some variation of the phrase, “You’re so lucky. I soooo wish I would have done that before we had a family.”
There are so many families out there who think their only travel option is a family-friendly cruise, Disney World, or beach vacations. Frankly, that is a copout. An excuse. A way to justify not taking a risk. It’s possible to do so much more than that. There are countless families out there right now traveling indie style, making it a priority in their lives. Some are even doing it long-term, giving up their homes, cars, and most of their possessions, to share the travel and educational experience with their families.
Janet McManus makes it a point to take a trip abroad each year with her family, saying, “It is a chance to experience the world as a family. We shop at local grocery stores or markets, we travel as locals do, we use it as an opportunity to see how families live in other parts of the world.” McManus prioritizes family travel because, “It stretches my mind. It keeps me anticipating all the incredible things left in the world to see and do. It is a time when my family and I ‘unplug’ from the TV and even the internet to a large extent. No texting, few emails – it is a wonderful change of pace.”
Not only is taking an indie trip as a family good for family dynamics, bonding, and simply spending time together, it can also be an incredible learning experience, for everyone involved. Jennifer Miller, who has been living and traveling abroad with her husband and three children for five years now, says, “Long term travel and allowing kids to spend enough time slowly soaking in other cultures to have their eyes opened gently teaches lessons that really can’t be learned any other way.”
Can taking a tour be Indie?
Taking an indie trip, whether it’s solo, with your spouse, significant other, partner, brother, sister, friend, or family, can encompass a wide variety of activities and experiences. There are lots of people who automatically dismiss a certain destination, style of travel, or activity before they ever try it, just assuming it won’t be for them. But how do you know until you’ve actually tried it? I’m no different, as I’ve continuously written off things like cruises for this very reason.
But it’s time we get rid of those preconceived notions. Taking guided tours is the perfect example of these “myths” that people believe in. There is a whole subsection of travelers who think they’re too cool to take a guided tour. Thinking that it’s sterile, they won’t get an authentic experience, or it’s a rip-off.
McManus says, “We are almost always independent travelers. Prior to our trip to Morocco, the closest we came to a guided tour was only when we would take a 2 hour tour of a special venue. We love to study our destination and then travel at our own pace. [When planning a trip to Morocco] my husband refused to drive, so a tour was our only option.”
When searching for a tour for her family, McManus “was interested in a tour that would be small, didn’t change hotels every day and went at a slower pace. We prefer to experience real culture – not just ride a bus with 50 people just like us.”
They decided to go with Intrepid Travel because of “the slower paced tour and the guaranteed departure for just the 3 of us. It very nearly was just the 3 of us with Issam as a guide! Just a couple of weeks before the trip we learned that a mother and daughter would join our tour. At first I was disappointed. I thought I wanted our “private” tour, but then I met Andrea and Lucy. They are now some of our closest friends. They have even vacationed with us again – and we are planning a third adventure now! We (our family and Andrea’s family) are looking forward to hosting our guide, Issam, this winter. It was the right choice for so many reasons!
There are countless tours who can provide these same awesome indie travel experiences for a traveler in any situation. Just like anything in life, stereotypes are rarely a good thing. When it comes to travel, it’s time to throw away those preconceived notions and start trying new things. If you have a family and never thought indie travel was possible for you, think again. If you have consistently ignored the idea that a tour could be awesome, reconsider those thoughts and give it a try. Travel is all about opening your mind to all possibilities, so it may be time for you to take a chance!
Intrepid Travel is a small group travel company that specializes in off the beaten path adventures and authentic cultural experiences. This week, Intrepid unveiled a new group of family trips to cater to those parents and children that seek more profound travel experiences – families that would rather ride elephants than rollercoasters. With over 50 trips ranging from Morocco to China to India to Peru, and everywhere in between, deciding which trip to take is the hardest part!
To read more about taking Indie trips as a family, check out the following articles and resources:
- 21 Reasons to Travel Around the World with Kids…From Those Who Have Done It
- Long term travel as education
- 5 Steps to Simplify Family Travel
- Why Raise an Indie Traveler?
- Getting Outside The Box: One Family’s Journey to Full Time Travel
- Check out our favorite family travel blogs
Tomorrow we take a look at 7 of the most sustainable breweries around the world – in some cities and countries that you may not be expecting.