Solo traveller Claire Scott makes friends on a 34-day travel adventure with G Adventures’ new travel brand
It’s 1.25am and I’ve just landed in Amsterdam, ready to embark on a tour of 20 cities across nine European countries with a group of travellers I’ve never met before. I’m a little apprehensive, but it turns out I need not have been. Little do I know, as I make my way to Generator Hostel in Oosterpark, that I’ll be spending the weeks ahead with wonderful, adventurous strangers, ticking off bucket-list destinations and forging friendships in hostel dorm rooms.
I’m travelling with Roamies, the new brand developed by G Adventures and Hostelworld for those aged 18 to 35. Roamies trips cover Europe, South America, Central America and southeast Asia, and encourage social interaction for young travellers while they see as much of the world as possible on a budget.
Since the first departures in the early summer, Roamies has been picking up momentum among young travellers seeking a new way to make friends and go on adventures, says Brian Young, managing director for G Adventures.
“The hostel element of our Roamies trips attracts solo travellers and those from the traditional backpacking community who love this style of travel and the unique friendships that can be made in these social hubs,” he adds.
While I’m taking part in the 34-day Roamies Ultimate Europe trip, covering the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece, there are also 13 shorter tours across the continent. And every day proves to be pure adventure.
I soak in a sunset from an abandoned fortress in Montenegro, hike up to Pravčická Archway in the Czech Republic, swim at night among glowing plankton in Corfu and drink in picture-perfect views from Srd Hill in Dubrovnik.
All this is still ahead of me, though, as I climb into a bunk bed in the Netherlands in the early hours at the start of my summer adventure.
Hostels with Character
Hostels can be hit and miss, but Roamies has selected accommodation for comfort, cleanliness and atmosphere. The Generator Hostel is a perfect example: located in a converted university building, it retains its character along with its modern features, street art walls, bar and coffee shop.
On day one, I meet the ‘Roamies’ who will be joining me for the first leg of the tour. There are 10 of us, hailing from the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. Our tour leaders are fantastic. Federica has a particular love for Prague, and her knowledge of the quirky parts of the city make this stop particularly special. I love seeing the book installation at Mestska Knihovna public library – a large, cylindrical art piece made out of books and mirrors that make them seem to go on for infinity.
One of the highlights is in Italy: a food tour of Rome with archaeologist and guide Chiara. If there were an award for a bar with the most interesting backstory, Antico Bar Pasticceria Mariani would win, hands down. In the 16th century, its owner saved Pope Sixtus from being assassinated and, as a reward, the pontiff created a law that ensured the bar would be owned by the family forever. The bar technically has its own laws and is considered separate from Rome.
Food and drink is also a strong theme of the Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece legs. As a foodie, our tour leader Yannis Fillipou, from Crete, has insider knowledge of the best Greek restaurants, which makes for great pit stops in between visits to bunkers in Tirana, beaches accessible only by boat in Corfu and a perfect sunset spot by the Acropolis in Athens.
The family-run Sunrock hostel, where we stay in Corfu, feels more like a resort. On its huge sundeck, we watch the sun going down over Pelekes beach while sharing some of the best meals of the trip. Food is grown on the family’s farm – and they make their own feta and wine.
Pelekes is also an extraordinary spot to go night swimming: we see bioluminescent plankton glowing in the water under the moonlight
At every hostel, it feels easy to strike up a conversation with other guests. These include the Old Town Hostel in Kotor, Montenegro, where staff arrange boat trips, game nights, excursions and a barbeque. I opt for mixed dorms for the entire trip and it is a really positive experience. However, there are also female-only dorms and private single-sex shared rooms.
You’d think that after spending every minute of the day with my fellow travellers I’d be eager for some ‘me time’, but I find it hard to say goodbye to my new friends. Roamies trips are built for the generation who want to make up for two years of lost travel. So expect daily adventures with people who are ready for excitement, spontaneity and new experiences. And as someone who entered the pandemic at 28 and came out of it aged 30, I feel like this trip finally scratched that travel itch.
By Stu Darnley, national sales manager, G Adventures
1. There’s a huge misconception around hostels that needs to be overcome. Many think of cheap, crowded, dirty dorm rooms, but the hostel community has changed a lot in the past decade and now there are some seriously stylish options. Roamies trips feature the best hostels from the Hostelworld portfolio, with heritage properties, rooftop bars, swimming pools and BBQ parties all on offer.
2. For young adults, who they are travelling with is almost as important as the destination. Roamies trips are designed to drive social interaction and generate great friendships. And they’re ideal for those who are a little anxious about travelling or are planning to travel solo.
3. The Roamies trips are designed to be grouped together. If someone only has a week, then there are plenty of options but, if they want to travel for longer, grouped itineraries are also on sale, allowing them to travel for longer without having to stop.
For more information, visit gadventures.com