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Featured Image Credit: Matej Kastelic / Alamy Stock Photo / Mirko Vitali / Alamy Stock Photo
Now that testing and travel restrictions are beginning to dwindle across the world, holidaymakers are starting to get excited about group travel plans again – and rightly so.
In fact, a recent study by Hotels.com found that almost 40 percent of global travellers are planning to go on holiday with the sole purpose of meeting new people in the future.
So when Josephine Martin, 21, was invited on a week-long Virgin Voyages cruise around the Mediterranean with a friend, she jumped at the chance to socialise in a group setting on holiday again.
“I normally talk to people and make friends on holiday,” Josephine told LADbible. “I’m still friends with a girl I met in Tunisia back in 2010 and my family have friends that we still visit who they met back when they were teenagers.
“So, I’m used to making friends and talking to people when on holiday,” she told us.
Having spent time with a group of nine others while on board the 2,700-capacity ship – aptly named the Valiant Lady – Josephine toured hotspots like Sardinia and Corsica, and even had the chance to hit up Calvin Harris’ residency at Ushuaïa while in Ibiza.
“There was loads to do and never a dull moment,” she told us of the restaurants and nightlife on the ship.
Her favourites of which included the hands-on Korean BBQ restaurant, Gunbae, the crew’s very own circus re-telling show of Romeo and Juliet, Duel Reality, and their infamous red-themed party, Scarlet Night.
But a particular highlight for the Surrey-based woman was bonding with three Americans around a table full of all-nighter breakfast food in the Galley and a bottle of Patron following her night out in Ibiza… At four o’clock in the morning.
“The American women were so cool to meet. It was so nice of them to order us food and hear about their jobs and lives.”
While she headed on the trip with her friend from home, she ended up meeting others who hailed from the same area in Ireland as her own family, while almost 2,000 miles away from her origins – opening up the dialogue for common ground.
She told us: “Meeting someone else from the same area as me, Roscommon, was interesting. It’s such a small world and it was a good conversation topic.
“I would definitely do another cruise. It never appealed to me before but being on the cruise we went on has changed my mind, it was amazing.”
Elsewhere, 25-year-old Mitch Ashton Butler from Melbourne, Australia, headed off to Beaujolais – a rural wine region just north of Lyon, France – with three friends from high school in a bid to meet new people during their travels in Europe.
The trio were ‘looking for tours’ before stumbling upon the Contiki Chateau Big Weekender – a three-day extravaganza in the rolling hills of France which promised ‘partying like French royalty’.
“The thing that sold it for us was when we looked at the itinerary, there was literally only one date and that’s it. We thought, ‘that’s gonna be awesome, we’re gonna do that!’"
And French royalty was what they became for three whole days as they undertook wine and cheese tasting, a ‘sip ’n’ sketch’ event and a larger-than-life pool party – all while residing in the 16th Century palatial property.
“I mean, it’s a chateau,” Mitch simply said. “Unless I rented a car and knew about this area, I wouldn’t come out here.”
The trip is the shortest leg of the videographer’s ‘three phase’ tour across Europe, meaning that his new connections could be fleeting. But this wasn’t a problem for the videographer.
“The one-time events like this, while they may not build as close as a family bond and while they may not be as adventurous as travelling from city to city, it’s still this,” he said, signalling to the impressive building in front of him. “It’s still a chateau party.
“But so far, I’ve met some great people, and you just take their Instagrams [to stay in touch].”
Also on the trip was 23-year-old Max Bevacqua from Heathfield, Sussex, who had previously only been on family and ‘lads’ holidays before this.
The Big Weekender marked the first group holiday for the salesperson, who was at first a bit uncertain about making new connections.
“I was probably a little bit worried, but I soon figured out that everyone’s super chill and here for a good time. Everyone gets along really well.
“It’s one of those things, we’re all just here to have a good time and have fun with it.”
Despite working in travel himself, Max enjoyed taking a backseat with planning the trip, and instead let Contiki’s passionate mentors guide him through the highlights of the tour.
“It just takes any stress of planning and organising out of it so it’s a massive relief and it’s hassle-free and it’s a great way to meet people so, in that aspect, it’s great fun.”
Now that Max has embarked on his first group tour, he’d definitely be open about trips like these in the future.
“I’d probably think about [going on another group holiday], it is a good way to meet people.
“Say you wanted to travel around a bit more, it’s a great way to start on a group trip and meet people and go from there.”
For travellers like this, the previous impact of Covid on their travels doesn’t matter. All that counts is that they’re back together now doing what they love.