We’re all well-acquainted with the idea of solo travel, but what if a gaggle of solo travelers banded together for a group trip, led and hosted by their favorite travel influencer? Enter the new travel trend: influencer-hosted trips.
Traveling with an influencer from a social media platform like Instagram, Facebook or TikTok means you’ll be with other people who follow the influencer and enjoy the same travel style and interests. You know you’re in good hands with the expert and you’ll get to experience the same kinds of bucket-list itineraries that you lust after on your social media feeds. The influencer curates photo-worthy itineraries with vetted tour companies, which means followers simply have to book the trip and flights. Plus, in the era of Covid, travelers can rely on the influencer to keep them abreast of protocols, restrictions and safety policies.
And the benefit for the influencers? Instead of hoping a tourism board pays them to create content, the influencers receive a commission when followers book trips through their links. Leading trips for solo travelers is one more lucrative way to diversify their income and connect with their followers IRL.
We sat down with Alyssa Ramos of My Life’s a Travel Movie—one of the first to launch influencer-hosted travel itineraries when she took a group of eight followers to Iceland six years ago, to get her take on this trend. She’s one to watch: In 2022 alone, Ramos will accompany followers on 15 trips spanning all seven continents. There will be #MyLifesATravelTribe trips to places like the Seychelles, Tanzania and Zanzibar; a three country trip to Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to go gorilla trekking and take a safari; a trip to Egypt with a Jordan add-on; and a new all-female 16-day Mount Everest Basecamp hike, just to name a few.
“The idea that a person can follow someone who inspires them virtually, then have the option to actually go with them to these epic destinations and meet others just like them is what I believe makes this trend so popular,” says Ramos. “People get to meet and go on adventures with their favorite travelers, hear their stories, learn from their tips, recreate those amazing photos and really live the experience you see in photos and videos online. Plus, influencers are professional travelers—we know all the best spots and things to do, plus what to avoid and safety tips. And of course, we also know how to have a lot of fun.”
In December 2021, Ramos led the largest influencer-hosted group to Antarctica with 60 followers—impressive considering how difficult and expensive it is to travel there. “I was one of the first millennial solo travel influencers that got a collaboration with Antarctica companies after first being told that my demographic was not their target audience and that they didn’t think millennials would book Antarctic expeditions,” explains Ramos. “Back then I proposed that if I got five people to book, I could have my spot free. I did, and I went. Five years later, Antarctica companies now approach me to see if I’m interested in hosting my group trips with them.”
What inspired Ramos to start doing these trips? “To be completely honest, I kept getting asked by my followers if they could come travel with me, since I was always traveling solo,” she says. “At first I wasn’t into it, since the point of traveling solo is to be solo, but then I realized that we are all solo travelers, and if we can meet up and be solo together, it might be a lot of fun.”
One thing that sets Ramos apart in her world of travel influencing is her style. She loves to don fanciful gowns as a way to remain true to her femininity while chasing adventure. Even when hiking in Iceland or sailing to Antarctica, she says that wearing long, flowy dresses makes her feel “empowered to not care what others think and to wear what I actually want to wear—plus it makes for unique photos that stand out among all the others.”
Another part of the appeal of traveling with an influencer: It ensures that you’ll be in a group of people similar to you. “Because when you think about it, if you’re all following the same person, you must like what that person does, right?” says Ramos. “For example, without fail, on all of my group trips, I have ambitious, hard working women, who love a glass of wine as much as they love going on a hike and shopping for local clothing to wear in photos.”
On Ramos’s trips, everything is also meticulously curated to the point where you feel like you’re living in your favorite travel Pinterest board, from personalized welcome gifts to decorated dinners and theme nights. Another advantage: “Compared to regular tours, which are around the same price but offer the same typical itinerary all the time, influencer-hosted trips are also a much better deal,” says Ramos.
In addition to creating content and hosting group trips, Ramos has created a sustainable swimwear line (made from recycled sea waste, plastic, and yarn), launched an e-commerce shop, published her first book, Yes, I’m Traveling Alone, and is teaching courses on how to start and run a business from home. She is also going to be the first travel influencer to sell group trips as NFTs. “Recently I gained interest in the NFT community after an NFT brand offered me one of their pieces in exchange for a post, which was valued at the time at only around $200. I turned it down, and now it’s worth $300,000, so that—along with some of the women on one of my group trips telling me I should create them with things like my itineraries—really sparked my desire to create my own NFT collections,” says Ramos.
Most of Ramos’s fellow travelers are like-minded women, but all are welcome. “My trips are open to all genders, however, even though they are all major bucket list adventure trips, I still don’t get a lot of men who join—which I think is funny, because there are always so many amazing traveling women on them,” says Ramos. “The men who have been on my trips all have loved them, and one has even gone on five trips of mine, including recently to Antarctica.”
Besides Ramos’s #MyLifesATravelTribe trips, there are a wide variety of influencers leading groups of their own for their niche audiences. We’ve rounded up some other influencers tapping into this travel trend:
@alexinwanderland and @wanderwomanretreats: Alexandra Baackes, a New York native, leads worldwide retreats with a focus on scuba diving and yoga. Upcoming trips include Israel, Egypt, Thailand and Koh Tao.
@kesitoandfro: Kesi is an American living in Germany who hosts trips to events like Yacht Week, but also has trips to less-frequented destinations in Africa, Europe, South America and Central America.
@justrioba: Rioba is Kenyan influencer who hosts women-only hiking trips to places in Africa like Mt. Kenya and Kilimanjaro.
@OneStep4Ward: Irish influencer Johnny Ward founded Mudita ADventures, a non-profit that brings followers to communities around the world to work on development projects and then travel together. He also plans trips for followers to less-traveled places like Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
@WillHatton_: Will Hatton leads group trips specifically in Pakistan, which he believes is “the greatest country in the world for adventurers.”