I always said that if I wanted to leave the life that I live, I would start a tour company that catered to mid-level professionals who are not young backpackers or retirees. I've been looking for a solution in that in between--a tour that would take care of the details but allowed me the chance to experience the culture of the locals without the backpacker accommodations and drinking every night mentality. I booked The Flash Pack (https://www.theflashpack.co.uk/) Vietnam and Cambodia tour in April 2015 for the holidays hoping that I had found the perfect solution in The Flash Pack.
The Flash Pack, a relatively new company, promised basically the world for a group tour. A tour company for 30-40 somethings that offered luxury accommodations, a schedule that allowed for independence, biking/kayaking/hiking, a group that was no more than 10 people, and local tour guides in both countries. It didn't seem gimmicky, the tour stops that were included seemed different than other tours I checked out. These other tour companies are what I like to call "out of the box" tour companies. You know those tours--the ones where you follow the prescribed plan and have to pay for all the “extras”. You stay in mid-level accommodation and often see other tour groups on the same route. The Flash Pack promised a little bit of adventure, some down time, major sightseeing, and plenty of local experiences.
After saying goodbye to my group of 10, what’s the verdict? This tour was one of the best I have ever been on.
The Flash Pack delivered a product that was consistent to what was advertised. There were some things that weren't exactly as expected, but their execution was sustainable, local, and exceeded expectations. There were few hidden costs, the accommodations were top notch, and the details were all covered.
Of all of the compliments I have for this tour, I think five stood out. The five I feel absolutely set The Flash Pack apart from other tour companies I have traveled with.
1. The age group.
I was one of the youngest on the trip at 30 years old. There are definitely some hurdles traveling with the 30-40 demographic, but overall all of us had the same mindset. We’ve traveled before, we’re independent, and we’re looking for new authentic experiences.
2. The tour guides.
We only had two tour guides for the two countries we were in. Both grew up in their countries and could comment on what local life is actually like. They stayed with us the entire time in their respective countries, they were very knowledgeable about the history, acknowledged their countries past, and were excited when we asked more about their culture. Both were incredibly charismatic and wanted to integrate with our group and not just be the leader.
3. The small group.
We had 10 people on our tour. All of us had different personalities, backgrounds, and jobs, but all of us had one thing in common: we love to travel. That alone united us as a group. We could split into smaller groups, or we could stay as one big one. We all bonded with different people, but at the end of the trip we were all sad to leave because all of us had connected in some way with each other.
4. The pace of the trip.
I never felt rushed on this trip. Don’t get me wrong, it was jammed packed. But not rushed. It was a good pace that I felt like I was doing everything, but at the same time there was no pressure to go out at night, a good night’s sleep was always possible (not that we always took it!), and if we wanted to opt out on an activity it was totally okay.
5. The owners.
I got super sick on the fourth day of the trip. Let’s just say nothing in the world was helping keeping anything down. The owners texted me a “get better soon” and communicated with the tour leader to make sure I had my own room and was as comfortable as one could be tossing all the cookies in the world. That simple gesture meant the world and showed me that the owners actually know their customers and tour leaders and are invested in making the tour travel experience amazing.
I could go on and on about my experience for the 14 day trip (which actually turned into 15 days because most of us stayed an additional night). This trip was truly amazing but it also wasn’t all puppies and rainbows. There were challenges and hard times, but at the end of the day our group came together and overcame any differences or hardships. I’m walking away with 11 new friends that I hope to travel with again. Bottom Line: Thank you Flash Pack for creating such an amazing trip and fostering an incredible community while traveling.
Be on the look out for further posts on this amazing 14 day trip.