Think of this as a grown-up gap year-style getaway
Ever wanted to go on a road trip, around, say, the Scottish Highlands but had no idea who would ride shotgun with you? Well, you’re not alone. According to a Trip Advisor survey, 74% of women (out of 9,000) have travelled solo.
Enter, The Flash Pack.
A ‘flashpacker’ is a solo traveller in their 30s and 40s who’s outgrown hostels and backpacks but hasn’t tired of that same adventurous mentality we had at 18. Basically, you want fun – but not at the sacrifice of comfort and style.
And, not one to make you ride coach, the Flash Pack curators recently partnered with MINI Countryman cars for a holiday in the Highlands where you get paired up with a fellow traveller so you can swap who drives and who takes in all the sights. It’s sort of like online dating but for the ideal travel buddy. Flash Pack do all the online stalking they can legally do to make sure you’re matched up with someone like-minded and in return, you get to do incredible new experiences with fun, new people.
Now, as an outgoing introvert (meaning I can do social situations but I definitely need some downtime, too), I was slightly concerned. But really, I needn’t have been. As dinners approached, conversation flowed as freely as the wine (and whisky).
The Scottish adventure was divided into days which included something as equally exhilarating as the evening fun that followed – as well as a knowledgeable tour guide for any burning geographical or historical questions.
Arriving into Edinburgh, we were met with our decked out 4×4 cars, complete with snack packs, wireless phone chargers, fold down picnic benches and [optional] 90s tunes. Lunching at the sumptuous setting of Scone Palace, we all bonded over tea and fear of the bridge swing above the River Orchy that was to come.
The MINI countryman car drove like a dream, and considering you had none of the worries of car insurance or excess payments, it felt like your own. I even named mine ‘Sensible Susan’ (because as a new driver, I like to follow the rules meticulously, ok!?) which was handy when communicating/bantering with the other cars. ‘Sensible Susan, over and out.’
The bridge swing was an adrenaline rush, that’s for sure, but it came after a relaxing drive through Glen Coe which you’d recognise from Skyfall. And, since we were driving in the same spot as Bond, what’s a little stunt like a bridge swing eh?
The first evening closed with some glamping in yurts, huts and cabins (overlooking Ben Nevis, no less) after a freshly cooked barbecue from a New York natural gourmet institute trained chef – and yes, it suitably included some local Scottish gin.
The second day started out with some kayaking around the white sandy islands of Arisaig Bay (as well as steam train spotting for Harry Potter fans, as it was the same model used to moonlight as the Hogwart’s Express) before embarking on a safari.
Driving off-road on private land, we searched for Scotland’s ‘Big 5’ (AKA golden eagles, red deer, otters, red squirrels and seals) before taking everything (and all the photos) in around Kinloch Laggan.
Then, we ditched the cars for some whisky and chocolate tasting at Scotland’s highest distillery at Dalwhinnie because, well, it would be criminal not to.
The penultimate day saw us zip-lining through Alvie Estate’s pine trees (as you do) before retiring to Fonab castle and spa for some much needed R’n’R (and regular and veggie haggis.)
All in all, would I recommend a stress-free but stylish holiday with new, fun, like-minded people? Aye, I would. And considering Scotland recently beat Canada and New Zealand in a poll tracking travellers’ favourite destinations, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting your own mini adventure too.
Flash Pack specialise in adventure group holidays for solo travellers in their 30s and 40s. Head to flashpack.com/ MINIWilderness to read more about the adventure.