I (a non-blogger at the time) joined 15 bloggers at a blogger retreat in Italy in 2019. The trip was through TrovaTrip, so this post is a review of TrovaTrip and an explanation of what happened at the retreat.
I also want to disclose here that there are affiliate links in this post, so purchasing from them help keeps She Travels running! Rest assured that I’d never recommend anything that I don’t wholeheartedly support.
Raise your hand if you live in the US and you’ve ever had this thought:
“I don’t want to travel to Europe until I can spend a significant amount of time there – it’s just not worth it otherwise!”
That was me in November 2018. I thought I had to spend at least a month in Europe to see as much as possible. That’s the only way the long, expensive plane ride would be worth it.
My now good friend, Helene (of Helene Inbetween), announced that she was hosting a Blogger Retreat in Italy the following May. Now, I had just started following Helene about a month before she made the announcement. So, naturally, I didn’t really think about going at first.
Then I thought – When will I actually go to Italy? Why NOT right now?
I asked Helene a couple questions about it and, in true Millennial fashion, booked the trip before I even asked my boss for the days off.
And then it hit me…
“What’s a Blogger Retreat?”
I had started and abandoned many blogs in the past, but I never considered myself a “Blogger”. Helene assured me that it really didn’t matter. I didn’t have to attend the blogging workshops if I didn’t want to – I could just come to make friends.
Generally, any kind of “retreat” is centered around a specific topic that everyone is interested in and you all spend some time together working on and talking about that topic.
A “blogging retreat” is no different. Bloggers from all over the world can get together and have some like-minded people to talk to about their blog!
This was a little different in that if a non-blogger went on the trip, I don’t think they’d feel out of place. This is exactly how I went in – as a non-blogger.
Since I knew I’d be skipping the workshops and I figured I’d want to do a lot of things on my own instead of with a bunch of strangers I just met…
I planned quite a few solo activities
I booked an Airbnb experience to go horseback riding through the Tuscan countryside. The plan was also to skip the Vatican tour that everyone had planned together.
I was going to be an independent queen!
And then I met everyone.
The first night…
We all went to dinner to get to know each other. Then, we promptly came back and drank ALL THE WINE in the hotel lobby.
And BOY did we get to know each other!
We talked about everything from travel adventures to significant others to our hopes, fears, and dreams.
Something happened in that hotel lobby that made us all connect on such a deep level and that made the rest of the trip so much better.
We were rooming with someone at each place we stayed and it just felt like I was traveling with a group of close girlfriends (and a couple of their husbands!).
Everyone felt this. It was kind of insane how close we all became in such a short period of time. We would say (and still do) that it’s because Helene is so great at fostering a community of kind, comical, fun people that we all just got along so well.
My perspective started to change
Remember how I said I was a non-blogger and I wanted to do things alone? Yeah, well that all changed!
Listening to everyone talk about their blogs and what they’ve been able to do because of them inspired me to get back into it (and here we are, today!). I also decided not to skip the blogging workshops. I figured I’d need some tips to kick my butt back into gear.
Helene did a general blogging workshop and a photo editing workshop. Her husband, Michael did a photography workshop. They were all so so informative. I still use a lot of the tips and strategies we talked about over a year later!
Not only did I attend the workshops, but I also canceled and skipped every single thing I planned to do myself. I couldn’t even get a refund for some of them, but I just knew I’d have such a better time hanging out with my new friends.
I still talk to some of these women on a daily basis. They’ve become some of my closest friends, even though we live nowhere near each other!
Sound like something you’d like?
If you’re reading this and thinking “hmm, maybe I’d like to go on a group trip,” here’s what you need to know!
The trip was setup by TrovaTrip with Helene as the host. TrovaTrip is a company that helps topic experts create, plan, and execute trips based on their topic of expertise. I put together this TrovaTrip review to let you all know just how I feel about them.
From what Helene told me, she worked with TrovaTrip to plan the itinerary and figure out a price they wanted to charge for the trip (the price includes everything except flights and most meals).
What’s nice about TrovaTrip, specifically, is that they have trip managers with you the entire time. Aleks and Hope were our two trip managers and they were incredible! Aleks had lived in Italy for a while, so she was very knowledgeable about the area. She even helped me get to the Apple store when my phone broke and I couldn’t communicate with any of the taxi drivers – read more about that here!
Aside from helping when things go wrong, the trip managers were there to get us from place to place and make sure everything went smoothly. The best thing was that they were so fun to be around. It almost felt like they were just traveling along with us!
A few tips
Since Trovatrips’ trips are all centered around a specific topic, I’d highly recommend you choose a trip that you’re at least remotely interested in.
I realize that I said I wasn’t really interested in blogging when I went on this trip, but I suppose an exception to this is if the host is someone you are very familiar with and you know you can connect with them. I know I click with people like Helene who are laid back, funny, and adventurous. Chances are, the people that go on the trip will be like that, too.
Do some Insta-stalking if you have to!
The most popular trip topics I see on TrovaTrip are Adventure, Yoga, and Photography. So, if you’re interested in any of these, there’s a trip for you! TrovaTrip also lets past travelers review their experience, so you can find more opinions on their site, too.
These are such a good idea if you really want to travel and maybe don’t have someone to go with, but don’t feel comfortable traveling alone quite yet.
Trust me, the friendships that come out of it will be worth the nervousness going in!
One more tip is to extend the trip! I decided to head to Italy a few days early and explore the Amalfi Coast before heading to Rome to meet up with everyone.
If you have some extra time and want a taste of traveling solo, tack on a few days to the beginning or end of your trip to give yourself that experience.
The question I know is on your mind
Everything I’m saying here is my 100% honest opinion – this trip was incredible. I would have paid twice the amount I did if I knew I would have as good of a time as I did.
However, I was genuinely curious how much of the money we paid actually goes to the activities and hotels, and how much of it was profit for TrovaTrip.
So, in the least offensive way I could muster, I asked one of our Trip Managers when we were in Florence. After she answered, I knew I’d have to put what she said in this TrovaTrip review.
She said that surprisingly, most of the money we pay actually goes toward activities and hotels. They obviously have to make some money to pay the salaries for the people working at TrovaTrip, but most of it is put to good use.
She also explained that since they host so many trips and they’re usually buying tickets and hotel rooms in bulk, they get discounts that you wouldn’t be able to get if you planned the trip yourself. So, that’s how they’re able to use the extra money they saved to pay their employees.
Getting Straight to the Point
If you’re thinking about a group trip, do it!
If you’re wanting to travel, but no one in your life wants to travel with you and you’re not ready to travel alone, a group trip could be the answer to your prayers.
Admittedly, TrovaTrip is the only company I’ve ever done a group trip with, so they’re the only group trip company I can review. However, it turned out so great that I probably won’t need to try another one. Their care and dedication when it comes to the trip-goers’ experience is likely one-of-a-kind.
Just ask my friend, Laurel, who went on not one, BUT TWO TrovaTrip Blogging Retreats! She wrote a post about why you you should try group trips – check that out here!
Have you ever gone on a group trip and/or are you thinking about it? Have you had an experience with TrovaTrip that you’d like to add to this review? Tell me about your experience or any questions you have in the comments!