TRAVEL

Tips for post-lockdown group getaways

You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your (travelling) friends.

On 26 March 2020, all non-essential travel came to a grinding halt, scuppering any plans for a well-deserved getaway. Now, more than four months later, we finally have the green light to explore our country again! Not seeing friends and family during this time may have you itching to plan a group getaway, but Shaun Lamont, the managing director of First Group Hotels and Resorts advises to err on the side of caution when it comes to picking your travelling friends.

He says that it can be tempting to get swept up in the excitement and glamour of planning a trip away, but unless the ground rules are decided on ahead of time, an exhilarating holiday can quickly turn into a painful one.

“The success of a holiday with friends hinges on careful planning, complementary styles of travel and the right mix of people. If you fail to carefully plan your trip in advance, it could end in ruined friendships!”

He offers 5 tips to planning a group getaway that will leave you with magical, lasting memories and friendships intact.

Spend quality time with your would-be travel mates

It goes without saying, but a night out or a couple of drinks around the braai does not offer you real-life experience of a person’s temperament. So, before you jump in and start planning, be sure to spend quality time with your potential travel mates before you go away (think a couple of day trips). Get to know them better; after all, your common interests will shape how you’ll be spending your time. Want to explore the countryside? Your regular drinking mates may not be the right-fit. They may, however, be perfect for a girls-only weekend down the coast, or a boy’s golf tour.

Agree on the budget

According to an American market research company Harris Interactive one in five people have lost a friend over a money dispute. Money is a sensitive issue and can be one of the toughest parts of planning any trip. Ensure that you don’t become a statistic by agreeing on the budget beforehand. By doing this, you will avoid your plans being disrupted because you or your travel buddies didn’t bring enough cash, leaving some unsuspecting soul to foot the bill.

Less is not always best 

hat starts out as 22 people, can often fizzle out to no more than four or five individuals. Awesome! Less is best, right? Not always. Remember the less people, the more vocal, the less flexible and the more argumentative people can become. It’s just human nature to be more tolerant when you have more people to consider. Plus, bigger groups are often rewarded with bigger discounts! For example, many of First Group’s properties offer a per unit rate, which means the more people in the unit, the lower the rate per person is.

Use technology to your advantage

We know what you’re thinking, “Not another WhatsApp group!” Andy is always posting lame jokes; Sally insists on having the last emoji and Wandile hates small talk and so *Wandile left group*. WhatsApp groups can be annoying at best, but they can also be a powerful communication tool to get everyone on the same page. Granted, you may need to set some ‘rules of engagement’ up front, but it is great for quick decision making and sharing critical information. Use it to your advantage and you won’t look back.

Assign duties

Too many cooks spoil the broth! Ensure that you appoint a leader, not necessarily to make the decisions, but rather to co-ordinate group efforts and, don’t leave it there. Give everyone a task/duty, social media queen? Ask her to capture special moments. Star negotiator? Get him to bargain on the group’s behalf! Number cruncher? Get her to set the budget. If each individual is made to feel like they’re an essential piece of the travelling puzzle, your trip is bound to be a success.

Nobody ever said that travelling in a group is a piece of cake, and no matter the size of your group, there will be someone or something that really grates your carrot. But, just go with the flow, be patient and don’t let yourself get upset about it. “A holiday is meant to be a spoil, a break from the old routine, and an opportunity to make lasting memories. By choosing the right friends to travel with, and a little careful planning upfront, you’ll ensure that the memories made will be magical ones,” Shaun concludes.

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