In a world where ‘friendship’ is more synonymous with Facebook than with shared memories, there are many reasons why you should prioritise travel with friends. Here are a few to help make sure you don’t lose touch.
Most South Africans have friends based in other parts of the world. Jenita in Perth, Fiona in Manchester, Markus in New York are all real friends, not Facebook friends, and even though social media makes it easier to keep in touch, quality time together and face-to-face interaction, in person, can’t be beaten.
“Many of our friends have moved to different cities and countries around the world,” says Angela Martin, a South African who now lives in Dublin. “Planning a trip once a year means that you get to spend real quality time together in an awesome destination and make lifelong memories.”
Travelling with the right friends is better than going it alone, agrees South African-born Craig Thomas, who now lives in New York. “The joy of travel is about being able to share experiences. Having good friends with you makes travel less stressful, more enjoyable and builds shared memories that will last a lifetime. Travelling with friends can test, challenge and reaffirm friendships; you learn so much about your friends and yourself," he says.
A choice of activities and company
“The joy of travelling with friends is that chances are, you’ll have a friend who enjoys the same things as you,” says Michelle Bergset, Retail General Manager of the Flight Centre Travel Group. “But there shouldn’t be any pressure to do absolutely everything together,” she says.
Her favourite holiday with friends was a sailing trip around Turkey.
“Travelling with friends is a great way to save money, as group rates often bring with them sizeable discounts,” says Bergset, who suggests, when travelling with friends, to ask the travel provider whether you qualify for a group discount.
Here are three tips to get you travelling together:
Know the costs: Price plays a big role in choosing a holiday.
“There is usually a ‘ringleader’ who starts a WhatsApp group and shares a few destination ideas. Thailand, Greece, Croatia? We do this nine months to a year in advance to give everyone enough time to save and block-out leave,” says Martin.
“Once we have the destination and the date, a few of us will keep a lookout for deals and packages. This usually takes a bit of back and forth, but once everyone agrees, the details are finalised and everyone books their travel through the travel provider.”
Group consensus: Thomas says groups should choose destinations based on a vote. “My best experience was travelling with my best friend to Ecuador. None of us knew anyone who had been to Ecuador, so it was an easy decision. What made this the best trip was that we were open to enjoying new experiences and not being in control. Spontaneity was key, and I have a photo album from this trip that I treasure, which reminds me of my friendships.”
Get good advice: Consider consulting with a travel expert so that they can explain what the holiday destination and package offers and find the best rates, says Bergset. They will also help to tailor the holiday to suit all the personalities in the group.