Photo Credit Iamdodos
They often say that your travel experience is enriched not only by the places you visit but also the people you visit them with. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel not only on my own but also with my family and my son. Each experience is different from the other, but every one of them has been memorable.
My next travel plans will be, without doubt, quite challenging. We are in the midst of planning a group travel vacation, with 12 individuals on board. While our destination is going to be a nearby one, I am pegging on Africa to be our next destination if all things go well!
Traveling in a large group may be the most challenging way one can choose to travel due to so many reasons. Grouping so many people together will definitely result in conflict, disagreements, and misunderstandings along the way. But with careful planning and lots of tact, these clashes can be avoided and minimized. If you are planning on going on a group safari adventure, here are 5 handy tips to help you plan wisely!
Plan, Plan, Plan and then Plan Some More
When it comes to any vacation, planning for the trip is probably the most crucial process, as it determines the success of the entire trip. When it comes to group travel, planning becomes even more important, with so many elements added to the process. If before, all you had to account for was yourself, now, you have a group of 10 or more individuals with different needs and interest that you will have to take into consideration.
Keep in mind the dates and time of the year that you are planning on traveling and check if those times are favorable in the destination of your choice. Many group travelers opt to travel during summer – between June and August – as the summer break means the kids are out of school. However, not all destinations would have the same favorable weather that is suited to travel.
If you are planning to head to Africa during the summer break, do take note that mid-year coincides with winter and rainy season there. In South Africa, the winter months are from May to July, and certain parts of the country will experience winter rainfall between June to August. Don’t let this deter your travel plans, though. These months are considered off-peak season, which means cheaper cost on accommodation and activities on the ground, but do be extra prepared and pack accordingly.
The summer months in Africa occur at the end of the year, which makes for great weather and fantastic opportunities to view game. However, brace yourself for the cost and the crowd!
Before even determining a travel itinerary, find out from the group collectively as to the budget they are willing to set aside. Make sure that everyone is aware of how much they will need to invest, taking into consideration flights, visa applications, accommodation, food and ground tours. Find out whether there are extra costs such as tips at the destination aside from the ones you have planned. Once you have set a budget for your trip, be sure to try to stick to it!
When planning the itinerary, compile a list of must-sees and must-dos from the group, and then pick those that are achievable. A group safari tour is certainly a must-do on every African travel itinerary, so be sure to do your research accordingly!
Some questions to consider before booking a safari tour:
- Is the tour family-friendly?
- Can the safari accommodate my large group?
- Will the safari offer flexibility in terms of schedule?
Due to the large group, traveling in taxis may become expensive very quickly. Instead of relying on them, do research the public transportation options available in the area such as public buses and trains. These are cheaper and have the added advantage of offering you the experience of living like a local.
An often neglected element to travel planning for big groups is communication, and I cannot stress this enough. Often times, disagreements can be avoided simply by communicating the details to everyone involved. With a large group, it probably won’t be feasible to have weekly meet-ups or regular coffee breaks to discuss travel plans. Instead, utilize technology by setting up a group chat!
Group chat apps like Whatsapp can help make communication with a large group easier by affording a virtual space in which everyone can stay in touch and receive information. Use the space to share updates regularly and to bounce ideas off each other when it comes to the travel itinerary. It’s also a good opportunity to bond with the group prior to the vacation, and a good platform to share pictures after!
Utilize Travel Planning Apps
Way back when technology was limited to a desktop, a lot of our travel plans were concocted via travel books and brochures. I remember a time when I used to print out directions to get to a certain location! While this traditional way to plan our exciting journeys can be fun to do, it can also mean a whole lot of unnecessary hassle when planning for a big group.
Luckily for us, there is now a wide selection of travel planning apps that you can use at every step of your travels. These apps are designed to make planning as smooth as possible and, most of the time, come with a free option that you can download.
Here are some of my favorites:
- TripAdvisor – Comes in handy when you’re looking for hotels, restaurants, and activities!
- TripIt – A useful online travel itinerary and planner that stores all your information on flights, car rental, accommodation, and exports them to your calendar.
- Safeture – This handy app provides information on local safety warnings, natural disasters and contact numbers for local emergency units.
- HappyCow – This app is great especially if you have a vegetarian in the group, as it shows vegetarian and vegan restaurants around you.
Camp in the Great Outdoors
One of the most challenging aspects of traveling in a large group is accommodation. More often than not, you will have to book multiple rooms or rooms in multiple accommodation units. The larger your group is, the more difficult booking rooms for everyone will be.
To avoid a headache, try thinking outside the box! You can opt to rent a whole house on websites such as Airbnb. If you aren’t too keen on house-sharing, there’s also the option of camping! Camping outdoors is a great way to not only save on accommodation but also bond with the group. All you have to do is look up designated camping spots within the area and set up a tent there. If your group is up for even more adventure, you can also book a camping safari, where you will get to camp right smack in the middle of the wilderness!
Go With the Majority
When going with a big group, it may be difficult to please everyone when it comes to the travel itinerary. A great way to make generally accepted calls is to take disputed decisions to the vote and go with the majority. This way, you are sure to be going with the popular choice and, therefore, maintain harmony within the group.