Group travel or group joining travel has gained popularity over the years as it’s considered the most affordable way to travel. Whether you are planning a getaway with family, friends, or getting to know new people, group travel tours can help structure and simplify your vacation. Like grocery shopping at a wholesaler’s, you can make significant savings if you buy in bulk. Unlike travelling on your own, sharing a trip with others reduces the cost. This is especially beneficial when it comes to transport. It is cheaper to rent a vehicle to Samburu if more of you are paying for it. You can even get a discount on flights if you book as a group and some hotels and attractions also offer group rates.
In addition to being cheaper, there are other benefits to group travel.
- Less planning: You generally outsource the vacation planning to someone else. You have less to worry about with pre-planned itineraries and all-inclusive prices for transport, accommodation and excursions, letting you focus on the trip. On the con side, you’re operating on someone else’s schedule, which may not always work out.
- Bond more with friends and family: Group travel allows you to create shared experiences with friends and family. You have a chance to get to know more about people outside of the day-to-day. You learn about tastes, how they handle pressure, new experiences and create new memories.
- Make new friends: Going on a group trip with people you don’t know is an excellent way of expanding your network. One thing you know is everyone on the trip likes to travel. You can build on that to create friendships that last long after the trip ends.
- You’ll gain new perspectives and experiences: Travelling allows you to expand your views and outlooks. In addition, the new acquaintances in your group trip will enable you to interact with individuals of different backgrounds and insights.
Group travel can be fraught with emotions. There are multiple interests to take care of, and everyone wants to make the most of their trip. If you’re planning on a group trip, here are some tips:
- Agree on a budget: Decide how much you want to spend and what you want to spend it on? For example, some people just want a place to put their heads, while others want a 5-star hotel for their vacation. Others will be satisfied to spend their time at the hotel, while others would prefer going out on daily excursions to explore the area and experience the culture. These preferences may influence the budget.
- Collect the money beforehand: Collect the money before the trip and have people save up before time. For practical purposes, you’ll need money to pay for flights and excursions or the deposit on your accommodation. Asking the group to make contributions early ensures you have a kitty to draw from for these costs. In addition to being practical, you’ll be surprised at the number of drop-offs closer to departure or people who suddenly don’t answer your calls once the trip is up.
- Be democratic: Travelling as a group means you have to cater for diverse needs. You won’t hit all the spots, but you can have fun trying. Have the group list out all the activities they want to do and then vote on them. The majority wins, and those items go on the itinerary. Another idea to get everything done is to have two parallel activities. Some people can go hiking while others scuba dive.
- Insist on group rates: You can get group rates on most everything: transport, flights, accommodation, excursions and entry fees. Do your research and make sure you’re getting all the discounts available.
- Create time for solo ventures: It’s a vacation after all: not every minute should be regimented. Instead, leave time for solitary activities like basking by the pool, sleeping in or dinners for two. Switch it up so that you have mornings, afternoons and evenings free of group activities.
- Be patient: Ever heard of the term “herding cats”? Group travel is an equally difficult task. You’ll have to wait for someone who’s taking too long, people getting lost or separated, or an annoying group member. Of course, someone will test your patience in a group setting, but you can decide to go with the flow and not let it ruin your trip.
- Assign responsibilities: You don’t have to be in charge of everything. Instead, share out duties with other group members, keeping them involved and responsible for the trip’s success.
- Make reservations in advance: As you plan out your itinerary, make reservations in advance. This goes for transport and accommodation but also for excursions. Whether it is to the museum, an attraction or a restaurant, call ahead to make sure they can handle a group of your size. Some bookings might also mean you don’t have to line up at the entrance and have a guide on tap to take your group around.
- Consider a house: If you’re a family, consider a house over a hotel or resort. It is cheaper, more intimate and secure, especially where kids are involved, and you can cook your meals if you want to. Check out our self-catering article for more.
- Make it a guided trip: This is essentially outsourcing all the planning to a professional. Outsourcing takes the stress of planning from you, and all you have to do is show up and enjoy yourself. Using travel companies like Kenya Outdoors ensures that you get the best value for your money while enjoying all the highlights with no planning stress.
If you do decide to go for a guided group trip, keep your eyes open for good deals.
- Do your due diligence: Before you spend your hard-earned money, make sure the company/person you choose for your guide is reputable.
- Get multiple quotes: As with any significant spend, shop around and find the best deal. For instance, a good Dubai package, pre-Corona, went for KES 64,000 plus Ksh.10,000 for the visa. For this amount, you had flights on Rwandair/Ethiopian. The package included 4-star luxury accommodation, 4x4 Desert Safari & BBQ Dinner, Modern Dubai (Marina Dhow Cruise) & City Tour. What you’ll see advertised is a cheaper package for KES 59,000 plus Ksh.10,000 for the visa. This gets you flights on Air Arabia, which lands in Sharjah, 3-star accommodation, Deira Creek Dhow Cruise, Desert Safari (sometimes you are picked at the hotel by bus, get to the desert & enjoy a short 4x4 ride then go for BBQ Dinner) and the city tour.
- Beware of hidden costs: Cheap is expensive, and tour companies have hidden fees that can dent your budget. Clients go for the cheapest packages without checking what the package includes or excludes. A trip can be packaged as all-inclusive but has exclusions such as park fees, excursions, or meals. Read the fine print and understand what you’re paying for.
Kimotho Jackson is a guy who loves to travel, socialize and make new friends. He’s a family man and father of two beautiful daughters. He’s the founder of Kenya Outdoors Tours and Travel Ltd, which deals in domestic and international travel. His niche is in group travel, both international and domestic. He’s also great at getting amazing deals for solo travel, including inbound & outbound tours & day trips, hotel bookings, and air tickets, among other tourism services.