Written by Cynthia Njeri.
Venturing into travel three years ago felt like a far fetched dream. I desired so much to travel but I did not want to travel alone. I had the notion that I needed to have a six-figure salary to quench my thirst, but clearly, I have grown wise over the years to discern that traveling the world on five dollars a day is quite possible.
A realization of how to manage expenses and make travel desires possible hit me when I was tasked to plan a group trip to Menengai Crater. A successful and stress-free trip led me to embrace group travel. Frankly, I have never looked back. Planning the first trip, I was pretty raw but as at now, I have acquired a wealth of hacks, pros, and cons that I have put together for enlightenment. It is not the ultimate rulebook to groupie hacks.
Firstly, taking a trip in a group helps you to travel far and wide on a budget. I had the same worry about my plans fitting into my budget until discovered the trick. With group travel, comes sharing of costs from transport, to meals and accommodation. Group discounts are also guaranteed on activities and accommodation for most destinations. This will ultimately help to subsidize the expenses. For instance, on our previous trip to Tanzania and we paid Ksh. 7800 for an all-inclusive 2-day trip vis a vis our trip to lemon valley, which we spent close to Ksh. 7000 because we were only 4 people. See my point?
Travelling in a group usually means being in the company of friends, acquaintaces and stangers at large. Frankly speaking, it is easier to strike conversations in such settings as opposed to when you are on a solo travel. Group travel gives you the opportunity to socialize, network and make new friends. I have taken up a majority of my group travels with a tour company, Keitan safaris. Keitan has it as a tradition for us to introduce ourselves and our professions either at the end or beginning of the trip. This helps you meet people in your line of work, hustle and like-minded travel enthusiasts. If you are lucky, as my friend Ess tells me, you may meet your life partner there. Let me hear an Amen! Ha! The connections you make ultimately help you even in life besides travelling in terms of customers and avenues for new jobs. Just because a trip ends, does not mean the relatonships you will have formed have to cease. Keeping in touch with friends I met have led to ventures such as this blog and a travel tribe who are keen to join me in my travel escapades all over the world.
The most fulfilling bit in group travel is in shared experiences usually achieved through activities. You get to see the adventurous side of people. It gives you the zeal and bravity to do some of those adrenaline filled activities that otherwise you would have not done. I never thought I’d do river plunging in Sagana but once I saw my tribe diving and coming out alive, why would I be left out? That’s my kind of peer or should we call it travel pressure. Besides, activities such as pool parties, cycling, snorkeling are best done as a group. The cheering keeps you going.
Let’s not forget about the wide coverage you get while travelling in a group due to different interests and preferences of people in the group. This may sound daunting but on the positive, you get to explore different sides of each other. For instance, for me, it is not only about the destination but also the wild stuff that happen on the way. I enjoy random stopovers, indulging in activities on our way and visiting new sceneries before arriving at the destination. The cost-sharing aspect enables you to do a bunch of activities on your way to your destination. This ofcourse is subject to time-keeping. Moshi is so far my best trip because of the various stopovers and experiences while on the journey.
As much as there is guaranteed fun and an ultimate experience with numbers, on the flip side, dealing with the attitudes and habits of people can be quite exhausting. In group travels, you will encounter complainers/whiners/slow people or the choosy type. Consequently, while you enjoy some activities or detours, others may not and they might make your entire adventure boring. You will also encounter latecomers who delay the start of the trip. You just have to find ways to deal and manage these hurdles otherwise they will interfere with your enjoyment. For example, when guys are late, take pictures or stroll around and take a breath of the fresh air. Carry your board games and play with your mates as a way of enticing the journey and ignoring the complainers/whiners. Poker lovers ayeee!
Until there are you convinced about group travel? No? I hope the answer is to the affirmative. Allow me to proceed and tell you some of the group travel hacks in case you want to travel with your squad or a tour and travel company.
PLAN PLAN PLAN!
Most travel plans do not actualize because of lack of planning. You can never get wrong with planning in advance. Most tour companies nowadays have embraced this and they roll out their trip schedules in advance for their clients to save. When planning with your squad you need to plan early in advance by deciding on the location, site visits, the mode of accommodation, transport, and food. This will help you to project the itinerary and anticipate expenses to give the squad ample time to block the date and save up. You need to consider the financial stasuses of members of the group. Short notices and being spontaneous never work with large numbers. For me at least. Planning in advance enables you to capture, at least the needs of the members of the squad and avoid disappointments that could have been addressed during planning. For example, you might be desirous about self-catering during the trip but no one is willing to do the cooking. If you don’t address this during planning then your stay will be chaotic.
TOUR AND TRAVEL GROUPS
In case planning is not a stronghold, you may opt to join a tour and travel group which does consistent and reliable travelling. My go-to travel company has been Keitan safaris because of his quality, pocket-friendly and thrilling escapades over the last 3years. I have recently joined starboard safaris because of their array and unique adventures. Joining the various reliable tour and travel companies widens your scope of adventure and helps you discover new places that you may not access if traveling solo. This is because of the intensive research that tour companies do and the array of connections that they have hence enable them to know of the hidden gems that are in the various destinations. For starters join Keitan safaris and starboard safaris and thank me later for the worthwhile experience!
Ps: They also tailor trips to specificities of prospective clients for you and your squad.Hit them up!
ACCOMMODATION, TRANSPORT AND MEALS.
When planning a group travel for a group of friends, for accommodation, book a spot with sufficient amenities. Things like bathrooms and toilets can frustrate your stay when you are a number. These kind of spots are pricey but the advantage in the numbers is being able to cost share on the expenses. Accommodation apps like Airbnb and Booking.com are instrumental in offering affordable luxurious accommodation options. Camping is also a fantastic way of cutting down on accommodation expenses. During my escapades with my squad to Oloiden campwe paid a total of Ksh1900 per person, for the 2nights,for accomodation. We hired 2-man tents from one of our guys (Joe-0729804225) and he would charge us Ksh500 per tents. For the grounds we were charged Ksh Ksh700 per person per night. Camping is cheap right?
Embrace the use of public transportation. I used to travel with a group of 14 friends and we would hire matatus to take us to and from our destination. Car hiring can also be relatively cheaper depending on the number of days and distance covered on your vacation.
I would advise welcoming the idea of self- catering as opposed to buying food in restaurants or hotels while in a group. Not only do you get to save on costs, but also you eat to your fill!While at it, you may want to invest in coolers for foodstuff like meat, drinks and any other perishable goods. For my escapades with my squad we would contribute a maximum of Ksh 700 for food. The total would be around 10,000 for 2-nights half board.
MAKE USE OF APPS TO SPLIT EXPENSES.
In group travel it is inevitable that you will need to split bills. Instead of keeping up with math on paper, we recently just discovered Splitwise, an app that allows you to key in the costs and it does all the calculations for you. You are able to track whoever owes money to the other and settle the bills in one go! Thank me later again? Great!
In conclusion, as you embrace and engage in group travel always be open-minded. Don’t wait for people to make the experience worthwhile for you. Be the life of the party and make the experience worthwhile for yourself. Ayeee to group travel!!!