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Forging friendships through travel

06 September 2018
flight centre

flight centre (supplied)

Don’t be that friend who gets left behind

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.

Quality time 
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.”

Shared experiences
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.”

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.” 

Travelling with friends brings a different dynamic than visiting a destination with family or as a couple, says Martin. “You will always find someone in the group who wants to do what you want to do, whether that’s just relaxing or tackling an activity.” 

Her favourite holiday with friends was a Busabout sailing trip around Turkey. “We were ten friends and the first few days were high energy as everyone was so happy to see each other. Once we got on the boat, we started to relax, and it was just so lovely to be in each other’s company whether we were listening to music, sharing meals, swimming, tanning, sleeping, reading or relaxing.”

Group discounts
“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.

Make sure you’re not the friend that gets left behind. 

Planning is key. Here are three tips to get you travelling together:

  • Know the costs
    A significant factor is the price because you will want to go on a holiday that everyone can comfortably afford. 
    “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
    “We choose our destinations based on a vote,” says Thomas. “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, advises Bergset. They will also help to tailor the holiday to suit all the personalities in the group. “Choose the best option based on the needs of the group. A final quotation helps push the decision-making process.”

For friends who want to travel together, setting up a Stokvel is an excellent way to contribute to your joint holiday. All you need to do is complete an application form at your nearest Flight Centre branch and include the signature of each traveller. Deposit the minimum amount of R500, and your Stokvel is up and running. Provided the amount of R500 is retained in your club, Stokvel members can use the funds at any time, not just to book travel.

Life is meant to be shared with good friends and great adventures. Step away from Facebook and make shared memories you’ll never forget. 

Visit flightcentre.co.za for more information.