Travelling in big groups has both its advantages and disadvantages but the most compelling tip for an intrepid group traveller is to be as flexible as possible, or an authentic African safari could very well turn into an authentic safari nightmare.
Reduced cost versus reduced freedom
The obvious advantage to travelling in a group is the cost factor. Most reputable tour companies, accommodation establishments, bus companies and airlines offer lucrative group discounts. It is important to bear in mind, however, that although you will cut the cost of your African safari dramatically when travelling in a group, you will also be expected to give up your personal freedom. It is important to weigh this up before you agree to a group vacation as there is nothing worse than committing to a holiday that is not suitable for you or your partner.
If you are travelling with a large group of family and friends then the pros of group travel will far outweigh the cons. Here are a couple of pointers that may very well add to the enjoyment of a group holiday:
- Delegate the responsibility of the final itinerary design to one person in the group who will also act as the go-between for the tour operator, travel agent and the group. This will allow for better group co-ordination and possibly a far better relationship with the travel agent or tour operator.
- Elect a leader of the group who will be responsible for any trouble shooting and who is well equipped to deal with an emergency, should it arise. The leader should also be someone who can iron out any personality clashes.
- Be willing to compromise at all times. In a group the majority rules, so it is important to follow the crowd without sulking, even if you have to give up on a personal highlight.
- Set the ground rules of the holiday before you even leave. How are you going to settle any group costs for instance?
- Be totally honest with the other group members as to your expectations of the holiday. If you are looking for the Self Growth financial benefits of group travel but plan to spend the bulk of the time exploring on your own, then it is only fair to tell your friends or family before you leave – they may have a completely different idea of what a group holiday should entail.
- Be totally flexible. If you are a control freak it is probably wiser for you to go off on your own and send your family and friends a postcard instead!
- Don’t have any expectations of the other members in the group and you may well be delighted instead of being disappointed.
The pitfalls of group travel
Here are a couple of the pitfalls of group travel that you should be aware of:
- Bus tours can sometimes be overcrowded and rather uncomfortable and can affect your game or landscape viewing experience .
- Drivers/guides of group tours are generally not as attentive or as informed as private tour guides.
- There is always the risk of ending up with undesirable travel companions who can’t stop nattering or arguing, or who are just plain irritating.
- You may well end up in a group of people who do not share your interests and are more keen on finding the big five than concentrating on all the minor miracles of the bush – or vice versa.