Stokvel travel goals for 2020

Ideal destinations for first-time group travel

You’re sitting around the braai chatting to friends and family, when someone mentions their burning desire for an overseas holiday and before you know it, diaries are synced and you’re contacting your travel agent. But, deciding on a destination can take a bit more work and planning. 

Your oldest friend suggests a trek into the far-off mountains, a cousin pipes up about a tropical beach, and Mom suggests a walking tour through an historic city. You'll go anywhere that gives you the chance to experience a little adventure while spending quality time with your favourite people.

In its best moments, travelling with friends and family means bonding over common interests, insider jokes, laughter and moments that will be recounted at every get-together, forever.

In its best moments, travelling with friends and family means bonding over common interests, insider jokes, laughter and moments that will be recounted at every get-together, forever.

If that’s what you can envision for your crew, here are a few international destinations that tick all the right boxes for first-time group travel you may want to consider:

  • New York, US

Best for: City-slicker friends and a big city adventure.

Travellers looking to take a bite out of the Big Apple can hop on Cape Town’s new (and only) direct flight to the New York area.

The new service has been four years in the making. Aside from being a major show of confidence for South Africa in tough economic times, it's a conveniently shorter, hassle-free route to the United States.

But what about the cost of a long-haul holiday?

Lance Nkwe, the business leader of emerging markets at Flight Centre Travel Group, suggests starting with a stokvel. A stokvel is essentially a group savings account. Any number of members save towards a common goal by contributing a certain amount to the shared account each month. Flight Centre has adapted the concept for travellers, and it's proving hugely popular, says Nkwe. 

“It’s a great way to save up some money for flight tickets without having to incur debt,” he says. “And, anyone can do it. There’s no credit check involved and no difficult approval processes when you want to access the funds. All that it takes is R500 to get started.”

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Best for: Extended family and groups with kids.

It’s hard not to have a memorable trip to Dubai. It’s a destination that’s a city, a beach break, waterfront, a desert and an entertainment destination all in one. That means no matter how diverse your family group is, when it comes to travel interests and needs, everyone's catered for.

“Dubai is definitely a place known for ultra-luxury and grandeur. Since most of us locals don’t typically play in that arena, a group getaway to the UAE is the next best thing,” says Sue Garrett, Flight Centre Travel Group general manager for marketing & product.

“The theme parks and amusement activities are great for adults and kids. But Dubai isn’t for the budget traveller, especially if you’re going alone or as a couple. It’s best to visit in a group. You're able to balance out the dining and hotel expenses,” she explains.

However, the destination does offer a lot more value-adds. No visas are required for South African passport holders, and there are direct flights, too.

  • Phuket, Thailand

Best for:  A mixed bag of friends and family wanting a hassle-free fly-and-flop.

Thailand is one of those rand-friendly holiday destinations South Africans still absolutely love. It’s great for groups to visit all throughout the year, especially if you’re going as a family unit, with your partner or close group of friends. Booking an all-inclusive option where your hotel, breakfasts, transport and activities are pre-arranged is also recommended.

“If you’re experiencing WhatsApp group arguments and indecisive individuals, deals with everything included will save a lot of time and stress.”

Garrett also notes that, since South Africans don’t need a visa, there will be more budget allocated to cocktails on the beach and less hassle with paperwork. Bonus!

  • Mauritius, Indian Ocean

Best for: Small celebrations and travelling couples who are all good friends.

A direct flight to Mauritius from Johannesburg takes only four hours, making it a true hop, skip and jump from South Africa.

“The contrast of colours, cultures and tastes makes this island-nation a must for an unforgettable beach-based holiday. And it’s one of those destinations where groups can easily snap up inclusive holiday packages that include flights, taxes, accommodation and transfers," says Garrett.

But where to stay?

“The beaches on the north and western coastline are typically abuzz with more touristy attractions and amenities. That makes it perfect for a more action-packed holiday and those who want a vibrant tourist atmosphere. For somewhere quieter, head to the hotels on the eastern and southern coastline,” says Garrett.

“Mauritius is great for the whole family, and ideal for couples travelling together, especially with quiet beaches tucked away in secluded coves. If someone in the family is planning a destination wedding or a surprise proposal and wants everyone there, Mauritius is definitely a win.”