Carry-on’s never been this easy

Like any frequent traveller, I am always on the lookout for luggage that is durable, user friendly and suitable for my travel needs. It’s also a bonus when everything I need to take with can fit into one bag that can be stowed in an overhead compartment.

THULE Subterra Carry-On Credit: Renate Engelbrecht

Travel needs also continuously changes as life changes. Since our baby girl was born, I inevitably had to re-evaluate the practicality of my luggage. If there is one thing that can really get on my nerves, it is struggling with something which should be assisting you. The same goes for luggage – it is there to assist you in transporting your valuables, not to frustrate you with wheels that can’t carry the weight, zips that break or impractical design. I’ve been looking for something that could tick all the boxes in terms of comfort when it comes to travelling. Something that is easy to carry and pull; durable, but not heavy; with handles placed at comfortable angles and in sensible positions considering picking up, pulling and taking out of vehicles and overhead stowage and something that would stand the test of time, because boy, oh, boy, travelling has become expensive!

The latest addition to my luggage collection has proven to be quite handy for multiple travel needs. Whether I travel with my family or for work, the THULE Subterra Carry-On has become my go-to carry-on bag as it is light and durable with its interior brilliantly designed. It’s also quite presentable, which helps me to travel in style.

THULE Subterra Carry-On Credit: Renate Engelbrecht

I’ve found that this carry-on bag is perfect for bleisure travel, as it has a divided main compartment, which assists in keeping your work outfits from your play outfits or clean clothes from dirty clothes.

THULE Subterra Carry-On Credit: Renate Engelbrecht

Travelling with a hat often frustrates me, as I don’t want to wear it indoors, but I like to keep it close for when we get on and off the plane and carrying it by hand is just a schlep. With THULE’s Subterra Carry-On‘s piggyback strap, which can easily be attached and removed, I can travel with at least one hand free.

The bag’s wheels seem to be larger than the norm, making it much easier to pull and they are of really good quality too. So is the handle, which can be adjusted, as well as the bag’s exoskeleton and polycarbonate back panel.

Travelling with THULE has made an immense difference on the way I pack and travel. It’s easier and more organised and it calms the nerves.

THULE Subterra Carry-On C

 

Venue: Menlyn Boutique HotelCarry-On: THULE SA | Flower print dress: EdgarsBlack shoes: Sissy BoyJeans: EdgarsLace top: Pick ‘n Pay ClothingSneakers: SovietGray dress: Pick ‘n Pay ClothingRing: PandoraWatch: HuaweiEarrings: Lovisa | Hat: Woolworths

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How to plan a trip with a big group

Travelling in big groups with friends or family can result in the most amazing times of our lives, where the precious memories made will be remembered for years to come. However, if not planned meticulously, group travelling can be stressful.

Here are TMG’s top tips on how to plan a trip with a big group:

Have a leader (or two)

Appoint an individual to lead the planning of the trip. It makes travelling a lot easier if there is a go-to person who knows how the planning is progressing. If there is a lot of planning to do, different people can be in charge of different aspects of the trip. One person can be in charge of accommodation, one in charge of researching activities, another of meal planning, etc. The final decisions can still be made as a group, but this will ensure that everything gets organized in advance.

Agree on a budget

One of the most difficult aspects of planning a trip for a group is the budget. People have different ideas about how much they are willing to spend when travelling. Decide on a budget that suits everyone and adhere to it. Some activities could be optional so group members can decide whether they want to participate, but a budget for the necessities is crucial.

Consider Alternative Accommodation

Accommodation makes a huge difference to your travel experience. Hotels aren’t necessarily the best option when travelling as a big group. Renting a holiday house saves money and provides opportunities to cook together and socialize. Websites like Airbnb and Rentbyowner make it very easy to find homes to rent anywhere in the world.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Make reservations ahead of time. Transport and accommodation need to be arranged and booked as early as possible. Research the top things to do at your chosen destination and look out for group discounts.

Limit the amount of activities

It isn’t necessary to plan every moment of the holiday. Some of the best experiences may be decided impulsively during the trip, or just happen spontaneously.  Managing the itinerary for a large group, particularly one with children, is rather difficult and may lead to unnecessary tension. Limit big outings or activities to one per day.

Split up

It isn’t necessary for the whole group to be together all the time. If there are people who want to participate in different activities from the rest, split up according to interests.

Communicate

Communication is key when travelling as a big group. Make sure everyone is aware of the itinerary and all the details, pack clever and you are all set for your holiday adventure with the people you love!

 

Written by Katrien Nel

Where to go on your next trip

I was recently asked where I want to travel to next. This question was difficult as, when it comes to travelling, any destination is an opportunity for discovery, inspiration, learning, adventure, relaxation or all of these combined!

As travel time is limited, the decision on where to go shouldn’t be taken lightly. Travelling Mystery Guest has compiled a list of criteria to help narrow down your options.

Consider your budget

Knowing how much you have to spend will help you decide where to go on your next trip. Considering what you want to spend your money on is just as important.  Some prefer to travel for longer rather than spending money on expensive meals and accommodation. Others will splurge on luxury accommodation and top restaurants even if it means a shorter stay. Only you can decide what is worth spending your hard earned money on.

Ask yourself why

Why do you want to travel? Do you want to learn something new or relax and get a tan? Do you want an adventure? Have fun with friends or travel solo? Have a break from work or reconnect with a loved one? Knowing why you want to travel makes the decision of which destination to go to much easier.

How far do you want to go?

Travelling doesn’t have to include long flights. South Africa is such a diverse country and if you do a bit of research, you’ll see that you most likely haven’t explored half of it. Decide whether you want to travel domestically, visit our neighbouring countries or go for something completely different abroad.

Decide on your preferred environment

City, beach or countryside? Cold or hot weather? Not everyone is enthusiastic about snowy, cold weather and are drawn to warmer climates. Think of the weather, landscape and style of the destination you want to visit to narrow down your travel choices.

Different or familiar culture?

It’s important to consider whether you want to visit a country that has a similar culture to yours or experience something different from what you are used to. Being in a country with an unfamiliar culture can be lonesome and stressful but it can also be incredibly exciting and inspirational. Do thorough research on the culture of the destinations you are considering before making a decision.

So much to do…

Time is precious when travelling, so plan your travel activities wisely. If you want explore the outdoors, think of travelling to a destination that is known for great hiking routes. If a great culinary experience is what you are after, look for destinations that have a reputation for excellent cuisine. If you are interested in art, consider travelling to cities with the world’s major art galleries. Decide on activities and organize your trip around them.

Wherever you go, make the most of the experience. Remember – you’ll only regret the things you didn’t do so have an open mind and broaden your travel wishes.

 

Written by: Katrien Nel

TMG’s top 5 travel boots!

Travelling can be hard on your feet, especially considering the activities some tourists are interested in. Travelling Mystery Guest has done some online window shopping and we have chosen our top 5 favourite and fashionable boots for men and women! They are available from Poetry, Old Khaki, Cape Union Mart, Due South and Outdoor Warehouse.

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  1. Women

Caitlyn boots

Caitlyn Boots , Poetry R1499

Rare earth dana boots

Rare earth Dana Boots , Poetry R1399

Rare earth kath boot

Rare earth Kath Boots , Poetry R999

Caterpillar irenea boot

Caterpillar Irenea Boots ,  Poetry R1499

Caterpillar Lillian leather boot

Caterpillar Lillian Leather Ankle Boot , Due South R1999

2. Men

Caterpillar oatman boots

Caterpillar Oatman Boots , Cape Union Mart R1499

Caterpillar grayson

Caterpillar Grayson Boots , Outdoor Warehouse R1850

Arthur jack corbin boots

Arthur Jack Corbin Shoe , Cape Union Mart R1399

Arthur jack ronan boots

Arthur Jack Ronan Boots , Old Khaki R1399

Hi tech Men's altitude V Waterproof boot

Hi-tec Men’s Altitude V Waterproof Boots , Outdoor Warehouse R1895

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys 

Catering for different ages

Travelling is not limited to age, anyone who wants to travel are free to do so. But different ages have different habits when travelling and different reasons for visiting certain places. Travelling Mystery Guest takes you through the decades to see what various age groups look for in their travel experience.

  1. In your 20’s:

In your twenties, you don’t really know much of the world. When travelling, it will be a whole new experience for you. You don’t really have anything to compare this experience with, so it will put you completely out of your comfort zone, which is ultimately the best way to learn the lessons of life.

Younger people also have the time to dwell abroad; they might even look for job opportunities and decide to settle in a foreign country, because they don’t have a job at home tying them down. With today’s economy, many young adults research job opportunities abroad.

Millennials often travel solo with the goal of meeting new people. This can lead to a long period of travelling where they continue to visit new places with the friends they meet at each new destination. They usually don’t have family responsibilities yet, which gives them the freedom to travel for a longer time.

  1. In your 30’s:

They will mostly be settled with a job and a steady income, making their travelling time shorter, but their trips more affordable and luxurious.

This age group includes a lot of newlyweds on their honeymoon or young couples exploring the world together. They will probably stay at more exclusive hotels and would have some plans of what they would like to explore.

This age group might have more to compare their current experience with. Unlike those in their 20’s, they might be more interested in cultural experiences than clubs.

They may also be travelling with small children, adapting their accommodation and entertainment plans according to the kids.

  1. In your 40’s:

They do thorough planning and their knowledge of travelling is a lot better. They make an effort to have a comfortable stay and more convenient transport options.

They might have more spending money and they will pay more to have a memorable experience. Travelling for work is also quite common in this age group, as well as family trips.

There are also a few travellers in this age group who believe they are getting old, so they will still plan some extreme and adventurous holidays, while it is still physically possible.

  1. In your 50’s:

They might choose destinations with a rich and exotic culture. They have the money and mostly the time to a take a long holiday to experience things they have planned thoroughly.

A frequent occurrence is that their children live abroad and they are visiting, which can also be for a long period of time at once.

Family holidays are still present in this age group, the children being older and often paying for themselves. People in their 50’s are usually quite knowledgeable about travelling and would guide their children in possible activities.

Destinations must find ways to cater for all the different age groups. This will not only keep customers happy, but it will also enlarge your customer segment, which eventually will increase profits.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

What is voluntourism and why should it matter?

Is the craze to help others, while you are unwinding, helping the world or making it worse?

Volunteer vacations or “voluntouring” is a trend that has slowly gained momentum over the past few years. As the word implies, voluntourism combines holiday travel with volunteering at the destination that the tourist visits. In simpler terms, it involves travelling to a destination in order to improve the economic well-being, socio-cultural development, or environmental conservation of the destination and its people, by providing volunteer assistance and goods. Usually participants have to pay a fee in order to partake, and as with all tourism activities, any traveller who receives remuneration for their services are automatically excluded.

Image source: thesocietypages.org

Image source: thesocietypages.org

For the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and events) industry it is an opportunity to expand a company’s social responsibility, the chance to deliver purpose-filled team-building activities, or even providing co-travelling spouses with an alternative to destination shopping sprees. Travellers desire a sense of purpose in their leisure activities. Although laying on the beach still appeals to some travellers, many people crave a more meaningful and substantiated vacation. In voluntourism, volunteers can experience a greater sense of social responsibility by improving the lives and well-being of the locals.

Google the term and you will notice a few other terms also associated with this phenomenon: voluntourist, ethical holiday, travel philanthropy and more. These terms are directly linked to sustainable tourism, defined by Sustainable Travel International as “lessening the toll that travel and tourism takes on the environment and local cultures.”  Their motto is: Leave the world a better place.

As with most travel-related activities, if voluntourism is well-organized and planned, the traveller can indeed make use of their holiday to bring about some change in the world, and also gain some personal benefits. Some of the more obvious pros include:

  • Voluntourism enables busy people to make time for charity work, combined with their holiday time. The volunteering has the added benefit of providing families with a shared experience, and single travellers the chance of travelling in the company of others.
  • The extra man-power that such a holiday provides to many well-deserved projects can result in cost savings, and faster completion as an ongoing stream of fresh workers keep the momentum going.
  • Both volunteers as well as recipients have the chance of gaining insight into the world and the lives of others. Voluntourism is supposed to be a people-to-people experience, striving to create cultural exchange and understanding.
  • A short voluntour can have far reaching effects, such as inspiring family members and friends to get involved with a cause, or even convincing the voluntourist to return to the project or to get involved with another project.

But, unfortunately as with any activity that is not well-organised or thoroughly planned, voluntourism can just as easily end up as a disaster if the parties involved do not understand the complexities in ensuring the experience is successful and enjoyable. One of the major downsides is the possibility of people only getting involved for a short feel-good burst of service, resulting in a project getting completed but not leading to much useful help for the complex cause.

Although voluntourism is rooted in good intentions, maybe it is not the best idea for your next business trip or holiday, unless done through a reputable and sustainable organisation, with a determined, long-term commitment to continue with the good work after you have touched home ground.

The changing business traveller

Business travellers are no longer just suits carrying briefcases.

E.S. Brits, 2016 – Bloggers, networking events, conferences and face-to-face meetings are the driving forces propelling business travel into a new era.  Recent surveys have found that Millennials are twice as likely to plan and undertake business trips when compared to Baby Boomers. New apps are introduced daily, catering to the unique needs of the corporate traveller, and travel programs now offer everything from expediting the boarding process to assisting travellers in avoiding flight delays.  As travel requirements change and new rules and legislation is implemented, the travel industry should also adapt and grow to account for the increased demand for specific business travel trends and needs.

Technology enables us to be in constant contact with our friends, and family. Between Skype and Google hangouts employees, colleagues and business partners can connect even when they are continents apart. But still, the good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting remains hard to substitute. The face-to-face meeting is however busy changing.

Changing business traveller

Changing business traveller (Image from: Skift.com)

For hotels, guesthouses and other travel destinations, business travellers are a very appealing market. If they want to successfully reach this lucrative market they have to stay ahead of the trends. The new business traveller’s needs have evolved; they are now looking for a temporary home-away-from-home paired with a fast, efficient and seamless experience that will enable them to work on-the-go. This new trend goes hand in hand with the following needs:

  1. Business travellers want a seamless experience through apps

In order to attract the growing market of corporate travellers, accommodation establishments need to make use of multi-screen bookings, allowing travellers to adapt their plans in an instant – to change bookings, book in or out, or even cancel bookings. Even better if the app can also link the traveller to local restaurants and coffee shops, transport, weather forecasts, and for the bleisure travellers, a sight or two to visit while on their trip.

  1. Enable the business traveller to maintain their workflow

When travelling for business, efficiency is key. Companies expect their employees to work, even if it is from a hotel room. Therefore, hotels and other accommodation establishments should offer Wi-fi and charging stations in the room and printing and other business facilities on-site – preferably open after hours. No matter who the traveller, Wi-fi remains an expense that most travellers would want to avoid, giving travel destinations who offer it free of charge a definite competitive advantage.

  1. Consistency

Corporate travellers often prefer to book with accommodation chains and hotel groups with a known brand. Surveys have found that business travellers rated hotel chains as a safer bet when travelling to different countries or locations. But that does not mean that independent hotels should be dismayed. They can compete in this market by making sure their marketing advertises exactly what the traveller can look forward to, and then deliver on that promise. Show off the amenities that will really matter to this group of travellers, e.g. your big rooms equipped with a work desk, displaying the free Wi-fi sign. But make sure all the rooms look like that picture. Remember, consistency builds trust and not delivering what you promised breaks that trust.

  1. Location, location, location

Business travellers prefer to book their accommodation close to key locations, where there are reliable transport and dining facilities in close proximity. Pair this with stable connectivity and facilities that will ensure a workday without frustration and there you have it! Advertise accordingly, emphasising safety, comfort and productivity.

  1. Loyalty and rewards programs

Incentives can be a successful motivator to ensure repeat business and return guests. For a corporation making a booking for their employees’ business trip, incentives that have proven to be effective include a reduced corporate rate for small businesses, loyalty packages for large businesses, and special business services that will ensure continuous workflow.

  1. Keeping everything in one location

Conference facilities, space to have face-to-face meetings, work space for group sessions and breakout rooms are indispensable for any business traveller. Having these facilities in the same location is ideal.

  1. Going cashless

Exact record-keeping is one of the headaches of travelling on the company’s dime. Going digital makes the whole process easier, allowing travellers to pay directly from their mobile devices while saving an exact record of the expense.

  1. Shorter lines and no waiting times

The old saying, “time is money”, rings very true for corporate travellers, who require fast and seamless check-in and check-out experiences. They will look for destinations that go digital, allowing guests to check in and out on their mobile devices and apps, as well as key-less entry to their rooms.

  1. Different is sometimes better

Some business travellers consider the somewhat unconventional accommodation options when going on a corporate trip – anything from bed and breakfasts, self-catering apartments, cabins, lodges and even tree houses! Although the demand for traditional hotel rooms is still high, this growing trend indicates that business travellers are willing to be adventurous and to think out of the box. That means you should too. Accommodation establishments should highlight what makes them unique. Never be afraid to show what else, over and above the business centre and workspace, you offer.

  1. Healthy travellers

The global health trend has extended to the business travel market. Hotels and other accommodation establishments, airports and other business facilities have started to offer new services that focus on the well-being of the traveller. These services include relaxation areas, exercise classes, and juice bars.

Business travel is an ever growing market, and if tapped into successfully, can be very rewarding.