‘Learn in your twenties, earn in your thirties.’
I first heard this line from my old boss during an internship at a travel start-up in London. Aside from other life tips he bestowed upon me, like “a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures” (he was Irish), it was this simple mantra that always stuck with me as I scrambled my way to 30.
Looking back, It’s one of the only phrases that truly embodies how being in your twenties is (and should be) about: picking up new skills, fine-tuning your values and figuring out what you want from life as you mature.
If I now can stand in his shoes for a moment to pass on useful life advice to others in their twenties, it would also be to learn as much as you can, but also to travel as much as you can, as often as possible. Because, in my experience, there is no better way to learn than to set out into the world and discover new places, cultures and people.
While this can be tough on a budget, a possible solution for young (and old) South Africans that I never knew about in my twenties (that I wish that I did), is a stokvel.
Getting started with a stokvel
Never heard of it? A stokvel is basically a group savings account where a group of friends or family members can save towards a common goal, each contributing a certain amount to the shared account on a monthly basis. To get a second opinion on the concept, Lance Nkwe, Flight Centre Travel Group Business Leader of Emerging Markets, explains that it’s a great way to generate funds for the purpose of going on a memorable holiday without having to incur debt.
He says: “Currently, many prospective young travellers are finding it simple and convenient to create their own Flight Centre Stokvel. Anyone can do it. There’s no credit check involved and no difficult approval processes to follow when looking to access the funds. All that it takes is R500 to get started.”
Based on each Stokvel team’s contribution, members will receive information about an exclusive selection of Flight Centre holidays, hand-picked just for them.
20 places to travel to in your twenties
If you’re looking to go solo, Lance also offered up his top 20 places to travel to in your twenties, based on Flight Centre’s portfolio of budget-friendly youth-travel brands:
One of the first places many in their twenties visit is Thailand. It’s affordable, visa-free for South Africans and it’s hands-down the most well-known hotspot to meet others from around the world.
Go sail Croatia (aka King’s Landing), discovering stunning islands and plenty of Instagram-able moments as you sail through the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Take 2020’s break on a guided tour through Italy without completely obliterating your savings account thanks to Topdeck’s annual discounts. See more for less as you tour through Rome, Florence, and Venice, eating all the pizza and gelato you want.
Travelling in your twenties is not just about parties and eating yourself into a food coma. For those wanting a back-to-nature experience of self-discovery, try one of G Adventure’s Annapurna Circuit treks.
#5 New York
This inspiring city is an epicentre for art, music, shopping, food and fashion and will keep you mesmerised for days. From the Bronx to Broadway, a trip to the city that never sleeps is hard to top.
For a holiday with historical substance, Egypt is the perfect destination to explore in your twenties, especially if you are a lover of history or classics and archaeology is a topic of interest.
#7 Victoria Falls
Adrenalin junkies can head up to Victoria Falls this year for some ziplining, bungee-jumping, white-river rafting. And if the water levels are just right, bobbing up and down in the infamous Devil’s Pool.
Iceland is breathtakingly beautiful, and a great trip for friends to bond through experiences like gazing up at the Northern Lights, playing with Icelandic ponies and traversing volcanic landscapes.
Belgium is the place to be in July, thanks to Tomorrowland. It’s the biggest electronic music show on earth where you can bump shoulders with travellers who have journeyed far and wide to get there.
#10 The U.K and Ireland
Now that Brexit-fatigue has passed, it’s time to go greet Big Ben and ride a red bus. Remember though, there is more to the U.K than just London, so add Scotland, Northern Ireland and also the Republic of Ireland (the one that’s not part of the U.K) to your list.
#11 New Zealand
Home of hobbits and the Hakka, New Zealand is the perfect place for an adventure, especially if you are travelling solo. From its dynamic Māori culture, to its massive lakes, volcanic mountains and hot springs, this is a top place to visit if you’re an avid photographer.
#12 Machu Picchu (Peru)
Besides mingling with woolly llamas, the guided Salkantay trek with G Adventures is a right of passage for many travellers, which will take you through the Intipunku (Sun Gate) for a legendary sunrise.
Bali is great for groups of friends to do together with a Stokvel, especially if you want to avoid those group-planning rifts with an all-inclusive option, pre-arranged by a company like Flight Centre’s very own Topdeck.
If you love seafood, scuba diving and snorkelling, Mozambique is a top holiday destination for Saffas in their twenties. It’s easy to get to (Maputo is an hour’s flight from Joburg). It’s also visa-free.
If you’re thinking about heading to Germany, the capital of Berlin should be at the top of your list. But from 21 September to 6 October, Munich’s Oktoberfest takes centre stage, so don your lederhosen for some beer-induced festivities.
With plenty of sangria and tapas to keep you in a great mood, a romp through Barcelona and Madrid will ignite the senses. If you quite like the sound of throwing tomatoes at your friends, grab your goggles and take aim at La Tomatina festival on 28 August.
If you’re the type that likes to unwind by zoning out on a dancefloor with your hands in the air, Ibiza is just the place to go, especially with Flight Centre’s trips organised with Busabout.
With those rusty-red dunes and vast blue skies, Namibia is the perfect destination to head off the grid and do some soul-searching. It’s just next door to South Africa and is the perfect landscape for adventurous introverts.
For many in their twenties, the quest for spiritual awakening often begins in India. From cruising down the Ganges to marvelling at the Taj Mahal, this is truly a magical place where you will leave feeling a deeper connection to the world and yourself.
Your twenties are for trying new things, meeting new people, and discovering the world. There is no better place to start than in Paris. Art-lovers and fashion enthusiasts beware, you may never want to leave.
While bound to your budget, the best part about travelling in your twenties is being able to snap up those student specials and travel packages tailored for younger, first-time travellers. “These are not only affordable but well-organised too, so that you can focus on the fun stuff,” concludes Lance.
For more info on stokvels and travel specials for 2020, contact Flight Centre here.