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Travel tips

FLEXIBLE DATES

To get the best value on your flights, we always suggest that you look at your flexibility of travel dates. From our experience, it always seems to be Murphy’s law that your first choice of travel dates always seems to be the most expensive, allowing that flexibility as well as another choice of airline, gives the travel agent more opportunity to save you money.

TRIP ADVISOR

Trip advisor is a fantastic tool to see a first-hand look at hotels, activities, restaurants etc. from travelers. It has reviews and advice. Look into the places that you want to travel as well as looking at restaurants nearby. Please take this with a pinch of salt as some travelers may have different expectations than others 😉

HOTEL AMENITIES

What I normally like to do is have a look at what each hotel can offer from a facilities point of view before booking. This gives you an idea of what the hotel can offer you as a value-added service. My personal preferences are that the hotel offers breakfasts at its own restaurant. This is key as breakfast is always the most important part of the day. The restaurant can always be useful again for any other snacks, lunch or dinners. Some people like to have a gym at the hotel to get a few work outs in as well as hotels offering day trips or hotels offering water sports. Its nice to get a feel from the hotel before even staying there. Check out what the hotels offers in terms of daily shuttles to local attractions or complimentary airport transfers. This saves money which means more money to experience new things.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

Probably one of the most important aspects of travel. Knowing what countries you can visit with or without a visa. Being a South African, we generally need a visa to travel to most countries, so I always make sure of document requirements before even purchasing a ticket. Spending money on a ticket and your visa gets denied for whatever reason, is a major financial loss to you as cancellation costs can be exorbitant. Always consult your travel agent about visa requirements and applied for it in a timeous fashion. You don’t want to be the person who has travelled for over 20hours to a country only to be sent home without the correct travel documents.

MAKE A PACKING LIST

Staying on top of your packing is always a priority for me. Luckily with some airlines they are more generous with baggage allowances than others. However, you don’t want to be carrying around unnecessary baggage while having to back pack (sounds like a life lesson hehe). Always be on top of your packing list that you can start a few days before and test your weight limit which takes us to the next point.

PRE-PLAN OUTFITS

Pre-planning your outfits is a fantastic way of keeping your weight of your baggage down. Knowing almost exactly what you are going to wear on a daily basis stops you from taking clothing that you are not going to wear. I generally do this but I always take a warm top with that could double up as a rain jacket. This is also a good way of keeping space should you wish to indulge in some retail therapy.

EXTRA UNDERWEAR

You can never go wrong with taking extra underwear. Full stop. If I travel for 10 days I always take enough underwear with for at least 15 days. Baby wipes too. Also, a good tactic to stay on top of personal hygiene. Even in the darkest jungle with no hot water, baby wipes come in handy.

POWER

This forms part of your research before departure. Knowing what plugs you have and what adapters you would need will save you time and money. The first few times when travelling, I didn’t take this into consideration and I ended up getting new chargers that would fit the countries plug inlets. Luggage shops are always a good place to look at the different plugs of different countries or even your local Dischem. You can’t go wrong as they have the countries flags on the packaging. However, it only applies to the larger countries, so you would need to do a bit or research to make sure you stay connected.

CHARGERS AND BATTERIES

If you are a blogger or instagrammer, this is something that you just can’t afford to leave behind. If you have a camera, always pack two spare batteries as well as the charger. Leaving one on charge in the hotel is always a must, that way you will never be without your camera to capture your perfect pic or perfect moment. Phone chargers are a must if you believe in capturing every moment with your phone. For your average entrepreneur or businessman, this is very important as you would need to stay in touch with your company or handle any problem that could arise while you are away.

CARRY ON

First and foremost, I pack my carry on. It is extremely important in the event of your luggage ever going missing. Depending on the country or climate, I always pack accordingly. I normally pack 5 pairs of underwear, 5 pairs of socks, comfortable flying clothes and shoes (that could double up for comfortable walking around – I travel in comfortable stretchy jeans), 3 t-shirts and a pair of shorts. This way you can live out of your carry on while you wait for your luggage.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

This line item seems like a wasteful expense when nothing goes wrong, however you can never 100% control travel which is also not a bad thing however you don’t want to be caught out having to buy a new flight because you missed your connection. Or your luggage not arriving, or even in the event of being wrongfully detained… make travel insurance your best bet.

CERTIFIED COPIES

Certified copies of your passport, id card, drivers license, signed passport photos and/or anything super important is a must. I always make sure I have copies somewhere in my luggage in the event something happens to my passport during the trip. From my understanding and from what I’ve heard from other experienced travellers; if you are returning home and have lost your passport, you can use passport photos and a certified copy of your passport. Some countries expect you to take your passport with to bars which makes for an interesting evening as you would be checking your pocket 1 000 times that night to make sure it’s still there.

TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN

This is very important and saves a lot of trouble at the check-in counter and probably a lot of money as these travel documents need to be in place before travelling. Please note that you can download the requirements and necessary documents from your local home affairs. www.dha.gov.za

CREDIT AND BANK CARDS

Always notify your bank when you are traveling. The last thing you need is arriving at the pay point and your card declines. I usually phone weeks in advance and then a day or two before I travel, just to make sure that the banks don’t block your card for fraudulent activity.

CREDIT AND BANK CARDS

Always notify your bank when you are traveling. The last thing you need is arriving at the pay point and your card declines. I usually phone weeks in advance and then a day or two before I travel, just to make sure that the banks don’t block your card for fraudulent activity.

FIRST AID KIT AND MEDICINES

For me this is important, I always make sure I take with immune boosters, nausea pills, runny stomach pills, cramp pills, pain medication, asthma pump and antihistamine tablets. These items will usually do the trick and avoid having to visit a doctor and waste your travel time and money. Recently, I’ve also taken with plasters, anti-bacterial solution and Elastoplast tape which has come in handy with little cuts here and there from exploring. Also keep in mind that when travelling with chronic medication on extended trips, you may want to get a signed letter from your general practitioner to confirm that the bag of medication in your luggage is your own and you are not trying to smuggle drugs.

PLANE BATHROOM VISITS

Nasty! Always wear shoes when you need to go to the loo. Especially on a long flight. Most men struggle with this on a daily basis, now mix in a bit of turbulence… its just nasty. The air crew always try to do a good job cleaning however, there is always a chance that they haven’t done this yet. Wear shoes! Trust me, the “water” on the floor may be more than you bargained for.

PICTURES

If you are the blogger or insta type then I suggest you take more than you should. Take of anything and everything. That way you can have more fun editing pics and deleting the ones that you are not happy with. You can never have too little. For those that want to experience the moment, then take it all in and journal. Journaling is always a fun way to capture moments as you can page back to various trips and get lost in your thoughts about the amazing times you had.

BACK UP

Make sure you back up your devices every day when you are back in the hotel. Storing it to the cloud is the easiest option if you have access to WIFI however manually storing it to a hard drive will also do the trick. Losing all your pics is something that has happened to me. I was devasted. So, this is something that I routinely do to avoid going through that trauma ever again.

HAVE FUN

That goes without saying. Have fun. Enjoy the moment. Be stress free. Take it all in. Don’t be nervous and just go and have a good time.

LOCAL SIM

If you are staying longer than the usual 7 nights 8 days packages, then I suggest getting a local sim. It is always nice to try and experience getting lost in new cities as part of the adventure. However, having your phone working and using maps in the event of getting really lost, is a necessity. I like to get a local sim anyway. Especially being able to upload your pics immediately but also being able to stay in touched with loved ones in case of any emergency situations.

BOTTLED WATER

Some countries have great water and some countries have great water for cleaning. I tend to never take that chance. If I don’t trust the water, I will brush my teeth with bottled water. The last thing you want is to be down with a bug from drinking dirty water. There are other methods if you are in a jungle, LifeStraw is amazing technology where it takes out most dangerous bacteria from undrinkable water. Pretty amazing actually.

MONEY AND CARDS

Always separate your cards and cash in your bags when you leave the hotel. Some countries have crime issues and you’d prefer not to be a victim of that to ruin your holiday. If the hotel room doesn’t have a safe, then it is advisable to hide it all in different places. Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Keep that in mind. Always be wise!

USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Using public transport is not only a cheaper option but it is also a fun way at starting random conversations with locals. Getting information from them on local hangouts or great restaurants. Use the opportunity!

HOTEL CARD

What I do when I check in, is take a hotel card or at least a picture of the hotel address. I was in china a few years ago and of course you know its slightly more difficult to converse with the language barrier. I was in a taxi and you end up having to trust that your taxi driver knows where he’s going to. Back then there wasn’t google maps to help but luckily having a card with the hotels address as well as a picture of the hotel on my camera, I got back safely with little to no issues. Some of my fellow travelers that were with me on the trip weren’t as lucky. They got back to the hotel hours later with very little money left as the taxi was on a joy ride.

RESPECT NEW CULTURES

We will never understand cultures that we are not accustomed too. Respect what they do and move on. Some cultures slaughter animals for the ritual beliefs while others perform voodoo. There are also some countries that don’t believe woman have any rights. Without sounding political or creating a debate. Its best to do your research and understand that their culture is their culture and respect that.

ALWAYS CHECK IN

When you are in a country that does not have great reception or if you are on an adventure. It is always best to stay in contact with somebody and let them know your whereabouts. It is safer to do so. I have personally never had that kind of experience however some people go to countries to experience life changing moments. As much as it’s a great idea to lose yourself in cities or jungles, always tell somebody where you are going in case you run into problems.

RECONFIRM YOUR FLIGHTS

Always double check your flight information 48hrs before departure in the event there is a time change. This saves you a lot of time and effort. Always keep in the know.

ACCEPT THAT THINGS CAN GO WRONG

With travel, things can go wrong. As your travel agent, we will try our best to rectify any issues and strive to give you the best experience possible. But know that certain things may be out of our hands. There may be a possibility of unforeseen weather that causes delays at times. Like in life, there are things that are out of your control, and ours. Once you accept that, you will be able to travel stress free, as you can be rest assured that we will always have your back.