I came across a statistic the other day that shocked me: only about 10% of U.S. citizens have a passport. While I know that Americans are often criticized for ignorance about the rest of the world, I didn’t realize just how little we get out and about!
I know of very few things that can provide the genuine education and adventure that comes with international travel: the fascinating views, the unfamiliar smells, the undecipherable languages, the unidentifiable foods, the interesting people. It is almost a cliche to say that travel broadens one’s horizons, but sometimes cliches are as true as they are literal. Myopic, insular, narrow views cannot but be blasted by the wide vistas of the rest of the world “out there.”
I will not try and convince you, however, to dust off the suitcases and buy a ticket to somewhere. Instead, I would like to present to you my random list of things to know so that your international travel is the best it can be. It is my hope that in doing so I will tear down whatever walls of fear or inertia have been holding you back from experiencing more of the world.
1. Don’t travel like everyone else, suit your own style. What this means is that there are many different ways to travel. There are pre-packaged trips, organized tours, mainstream routes, structured adventures, luxury or rustic, city or country, etc. The first rule of travel is to thine own self be true. Don’t take someone else’s trip; take your own. Know yourself, what you like, what you must have in terms of accommodations, and make it fit YOU. A trip is like an extension of your personality; make sure it’s authentic.
There is so much to think about when preparing for a trip and Africa can be especially daunting as it is so unknown. This list will help make sure you remember everything as you prepare for your safari adventure.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the end date of your trip.
As most African countries require visas for most nationalities, it is a good idea to ensure you have one blank page for each country to be visited. So if the passport is getting full and you are planning a big overland journey, it might be a good time to renew.
Check with the embassy of the country (or countries) to be visited whether your nationality needs a visa. In sub-Saharan Africa, visas can easily be acquired on entry, but this is not true for all nationalities. Do not rely on your tour operator to know the rules for every nationality either – it is usually your responsibility to find out this information and, of course, apply in advance for those visas if necessary.
3. Travel Insurance
In Europe, many travellers forego travel insurance and take their chances. It is simply not worth it in Africa. The medical facilities available are usually not up to the standards in the West so having emergency evacuation cover is essential. Protection against petty theft, lost luggage and sham tour operators are also helpful.
4. Book flights, tours, accommodation
The general wisdom is that eight weeks prior to travel is the optimal time to book flights. There are plenty of online booking engines that can find cheap flights, but for a complicated itinerary there are still travel agents ready to assist.
A travel website that does not sell travel but enables travelers to save money on travel as long as they do their own bookings is now offering services to internet travelers. This service is a unique addition to travel options for all travelers comfortable with direct bookings using a new type of travel document called a TopTravelVoucher.
The operators of this service are addressing the issue of travel pricing which often includes a 10 to 25% mark-up to allow for the payment of travel agent commission to either wholesalers or retailers but when travelers buy directly from the provider (accommodations, tours or transportation) they can still pay the price inclusive of commission. To overcome the travel providers’ problems of showing multiple prices for the same products and services on their websites, they can now offer ‘fair fare prices’ by issuing TopTravelVouchers.
Travel Providers are given marketing and promotion in exchange for their own travel vouchers, equivalent to or more than, the commission that would be payable upon sale of their various travel packages and services, so they still incur the commission cost on sales but do not have to alienate their distribution chain of wholesalers and retailers by offering a retail, wholesale or ‘direct’ price on their website. This is done by the voucher operator who sells their vouchers to travelers at deep discounts to their redemption values to be used when making direct bookings, hence a travel agent who does not sell travel, only travel vouchers and therefore is not a travel agent.
If you’re vising German, in particular the area of Wetzlar or Weilburg (Hesse), a canoe tour on the Lahn river is great fun for the whole family! There are local businesses for renting canoes. They even do guided tours.
We recommend this one in Weilburg:
– Kanutouren / Kanuverleih Weilburg
– Aktivhotel Lindenhof
– Frankfurt Strasse 23, Weilburg
They offer various packages. In their basic package you rent the canoes and all the equipment, incl. pick-up of the canoes after the tour. Before the canoe tour they provide you with tips and guidance to make sure you know how to get along on the Lahn river. For a day tour the price is 17 Euro per person for this package. It starts in Loehnberg until Fuhrfurt, over Runkel.
You will get even more out of their Clubtour. This tour starts in the morning at 9:30 am at Frankfurter Strasse 23 in Weilburg. They give you a tour and overview about the canoes at the Weilburger Bootshaus. The canoe tour itself then takes 3 hours. Enjoy the great scenery along the Lahn river, historic castles, and more. There will be a short stop in between, where you can have a picnic and lunch. The tour then ends around 3 pm in Fuhrfurt. A bus will pick you up and return you to Weilburg. The team of the Aktivhof Linden is already waiting for you and will prepare a delicious BBQ with steaks, German sausages, and fresh seasonal salads. Drink a cold beer in their Biergarten and enjoy the rest of the day in a relaxing atmosphere. They also own an Irish pub, where you can enjoy live music on Fridays and Saturdays. You can even book canoe tours that span over multiple days!
This article has been written by Bettina Kraft. She likes to write Germany related travel articles on Live Like a German – a site for exploring Germany, to learn more about its culture/language, and to find great Germany holiday rentals [http://www.live-like-a-german.com/vacation_rentals] or vacation apartments when going on a Germany vacation. Bettina likes to help visitors from all over the world to experience Germany in a different, more personal way, and make it easy for them to do so by providing detailed travel tips and advise.
If you intend to use the public transport system in Paris, whether the bus, metro, tram or RER, you can make big savings if you intend to make more than a single journey. Unfortunately, there are lots of different options available, so take a look at this quick guide before deciding which system is best for you.
This ticket allows unlimited use of the metro, RER, tram or bus for 1 entire day, starting at 5:30am. It is not valid for travelling to any of the airports via the RER or bus. It can however be used on the standard buses which visit the airports if you buy the correct zone (i.e bus lines 183, 285, 350 or 351). You can buy a card in any of the automatic metro ticket machines, at stations or RATP shops. The price of the card depends on the tarif zone you intend to use.
Ticket Jeunes Week-end
This ticket allows the unlimited use of the metro, RER, tram or bus for 1 entire day, starting at 5:30am. However, it is only valid for people aged 25 years and under and can only be used on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday. It is not valid for travelling to any of the airports via the RER or bus. It can however be used on the standard buses which visit the airports if you buy the correct zone (i.e bus lines 183, 285, 350 or 351). You can buy a ticket in any of the automatic metro ticket machines, at stations or RATP shops. The price of the card depends on the tarif zone you intend to use.