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The Most Valuable Travel Tip

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OK you’ve all been waiting for this one I’m sure – it’s the most amazing stupendous valuable travel tip ever. I realized it two weeks into our trip that this indeed is the best advice I could ever write. Here it is…

You’re really interested aren’t you!?

The most valuable travel tip I can offer is this: Get to know locals and/or other travelers. I don’t care if it’s a friend of a friend’s uncle’s ex-college roommate who has moved to Namibia. Or the couple that just walked into the same accommodation as you did. Introduce yourself and take advantage of the contacts you have. The best part of our trip so far has been meeting the people along the way and it has added so much to our itinerary and experience. We had a friend in graduate school whose wife grew up in S. Africa. Before we left for our trip we had coffee with this couple and she graciously gave us all kinds of contacts. We were able to stay with her Aunt and Uncle in Johannesburg who were amazing hosts. They took us to things we never would have experienced on a “self-guided tour”. We felt safe and we also got to experience firsthand the conversation of apartheid from some folk who lived through it. We experienced art through painting, photography, and dance and saw a local youth art school. We were directed to the worthwhile museums (and away from the not-so-worthwhile ones) and had transportation without getting lost or fear of being in the bad areas of the city. Next we were able to experience a private game reserve at a fraction of the cost while again meeting some great people. Now granted I hear the objections coming – What if I don’t know anyone where I’m traveling? My proposition is this – if you ask enough people you’ll be surprised who people know in other countries. The world gets smaller and smaller every day with global economies, easy travel, and skype/email. There’s also the possibility of meeting people once you arrive. Erinn and I met a couple on their honeymoon from Slovenia in the wine country of Cape Town and had instant travel companions for a couple of days. Finally meeting one person leads to many more. The first couple we stayed with gave us contacts in Cape Town. One of the women at the game farm later invited us to “sundowners” with some of her friends. Etc. Etc. Now I know the other objection – not all people are worth meeting you might be thinking. I agree but I also look at it a bit like going out into nature – backpacking, kayaking, hiking, or camping. You never know what you’re going to get. Most of the time it’s something glorious and amazing. There are some times where the weather is awful and the experience isn’t the greatest – we spent 3 days “kayaking” in Alaska where it rained the entire time and saw nothing. Every once in a while you have to do this to get the glorious experiences. It’s the same here. Most people that are willing to host and get together are going to be amazing people – and it’s all part of seeing the culture and the travel experience – probably the best part in my opinion.

Our wonderful Joburg hosts. Thanks again for your generosity.

Our wonderful Joburg hosts. Thanks again for your generosity.

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Our amazing bush guide with his mom. Amazing!

Our honeymooning friends from Slovenia

Our honeymooning friends from Slovenia

  • benkoerselman

    I haven't been a good uncle because I haven't been closely following your journey. Steve keeps me informed (kinda). It's all coming to a end shortly and you have new adventures awaiting. Safe travels!! Uncle Ben

  • benkoerselman

    I haven't been a good uncle because I haven't been closely following your journey. Steve keeps me informed (kinda). It's all coming to a end shortly and you have new adventures awaiting. Safe travels!! Uncle Ben