Until 1998, I had very little opportunity to travel outside of South Africa, for various reasons. I had visited Namibia and Botswana, and work had taken me through part of Zimbabwe to Zambia, but that is the furthest away that I had ever been.
In 1998, though, things changed rather drastically. I travelled all over the world - for work, family, love and pleasure. In fact, if I count a few hours touring Singapore by bus as a transit passenger, I can say that I have set my feet on five continents in less than a year! Antarctica remains elusive, and while a trip there is starting to look like a possibility, I think it will be quite a while before I achieve this particular dream.
Travel has now become a passion for me, and I have been lucky enough to manage a trip every few months - right up until late 2000 - two trips in 2001, and one in 2002. I doubt if I will remain so lucky, but who can tell? Just when I thought I was too broke to travel again in the foreseeable future, I won a cruise to Bazaruto Island in January 2003!
In February 2003, I moved to Abu Dhabi, and stayed there until June 2006. During this time I travelled to Jordan, Oman, Ireland and Sri Lanka, where I had a rather traumatic experience culminating in a 12-day hospital stay. In July 2006, I flew to Australia to spend 3 months working in a wildlife sanctuary before moving back to Cape Town to take up my previous job there.
I've listed a selection of my travels below - I'd love it if you could tour the world with me.
Please note that the first few reports I wrote (listed last) were not conceptualised with travel information as a priority. Nevertheless, I think they could still be of interest to potential travellers to those destinations.
Back in Australia, working in a wildlife park (with side trips to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney), July 2006 - September 2006
Trauma in Sri Lanka, January 2006
A return visit to Ireland - June 2005
Three camping trips to Oman, late 2004 and 2005
A wonderful visit to Petra, Jerash and other destinations in Jordan, February 2004
Teaching in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, February 2003 - June 2006
A cruise from South Africa to Bazaruto Island, off the coast of Mozambique, January 2003
A trip to Lima, Pachacamac, Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Peru, September 2001
Trips to Atlanta, Washington DC, New York City, Boston and other parts of the United States, July/August 2001 and May/June 2002
A two week stay in England, August 2000
A tour of Europe, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain (to see Zhigulii at last) and England - March-April 2000
Destination of Choice!!!
Alone in Tunisia - February 2000
A visit to Switzerland, January 2000
Living and working in Ireland
Mental Snapshots - Recollections of Life in Chile
Travelling with Disabilities - a trip to France, December 1999
An introduction to my travels in Europe, especially Ireland, from September 1999
A trip to Peru, June 1999
A trip to the Atacama Desert and the Altiplano in the north of Chile, May 1999
For potential visitors to Santiago de Chile - things to do and places to see
Mendoza and surrounding areas, Argentina, in April 1999
A whirlwind trip to Miami and Disney World, in December 1998
Not strictly speaking a travel report, this may still interest some of you - writings on adjusting to living in Chile for the long term, from September 1998
Destination of Choice!!!
Easter Island / Isla de Pascua / Rapa Nui, in June 1998
My first visit to Santiago de Chile, in June 1998
Taking part in the World Expo '98, in Lisbon, Portugal, May 1998
Sydney and Canberra, in Australia, March 1998
A trip around South Africa, in February 1998
Advice for Travellers:
- First of all - just DO it!
Whenever you get an opportunity to travel, take it. It is easy to let all sorts of apprehensions and logistical considerations get in the way, especially if you haven�t travelled often, but almost everything can be overcome, and just about every trip will be a valuable experience.
- Find out as much as you can about your destination.
Imagine how frustrating it would be to travel across the world and miss out on some unforgettable local sight or experience, just because you didn�t know of its existence! With television, the Internet, etc., anyone can find out a wealth of information about just about any travel destination in the world. My very earnest advice? Get the Lonely Planet travel books! You can find links to the relevant books on almost all my travel pages.
- Learn a little of the local language.
While it can be difficult to become fully conversant in a language, it takes very little effort to learn the basics. At the very least, you should be able to greet people politely, introduce yourself, and say please and thank you. My advice would be to go a little further than that, and learn enough to order basic food in a caf�, buy a train ticket, etc. in the local language. Try it - you will be amazed at how much difference it makes to your enjoyment of the trip.
- Take everything you need, and only what you need.
Make sure you have all the essentials - especially things like medications, which may be difficult or impossible to get while abroad. But travel as light as you can, especially if you are going to be moving around a lot. Constant packing and unpacking, and lugging heavy suitcases around, can be really unpleasant. As far as clothing is concerned:
- Avoid taking clothing that creases easily - you really do not want to be bothered with ironing while travelling!
- Take a warm hat, scarf and gloves, even if you are travelling in the middle of summer - these items are light and compact, but will make the world of difference if you're caught in the cold.
- Don�t be afraid to try different travel alternatives.
For example, many people look down on package tour options. But, sometimes, they can provide a safer, cheaper or easier alternative - which may just make the difference between one's deciding to make the journey or not! When I travelled to Tunisia, for example, I was very conscious of being a single woman travelling alone, not knowing the local language, and not wanting or being able to afford to hire a car - the package tour option worked wonders for me. Once you have more confidence, though, or in a destination in which you feel more secure, try to break away from these one-size-fits-all options. For my second trip to Peru I avoided expensive, superficial package options. Instead, I spent time on the Internet, tracked down personal travel pages, contacted the webmasters and asked their advice on where to stay and what to do. I bought the Lonely Planet guidebook and borrowed other guidebooks from others who had visited the region. We ended up having a wonderful, memorable, reasonably-priced trip.
- Don�t be afraid of striking out on your own, but trust your instincts.
If you do go on a package tour, or travel in a group of friends, you may find you have your most memorable times when you go off on your own. Do it! But always trust your instincts - if something feels dangerous, rather keep away.
- Take out travel insurance - at least for medical mishaps.
I've learned this from bitter experience. My wonderful solo journey thorugh Sri Lanka was interrupted by a traumatic bus accident. The insurance not only covered medical costs incurred while in Sri Lanka, they made it possible for me to be transferred from the brutally basic hospital in Polonnaruwa to an excellent private hospital in Colombo.
- Take lots of photographs - and teach yourself to take GOOD photographs.
You may end up boring everyone else with them, but you can relive your experiences over and over again. And if you place them on the web, along with your story, you may get feedback from all sorts of people, all over the world ;-)
Places I long to visit
There are many places I would love to see. I would never refuse an opportunity to travel anywhere, but I do have a growing list of preferred destinations. Some of these are as broad as a continent, others as small as a room:
- The Himalayas
- The Catacombs in Rome
- Mexico, especially Mexico City
- To go once again to Easter Island, Machu Picchu, Venice, Barcelona - my favourite places in the world
My favourite places in the whole wide world
- Cape Town, South Africa
- Easter Island (RapaNui / Isla de Pascua)
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- The island city of Venice, Italy
- Barcelona, Spain
- Petra, Jordan
Do you think you know me? Do you want to know me?
Take a look at the things I have done on my travels through life - take the 'how well do you think you know me' test ;)
If you are truly interested in travel, here is something really special for you
In the days when travel was a lot more dangerous and time consuming than it is now, my great great grandmother spent time living in Germany, England, Constantinople, South Africa and the United States of America. When she was 82 years old, she wrote a letter to her grandchildren, telling them about her life. I know I am biased, but I think this is truly riveting reading about what the reality of travel was in those days, as well as the fascinating places she lived.
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