SOUTH AFRICA..... For me, words cannot describe. You'll need to see, feel, taste and experience it first hand for yourself. South Africa is for everyone....For the young at heart, the seasoned traveler, solo travelers, couples, families, lovers of art, culture and history, wildlife, ocean life, prairies, jungles. This country has some of the most charming cities and towns, with the most welcoming people who are anxious, and happy to share their beautiful country.
I traveled to South Africa in May with the great organization, Blacks In Travel & Tourism, to attend the world renowned trade show, the "South Africa Indaba".
Let me share my journey:
U.S. citizens only need a Passport to travel to South Africa.
No Visa is required.
Passports need to have at least six months remaining time "from the last day of your stay" in South Africa. I took a quick flight from Charlotte to Atlanta. And then an overnight, non-stop flight straight to Johannesburg, South Africa. A few tips: Wear Compression Socks, take your favorite playlist to listen to, take a good book, catch up on a couple of movies you didn't get to see this year. I had the good fortune of not having anyone sitting next to me.
The flight was pretty comfortable, but you will need to get up from time to time to stretch your legs. Fourteen and a half hours later, I arrived in paradise. We arrived O.R. Tambo International Airport Johannesburg, South Africa in the evening. O.R. Tambo Int'l airport is a state of the art airport and, in my opinion, rivals some of the best airports around the world.
Jo'Burg is in Gauteng, which is in one of the nine provices in South Africa, and a cosmopolitan city. We stayed at the Voco Johannesburg Rosebank. Great hotel. This part of the city has wonderful hotels, restaurants, banking and shopping. Anything you need, you should be able to find within footsteps of the hotel, including the well-known Rosebank Mall. There is easy access to transportation to explore the rest of the city. Just ask the front desk of your hotel to arrange.
Our tour company and guides were professional, friendly and happy to share their beautiful city, culture and history, and they were so much fun. We went on a fantastic a walking tour of Jo'burg, visiting Ghandi Square, The Rand Club, the Law office of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. From there we headed to the , Apartheid Museum, and the Hector Pieterson Center, both must sites to visit. Of course a visit to SOWETO (Southwestern Township), one of the most well-known townships on the continent of Africa, is a must if you are in Jo'burg. We visited Vilakazi Street, perhaps the most famous street in Soweto—or all of Johannesburg, for that matter. It’s the only street in the world to have produced two Nobel Prize winners—His Excellency Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and The Most Reverend Desmond Tutu. It’s also where 13-year-old Hector Pieterson was shot and killled, sparking the riots on June 16, 1976.
Shopping is really a great experience in SOWETO. Check out Nto Zinhle, a cute boutique store, where you can shop for beautiful African inspired clothing, jewelry, handbags and home decor, while supporting about 50 local artisans.
After shopping, we had lunch at Sakhumzi Restaurant, African Restaurant, also on Vilakazi Street that has great food. The restaurant is in a bustling, family-friendly atmosphere with high energy Zulu dancers displaying their unique high kicking skills and vendors selling their wares on Vilakazi Street.
In the evening, we had the honor of having dinner at "Sanctuary Mandela", Nelson Mandela’s primary place of residence in a suburb of Houghton, Johannesburg where he lived after he returned from Robben Island. He hosted the likes of Michael Jackson and Oprah Winfrey. Sanctuary Mandela is now a re-envisioned residency, a one-of-a-kind boutique hotel with 9 curated rooms and retreat spaces for reflection, healing, and thought-provoking experiences inspired by the life and times of Nelson Mandela.
Next stop, Durban, South Africa.
Traveling solo can be a thrilling experience that pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. However, you want to make sure you prepare before venturing off! Here are some “know before you go” on solo travel.
Leave Your Contact Info with Someone at Home
When traveling, especially overseas where communication might be trickier, it’s important to let someone know your travel plans. Let them know where you’re going, where you’ll be staying, and the travel dates. This will keep your loved ones at home in the loop just in case they need to get ahold of you
Keep Copies of Important Documents
;Always keep copies of your important documents, such as your passport, social security card, and other necessary paperwork. These copies can come in handy in case you misplace one during your travels!
Talk to your contacts about where you’ll be traveling to, they may have connections in those places and could connect you with other people in their network. This is great for solo traveling because it can help give you more insight from locals into where you’re going and, if you feel so inclined, you can meet up!
Bring a Book and a Journal
You may face some long travel days, and since you’ll be traveling solo, having a book to read can help entertain you. Journaling is another excellent way to keep yourself entertained; it’s also great to have so you can document your journey! Trust us on this! It’s fun and special to find your travel journals and read back and recall those travel moments later in life.
Learn How to be Alone
Traveling solo means spending time alone. Depending on your personality, this might be the most challenging part of traveling solo. Being with yourself alone in another country is a big deal but learning to slow down can create a lot of growth, and you can learn more about who you are.
You May Never Feel 100% Ready
This one speaks for itself. It’s hard to find the time and energy to commit to traveling internationally with our busy lives. But is there ever really a “perfect” time to go? You might also be thinking that you aren’t ready to travel solo yet, but again, is there really going to be a “perfect” time? If you’re considering traveling alone, take the leap!
Things Will Go Wrong... That's Okay
No matter if you’re traveling alone or with others, something will go wrong. If you’re traveling solo and something goes wrong, it might be stressful in the moment, but it’s going to make great stores to tell and will help you learn to be more flexible. Roll with it!
Keep Emergency Contact Info on You
It’s crucial that you give someone at home your information on where you’ll be traveling, but it's also essential to keep their information on you as well. Ideally, it’s great to keep this information in multiple places, such as your mobile device and your journal. This is important just in case your phone is out of battery or misplaced and you need to call home.
Understand The Cultures You’re Entering
When entering new countries, we highly recommend learning more about the local cultures before visiting. This can help prepare you for anything you might face, such as clothing restrictions or norms and understanding mannerisms.
Stay Someplace Where You’ll Meet Others;
One of the coolest parts about traveling solo is the people you meet. Staying at a place like a hostel, situates you perfectly to meet like-minded individuals who might be traveling solo as well. And who knows, the people you meet on your solo adventure might turn into life-long friends!
Know Where You’re Going
It’s always a good idea to create some kind of plan before your travels. This will help give you an idea of any transportation you might need to take and how to visit each place on your list effectively.
Ask Locals for Recommendations
Talking to locals is a wonderful way to learn about the place you’re visiting. They can tell you the best places to visit that you might miss if you’re just going to the tourist attractions, and as an added bonus, they’re likely to be much less busy!
Try Not to Overpack
When traveling solo, you’re in charge of all your bags. Make sure you’re able to carry all your items before you leave and have room left for any souvenirs you might be bringing back with you.
Try to Act Confidently in Public
Acting confident is key, especially if you’re not sure where you are or where you’re going. When you show confidence, it’s less likely someone will try and take advantage of you. We’d like to believe that most people you meet wouldn’t do this, but you can never be too cautious.
Traveling solo is truly an adventure of a lifetime, and we believe it can add so much value to your life. It can be a scary one, but well worth it!
Our hearts and prayers go out to those who were lost and affected by the devasting earthquake in Turkiye and Syria. Thousands of people in Turkey (officially renamed Türkiye) and Syria are reeling from a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the morning of February 6. Below are a few ways that you can support and donate
AFAD is the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Türkiye.
SAMS SYRIAN AMERICAN MEDICAL SOCIETY FOUNDATION Donate
TURKISH PHILANTHROPIC FUND: Earthquake relief page
DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS Donate.
DIRECT RELIEF Donate
PROJECT HOPE, Turkey and Syria disaster relief fund.
You are going on that long-anticipated vacation. You've secured your flights, checked your passport, notified your banks, purchased your travel insurance, and packed all of your essentials. You are excited!
But what about protecting your privacy on your devices when traveling? How do we protect our cell phones, laptops and other devices?
Find out more about Cybersecurity while traveling here
Its the beginning of a new year and many of us are making our travel plans. As you are making your plans, it might be a good idea to check the expiration date on your passport.
Many countries require at least 3 to 6 months remaining on your passport "from the last day of your travel in that country". For instance, I had an opportunity to travel to Kenya in November. Well, my passport was expiring in March.(in less than 6 months) I had to renew my passport and renew it quickly. Luckily, I was able to take a drive to a Passport Agency and apply in person. Check the U.S. Department of State website for more information on how to apply, renew and expedite your passport.
I recently traveled to the beautiful island of Dominican Republic to attend a Wellness Tourism Conference, hosted by The Wellness Tourism Association and the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism. As part of the Wellness Tourism course with the Travel Institute, I was required to attend a Wellness event. I had not been to the D.R. in about 15 years, so it was the perfect opportunity to take a trip back.
There is a real interest in wellness tourism today, since experiencing, and still navigating, a global pandemic. We were emersed in a two-day conference that focused on what consumers are looking for, consumer surveys, how to help create the right wellness experiences, Cannabis for wellness, slowing down the aging process, traveling Post COVID, and the wellness offerings and programs that are available. One of my favorite hightlights was an introduction to Equine Therapy with Unbridled Retreats. (I absolutely love horses!)
I stayed at the Eden Roc Cap Cana Resort, an exclusive luxury resort that offers wonderful wellness programs and outstanding healthy food options. Our room was a beautiful ocean front, literally just a few feet away from dipping my feet into the water. The room was beautiful, and had all of the amenities you could want. I started my mornings enjoying sunrise over the ocean and ended my day listening to the waves at night. Normally, I wouldn't stay at such a high-end property, but you know what; we should have that experience from time to time. I am so glad that I did, I will do it again, and I encourage you to treat yourself to some luxury!
We also inspected the Melia Punta Cana, an All-Inclusive, Adults-only, Wellness Resort. The property is absolutely beautiful, with excellent wellness programs and activities. I plan to stay there on my next visit to Dominican Republic.
A few of my take aways from the Wellness Conference
1. Make Self Care a priority, not just for yourself, but for your loved ones.
2. Travelers want more in a vacation, and are looking for expert advice on how to create a wellness package that fits their needs.
3. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and networking with a group of great people who are committed to helping their clients see the value in incorporating wellness in their travel.
4. Clients should contact a travel advisor that has the tools, resources and connections and can make professional recommendations for their wellness travel.
5. Kudos to the Wellness Tourism Association and the Domincan Republic Ministry of Tourism for a job well done!
For more information on Wellness travel visit my Wellness Travel Page