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Tips from the Hearth.com world travellers...

Post in 'The Inglenook' started by mhambi, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. mhambi

    mhambi Burning Hunk

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    UT
    Hello everybody!


    I haven't been around much. Pretty much went into hibernation this winter. As a relative noob I'm sure I wasn't missed too much, but man, I missed this place!

    What a crazy 12 months. About a year ago I decided to go back to school and complete my degree. June was evacuation time for the Wood Hollow Fire. December was 'have a deer rearrange the front of your car' month...

    [​IMG]

    And a hundred other things called life in between.

    Now I'm a couple months away from my 'capstone' project which involves a research trip to southern Africa. So all you jet setting, international men of mystery types... chime in here :)

    What did you forget that you wish you hadn't?
    What did you take that you wish you left behind?
    tips for renting cars, communicating with loved ones, travel insurance, currency exchange, etc...


    I haven't been out of the US (well North America I guess) in 20 years... I'm freaking out a little.

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Hey mhambi, I wondered why you quit posting. I hope you've had some good times too. Good luck on your trip.
  3. Beetle-Kill

    Beetle-Kill Minister of Fire

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    mhambi, wondered where you went? Missed the nice pictures you've posted.
    Can't help with the out-of-country experience. I crossed the border into Mexico one night in search of beer, then decided I better get back north when I realized what "Alto" meant.(shudders)
    Stay safe on your trip and post when you can.
    (damn lucky with that deer-strike, your windshield is still intact. A mulie in your lap wouldn't be fun.)
  4. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    south central WI
    I've been around the world a bit but never to Africa. I'm a bit jealous. I was supposed to go hike Mount Kilimanjaro for my 25th Anniversary this year. But as you say,
    life happens.

    I always take too many clothes. Doing laundry is usually easier than overpacking a suitcase. But that's decidedly local. Drying clothes during the winter on the rooftop line in downtown Beijing resulted in frozen sooty clothes.

    I'm always surprised how easy is it to find internet for staying in touch. Facetime and google chat have come in handy.

    Banks usually get the best rates for currency exchange. But hours in other countries can vary greatly. Obviously find how what you need for insurance for renting a car.

    We always check the bulletin boards at tripadvisor.com for local tips and have even found reputable local guides that way.
  5. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    Pt Pleasant, PA (SE PA)
    Check with your doctor for any vaccines that may be a good idea. My former boss went on a safari trip for their 30th wedding anniversary. His wife got bit by something and within a few hours her arm was swollen bad. They flew her to London and had to amputate her arm to keep it from spreading. They never figured out what it was but that's scary stuff.

    Currency, yep, banks will give you the best rates and are less likely to screw you.

    Call your cell provider as it may be cheaper to upgrade your plan temporarily to include all international calls or look into prepaid options.

    Check with your insurance company to see what you would need to do god forbid you need medical attention.

    I'd also call your credit card companies/bank and let them know you are going overseas so they don't put holds on your accounts thinking it is fraudulent activity.

    Don't plan too much the first few days, the time difference takes time to get use to.

    Pack light, especially clothes you can always handwash and hang to dry if laundry facilities are scarce.

    What we wish we brought more of: gum, tissues, zip lock bags(all sizes are handy) hand sanitizer wipes - better than gel

    Have fun!
  6. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    For 3'rd world countries (have been to many, but none in Africa) I have often been surprised how easy it is to find stuff that I thought I had to bring with. If you need it you can get just about anything with a trip to a capitol or major city. In fact some things are much easier & cheaper to get in country so I have intentionally waited to buy after arrival. Like malaria meds (depends on when you need to start taking them) or other drugs that requre a prescription here, but sold over the counter elsewhere. Same for clothes, if you need something you'll find it, and for a lower price.
    Don't take a gigantic camera, you'll miss shots because it's packed away in it's case or not want to be seen carrying it.
    Don't buy a bunch of high-tech khaki colored travel clothing. You will look like a dork and want to punch yourself.
    Packing light helps me enjoy myself because I'm not always planning how & where to stash my stuff.
    One thing I absolutely could not find once was boxers in several S.American countries (land of the tightie-whitey it seems). Also I like taking a UV water purifier like a SteriPen so I can drink tap water without contracting pooping sickness. More my style than always buying bottled.

    Have fun! I'm jealous.
  7. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    Oh, also buying a cheap cellphone & minutes on arrival can often give you much cheaper rates than adding international to your current plan.
  8. mhambi

    mhambi Burning Hunk

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    UT
    Great tips so far. Thanks everyone!

    Here's the route that I've roughed out so far...

    [​IMG]

    The research part happens in Swaziland. The little loop north into South Africa is for fun. Also known as (at least a section of), The Panorama Route. Kruger NP is an option, but I'd rather spend 2 weeks there than try to shoehorn in just a day. But we'll see.

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attracti...eviews-Panorama_Route-Graskop_Mpumalanga.html


    If there's time we (I'm taking my 15 year old son as my research asst) might take a day or two to head down to either Sodwana Bay, or over to Maputo. It'd be nice to dip a toe in the Indian Ocean just so I could say I had. :)
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Get up to date on exchange rates before you leave. When you can, exchange at a local bank and spend all of the currency before you come back. Exchange rates at a bank here when you get back will suck. If somebody is reimbursing your expenses stick your head in at a hotel there and use their posted rate. It is always the worst one around and if you are using a credit card you don't have a clue what rate they will hit you with on your monthly bill.
  10. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Meds that you might not be able to get there
    and check any you do bring are legal to possess

    odd things like pepper spray can get ya 30 days in the slammer or a hefty wallet ding in some places

    you've probably already done visas
  11. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    This ^
  12. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Go to your travel doctor, get all the vaccinations you need. Do this a couple months in advance as some of the shots need time to work.

    If its a malaria area they will give you pills (I take the latest one Malarone, doesn't have the side effects of the old quinine drugs). Dont skip this.

    They will give you something like Cipro in case of food poisoning. DON'T skip this either. And bring lots of pepto bismol and some Imodium too. Know the signs of when pepto is enough and when you should break out the cipro and when you should skip both and go to a doc.

    Check if your health insurance covers you outside the country and if not get a travelers policy. Especially one that will pay for medivac to the US. I've never needed either but its cheap insurance. Before you go know how to find an international/expatriate hospital. The public hospitals are usually a last resort in the 3rd world.

    Alchohol hand sanitizer. use it. often. And your own supply of TP for rural areas.
  13. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    This is true, even in places you wouldn't expect. For example some prescription drugs especialy narcotic pain killers and anti anxiety/depression meds that are legal here will get you arrested in Japan. Even with documentation from your doctor.
  14. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    When I went to a (less cool) malaria area, I took Lariam. 1 pill every two weeks for a month before and after the trip. I was warned about side effects, but had no problem after the first pill, and forgot about them. On my third pill the day before I traveled, they kicked in. Couldn't sleep more than 2 hours at a time. Really ruined my trip. Figured it was jet lag (but I never had that problem before). The v bad sleep lasted a couple weeks after my return and my last dose.

    Everyone else just trips on the stuff....me not so much.:confused:
  15. mhambi

    mhambi Burning Hunk

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    Well, plane leaves saturday. I'll pop in where there's wifi.




    I guess I should go pack... ;)

    Thanks for the tips everyone!
  16. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Skype/FaceTime is great for calling home, but make sure the person on the other end has it too.

    Voltages are different, as are plug configurations. Get an adaptor.

    Don't drink the water
  17. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    Beer is boiled water. A good alternative. :)
  18. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    And install skype before you go and test it to make sure it works. Some countries block it... For example in China if you try to go to Skype website it redirects you to the China version which uses a local server and wont connect to the outside world. If you have the world edition preinstalled it usually works ok.
  19. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    If you have an iPhone, FaceTime also works well and is free.
  20. Hills Hoard

    Hills Hoard Minister of Fire

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    Melbourne, Australia
    i haven't been to south africa, but the best bit of advise I could offer is to thoroughly research the place before you go. Look into culture, customs, language, laws, scams, religion where applicable. Nothing worse for locals and fellow travelers than the ignorant fool that travels to a foreign country and is surprised when they realise its nothing like their own country then they complain about it....They are the people who inevitably wind up in trouble.

    I also agree with the others on the free chat type phone apps. I recently used Whatsapp over in Thailan and it was brilliant...
  21. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    When with Afrikaners prepare to drink a lot. ;lol
  22. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Danes, Norweigans, Swedes (especially), Brits, Irish.......

    When with certain Jamaicans, prepare to be knocked off your arse with ganga cigars.....
  23. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    The guys I worked with were technically Anglo-Africans since they were of British decent. Never went to South Africa to meet with them. We always set up to meet in Paris. But they drank their breakfast, lunch and dinner. And at least one fight would break out by midnight. And everybody was buddies again by sunup. Rinse and repeat. >>
    Hearth Mistress likes this.

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