The Clever Travel Companion Updates
7 Africa Travel Safety Tips (That work for the rest of the world too!) April 25 2016, 1 Comment
A few years ago I spent 7 months backpacking Africa, by myself, using only public transportation. Out of all the places I've traveled in the world, Africa has become my favorite. It's not too dangerous or unsafe either. By following the backpacking tips below, I navigated the entire continent as a solo girl without any problems.
- Keep Your Money/Valuables Hidden on You. I was never robbed, thankfully, but even if I was, the thief wouldn't have gotten much since my valuables were all hidden inside my Clever Travel Companion blank tank top (You can read more about how this kept me safe + tips on which size to buy, etc on my backpacking Africa travel blog). I met a backpacker in Tanzania, however, whose taxi driver drove him out of town, stole his wallet, then left him on the side of the road. Luckily, the driver was nice enough to reach back into my friend's wallet and give him enough change for a bus ride back to town (a very thoughtful thief!). But if this would have happened to me, the driver would have only gotten about $20 because the rest of my money, credit cards, and passport were concealed in my tank top.
- Watch Out for Thieves at Hostels. Unfortunately, some of the worst thieves are other backpackers or the cleaners at your backpacker lodge. To prevent this from happening to you, I recommend packing a lock and using it to secure the lockers that most hostels provide in the rooms. During my trip when this wasn't an option, I put all my important essentials in my Clever Travel tank, and folded it up nicely with the rest of my clothes. If someone did go through my stuff, they wouldn't steal a plain old item like that, and they also wouldn't suspect it was hiding my passport and money.
- Don't lose your Sh*T! I think it's normal to want to go a little crazy on vacation, especially the first few days or weeks. But that's when the most trouble happens. For me it meant I spent exorbitant amounts of money in the beginning when I was in South Africa and then had to do some serious damage control on my budget for the rest of the trip. I saw a lot of good people though doing drugs, breaking country laws knowingly, or hanging out at shady bars in shady areas which are all things they admitted to never doing at home.Then they got mad when they were arrested for smoking weed or held up after drinking in a ghetto. Granted, as a traveler you're not going to know all the laws and most places in Africa do look a little questionable, but my advice is to keep yourself together and make sure you're making smart choices even in the beginning.
- Ask Locals for Advice. The best way I stayed safe while backpacking Africa was by asking locals safety advice then following it. For example, an American expat in Rwanda told me I could walk down a dark alley in Kigali at 2am with all my valuables out in the open, and nothing bad would happen. And although I didn't quite test it out, I did feel very safe. But in Nairobi, a local told me that as soon as it gets dark, I needed to quit walking and take a taxi even if I was only going a few blocks away. So that's what I did, and what I credit to a fun (and safe) experience in the town whose bad reputation earned it the name “Nairobbery.”
- Use Common Sense. Looking back, most my travel mistakes happened because I just didn't use common sense. The same was true for other travelers. Like when my backpacking friend, Oron, got malaria because he forgot to take his anti-malaria medicine for three weeks. Or when I recently heard of a traveler getting gored by a rhino because he got too close to it during a photo-op. Usually the unfortunate happens in travel because we just quit thinking.
- Leave the Situation-Fast! No matter, how careful you are, you can still easily wind up in a bad situation accidentally. My advice-run! That's what I did when I ended up in a really sketchy hostel in Durban, South Africa that looked more like a crack den. I found some Canadian backpackers who felt the same as me, and we shared a taxi and got out of there quick! I met some British girls who told me in Malawi that they went out clubbing with a local guy, but started to feel uncomfortable with how he was acting and where he was taking them. They nicely came up with an excuse and left. Even if everything seems fine, but you just have a bad feeling, I'd listen to it because it's literally better to be safe than sorry.
- Don't Tempt a Thief. While no situation justifies robbing or harming someone, there's no reason to make it easy. I always cringed when I saw someone walking around with a money belt. In my opinion, that just screams, “Rob me!” Their cash could be just as easily reached, however, in the pocket of a Clever Travel Companion pair of underwear, only with the added advantage of being secure. Same thing goes for a Chinese backpacker I met who was walking around Mozambique with her computer in a laptop case. I felt really bad when someone stole it from her when she was walking back from an internet cafe, but at the same time, locals never looked twice at me when I was carrying my computer because I was storing it in my dusty backpack.
I hope you see that backpacking Africa can be easily (and safely) traveled. Because even though I had visited over 20 countries before my trip—including European, Asian, and Latino, I found African countries to be the best for so many reasons!
Check out my blog Backpacking Africa for Beginners www.backpackingafricaforbeginners.com for more ideas on which countries to visit and how to do it, plus get a free 15% off coupon to Clever Travel Companion by downloading the complete edition of my free African travel E-book and check out this blog to see what other neat stuff Clever Travel gear can do!
About the Author: Val Bowden backpacked from Cape Town to Cairo, going through 13 African countries, all by herself. After her trip, she moved back to the continent and has been living in Addis Ababa ever since. You can download her E-book, Backpacking Africa for Beginners http://backpackingafricaforbeginners.com/book/or her guides on Ethiopia, Kilimanjaro, & scoring cheap flights for free (although any contribution goes towards a social impact business she's starting in Ethiopia).
Happy New Year and what to look forward to in 2016!! December 30 2015, 0 Comments
Hello and Happy New Year Clever Travel Companion fans!
We're here to wish you a very happy new year for 2016 and we hope you will find yourself somewhere new and exciting, somewhere you've never been before and that it changes your life for the better! There's plenty to be excited about for 2016, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for one, NASA also plans to land on Jupiter so expect it to appear on a few travel guides for 2017 along with a new space lightyears membership card from Virgin.. The more likely out of atmosphere destination will be the Russian "Space Hotel" that's due to launch. However, of course even more exciting than that will be Clever Travel Companion's new products! I hear space is terrible these days for pickpocketing, and we have a number of new products in development to add to the range so watch this space! (no pun intended, pickpocket proof space suits?? Ideas anyone?). On a serious note, 2015 has been a great year for us at CTC and 2016 looks to be even more exciting!
The team has been all over the globe this year, from The Philippines to Sweden and the US, Bali and Thailand, Mexico, India, Australia and Russia and even Dubai, the UAE and Bahrain thrown in for good measure. Its been a great year but of course we don't plan on stopping there. Below are our top picks for 2016, some we will be visiting, others we plan too. Take a look -
1. Kotor, Montenegro
When people think of Montenegro, their first thoughts probably jump to the former socialist republic of Yugoslavia and the not so pleasant history surrounding the region, which might put some potential travelers off - BIG mistake. Montenegro is one of the most beautiful, less traveled countries in Europe and Kotor, a city hemmed in by dramatic, tall mountains and perched on a fjord-like bay is one of the best places to visit. Often dubbed the "mini-Dubrovnik", it's a progressive, beautifully scenic city, where many come to sample the regions delicious cheeses, coffee and bakeries. Unlike its Croatian comparison however, Kotor is yet to be graced by the hordes of Cruise Liner tourists and remains a somewhat undiscovered gem that we feel should make it onto our 2016 list.
2. Palau, Western Pacific
The republic of Palau, located to the west of The Philippines and around 1000kms from Manila is a picture perfect group of 250 small islands, with only 8 of those inhabited. Palau is the image that appears in your mind when someone mentions "island paradise" and unfortunately no picture truly does it justice (it would take a decent size memory card just to get a shot of each island). The entire regions marine life is a protected sanctuary meaning that it has some of the most thriving wildlife in the world and has been referred to as an "underwater Serengeti". The continued discovery of new species and ancient human civilizations has led Palau to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it certainly makes our list of places to discover for 2016.
Greenland may seem like a slightly odd entry as many may find it to be "a lump of ice miles from anything" and in some respects, they may be right. However, in a world where every person has there entire life and social relationships accessible 24/7 from their pocket, Greenland becomes a bit of an enigma, a rarity if you will. With the lowest population density in the world and network coverage so minimal sat phones are the norm, it's a place to detach from the world and experience the REAL world. In Greenland you will find Glaciers the size of cities, you can sail alongside whales in their natural habitat, watch the northern lights brighten up the midnight sky or even take a husky sled through the snow. If you really want to "get away from it all", then seriously, try Greenland out. I know I will be.
4. Punta del Este, Uruguay
Situated on the Southeast Atlantic coast of Uruguay, Punta del Este is popular with tourists and expats alike due to its glamorous edge that also boasts a thriving nightlife and entertainment scene and beaches to rival Cancun or the Caribbean. Often called the St. Tropez of South America, its known for its glamour but if that's not your thing you could always take an adventure horseback through the surrounding plains with a legitimate cowboy. People love what Punta Del Este and Uruguay has to offer and we would encourage you to certainly check it out.
5. Khao Lak, Thailand
You're probably thinking "Oh no, more Thailand" and you'd be right, it seems it has been done to death and being a favourite for backpackers, isn't particularly anything new nowadays and unfortunately, a lot of areas in Thailand have become "tourist destinations". Having said that however, there is a reason it is a favourite with travelers. It boasts an exceptionally unique culture and landscape with some of the most breathtaking and also "WTF" sights you will ever come across. If you can find a place where original Thailand is still alive, you've found a life changing experience. This time around, I'm recommending Khao Lak - situated on the lower Andaman coast of Thailand it is a region known to travelers and tourists but rarely traversed meaning you will find places to stay, comforts and guides etc.. but you will also be left to your own devices for the majority of your stay. There are magnificent national parks, beautiful beaches and undiscovered natural ares to explore by boat or on foot. If you're going to visit Thailand, don't leave until you've been somewhere like Khao Lak, then make your judgements based on what the tourists don't see.
Well there you have it! Our guide to Clever Travel in 2016, we'll be visiting as many of these as possible and hope you will do the same. More guides will be coming up in future so please watch this space. We'd also love to hear your stories! If you've been anywhere you can recommend or if you've tried out your CTC wear anywhere, we'd be delighted to hear from you! Just shoot an email over to email@example.com as she's the daydreamer who wants to read about travel tips!
Thanks for reading!
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