Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2013’

Tips: Finding the best flights

Tips: Finding the best flights

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Being a traveler, I have been fortunate to get great flight deals and have also been unfortunate to experience not so great flying experiences, so its safe to say I know the ins and outs of flying.  Accompanied with the fact that fuel prices keep fluctuating which impacts on the cost of a ticket and this year also being the year of people saving,  finding the right flight at the perfect cost is very important. So through my experiences I have put together some tips regarding the flight aspect of traveling, to help you when you plan your next trip.

Here goes!

Be flexible with your travel dates

Rather look at traveling during the week between Monday and Thursday as prices are cheaper during the week than over the weekend. And early morning or late flights are also cheaper as few people fly then.

Take advantage of Student flights

I’m on the database for STA Travel and use them to inquire about great deals as well as I get my insurance through STA Travel unless you don’t use your credit card to pay for your flight where you get free travel insurance. Using student flight centers guarantees you discounted rates.

Compare prices

Most people generally go for the airlines they are familiar with. With smart phones you have travel apps only just a click away. I have downloaded the following apps which helps to compare flights. I have the following apps downloaded, Kayak, Expedia, Easyjet and Travelocity to compare flights. Never just book a flight based on one site.

Take your time

I immerse myself in finding the right flight. Take about a week to search for flights. Flights fluctuate and you need to ensure that by the time you have booked, you have exhausted all possible options.

Go to travel agents

I generally start my search by calling or popping into different travel agents to compare prices. Once they have given me advice on what are the best options available, I go back and do the searches myself as travel agents charge a service fee. Travel agents take the stress out of finding a flight so if you do not have the energy to do the homework, they are your best bet.

Sign up for a Airline rewards programs

Most airlines have frequent flyer rewards programs. Even if you don’t use the same airline it doesn’t matter. Star Alliance has many airlines under their belt so you can sign up there and earn points when you fly which might come in handy the next time you are short.

You earn free miles if you signup when you are still on the flight and some airlines have a 3 month gap for free points after your flight.

Look for alternative routes

Some people generally book direct flights which are much more expensive than connecting flights. By changing your route you end bagging a good deal. This also gives you a chance to pop in for a day or two to see another country that isn’t part of your travels.

Connecting flights

After a stressful 6 hour flight delay from Joburg to Thailand, I learned to make sure that there is ample time between my connecting flights. Some of the people on our flight were unfortunately not using the same airline to connect and missed their flights.

 Travel insurance

This is not even a nice to have actually. You need this. Anything can happen, you could miss your flight because you were late for check in, your flight caught be delayed which affects all your connecting flights and not forgetting having your baggage lost. In peak season having to book another flight could be disastrous.

Be at the airport on time

I don’t know how many times I have had to run through the airport because I was late for check in, or I was too busy having a beer that I was late for the gate. It could also happen that you are not at fault, so make sure you have an hour contingency. The last thing you want is receiving a phone call saying they are off loading you because the gate is closed. That could be the most heartbreaking thing ever especially since you have been looking forward to that holiday.

Investigate the airline

This may seem dramatic, but it could be the thin line between a great flight and a pear shaped flight. Myself and Lera decided found the cheapest flight but it came with a price. There was NO ALCOHOL on the flight. Nothing, Zilch, nudda. After running through the airport all we were looking forward to was a glass of wine, and we were met with disappointment. Needless to say at the connecting airport looking for a bar was the first thing we did. So investigate what their dos and don’ts.

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Stick to the luggage weight requirements

Make sure that you pack lightly, because its not the going where it matters, its the coming back. So leave atleast 10kg extra for all the shopping you will do. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you don’t have money to pay the penalty fee and have to leave some luggage behind. This experience could scar you for life.

 Have the card you booked ticket with, with you at check in

On my last trip I had forgotten my card at the atm which the atm swallowed. I completely forgot that I needed this at check in. I wasted a good 45 minutes running to the bank and then back to ticket counter to get a letter from the bank. You may think its not necessary, but that one time you lose your card, is when they will ask for it.

Let your family know your flight details

Leave your flight details with a family member so that they can track your flight. You can track your flight using the Skyscanner app that shows all flights arriving and departing and status of the flights. This comes in handy particularly if you are not roaming for whoever is picking you up to know.

 Check your flight information the day before you leave

Some flights change their flights at the last minute. Its your responsibility to check that everything is running according to schedule. You can choose the email option for flight updates as it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, you can get access to your personal email account.

Finally: BE EXCITED FOR YOUR FLIGHT

It usually only kicks in when you have checked in and boarding that flight that you are about to embark on the most epic trip of your life. Once you are on that flight, there is not turning back. Leave all your worries and stresses behind, because the ride is far more important. Your journey begins the minute you hop onto that flight. Give thanks that you are able to get the opportunity to go make memories, and pray for safe travels.

 

 

 

 

TBT: Nice, France 2011

TBT: Nice, France 2011

After being in Paris, I was quite excited to go to the South of France where so many people have raved about it and the pictures just told a beautiful story.

I was just looking forward to soaking up the sun on the beach and swimming in proper bikini gear and not my underwear like I did in Switzerland.

I spent the first day doing some shopping as well as looking for an outfit for Monaco as we were going there the next day for dinner and to party, so I needed to make sure I fit in with the money dripping folk of Monaco.

What was lovely about where our hotel was situated is that it was close to all amenities, well the important places such shopping district, bars and the beach. Everything was a walk away.

We had dinner at a place called Le Ligure where the food was just delicious. We then all went our separate ways to enjoy the rest of the evening. Going clubbing was our first option, but after we were denied entry into one club we quickly shutdown that idea and opted to go bar hoping instead.

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Romain and I

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Topdeck troop

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Gorgeous girls of Topdeck

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The Cathedral

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Crazy and awesome couple, Joan and Romain

Crazy and awesome couple, Joan and Romain

After a hectic night of partying, we woke up had a delicious breakfast and decided to go to the beach and roam the streets of Nice.

We were lucky that our place is situated approximately 10 minutes walking distance from the beach and famous Promenade des Anglais. Its full of runners, people just taking a stroll, people on roller blades and cyclists. The atmosphere is just amazing. After enough walking, we then decided to find a spot on the beach and have a swim. The only eeky thing about the beach is that the beach is pebbles, so it makes your bum sore. Yip I spotted the odd three women walking around topless, aint no thang. They had nice boobs so for me it was ok, however I did not think it was smart for me to do the same. I just kept my African titties covered.

Promenade des Anglais

Promenade des Anglais

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Beach of Nice

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View of Nice at top of Le Chatea

After the beach we headed off to Le Chateu where its quite a climb to get to the top, ok i’m being dramatic, I was just unfit. I was taking breaks just to get back into the idea of going up more steps. But trust me that once you get to the top, you are grateful you didn’t turn around. The top gives you a panoramic view of Nice. Its truly breath taking. I remember thinking when I was up there “This is where people take all these beautiful pictures of Nice”. We came across a guy playing his cordian. I tried to speak to him, but with a combination of my lack of French and his limited English vocab, it wasn’t much of a conversation because all he said was “You are beautiful” and I was like “Music is beautiful”.

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View of Nice

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Myself, Romain and Joan at top of Le Chatea

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French man playing his cordian

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After the Le Chatea we took a walk to the famous  Cours Selaya Market which is not far from the beach. It was perfect timing beacuse we were in need of a mid day snack just before lunch. You need to contain yourself, other wise you might want to buy everything you come across. We ended buying some berries and croissants as our snack. We were in France, of course we had to have croissants even though we had them for breakfast, but these were sold at a market, very different. The market is surrounded with souvenir shops and cafes everywhere, so if you want to stop for a meal its not too far.

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Croissants sold at the Cours Selaya Market
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Delicious berries found at the market

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Cheese, glorious cheese sold at the Cours Selaya market.

Wandering around a town and finding gems and hidden places is just one needs to do and Old Town seemed like the perfect place. There are so many small shops and cafes everywhere. While wondering the streets we came across a Durex machine. Yip, slap bam in the middle of the streets. Everyone does the deed, so why not make sure you doing have a disappointing evening because you don’t have the goods. So I just had to take a pic of it. Romain and Joan dared me to go and buy a pack and they will take a pic of me, I wasn’t going down like that. Taking the pic of it was enough.

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With these on the streets, you cant say “I have run out”. Sorry for you, no holiday babies should bepopping up.

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This shop was just so inviting and just so Frenchy.

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Streets of Old Town

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Streets of Old Town

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I had an amazing time. Nice is nice, nice is beautiful and the views breathtaking. The French riviera definitely gets a high five from me. Whether I am back to find that French man, or just back because its a place to go back to, I’m excited to experience it from another angle.

Welcome to SA: William Jones

Welcome to SA: William Jones

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1. Flight and airline?

Delta flight 200. Atlanta to Johannesburg direct (http://www.delta.com)

2  Johannesburg, South Africa. First thoughts?

So excited to be in SA and to see my friend! The airport is easy to navigate and the Gautrain is a clean, quick way to get into the city.

3. How many days did you spend in Johannesburg?

 9

 4. Where did you stay and why?

 We stayed at Southern Sun Hyde Park. My friend suggested it and I had been to the rooftop lounge with her on my first trip, so I knew it would be a nice place to stay.  The room was lovely and the views are amazing. We had breakfast in the hotel most mornings and went a few times to the pool lounge. The food and drinks were good, as was the service. The people at the front desk were very helpful when we hired a car. Also, being connected to Hyde Park Corner gave us lots of convenient options for food and shopping.

5. Stereotypes you had before?

This was my second trip to Johannesburg so I was sort of familiar. I remember on my first trip I was surprised at how much the landscape looks like California to me.

6. Best part of your trip?

The point of the trip was to see my friend (Adjoa Amuah) . The best part was just hanging out and talking to her.

7. Worst part of your trip?

Leaving. Isn’t that always the worst part?

8. South Africans are the most ___ people?

South Africans are the most open people. All of the people I’ve met there are very open in their conversations. No subject is off-limits and nothing is shied away from in any conversation. Race, religion, politics, sexuality and anything else are up for discussion anytime, anywhere.  And it’s not a salacious or voyeuristic thing; it’s an open, frank, inclusive exchange that no one is afraid to have. It’s refreshing to me. I’m lucky enough to know someone who lives there and I may be exposed to conversations that most tourists are not, but openness has been my experience with South Africans.

9. What do you think of the new currency?

I love the new currency! Mandela definitely deserves the honor and the vibrant colors and the animals are stunning to me. I’m American and am used to looking at boring currency, so any colorful departure from that is exciting.

10. Best restaurant?

The Foundry. (21 3rd Ave, Parktown North, 2193 Johannesburg, Gauteng) The mushroom ravioli there is particularly good.

11. Distinctly South African things that you did

The first night we were there we went to the Sanlam FoodWineDesign Fair (http://foodwinedesign.co.za/home/). It is an outdoor market featuring the best local furniture crafters, artisan products, top wine labels, micro breweries and speciality foods. I tried Kudu and Wildebeest stews. I had never had African game before and they were both delicious. If you can find it, I highly recommend.

12. How do you say hello in Xhosa?

Molo! (I didn’t learn that on my trip, I googled it just now)

13. What does travel mean to you?

I believe that experiencing another place enhances my perspective. I think that I’m a more understanding person because of travel. Even though people live in different geographic locations and are products of different cultures, I’ve seen that everyone wants the same basic things. I do recognize that travel is a luxury and an indulgence, but it is an important part of my life.

14. A must see for future travelists?

Neighbourgoods Market. I bought a peacoat there that I am obsessed with. It’s by Adriaan Kuiters and I wish I had bought more of those clothes.

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