Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Come On and Safari With Us

Greetings faithful blog readers! 

We're excited to finally fill you in on our summer plans. We've booked a three-week safari in Namibia, Africa, and we leave in nine days; it's a trip we've been dreaming about for almost three years (since September 2013), so we're really thrilled to be doing it. The planning has been pretty involved, so of course, we're a little nervous too and hoping that we don't experience any complications. We'll be taking a road trip and driving on the "wrong" side of the road as we travel every day or two to a new lodge. Just to be clear: our safari is all about observation and photography; we won't be hunting. We're looking forward to seeing new landscapes and experiencing new cultures. Brendan spent some time in South Africa in college, but neither of us has been to Namibia. I am nervous about the long flight, but Brendan claims he doesn't even remember his from more than ten years ago, so I guess it won't be that bad? 

We picked Namibia for many reasons and this blog post gives a great overview of several of them. The roads are mostly paved, which is good because we choose to rent a car. For those looking to visit Africa, we found that this was a great key to savings. Since we can drive ourselves and don't need a guide to get us from place to place, we can do a much longer trip than in a country where the roads aren't as good. We will go on guided game drives, but that will be for a few hours and not for the entire duration of the trip. On paper, the drive looks pretty short, but the distance is further than it seems. We'll have a 4x4, and Brendan has some experience driving in foreign countries now, so you know, fingers crossed.

Our parents are always a little nervous when we tell them our plans, but the truth is Namibia is politically stable and, as far as Africa goes, rather popular for tourists. We don't expect problems, but we'll be cautious, of course. We also have worked with a travel doctor for the past six months making sure we are vaccinated for all potential diseases. We ingested oral Typhoid vaccines for a week, which was really the most exotic thing we had to be covered for. Other than that, we got two rounds of Hep A vaccines, Tetanus shots, malaria medicine, and antibiotics just in case. Brendan has mapped our route extensively, downloaded Namibian maps onto our GPS, and the company we booked our trip through will provide us with maps and GPS as well as a SIM card pre-loaded with the numbers for our lodges and a spare tire. We've pre-registered our trip with the Embassy as well.

We'll definitely blog our adventures, but our access to wifi is going to be very limited. We should have wifi on the first day of the trip, once after the first two weeks, and for the last three days of the trip (again, that's IF everything goes according to plan).

In the meantime, we're in Austin seeing family & friends (and Lola and Zoe are being left at "grandma and grandpa's"); then, we'll travel to Connecticut to see Brendan's family, to Long Island, NY for my dear friend Tara's wedding, and finally to NYC to celebrate Corley's birthday before catching our flight. We've got the best house and pet-sitters known to man (shout out Jenni, Mom and Dad!), and we've somehow fit everything for six weeks (we'll be visiting Maine with Brendan's family after our trip) into a carry on and backpack each (as usual).

I get a lot of requests for packing advice, but I only really have one major tip: roll stuff and pray.
Seriously though: use the bag's built in straps to compress clothing as much as possible. Further, get used to the idea that it's okay to do laundry while traveling. Tide mades "tide to go" packets perfect for washing stuff in your sink. You really don't need as much as you think, and you've got to limit your shoes since those suckers take up way too much room.

Once packed, use one of those free bags that everyone gives out and put it over your stuff. This makes for a perfect laundry bag or day pack, but the best news is...

It prevents shoes packed on top from getting dirt all over everything! 

Also, cram every pocket and spare space available. We're talking pack socks inside of shoes and sandals inside the laptop compartment. Make use of every nook and cranny.

Well, this is an adventure in the making, so please wish us luck for safe travels. Here's to adventures (ours and yours).


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