A Fabulous South African Experience

Growing up watching Disney Channel Original Movies like “The Color of Friendship”, an emotional children’s film following the friendship of two girls, one white from South Africa, and one black from America; I never thought I would get the opportunity to visit the very place some of the movie chronicled.

Thanks to one of my very best friends, Jennifer, I had the chance to visit her while she completes a work project in South Africa, and live just a little like the friends in the movie.

Now when you think Africa, most people say The Lion King, safaris, and African tribes come to mind. That’s not at all the case for South Africa – Johannesburg at least. So what is South Africa really like? Amazing! But no, it’s probably not like what you think.

From 1948 to 1994, South Africa went through a period of segregation called Apartheid where whites, blacks, Indians, and Asians were all separated by hate. After years of sufferage, leaders like Nelson Mandela were able to break down barriers and create peace. The city of Johannesburg today is full of new developement, tall buildings, beeping cars, palm trees, and contrary to popular belief, sometimes snow!

I fully encourage travel, and traveling often, so if you’re considering a visit to South Africa, read on for some tips to make the most of your vacation.

Flight
If you’re in America, Africa is across some water and on another continent. Prepare for a LONG flight. Total, my flights were 19 hours including short layovers. Be sure to rest up, wear comfy clothes, and book a window or isle seat. The middle seat on long flights are the worst!

Money
In South Africa, you’ll pay with Rand, and you will be surprised by the exchange rates. Our dollar is worth more, so when shopping and buying food, you’ll feel rich! But be careful because it can be easy to just spend money since things are a little bit cheaper. To put it into perspective, a steak dinner, appetizers, drinks, and sides for 3 will likely be a little less than 50 US dollars. Be sure to bring cash and exchange your money at your hotel to avoid credit/debit card fees.

Safety
Because of the Apartheid, things aren’t all rainbows and sunshine. Like anywhere, there’s a fine line between safety and freedom. Ladies. Wear a purse that is not easily accessible for pick pocketors to get into. Small to mid-size sadle bags work well, so you can carry them close to your person. For men, a wallet that zips and fits in your front pockets may work best. You’ll also find that establishments close somewhat early compared to the US, so make plans accordingly and DO NOT take a taxi to reach your destination. Ubers and the train are the safest forms of transportation next to getting around by way of any locals you may know.

Activities
There’s so much to see and do! Here’s just a brief list:

  • Apartheid Museum (bring tissue, it’s quite sad, but a must-see to understand the culture)
  • Lion Park (you can actually interact with the animals – so cool!)
  • Lillies Farm (Nelson Mandela took refuge here)
  • Soweto (A colorful city in the midst of South Africa)
  • Shopping (there are several great malls including Sandton City and Rosebank)
  • Monte Carlo Casino
  • Fine Dining (try the ostrich and a restaurant called Moyo for live music and a welcoming African atmosphere)
  • Sunday Market (interact with the locals to purchase hand-made, authentic goods)

**Thanks for reading; you’re F.A.Bulous.  

Vacationing on a Budget

I have had the awesome opportunity to travel quite a bit so far this year. Since February, I have traveled to Punta Cana, Chicago, Los Angeles, Hawaii/San Diego, and Austin. God has blessed me with family, friends, and a great job which have put these opportunities in front of me, but I want to say life is short. The end is near. So take the trip! #WANDERLUST

wan·der·lust

We all know traveling can be expensive, but the experiences you’ll have and the sights you’ll see are in priceless. Here are a few pro tips I’ve come to learn during my recent travel. And because you can’t have a fashion blog with no fashions, I’ll share a few tips about my vacation style.

Be smart when booking your airfare

Explore all of your options when it comes to finding the best flights for your trip. By this, I mean check the prices of multiple airlines and play around a bit. Sometimes purchasing two one ways can come out to be significantly cheaper than opting for a round trip ticket. Also, be sure to CLEAR YOUR COOKIES. I don’t quite understand how this works because it’s like little trolls are in your computer saying, “Muhahah she looked at this airfare twice today, let’s increase the price!” But it happens. To avoid a jump in price after searching for the best deal, be sure to go to your settings in your computer to clear your cookies.

Make friends

Once you touch down and get settled in, scope out the neighborhood. You’re essentially going to be living in this place for a few days, so why not meet people? Meeting people just might be the greatest secret because they can fill you in on the hot spots and the dos and don’ts of your vacation location. In Hawaii we met a super fun couple while we were sun bathing in the ocean who gave us a tip about FREE activities. So be nice to people. It can save you money in the long run.

#Protip: One piece bathing suits can also double as a top when paired with the right bottoms!

#Protip: One piece bathing suits can also double as a top when paired with the right bottoms!

Get Groupon deals for activities

This is pretty much self explanatory. You can log on to Groupon in any city and search activities. You can also find food deals too! But do this prior to your trip just to make life that much easier.

Check the reviews before you make Open Table reservations

You may want to splurged a little when you take your trip by having a fancy night out at a 4-5 star restaurant. But be sure to check Yelp or Open Table before you make those reservations. Prime example – in Austin we went to a pretty classy place (especially for 6th street) but the service wasn’t that great and the food and drinks weren’t totally worth the price. This all could have been avoided and a couple dollars could have been saved with a quick look at a review website.

Bet you thought that's a bracelet cuff I'm wearing posing outside of SUR. Nope! That's the wrap from getting inked hours before. Cute accessory!

Bet you thought that’s a bracelet cuff I’m wearing posing outside of SUR. Nope! That’s the wrap from getting inked up hours before. Cute accessory, right? 

Use Customer Service as a crutch

We experienced a travel nightmare on our Hawaii/San Diego trip. Long story short, flights were delayed and then missed, and we spent the night in the airport with no offer of hotel accommodations. It was cold. And sad. So I say this to stress that expressing your experiences, both good and bad can result in some sort of compensation. In my case, I received a $150 voucher from American Airlines and a $50 voucher from Spirit Airlines. Luckily the AA voucher was able to offset the costs of my recent flight to Austin. But seriously. Don’t fail to mention good things that happen, either! You never know when a nice review can get you a little surprise and delight. 🙂

Have fun on your next vacation, friends!

*Thanks for reading; you’re F.A.Bulous