When traveling internationally, one thing to include in your pre-departure checklist is to confirm what power outlets that country uses and what is the voltage of the current. The World Standards website is a great online resource which details on a country by country basis everything you need to know. As I travel quite a bit internationally, I purchased the Poweradd International Travel Charger Power and AC Adapter.
This is a great item to travel with because it comes with 5 international adaptors (UK, USA, Australia, Europe and Japan) which means I’m pretty much covered almost anywhere that I travel in the world. There is no need to run out at the last minute to find the appropriate adaptor for the country that I’m visiting.
This adaptor has two AC outlets, two USB ports and one embedded micro USB charging cable. As I usually travel with my iPad, iPhone, DLSR Camera and a portable battery pack for my phone I can charge all of these items in one which is especially convenient in some older hotels with few power outlets. I no longer have to worry about forgetting my camera battery in the hotel bathroom when I check out or feel guilty for using all of the outlets in my hotel room and leaving none available for my travel companion. Additionally, I’m able to save space in my luggage my limiting the number of additional chargers that I need to pack.
Weighing only 7oz. and measuring 8.5 x 5.1 x 2.6 in. this item is compact for all that it offers and can easily be packed in your carry-on bag. You can be the hero at the airport when you plug this into one of the scare power outlets and let other passengers share your outlet and who doesn’t love a hero?
South Africa seems to be on everyone’s travel radar and for good reason. The landscape is beautiful, the wine is plentiful, the people are kind and generous, and the exchange rate is very favorable. Most of the focus is on Cape Town, which is understandable when you consider that it is an attractive mix of mountains and beaches, wine farms and city culture. Often overlooked is Johannesburg, the largest and wealthiest city in South Africa. While it may not offer surfing or shark diving, the rich history, complex neighborhood dynamics and sprawling landscape offer something infinitely more interesting than Cape Town. Joburg is a constantly evolving mirror of contemporary Africa, which makes for an exciting trip.
The challenge of seeing Johannesburg is it’s vastness. Situated on the Eastern Plateau at an elevation of over 5700 meters, the city encompasses about 1600 square kilometers with almost four and a half million people. It is an anomaly among large cities in that there is no major body of water in or around it. Due to shifting business interests and safety concerns, there are several current and former “city centers,” including the original Central Business District (CBD) and the newer Sandton CBD. Scattered throughout the city are pockets of more contemporary development and spaces that are being reclaimed though gentrification.
Just on the other side of the Nelson Mandela bridge from the CBD is Braamfontien, one of the more established pockets of cultural development. The city government began a multimillion rand development push to clean up the area in 2002, and the efforts have paid off with many new businesses opening. The neighborhood now features a number of boutique hotels, as well as loft apartments and housing for students of Wits University. The best time to go to see the full spectrum of what Braamfontien has to offer is for brunch on Saturday. The hub is the Neighborhoods Market, a pop up collection of boutique food producers, local restaurants, artisans and craftsmen, with a bar and live band most weeks. All the bright young things will be there Saturday afternoon. When you’re done have coffee at Father, the best local roasters, or Bean There, who source their beans from small producers all over Africa.
Another emerging area near the CBD is Newtown. The Johannesburg Development Agency has been working to transform the neighborhood into a better space for living, working and shopping. The highlight is WorkShop Newtown, a retail space offering small shops of up and coming designers, jewelry makers, small gifts and crafts, beauty service and restaurants. For something more educational than shopping, you can also explore the Sci-Bono Discovery Center, an interactive museum great for kids, or the Museum Africa, housed in the former produce market and featuring a collection spanning the entire continent. Or for something more adult check out Carfax, an institution in the Joburg nightlife scene.
Maboneng is probably the hottest new area in Joburg. A relatively small area in the center of downtown, Maboneng is dense with arts, shopping and awesome places to eat and drink. The big draw is the Sunday market at Arts on Main. Similar to the Neighbourgoods market, it offers a huge selection of food stalls with an impressive variety of cuisines from all over the world. Upstairs is a pop up retail space where you can buy peacock printed shoes, vintage jumpers and “iwasshot in joburg” t shirts and small art pieces. Also check out the Living Room, a roof top cocktail lounge with great drinks and lots of beautiful, trendy people. If you need a break for an indie movie, see something at the Bioscope Cinema, which shows both new works by African directors as well as well curated classic films. Or just grab a local microbrew, park on one of the picnic tables and watch the mix of people wander by.
Sandton is the new business hub in Joburg. Chain restaurants and high street stores abound, filling giant malls that gleam with marble floors. But there are still some interesting find and places to get local flavor. Tasha’s, in the Sandton City Mall, is a favorite of almost everyone, offering an excellent mix of breakfast and lunch options that are healthy and tasty. Most of the stores are outposts of international brands like H&M and Zara, as well as luxury brands Burberry and Versace, but check out YDE for young African designers and (African gift store) for crafts and gifts.
The folks of Johannesburg love their markets. It makes sense as it allows a variety of small business a chance to reach a large audience without a lot of costly investment and can be used as an incubator for new ideas. Not as large as the Neighbourgoods and Maboneng markets, the night market in Melville takes place every Wednesday evening. It happens at 27 boxes, a mall-like space built out of shipping containers. Check out the shops in 27 boxes during the market for beautiful objects for the home, interesting handmade jewelry, and clothing from new designers. The neighborhood around 27 Boxes also has some great places to check out. Eat at La Santa Muerta or Pablo’s Eggs-Go-Bar, opt for something fancier at La Luna of Melville and definitely have a drink or several at Hell’s Kitchen, which has a very Instagramable neon sign inside. While you’re nearby, also investigate 44 Stanley, another indie mall with a few gift shops, another outpost of Bean There, and the Salvation Cafe for brunch.
Something else to consider while visiting Johannesburg is a trip through the township of Soweto, where Nelson Mandela lived for a time. The history of the apartheid system that created the townships and their place in contemporary South African culture is complicated. There are many organizations that run tours and educational programs through Soweto. Expect to spend the day getting to and from Soweto if you’re staying in central Johannesburg. Another possible day trip is to the Cradle of Humankind. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the Cradle of Humankind is the site of the discovery of many fossilized remains of human’s ancestors, as well as an extensive systems of caves that can be visited during a guided tour.
The second most iconic peak in Cape Town (sorry, but Table Mountain wins based on sheer size), Lion’s Head is hard to miss. Located adjacent to the Camp’s Bay neighborhood, Lion’s Head reaches 699 meters and offers views of the Atlantic Ocean all the way out to Robben Island.
Dubbed Lion’s Head but 17th century Dutch traders that thought it resembled a crouching animal, it is a perennial attraction for both tourists and locals with a variety of trail and climbing options to get to the top.
So, is it worth it? Well, it depends on what kind of person you are, but generally yes. It’s a short Uber ride from the city center to the entrance of the trail at the base. From there, the trail takes about 60-90 minutes depending on the particular path you take and your level of physical ability. Plenty of kids can and do climb up, but it’s advisable to be in pretty good physical health if you’re going to attempt to go all the way up. Even though it’s a well trodden trail, there are sections that will make you feel more like a mountain goat than you may like.
The full moon hike is incredibly popular, offering a breathtaking view of the city and coast. Just be sure to bring a head flashlight (South African’s will call them torches to the eternal delight of Americans) so you can watch your step.
If you’re not in the best shape or prefer a more leisurely ascent to the tops of mountains, try the sky tram (funicular?) to the top of Table Mountain. The carriage rotates as you rise, giving you 360 degrees views of the city, the cape and the mountain side. Once you’re up, you can wander around a vast expanse of national park to take in many different views of the coast line. While you may not have the same sense of accomplishment you’d get from scaling Lion’s Head (make sure you tell your friend’s you “scaled” it, they’ll never know it was a glorified hike), you’ll have arguably better views.
Last year, somewhat on a whim, I went on my first safari in Tanzania. As part of that trip we visited Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and of course the Serengeti. Being a city girl I was a bit apprehensive about spending any amount of time in the bush, however that soon changed as we approached our lodge and had our first animal sighting which was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had while traveling. That trip was so life changing that I'm planning my second safari and depart to South Africa next week. This time we will explore the Madikwe game reserve. If you plan on going on a safari in the future here's my take on the ultimate safari packing list.
1. Binoculars - You'll want to invest in a decent pair of binoculars for your trip if you don’t have a pair already. You don’t want to spend all that money traveling to your safari only to be unable to get a good view of the animals. My glass of choice is the Zeiss Terra ED 8X32.
2. Camera - While your phone camera could do the trick, you may want to bring a slightly more powerful camera with a zoom lens to really capture the animals in their natural element. I'm currently enjoying my Nikon J5 mirrorless digital camera due to the sleek, lightweight body.
3. Flashlight - What I learned on my last safari is that it wasn't safe to leave our room at night without a "security" escort. These escorts kindly walked us from our room to dinner and back to ensure we we're eaten by lions. The only weapons our Maasai escorts had were a spear and a bright flashlight which supposedly kept the big predators away. Once I learned about this I started carrying my flashlight with me each night. It also came in handy at one lodge that was dimly lit due to solar power and another that shut off the power in the evening at a certain time which would have made using the bathroom a bit of a challenge without it. If you don't have one already you can find a pretty good option here.
4. Comfortable Shoes - On safari you'll spend quite a bit of time in a jeep during your game drives. You'll want to be as comfortable as possible so you can enjoy all of the wonders that mother nature has to offer. Besides game drives there are also walking safaris in which case comfortable shoes are even more important. You can bring sneakers or hiking shoes but my safari shoe of choice is the Merrell Ashland Chukka. These shoes are so stylish and comfortable that started wearing them regularly after my safari. Another thing I like about these shoes is that they cover my ankles, a small deterrent for any potential critters.
5. Lightweight Light Colored Clothing - During your game drives or walking safari you'll want to blend in with your surroundings so as to not scare the animals away, Leave your bright colored frocks at home or at least wear them to dinner at the lodge. Also, if charter flights are involved on your safari they'll be regulations on size and weight of your bags. Most lodges offer laundry services at a decent price to help with this challenge. I really like the Columbia Sportswear Women's Saturday Trail Pant as the come in various inseams and they don't have those hideous giant side pockets that come down to your thigh.
6. First Aid Kit - You should take a first aid kit with you on all of your trips and it should be a part of your every day carry when out and about. While your safari ranger may keep a first aid kit in the jeep it doesn't hurt you’ll want to be sure that you carry any specific medications that you require with you at all times. If you want ideas on what to include in your first aid kit check out this blog post.
7. Sunglasses - You should protect your eyes from the sun at all times. However, on a safari eye protection is even more important as game reserves can be pretty dusty as you drive around searching for your next sighting. As such you'll want to avoid getting this dust in your eyes.
Ray-Ban Aviators are a classic option if you're in the market for a new pair.[Sidebar: if you wear contact lenses, you will want wear your glasses during game drives to avoid eye irritation.]
8. Hat - As the mid day sun can be quite intense in the bush a good hat with a strap is a must. If you're a Curious George fan and want to look like a relic from the British Colonial period you can opt for a Pith Helmet otherwise a slightly more practical option is this classic safari hat by Tilley.
9. Bug Spray - Mosquito bites are never fun and they are even less fun when you're in a malaria zone. One way to protect yourself from bites (besides sleeping under a mosquito net and covering up especially during dusk and dawn) is to buy a good mosquito repellent. For years the recommended repellent was 30% DEET however, new guidance from the CDC says that lemon eucalyptus oil can be just as effective at repelling mosquitos and it's all natural. I first discovered Repel’s Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Spray prior to my trip to Thailand and have been using it ever since.
10. Sunscreen - Who wants to ruin their vacation by getting sunburned on the first day? I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is no one. I usually travel with Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Stick in SPF 70 as it offers a high SPF and thanks to its stick format application is a breeze.
11. Field Guide Book - To better understand all of the wildlife that you encounter on safari it's nice to have a small field guide book to cross reference during your game drives. I have the Wild Lives Field Guide to Africa and it not only covers the big five but it also many of the lesser know creatures and beautiful birds you might encounter.
If you also need some guidance on what to pack for a long haul flight be sure to check out my blog post covering that topic.
Travel can be a fun and exciting experience. Planning for travel on the other hand, can sometimes be a chore which can lead to travelers sometimes taking short cuts such as not packing a travel first aid kit. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I’ve traveled quite a bit with my maternal unit a registered nurse and she never leaves the country without an extensive first aid kit packed in her carry-on. If I'm being completely honest a first aid kit has come in handy several times during our travels. For those of you that are #teamcarryon and want to know the necessary essentials read on to find out more.
If you get travelers' diarrhea you may want to let it run it's course depending on how bad things get or what's on your itinerary. However, if your travel plans require that you stop things almost immediately then this is what you should take. I'm convinced my stomach is made of steel so this doesn't always make it into my kit.
This product is a multi-tasking superstar which treats everything from heartburn, upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea and the travel sized tube takes up almost no space.
3.DripDrop/Oral Rehydration Salts
If you come down with travelers’ diarrhea, get food poisoning or overexerted yourself in high temperatures trying to visit the Acropolis (true story), you’ll want to have these portable, tasty, and medical grade hydration packets at your disposal. I discovered these last year as I was preparing for my trip to Zanzibar which was in the middle of a cholera outbreak.
4. Tylenol/ Pain Reliever & Fever Reducer
Tylenol gets the job done, it's efficient at reducing fevers and relieving minor aches and pains.
5.Dramamine/ Anti-Motion Sickness
If you're prone to motion sickness or even if you're not, you'll want this at the ready to ward off any surprises.
6.Cortisone-10/ Hydrocortisone cream
Despite your most diligent efforts to prevent mosquito bites there’s always a rogue mosquito that attacks. You can use this cream to calm any itching and swelling/redness from mosquito bites or other critters.
If you start to feel a little stuffy during your trip you can take this to clear things up. Pro-tip, if you experience ear pain during flights take one of these before your flight and for 24 hours after and you should be in the clear.
These pills can be used to treat the symptoms of allergy, hay fever or the common cold. Pro-tip it’s great to pack this in your suitcase for your trip but make sure you transfer it to your EDC (every day carry) as you go about your sightseeing.
This stuff is very versatile and can be used in any number of ways.
Cuts and scraps happen when traveling and it's usually the smallest scrapes that are the most annoying and cause the most pain. In a pinch these can also treat blisters if you find that your shoes really weren’t made for walking.
Apply some of this ointment to any minor cut or scrape that get while traveling prior to covering any cut with a bandaid because gangrene really isn’t a good look.
12. Portable Pill Case
I love traveling with this compact pill case to keep everything organized. Even though it’s compact in size it has eight different compartments and the packaging is clear so you can see most of the contents with a quick glimpse.
13. First Aid Pouch
I use this cute zipper pouch to store all of my first aid items. It's large enough to fit all of the items listed but won't take up too much space in your luggage.
Depending on where I'm traveling to I also get a prescription for Cipro or a Z-Pack from my doctor to use just in case things get too bad. In addition to the items listed above be sure to pack any prescription medications that you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. To be on the safe side you should pack doses for a few extra days in case of flight delays, lost pills, etc. One final note, some prescription medications that are available in the US may be classified as unlicensed or controlled substances in other countries. Dubai in the UAE for example, has an extensive list of medications that are not allowed to be brought into the county. Be sure to check the status of any medication that you plan to bring with you prior to boarding the plane.
The reasons for travel are pretty universal: the desire to explore new corners of the world, to have an adventure or for bragging rights. The red sand dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia check all those boxes and make for a trip that will inspire FOMO in all your Instagram followers.
Namibia is a small country on the the southwest coast of Africa. It gained independence from South Africa in 1990 but still ties its currency to the South Africa Rand (both Namibian dollars and Rand are accepted interchangeably). Also like South Africa, the primary industries are mining and agriculture, though more recently it has drawn film productions seeking a stark desert landscape in a cheap and politically stable environment. The most recent and high profile film to showcase the otherworldly landscape of this southern African gem is Mad Max Fury Road. That barren post-apocalyptic terrain exists, though with a lot more modern amenities and a lot less silver spray painted dune buggy racers. Those sand dunes developed over millions of years and now sit in the largest conservation area of Namibia, the Namib-Naukluft National Park.
Because Sossusvlei is one of the largest tourist attractions in Namibia, there are a variety of options when it comes to how to experience these unique vistas. For the more independent traveler, there are camp grounds and RV parks located just outside of the entrance to the main dunes. If you want an upgrade but still have an independent streak, there are lodges that provide mildly luxurious safari tents (nice beds and hot showers) but still allow self catering, which is nice if you want to braai. And there are also luxury accommodations for a truly indulgent experience.
However fancy you decide to opt for with your sleeping arrangements, remember that there are no luxury short cuts when hiking up a sand dune. The most iconic dune is most likely Dune 45, which you’ve probably already seen without realizing it. Used as preprogramed art in Windows 97, this dune is one of the most photographed in the world and a relatively easy hike. Get there early, as the sun is rising, to capture the striking contrast of light and check back in later in the day to see how the shifting angle of the sun morphs the colors of the dune. The dune is 85 meters high, with a gentle incline and soft sand paths that are accessible for all ages and abilities.
But the true prize is found in the climb to the top of Big Daddy. Coming in at a whopping 325 meters, this is the tallest dune in the park and truly unforgettable experience. The scale is hard to gauge from the ground but the wall of red sand is stunning. A winding path leads you to the top, which is really just the point at which you decide you’d like to go down as the dunes undulate and transition into each other almost seamlessly. From the base of the salt pan to the highest height, expect between a 90 to 120 minute hike, depending on your ability and the weather conditions. Even in winter temperatures can reach into the 80s during the day, with Namibia getting about 300 sunny days a year as well. The wind on the dune can also be challenging to deal with, so expect to find sand just about everywhere you can think.
Once you’ve made it to the top of Big Daddy, taken enough photos to make your friends jealous and paused to take in the mind boggling view, you get to experience possibly the best part. Any way you choose, the route down the side of a monster sand dune will bring a smile to your face. You can choose to slide down on your butt, roll down like a barrel or march down tilted at a 45 degree angle, held in place by shifting sands that suck at your feet and give you a sense of what it must be like to walk on the moon.
Some other great things to see and photograph around the area are include the Deadvlie, a salt pan filled with blackened trees that Big Daddy surrounds; Sesriem Canyon, carved from the Tsauchab River over millions of year; and wildlife sightings, including native springbok and gemsbok as well as a nearby cheetah reserve and rehab center. And the best way to end the day is grab a beer or bottle of wine and watch Namibia offer one of the most spectacular sunsets in the world. And settle in as the night darkens to reveal more stars than you thought could fit in one sky.
Copenhagen is a city with no lack of beautiful and interesting sights. Stately palaces, storied churches, that iconic mermaid perched off the coast; all of these elements add up to a sophisticated European capital. But the Danes aren’t afraid to embrace modernity, at least when it’s high concept, mostly minimalist, uber-cool modernity.
Enter Superkilen, an art project disguised as a public park and playground that cut across a swath of gentrifying Norrebro, an area north of Copenhagen’s city center. Designed by BIG Architects (of NYC’s West 57 fame) and Topotek1(a German landscape architecture firm), the loose concept is that the park is divided into three color specific sections: black, red, and green. Plants and objects have been imported from multiple countries, including a fountain from Morocco, manhole covers from Zanzibar and palm trees from China. The diversity is representative of the neighborhood, long a melting pot area for immigrants to Denmark.
The bulk of the park is bordered by two main roads, Tagensvej to the north and Norrebrogade to the south, which makes it easily accessible by bus or foot from the city center. While certain attractions are obviously built with little ones in mind (as cool as it looks, please don’t get stuck going down the octopus slide), there are activities for grown ups, including seated swings, monkey bars and bike paths.
So, worth it? Absolutely. The biggest pro is that it’s free, so even if you’re unimpressed or not the type to climb monkey bars as an adult (no judgement but maybe live a little more), you only wasted some time and possibly bus fare. The second biggest pro is that it is the most amazing location for photos, so be prepared for your Instagram account to blow up. The only con is that there isn’t THAT much to do, but it’s a good place to goof around when you need a break from all the amazing food you’ll find in Copenhagen. Speaking of food, check out the hot new porridge spot Grod to fuel up before or after your play time.
If you love hummus, and who doesn't here's our list of the top 9 hummus spots in Tel Aviv. As it's a healthy and delicious snack your waistline won't suffer too badly if you try all of the places on the list.
1. Abu Hassan - Shivtei Yisrael St 14, Jaffa
2. Dani Ful - HaTkuma St 46, Jaffa
3. Merck Hummus Haasly - Yefet St 73, Jaffa
4. Shlomo and Doron - Yishkan St 29, Tel Aviv
5. Masabacha at Market HaCarmel - HaCarmel 11, Tel Aviv
6. Hummus Ful Ha-Hagana - Ha-Hagana St 71, Tel Aviv
7. Mashawsha - Pinsker St 40, Tel Aviv
8. Garger Hazahav - Levinsky St 30, Tel Aviv
9. Hummus Abu Dhabi - King George St 81, Tel Aviv
1.Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones//2. Kate Spade Classic Nylon Maia Travel Wallet //3.Henri Bendel Jetsetter Convertible Backpack // 4.White + Warren Cashmere Travel Wrap // 5. Bedtime Bliss Sleep Mask // 6. Sockwell Women's Compression Socks // 7. 1byeOne 10,000 mAh 2-Port Portable Charger // 8. Nikon 1 J5 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Silver) // 9. iPad // 10. Poweradd International Travel Charger // 11. J-pillow Travel Pillow