25 December 2013

Cutting costs abroad

Just as we were exiting the gates of Pilanesberg Park Dude put his sweet little excited head on my leg and fell asleep.  He did good (smile). He even took some fantastic pictures.  Zane was hungry and ate all the snacks we had left. After about 15 minutes he too leaned over and was out for the count.  I knew they would wake up hungry so I bought some snacks, powerade, and two sandwiches at a gas station that we stopped at for the rest room.  I was still kinda freaked out about the bug incident that I forgot to mention in my last post.  Right before we saw the elephants on the safari (in the beginning of the safari) I thought I felt something go up my pant leg, I thought, I wasn't sure...  Then I saw those big beautiful elephants and was mesmerized.  Then I got caught up in the impala and buffalo.  Just as all the excitement was dying down I felt a flutter... in my pants... by my knee. I kinda grabbed it with my pants but really didn't feel anything.  So, I let go, shook my leg, and there it was.  It fell out right next to my sneaker.  Wtf is that?!?!  Zane looked like he was going to faint "Mommy did it bite you?!" "No. I don't feel anything" but who the hell knows, I've never seen a bug like that before, what if it has some strange bite that you don't feel, you just drop dead?  After all we were on an African safari!  I took a picture of it just in case it did something to me and I'd have to identify my assailant later.   Luckily as of now I have absolutely no problems just the Hebee-gebees.  See the pictures below, and "say hello to my little friend!" (In my Tony Montana voice).  Yikes!

Once we reached Johannesburg Patience and Sibusiso were kind enough to let me make a quick stop to the Pick'N'Pay super market.  It's a beautiful supermarket, unlike the rundown corner store I shopped at our first morning here. I walked around the store collecting food and snacks for 2 more days and nights of meals.  I also took a bunch of pictures and video.  Check out was confusing and not like anything I'd seen before.  I kept asking the cashier "What do I do next?" "Am I standing on the correct side of you?"  She was sweet and laughed at my awkwardness with me.  I explained that I'm truly not as dumb as I sounded with; asking what must be the dumbest questions she'd ever heard.  I explained that I was from the US and everything was just different. My total cost was $14.00 US.  I bought cereal, milk, bananas, cheese, hotdogs, eggs, and small bag of chips I still had my African ramen noodles at home and Zane was excited about trying them out.  So far my total grocery store purchases came to $24 and I bought whole pizza pie and a drink for $6 the previous night after our Soweto tour.  So far $30 for food, $200 for five nights at the bed and breakfast.  Not too bad! The tours were the most expensive part and that was mainly due to the safari, which was a priceless opportunity that would have cost me more had I done it any other way.  Approximately $200 in tours. 
Many people can spend more on hair, nails, car notes, designer clothes and hand bags, etc.  
One way Im able to afford all this is I have no car note. I drive an old car that gets the job done of getting us safely from point A to Point B.  My students (and bold coworkers) laugh at my 1988 Grande Marquise.  "Why don't you get a new car?!"  "You don't look like you should be driving a car like THAT!" "You should get better car than that. Like a BMW!"   Some people actually get offended at my car choice.  How dare I not buy into the status cuo? Sorry folks I just can't do it.  It's just a stinkin' car!  I really don't care what people think, and if I must impress someone I much rather them be impressed by my character than my car.  
In addition to cutting cost driving my old school "yacht" ( as I like to call its long steel body) I do my own nails and I don't buy designer anything.  My one luxury is getting my hair professionally twisted.   So every month I save money and I use that to travel.  
My tip to all of my readers is that if you're able to travel modestly like me, no need for expensive hotels, facials, and restaurants every night; you can pull this off.  The biggest expense will be your plane ticket.  But there are also ways of addressing that.  Fly on a budget airline, they have great deals nowadays. Spirit has deals from $300 from Atlanta into just about anywhere in Central America. You can also get a buddy pass, and fly on the standby list if you know anyone who works with the airline.  We actually flew here in standby.  So now you see this whole experience was not expensive at all.  You just have to be brave and take risks.  
Purchasing plane tickets is an art.  I'm signed up to at least five budget airfare web pages.  They sent me cheap flight deals daily. Groupon sells great package deals, especially if you like resorts.  Or some sites let you bid on same or next day tickets that the airlines sell to break even in last minute deals.  Once you see a cheap flight advertised buy it first, THEN plan the other details later.  Most people are afraid to buy then plan.  They rather plan, then buy.  I started out with that  mentally, but it made things complicated.  Hosts want to know the exact dates you'll be in their city, not when you "think" you'll be there. Waiting to buy tickets has also made me miss out on numerous great deals.  planning takes more than a day and often the surprise cheap rates are only offered for hours.  In this blog I will never add airfare into my final travel cost.  I dont add the airfare because my readers reside in many different parts of the world.  my flight from Atlanta can be drastically different from the airfare from the west cost.  I've found that it's just easier to add up the cost once I arrive at my destination and then let my readers search and add in their own ticket price for an estimate of how much they would have spent traveling in a similar way. 

So there ya have it folks!  I hope I've explained the main parts clearly enough for you to also use some of my tricks.  I have a generous addiction.  I want everyone I know to travel, even people who I don't know!  I find great joy hearing about others' travel stories, sharing contacts on good people who will help you see their country, and seeing people do things and be places outside of their comfort zone.  Most things I do while traveling are so cool that I want my friends and family at home to share in the experience with me.  To laugh with me, and sometimes at me, be afraid, grateful or mad with me.  Before this blog I used to come home and share stories and pictures with everyone, but this allows me to share our experience right away while letting loved ones know that we are alright while far from home.  I also hope the boys read the blog when they are older and have forgot the details, and say "Hey! We had a cool childhood!"  
Checkout the pictures below from my shopping experience and stay tuned for video post in YouTube.  

1 comment:

  1. A few weeks ago many of the flights to Northern Europe from Ft. Lauderdale for December on Norwegian Airlines were only $99. They are still fairly reasonable. Do searches for different months and seasons and you will see what I mean. http://www.norwegian.com/us/flight/tips/?D_City=FLL&DestinationGroup=12&Period=14&SplitDatesInto=3&CurrencyCode=USD&rnd=10337 The closest airport they fly out of from us is Orlando.