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Are you not glad I have suffered misfortunes, bad service, insects and other hazards? Now I know what to do and what not to do, how to do it and where to do it, and on this page I want to tell you all about it.


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Yay Travel

Prepay, prepay, prepay!

When you are on holiday, if you are anything like me, you might see something you like or see a nice restaurant or attraction and tell yourself you have enough money for that and for other things you booked before you left home. The danger is that after pay for all these wonderful experiences, you suddenlyfind yourself without money to pay for accommodation or for a reservation or show or something that you had booked before leaving home.

 

To avoid getting into this mess, prepay for as many things as you can. That means: pay for all your accommodation in advance, pay for restaurant reservations in advance (it is usually the posh restaurants that let you do this), pay for transfers in advance and pay for tours in advance. Then take as much money as you can afford with you. You will now have the peace of mind that most of the important things, including every booked activity, has already been paid for and that the money you have with you is just an added bonus for all those extra nice things and experiences you might see along the way.

Category: Money Issues

28 Apr 2013 | 10:25 AM | Posted by: Yay Travel

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Yay Travel

Where to Eat at Johannesburg's Airport

If you find yourself taking an international flight from the main airport in Johannesburg, be advised that at the moment there is a larger variety of better quality restaurants before security. Unless you have to run for the gate, do yourself a favour and go eat at one of the restaurants where the locals eat. Then you are ready to go through security.

Category: Airports

28 Apr 2013 | 10:16 AM | Posted by: Yay Travel

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Yay Travel

Have an Empty Seat Next to You on a Plane

Some airlines physically remove or, in some or other way, make seats on a plane unavailable to passengers. Have a look, for example, at this American Airlines seat map. Notice how in rows 16 and 17, the middle seats are blocked out. That means you will not be seated next to another passenger if you sit here.

 

Of course, not all airlines block out seats. You can then start taking a bit of a gamble, which will pay off on occasion. Go for the rows towards the back of the plane. A lot of people rush to get seats in the front. To be honest, for the most part, those seats are overrated. Many people try to stay away from the back of the plane, therefore you have a better chance of not sitting next to someone. Be careful with this strategy though on long-haul flights as you may find yourself sitting on top of a toilet for hours. This is likely to be the case on popular routes.

 

Another gamble is to book the middle seat. The idea is that if a family or couple wants to sit together, you have effectively blocked the whole row for them. They will then need to look in a different row. There is the possibility that one or two people travelling alone will be booked into the seats on either side. It could also happen that two people who want to sit together ask if you would be willing to move to another seat to accommodate them. Under such circumstances, you can decide how assertive you wish to be.

 

Another strategy is to try to get a seat in the row behind the emergency exits. For some reason unknown to me, depending on the airline, these are more likely to have empty seats than other rows.

Category: Air Travel

28 Apr 2013 | 09:53 AM | Posted by: Yay Travel

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Yay Travel

Where to Find Locals and How to Connect With Them

When traveling to foreign places, your best guide to discovering a city is through its residents. They know the best kept secrets of the locality, which can likely be those not disclosed in your travel guide!

 

If you are lucky, you just might find a friendly and generous local that’ll introduce you to a group of other friendly and generous locals. Before you know it, you are being led to one remarkable spot after another. If you are even luckier, you just might get a nice dinner with new found friends at the end of the day.

 

I always tell friends not to pass up on the opportunity to meet the "locals" of the destination they visit. The "locals" will not only show you the best spots, they will also give you a rich insight into the very soul of their community – the culture of its people. It has always brought a treasure of great memories with extraordinary individuals. In fact, some of them are a part of my network of friends that I continue to stay in contact with.

 

Where do you find "locals" and how do you connect with them? I’ve learned from my long years of traveling that most do not hang out in the same places the tourists do. You may have noticed that in the tourist spots you mostly find just a handful of local guides, a throng of tourists and a bunch of souvenir vendors. The same goes for restaurants catering to tourists where the food is over-priced and the crowd is composed of travellers whose knowledge of the area is limited for the most part to what is stated in their travel guides.

 

Go instead to parks, markets, coffee shops and bars near a local neighbourhood. It is where the locals usually chill out with their families or their friends. Be friendly. Smile at them and greet them. You should remember that locals usually take pride in their home towns and are most likely to show you the best parts of their region. So, a sincere interest and appreciation of the area and customs will win you a lot of friendly faces and some great destination suggestions.

 

If I find someone who looks interesting, I always make it a point to ask for directions from them – even when I know exactly where I’m going. It’s an effective way to start a conversation. You can also ask for suggestions on which part of the town is worth exploring.

 

Also, one of the best places to meet friendly and helpful local folks is in a church. If you are a churchgoer, visit a local church. The members are always happy to meet a new face and will go the extra mile to extend a helping hand.

 

Finally, a charity event, a concert or a Sunday market also provide great opportunities for a local connection. Go where the locals go and mingle. You will find out that it is a very satisfying, rewarding and enjoyable way of experiencing a new region.

Category: Other

18 Apr 2013 | 03:05 AM | Posted by: Yay Travel

Posted by:
Yay Travel

How to Recognise and Avoid a Tourist Scam

I have always been an advocate of befriending locals because it brings opportunities for a more meaningful experience with an unfamiliar locality and culture.

 

However, this attitude should be coupled with vigilance to avoid scams and swindling schemes that are usually perpetuated by con-artists hiding behind the cloak of an overly friendly and helpful local.

 

There is no hard and fast rule on identifying a sincere offer of help from a bogus act to pull off a scam. The best that one can do is to be familiar with the different ploys that swindlers set up to carry out a con.

 

Every traveller should understand that con-artists are only interested in money or valuables that they can take from unsuspecting tourists. They employ different ways to acquire their spoils but their methods can be divided into 3 categories.

 

First, target oblivious victims and pick their pockets. Second, target vulnerable individuals and employ force and intimidation. Third, target naïve and trusting tourists and con them into buying cheap goods for a very expensive price.

 

You have to understand that con-artists are experts on their chosen craft. Meaning, they are very good at what they do. So, don’t expect to catch them while they are pulling a con because the odds are against you. What you can do instead is to avoid being a victim of one: first, by not looking like one of their targeted victims and second, by not falling into their traps.

 

Pickpockets will need to get near you to have access to your pockets and they employ some diversion to shift your focus on something else other than your valuables.

 

Here are some of the diversions employed by pickpockets: they throw something on the ground in the hope that you will bend down and pick it up so that they can easily pick on your pockets; a person bumps into you, followed by a profuse apology, while his or her partner picks your wallet; and someone pretends to have found bird droppings or some form of dirt on your clothes and he or she kindly dabs it up while at the same time feeling for your wallet and effortlessly picking it up when found. To avoid pick pockets, wear a money belt.  Thieves won’t succeed if they have no wallets to pick up in the first place.

 

Avoid hold-ups or mugging by not placing yourself in a situation that will bring about the opportunity. Avoid dark and isolated alleys. Hang out only in public places where help is easily available and be wary of invitations to private and quiet places.

 

Good bargains are one of the highs of traveling. Unfortunately, crooks know this too well and capitalise on the traveller’s yearning for cheap local merchandise to score some easy cash.

 

The scenario involves an innocent or a professional-looking individual who approaches tourists and offers unsolicited advice that a nearby store sells coveted merchandise (usually valuable jewellery or gems) at extremely discounted prices.

 

If the tourist shows interest, an offer for a free ride to the store follows and once you get there they won’t let go of you until you have purchased something at a highly inflated price.

 

Before you travel, arm yourself with valuable knowledge on common frauds and scams perpetrated in the areas you are visiting. You can easily identify a con if you know what signs to look for.  Be as diligent as you would at home in protecting yourself.  Being a visitor does not give you special immunity from thieves!

Category: Safety

18 Apr 2013 | 02:59 AM | Posted by: Yay Travel