10 Tips for a More Comfortable Long-Haul Flight

10 Tips for a More Comfortable Long-Haul Flight

Headed out for a long-haul flight overseas soon? Whether it’s your first or your tenth time, flights over ten hours can be uncomfortable at best. 
I just returned from my sixth trip to South Africa, which is an amazing country but a long flight from the US. From the Midwest where I live, travel can include a two-hour bus ride, a flight to DC or Atlanta, and then the flight to Johannesburg. The flight to Joburg is about 15 hours from the ATL on Delta and longer from DC or NYC because of refueling stops. While the challenges of getting there are always worth it, long-haul flights are exhausting.
I thought about this quite a bit on my flight home this time, mostly because on the way over to SA, my partner and I had the luck to have an open seat in between our window and aisle seats. While it was a dream on the way over, that taste of sweetness made the flight home (which was lacking that empty middle seat) a bit more bitter… but I am always trying to find new ways to make these flights more comfortable and less stressful. So here are my top ten ways to make the long-haul flight more comfortable.

1. Water, water, water.
I think these first couple of tips might be pretty obvious but I am going to list ’em anyway! I can’t stress enough to stay hydrated. This may mean cutting out alcohol or salty foods the day of travel and/or perhaps carrying your own refillable water bottle. It may also mean using the lav more often but do not let this stop you! Planes (and hotels, etc.) are very drying and being dehydrated is not fun. So drink up!

2. Bring your own snacks.
The snacks at the airport are overpriced and you can never guarantee that you’ll find something you like to snack on during a long flight. And I don’t depend on the in-flight meals anymore because while Delta’s are usually pretty good, you just never know and what’s worse for your trip than getting hangry?? So stop at Target and get your favorite snack (not too salty and with protein and fiber to keep you energized and full) before you fly. My favorites are trail mixes but I will also bring protein bars.

3. Bring the right pillow and a seat pad. 
Perhaps you are someone who can sleep anywhere but alas, I am not so lucky. I bring a travel pillow as well as my trusty seat pad. Don’t think twice about spending a little extra on the right pillow (I don’t dig those inflatable ones, for instance) ​or about the space it may take up. In my opinion, it is worth it.

A pillow with a snappable strap can help to attach it to your carry-on during transit. The one I have even has a built-in pocket for my i-Pod. My favorite seat cushion is the Therm-A-Rest LiteSeat which you can inflate to your preference but that rolls up nice and small when not in use. Totally worth it.

4. Bring things to do.
Of course! Bring your iPod, Kindle, a paperback, etc. depending on your preference, carry-on, and destination. And bring your own earbuds or headphones because the ones the airline gives you won’t be great (or even good).

5. Saline nose spray.
File this under: planes are really dry. I actually tend to get nosebleeds on long flights. Saline spray helps with this tremendously. And a handkerchief or tissue packs are a good idea as well.

6. Layer your clothes.
Running around the airport can be a sweaty, stressful ordeal at times but in hour ten of that flight when you are trying to sleep, it can get cold and that little tissue of a blanket most airlines provide doesn’t always cut it. I tend to wear loose-fitting clothes with some give; often the ones I wear hiking which breathe well.

I go for pants with no belt (so as to not have to take it off when going through US security) and a zippered sweatshirt with a hood that can double as a back rest or blanket. Oh and for goodness’ sake, WEAR SOCKS. I don’t know how many times I see people on planes and in the security line who are barefoot. Sorry ya’ll but this is gross. That’s not water on the floor of the lav, folks. I wear wool socks to keep my pigs cozy the whole flight through.

7. Wear glasses? Bring your case.
I often wear contacts when I am away but on flights, I always wear my glasses. I am sure to bring a hard case for them now because I can take them off for when I sleep and stick the case in the seatback pocket. This way I don’t misplace them and they stay safe and clean. I also put my lip balm and earbuds in the case for easy access.

8. Stick to your schedule.
Before and during long-haul travel, I try to stick to my normal schedule as much as possible. This includes when I sleep, when I take any vitamins or medications, and when I eat. As little disruption as possible will minimize jet lag.

9. Don’t overindulge.
This goes hand-in-hand with #8. It’s easy to indulge in more food and drink or to sacrifice sleep when on holiday. This can lead to illness, stomach woes, or worse. Again, stick to your regular schedule as much as you can and bring some Tums or similar so you can enjoy the local cuisine while at your destination.

10. Consider springing for the upgraded seat.
Now, I am not talking about first class (but if you can afford it, go for it!), I am just referring to the trend of airlines offering special seats in economy for an additional fee. Delta has their Comfort Economy Plus, for instance, that offers a few inches of extra legroom which I find totally worth it. You might find a good return an extra $50 or even $200 investment if it provides a bit more comfort.

BONUS FOR THE LADIES…

Ladies, ever get that not-so-fresh feeling?? Ha, don’t lie! We all do, especially on a long flight, so do yourselves a favor and bring some feminine wipes to use during and after your flight. ‘Nuff said. (Maybe this is a good tip for the gents as well…??)

I hope this list is helpful! What are your tips to make long flights more bearable?? Share them in the comments below or Tweet us!

Visit a Stop on the Underground Railroad at Milton House

I’m a big fan of being a tourist in your own backyard. There are so many not-so-hidden treasures in Wisconsin that I have yet to discover. So a couple of weeks ago, my partner and I decided to do some exploring! Our first stop was Milton House Museum in Milton, Wisconsin.

Milton is about a 45 minute drive southeast from Madison. It is a small yet charming town that boasts Milton House as its main attraction. Milton House is one of 41 National Historic Landmarks in the state of Wisconsin and is recognized as a stop on the Underground Railroad (UGRR). In fact, it is the only UGRR stop in Wisconsin that you can tour. More on that later…
​Opened in 1844 by the founder of Milton, Joseph Goodrich (1800-1867), the Milton House originally operated as a stagecoach inn as well as being the residence for the Goodrich family. One of the unique features of the Milton House is its hexagon shape. In addition, it is regarded as the oldest standing poured grout (lime mixed with coarse gravel and sand) building in the United States. Originally the building included the “Goodrich Blocks” which housed stores on the street level with living quarters above. The Goodrich Blocks had to be removed due to damage but the Goodrich Wing was added by the Milton Historical Society in 2006 on the original footprint of the Goodrich Blocks. Part of the original log cabin built in 1838 by Goodrich and his traveling companions still stands.
The Milton House provides tours beginning every half-hour and we didn’t have to wait long for ours to begin even over Labor Day weekend. There was just my partner and I so we were excited to have the tour and our fantastic guide, Tabitha, all to ourselves! The tour lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and takes you through the Milton House Inn, to the second floor, down into the basement, and into the cabin. You learn about the history of Milton and the Goodrich family as well as their involvement in the UGRR and abolitionist movement. The place is filled with artifacts from the time period and Tabitha was so knowledgable and excited to share them with us! In each room you are given an explanation of what life was like at that time and stories about the Goodriches. You are also allowed time to look at the items and read the captions on your own, which is good because there is so much to take in.
​While the tour of the house and grounds are interesting in and of themselves, the main attraction of the site is the Underground Railroad tunnel. Goodrich grew up as an active member in the Seventh Day Baptist Church, which made clear its anti-slavery stances in several resolutions. Goodrich’s involvement in the Church continued throughout his life and was a great influence on his abolitionist activities. It is believed that fugitive slaves would enter the log cabin and go down through a trap door into the tunnel that led to the basement of the inn. Once in the basement, the Goodrich family would provide them with food and safety until they were ready to move on. The tunnel is believed to have been constructed in 1845 when the house was completed and was originally only large enough for a person to crawl or duck through. It was enlarged and reinforced in 1954 to accommodate visitors to the museum. It was really amazing to walk through this tunnel and imagine the feelings and fears that people felt on their way to the relative safety of the inn basement.

“He was an uncompromising friend and advocate of the cause of temperance, and of human rights. The poor and oppressed were received by him as a legacy of the Lord…” –​Written of Goodrich after his death in 1867 in “The Wisconsin State Journal”

We enjoyed the tunnel the most but also appreciated all of the antiques that Tabitha showed us, from toys to household appliances to Civil War memorabilia. We really left with an appreciation for the Goodriches and the role they played in Wisconsin abolitionist history. Overall, this was a wonderful tour and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Wisconsin or Underground Railroad history.

Some tips:

  • Arrive a few minutes early to ensure you get a tour at the time you prefer.
  • Allow one hour for the tour and some additional time to take photos of the grounds.
  • Photos are not allowed inside the museum except in the entry.
  • There are some stairs leading to the second floor as well as those leading into the basement.
  • Admission fee was $8 per adult.
  • A gift shop is on the grounds.
  • Don’t touch any of the artifacts but ask plenty of questions!
To make a day of it, visit the Milton House in the morning and then:

Have you been to any sites on the Underground Railroad? Do you like visiting historical sites? Comment below with your favorites!

Sleep Under the Stars at Namib Dune Star Camp

When planning our recent trip to Namibia, I knew there was one place at which I had to stay: Namib Dune Star from Gondwana Collection. If you have read our post about Kalahari Anib Lodge, you know that we are big fans of Gondwana Collection. Well, it was hearing about the Dune Star that originally prompted me to explore the other Gondwana Collection properties for this trip and the wonderful experiences I had working with their employees sealed the deal.

Reading about sleeping under the stars at Dune Star inspired me and I was most excited about staying at this property during our trip. I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself and it turned out to be in our top three places to stay in Namibia.

A trip to Namibia is not complete without spending time in the Namib Desert and the Gondwana Collection offers you the perfect way to experience it. After spending a few hectic days in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, we were excited to get off the trodden path and into some desert solitude. Namib Dune Star Camp offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime experience to sleep under the stars in perfect solitude. The beds of their nine cabins are designed to be rolled out of the room onto the spacious deck. This is adventure and comfort rolled into one, or “soft adventure” as Gondwana refers to it!

To get to the Dune Star, you first check into the Namib Desert Lodge (also beautiful, blog post coming soon!), and at 4:30pm, they will transport you to the Namib Dune Star where you can stay one amazing night in desert comfort. A guide accompanies the guests and stays the night as well, so you can relax knowing you are safe and well cared for. Even the drive from the Lodge to the Camp is one to remember! Rolling through the dunes, red sand as far as the eye can see… the rock formations are wind blown and majestic. We saw oryx and the driver is keen to stop so that guests can take photographs of wildlife, dunes, and the camp as you get closer.
Upon arrival at the camp, you head to your cabin to freshen up and enjoy the magnificent view. We opened up the french doors to the deck and that first look is unforgettable. There is a generous amount of room between the cabins, so you can have comfortable privacy from your neighbors. It was sweltering that day at 40 degrees celsius. There is no air-conditioning in the cabins but upon opening the windows as well, we were able to get a refreshing breeze through the cabin to cool us as we rested.
One thing I love about the Dune Star is that it is completely solar-powered. So you have the luxury of lighting and hot water in your lovely ensuite bathroom but you can rest easy knowing you are caring for the surrounding environment as well.
At 6pm, guests can head to the restaurant to enjoy some snacks and their first sundowner on the house. The giant deck offers phenomenal views as the sun goes down on the desert. Getting to know your guide and other guests is a highlight here, as the small number of guests makes it feel more like a dinner party than a restaurant and at around 7pm, dinner is served. Dinner was delicious and conversation delightful, but honestly we couldn’t wait to get back to our cabin and push that bed out onto the deck, so we retired early. The other guests were led in a festive sing-a-long by our guide at the restaurant.
After the sun went down, thankfully the temperature did as well, and the weather was perfect for sleeping under the stars. We rolled the bed out onto our deck and got comfortable. We looked at the stars for what seemed like hours, just enjoying the serenity and comfort. After the other guests retired, we felt like the only people on Earth and drifted off to sleep.
Let me be clear: I got one of the best night’s sleep that night at the Dune Star that I have ever had, hands down. We relaxed in bed for a little while before dressing and heading out for a morning desert walk in the area surrounding the cabins. You would never guess how much life and activity is occurring in those dunes all around you! We learned about insects and lizards, the sand and geology, as well as how life can actually thrive in the harsh desert environment. After this fantastic tour, we gathered our things for the drive back to the Lodge for breakfast.
Overall, our night at the Dune Star was one of the most unique and enjoyable experiences in all of our travels. The cabins are comfortable and well-appointed, the guide so knowledgeable and charming, and the staff all very kind and accommodating. We appreciated the commitment to sustainability at the Dune Star, as well as the attention to detail. If you are headed to Namibia, do not hesitate to book a night at the Namib Dune Star Camp. I assure you it will be a night to remember!
Thanks to Dune Star for offering one of us a complimentary stay. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.

 

An Unforgettable Stay in Namibia: Mopane Village Lodge

During our recent trip to Namibia, we were lucky to stay in a number of fantastic places but one of our top three was Mopane Village Lodge Etosha. We loved it not only for its comfort and setting but also for their dedication to environmental responsibility and their focus on personal attention. Be sure to check out our other favorite, Kalahari Anib Lodge, too!

we are always in search of unique accommodations that are off the beaten track and that offer the personal touches we prefer. We found all of this and more at Mopane Village Lodge Etosha.

When you plan your trip to Etosha National Park, one of the must-sees in Namibia, you will need to decide whether to stay within the boundaries of the park itself or to stay outside the park. While there are advantages to staying in the park, be aware that accommodations should be booked far in advance since they fill up quickly. We wanted to stay outside the park in large part to be away from crowds and really enjoy the Namibian bush. In addition, we are always in search of unique accommodations that are off the beaten track and that offer the personal touches we prefer. We found all of this and more at Mopane Village Lodge Etosha.
Built in 2014, Mopane Village is conveniently located just 14km outside of Etosha National Park and offers thirteen chalets as well as a fly camp and campsites. According to owner Pieter Potgieter, his goal with Mopane Village was not to offer five-star but an authentic, laid back experience where he could get to know his guests on a more personal level. He is looking to expand in the near future and is now planning to build a higher-end, yet intimate lodge on the property to appeal to a larger variety of guests. Be sure to watch for this development if you prefer a more luxurious experience in the bush!
One of the features that drew me to Mopane Village was the fact that it is entirely run on solar power. This focus on environmental sustainability is extremely important to me and I hope they will be able to continue this goal in the building of their new lodge.
The food at Mopane Village is delicious and served by fire and candlelight at the main open-air lodge. Surrounded by lovely landscaping, you can have a relaxing meal with just the right amount of personal attention you crave. You may also be visited by the resident little dog and two cats, which only adds to the homey feel.
While at Mopane Village, we stayed one night in a fly tent and one in a chalet. The fly tent includes two cots with mattresses. Outside the back of the tent, there is a camp shower and a composting toilet. We loved experiencing this type of accommodation in the Namibian bush.
​Not into “roughing it”? Then perhaps the chalet is more your style. These bush tents are larger and more permanent. There is also a large ensuite bathroom with a shower and flushable toilet. There are two comfortable beds and a dressing table but one of the best features is outside! The sunrises and sunsets are unbelievable.
Each chalet includes an ensuite bathroom (Photo by Mopane Village Lodge).
Overall, we found Mopane Village Etosha to be unique and comfortable. It hit all of our desires for staying off the beaten track while not having to camp on our own. But the best feature of all at Mopane Village is definitely the personal attention and kindness shown by Pieter and the staff there. We appreciated their dedication to environmental sustainability and the quiet, relaxing atmosphere. Mopane Village Etosha was such a lovely surprise! So if you are looking for an authentic, comfortable place to stay while visiting Etosha, be sure to book Mopane Village Lodge!  ​
Inside the chalet at Mopane Village Lodge (Photo from Mopane Village Lodge).
Of course while at Mopane Village you will want to go on game drives in Etosha! Mopane Village offers game drives to its guests on a daily basis. Because of their dedication to environmentalism, the staff will not take only two people on a game drive and instead ask for a minimum of four passengers. We were only two but Pieter had the answer for us and hooked us up with a drive at a neighboring lodge that had room for two more. They drove us to the lodge and back and we enjoyed a day-long drive that couldn’t be beat. This was a great service Pieter offered us and we were so appreciative that he went out of his way to accommodate our visit. Because we had our own vehicle, we were also able to self-drive through the park. And what better way to end an amazing day in Etosha, then to take a swim in the refreshing pool? Perhaps only a sundowner around the boma! You can enjoy both at Mopane Village Lodge Etosha.
Enjoying a sundowner by the boma (Photo from Mopane Village Lodge).
Special thanks to Pieter and Mopane Village Lodge for the kindness, hospitality, and complimentary stay. As always, my opinions are honest and my own.
Do you prefer luxury accommodations or would you try a tented camp? What’s been your favorite tented accommodations or camping spot? Comment below to let me know!

 

A Visit to the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia

​I first heard about Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) from a fantastic post by Wayfaring Views and knew that I had to visit during my trip to Namibia. Founded in 1990, the CCF has created a set of integrated, evidence-based programs focused on saving the cheetah from extinction. 
​CCF is a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker to help conserve the dwindling numbers of cheetah in Namibia. In the 1980s, thousands of cheetahs were killed, a large number by farmers who blamed them for killing their livestock. Dr. Marker knew that Namibian farmers themselves would be key to protecting cheetah and ultimately increasing their numbers. To this end, Dr. Marker began talking to local farmers.
I first heard about Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) from a fantastic post by Wayfaring Views and knew that I had to visit during my trip to Namibia. Founded in 1990, the CCF has created a set of integrated, evidence-based programs focused on saving the cheetah from extinction. 
​CCF is a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker to help conserve the dwindling numbers of cheetah in Namibia. In the 1980s, thousands of cheetahs were killed, a large number by farmers who blamed them for killing their livestock. Dr. Marker knew that Namibian farmers themselves would be key to protecting cheetah and ultimately increasing their numbers. To this end, Dr. Marker began talking to local farmers.
Over time, Dr. Marker and her team created a plan that now includes:
1. Educating farmers – CCF educates farmers about cheetah as well as how to identify which predator actually killed their livestock. Cheetahs are shown to be responsible for only 3% of predation of livestock. Farmer collectives have also been formed in effort to further decrease human wildlife conflict.
​2. Dog breeding – CCF breeds, raises, and trains Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs that will help to protect livestock from predators. They sell these dogs for a small fee to local farmers. Their waiting list is now in the hundreds and hundreds of dogs have been placed so far.
3. Research – CCF contributes to the cheetah census, helps to locate cheetahs in the wild, and studies cheetah health, behavior, and habitat restoration. They are able to conduct their own research in their on-site genetics lab.

​5. Education – CCF visits classrooms around the country as well as hosts student groups at their site to help educate others about cheetah conservation.

​6. Environmental conservation – CCF understands the importance of saving the environment to save the cheetah and so they are committed to doing their part. For example, CCF removes overgrown native thornbushes and uses them to manufacture Bushblok, a high-heat, low-emission log to burn for fuel and cooking.

​Overall, CCF aims to change attitudes, conserve habitat, and work with the community to save Namibian cheetah.

FACT: An ultra-flexible spine, a tail like a rudder, long legs, and semi-retractable claws allow the cheetah to run up to 110 kmh/70mph. It is the fastest land animal in the world. 

A Night in the Kalahari: Kalahari Anib Lodge in Namibia

​This is the first in a series of posts focused on accommodations across Namibia. If you haven’t been to this beautiful Southern African country, you are missing out! It’s affordable, the people are kind, the wildlife is plentiful, and the landscape is out of this world. If you are looking to explore Namibia, the properties in this series will each provide you with a comfortable home base to recharge between adventures.
​One of the accommodations I was most excited about was located in the iconic Kalahari Desert. The red sands, the sunsets, and the wildlife make this part of Namibia simply magical. And right in the middle of it? The beautiful Kalahari Anib Lodge.
​The Kalahari Anib is one of 15 Gondwana Collection properties throughout Namibia. Known for their hospitality, Gondwana is focused on conservation and sustainability while still offering all the comfort and amenities weary travelers prefer.
​Kalahari Anib is located in eastern Namibia and is reached easily by car. After a drive of about 30 km from Mariental, we were greeted by the beautifully landscaped grounds of Kalahari Anib, which is an oasis in the red desert sands.
We were scheduled for a sunset game drive with Jurgens, the park manager, who was so knowledgeable and answered our many questions about the birds and animals, the sand and landscape, and the abundant plants and trees. We were surprised to see the wide variety of animals and plants in the desert but it was the red sand that had us hooked. Jurgens told us that the iron particles in the sand oxidize to the rusty red color in the rain; it is beautiful, especially at sunset. During our drive, we saw giraffe, gnu (wildebeest), zebra, kudu, springbok, and even eland, the largest antelope in Africa. I was most excited to see oryx though (also called gemsbok), which I had never seen before and is Namibia’s national animal. We were also not disappointed as birders either, as we saw korhaan and the giant nests of sociable weaver birds.
​After an incredible drive and a spectacular sunset, we headed back to the lodge for dinner. The dining room and bar area of Kalahari Anib is ample, complete with outdoor seating. The buffets were delicious with plentiful choices to suit all tastes. The staff employed at the lodge offered excellent service and were attentive and kind on all accounts.
Back in our room, we got a lovely night’s sleep. The room was private and quiet, with a firm mattress and mosquito net surrounding the bed. Like the rest of the lodge, the rooms at Kalahari Anib are tastefully decorated, comfortable and clean. Our room included aircon, a safe, bathroom with shower, and bright sliding doors leading to a private veranda with a fun hanging chair in addition to a bench and table perfect for reading and relaxing.
​Kalahari Anib has ample outdoor space that is well-maintained. The grounds include two pools as well as several hiking trails for those who would like to do some exploring on their own. We opted for another game drive in the morning instead and once again, were not disappointed with the beautiful sunrise and wide variety of wildlife.
Kalahari Anib Lodge was a fantastic start to our Namibian adventure! We thought it was our favorite because it was our first lodge but it held up throughout our time in Namibia and ended up as one of our top three favorite accommodations of the trip. (Read about the second and the third as well!) While all Gondwana Collection properties are fantastic, Kalahari Anib is special, so be sure to book a stay here when in Namibia.
Tips:

  • Stay at least two nights at Kalahari Anib to enjoy game drives but also spend time relaxing at the pools and on your terrace.
  • Be sure to visit the gift shop!
  • Don’t be afraid to rent a car and drive yourself from Windhoek to Kalahari Anib Lodge; it is accessible with a sedan but you’ll be most comfortable in a high-profile vehicle or 4×4 throughout Namibia. The lodge is easy to find from signs along the B1.
  • Opt for a Comfort level room if you can for some extra luxury.
Thanks to Kalahari Anib for offering one of us a complimentary stay. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.
Have you been to Namibia? Where was your favorite place to stay? What makes an accommodation excellent in your opinion? Let me know in the comments below!

GlobalETA’s Guide to Game Drive Etiquette

Ever been on a safari or game drive in Africa? If you have been on as many as I have (game drives are my happy place!) then you get to the point where you can be pretty particular about your experiences and sometimes disappointed by the behavior of some of the other guests. It’s always good to have an open mind and patience when in the middle of a vehicle full of other tourists who may or may not have the same goals or knowledge as you when it comes to the safari experience. But if you are new to game drives, you should also prepare yourself for what it’s like and what’s expected. Start here with some general information and some “dos and don’ts” of game drives!

There are many ways to experience the wildlife of Southern Africa. One of the most common is to visit game and nature reserves and either go on a self-drive or a guided tour. This post will focus on guided tours of Southern Africa. Whether you stay at within a large park such as the Kruger in South Africa or Etosha in Namibia or you choose a lodge outside of a park or in a private park, most accommodations will offer game drives. Do check the excursions available at the place you choose before you book because fees and inclusions will vary, some require advanced booking, etc.

​While each lodge offering is different, there are some common game drive practices that you can expect. For instance, a lodge will usually offer a morning drive and an afternoon drive. The middle of the day is often to hot and the chances of seeing wildlife goes down but I have taken an all-day game drive in Namibia and had some luck, so they do exist. I find it is nice to have a break in-between drives though, to freshen up, have lunch, take a swim, do some exploring, rest, etc.
​Game drives in the morning and afternoon usually last around three hours each. There is usually a break offered in the middle where you can exit the vehicle and have a snack. In the morning, hot coffee or tea and biscuits are a welcome way to enjoy the sunrise. And frankly, nothing beats a G&T sundowner in the afternoon bush. After the break, you get back in the vehicle and enjoy the rest of the drive.
All guides and game rangers are not created equal. I have had my fair share of guides who were not good but we will focus on the ones who have been extraordinary! Good guides will start by introducing themselves and explaining what to expect and how to stay safe during your drive. They will also encourage you to ask questions and let them know if you see something during the drive. They aren’t the only ones who can spot the wildlife – you’re a team on this adventure! Just be sure to be aware of your volume and timing to not scare animals away or disrupt others’ experiences on the drive. More on this below…
​Be aware that drives first thing in the morning and last thing at night are often cold. Layer your clothes, bring a hat, or otherwise come prepared for changing temps. Many lodges will offer wool blankets to guests in their vehicles but this isn’t a given. If it looks like rain, bring a hat or rain poncho.
​Game drives tend to be very bumpy because the good ones get off the tarred roads and onto gravel or dirt ones. I personally love this aspect but if you have a bad back or get carsick, it’s best to prepare for this in advance. I always bring lip balm and water, for example, because I hate the dry feeling I often get while traveling that can be exacerbated by dust and wind on drives.
Now that we’ve covered some general information about what to expect on your game drive, keep reading for some more specific suggestions for good game drive etiquette!
  • ​Please be aware of your volume. I mean, we all want to talk and ask questions and share our excitement with others but be aware of your volume, language, and laughter. This includes clicking, snapping, whistling, or otherwise trying to get an animal’s attention for a photo opp. This is just annoying and may cause the animal to run away.
  • The exception to the above is when you see spot something great – you are encouraged to alert your guide when you see something. The common way to do this is, “Isaac, giraffe on the right, 3 o’clock!” or similar.
  • Bring your camera! Well, duh. But what I said was bring your camera. As opposed to your iPad. Your iPhone, okay, but taking a photo with a giant iPad can really get in the way of other passengers in the vehicle. Also, turn off the sound on your camera and phone – some of the wildlife such as wildebeest and small antelopes are very skittish so you don’t want to spook the animal you’ve hoped to see all morning.
  • Listen to your guide and ask questions. A good game ranger or guide can make or break your game drive. If you have a good one, listen to them for they are the experts! You can learn so much about the flora and fauna and they will spot things that most of us would miss.
  • Do not get out of the vehicle. This should be obvious but you would be surprised… When animals see a game drive vehicle, they see a large animal. If you all get out of the vehicle, they see a few weak, stupid creatures that some may want for lunch. So, it really is in your best interest to stay inside the vehicle. The exception to this of course is when a driver invites you to exit the vehicle, for instance for your afternoon sundowner. For these breaks, the guide will stop at a place they know is safe and where they can keep an eye on the surrounding area. Also, keep your hands and arms in the vehicle and watch for branches, etc. that may hit you during a drive – those acacia thorns are no joke!
  • Be prepared. Be aware of the weather and wear appropriate clothing. Bring water or a small snack. Bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen. I also bring my animal and bird pocket guides and a pen so that I can mark off what we see. This can be a good activity for kids as well.
  • Please also prepare your children. If you are traveling with kids, explain to them in advance what types of behaviors are acceptable. Please pay attention to them when they are noisy or running around when you stop for a sundowner. Their behavior influences the experiences of the other passengers.
  • At the end of a drive, please do tip your guide and/or driver. Your tip can be commensurate with the experience you had so don’t be shy to recognize someone who gave you an excellent drive!
  • Please keep in mind that there is no guarantee to see an abundance of wildlife on each and every drive. Depending on the weather, time of day, etc., you may have some great sightings or you may not. Good guides know where animals were spotted that morning or the day before and will take you there. They know how to track animals and are used to seeing them in the bush. But they are not magicians and cannot make that lion just appear before your eyes! So please be don’t blame your guide if you have a “slow” drive. Good guides will be able to fill the drive with fascinating information about birds, insects, trees, bushes, and the local people and geology even if the big game aren’t cooperating.

 

​Essentially, my best advice for those on game drives (and, let’s face it, when being out in the world in general) is to be aware and considerate of others around you. Most of the time, you will not be alone on your game drive so be aware of others around you and the experience that they would like to have as well. This may mean switching up seating in the vehicle to give others a chance to sit in the front or the back as they would like. It means looking back occasionally to ensure that the folks behind you can see and take a photo. It also means being aware of your volume when you are talking. So, bottom line: exercise common courtesy, have an open mind and wide eyes, and you will have, what is for many, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

What advice do you have for folks who are headed on safari for the first time? What have been your favorite sightings or experiences on game drives? Let me know in the comments section below! 

14-Day Namibia Itinerary

Thinking about traveling to Namibia? (Hint: If not, you should be!) If you are, look no further! After reading an article or two about Namibia’s Skeleton Coast years ago, I knew I had to travel there. I’ve traveled to South Africa six times (for doctoral research in libraries there, leading a university group, and holiday) and Swaziland once, and so am familiar with this part of the world… or so I thought! Namibia is very different from South Africa and Swazi but just as amazing, with incredible landscapes, warm people, and an abundance of wildlife. More posts on this trip will be coming soon but for now, check out where we went, what we saw, and what we did!

This itinerary assumes you will fly into and out of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and so begins and ends there. I would recommend renting a vehicle and driving yourself around the country, just make sure you familiarize yourself with driving in Namibia and rent a higher-profile vehicle such as a Fortuner or Hilux to make the driving more comfortable. Unfortunately a two-week itinerary doesn’t allow for exploration of the southern part of the country or Caprivi Strip area in the north but if you have an additional week, you could absolutely add on Fish River Canyon and/or the Caprivi Strip.

Days 1 and 2: Arrival and Exploring Windhoek
Windhoek is a growing city with lots of new construction occurring but the historical charm is still there to explore. One place to take in is the Christus Kirche (Christ Church), the oldest evangelical church in Namibia, built in 1896. You can also explore the Namibia Craft Centre for souvenirs and the National Museum of Namibia for a history lesson. Visit the Parliament Gardens for some serenity and beauty as well as the Trans-Namib Railroad Museum if you are a railway buff. We stayed at the Hilton Windhoek (only because I was on business for part of our stay) which was comfortable and centrally located but as a Western-style hotel, it lacks some originality and charm. You may choose to explore alternatives such as hostels or Airbnbs. As far as restaurants, try the Hilton Skybar for a city view, Gathemann for German food, Joe’s Beer House for a fun vibe, or Cafe Balalaika (also known as Cafe Zoo) for delicious game choices.

Day 3: Kalahari Desert
After picking up your rental car, head a bit southeast of Windhoek towards the Kalahari Desert. This is probably the first time you will say, “This looks like another planet!” but it certainly won’t be the last. The city landscape will give way to desert scrub and sand in beautiful reds, oranges, and browns. Take it all in and have your camera ready! That night (or maybe two!), be sure to stay at the beautiful Kalahari Anib Lodge, part of the Gondwana Collection of properties. They offer a phenomenal sunset drive as well as delicious dinner and breakfast. Kalahari Anib was one of our favorite accommodations during this trip.

Day 4: Namib Desert
After an amazing morning drive provided by Kalahari Anib, jump in the car and head west to the Namib Desert. Landscapes will change again but be no less beautiful. You will also start wondering, “How can anything live in this climate?” The folks at the Namib Dune Star Camp, another Gondwana Collection property, will be able to tell you when they lead you on a desert walk that uncovers secrets of insects, lizards, plants, and larger mammals. Sleep under the stars at Dune Star Camp, as each of the nine cabins has a deck onto which the double bed can be rolled out onto in order to enjoy fresh air, sights, and sounds of the Namibian nighttime. What a relaxing and unique experience!
Day 5: Explore Sossusvlei
After being transferred from the Dune Star Camp, have breakfast at the Namib Desert Lodge to prepare for the day exploring Sossuvlei, the iconic red dunes of Namib-Naukluft National Park. Be sure to take plenty of water, sunscreen, and sunglasses for the walk to Deadvlei or hiking the other dunes in the area. If you are up for it, make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, an incredible display of rock formations to explore. When your adventure is complete, head back to the Namib Desert Lodge in time to take in their sundowner drive followed by a delicious al fresco dinner.
Day 6: Solitaire and Walvis Bay
​After enjoying a breakfast in the company of weaver birds and oryx at the Namib Desert Lodge, pack up and head north to the oceanside resort towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. On your way, a stop in Solitaire for Moose Macgregor’s famous apple pie. Explore Walvis Bay and Swakop that afternoon and evening and choose from a variety of accommodations depending on your preference. We stayed at an amazing beachfront Airbnb between the two towns in an eco-c0mmunity called Dolphin Park. If you are interested in more information about this property, contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions.
Day 7: Kayak tour, Moon Landscape, and Welwitschia plants
​After a relaxing dinner in Swakop and a good night’s sleep, it’s time for adventure! For our first excursion, we went kayaking with seals with Eco Marine Kayak Tours. Owner Jeanne Meintjes is a spectacular guide and even if you have never kayaked before, this is an accessible must-do tour for you! You get up-close and personal with these seals as they frolic, jump, and swim. They are such curious animals, they will want to check you out as well! Be sure to book this excursion in advance so you don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
After the morning kayaking, we grabbed a bite to eat and drove out to see the Moon Landscape and the 1000-year-old Welwitschia Mirabillis plants. Once again, the landscape is unreal and you will see very few other cars or people. In fact, you will need a permit to drive this area, so be sure to pick one up at Sesriem Canyon. After an afternoon of desert driving, we looked forward to a relaxing dinner and we weren’t disappointed at The Farmhouse Deli in Swakop. Located in The Strand Hotel, The Farmhouse Deli was charming and comfortable and the food was absolutely delicious. My partner said her steak was one of the best she’s ever had (and it was, I had a few bites!), so don’t miss it. With full bellies and cameras loaded with pictures, we headed back to our amazing home on the beach for a wonderful night’s sleep.
Day 8: Quad biking and Cape Cross
As Walvis Bay and Swakop are known for their adventure sports, be sure to book another excursion while there! From sandboarding to dolphin boat tours, it was hard to choose, but we are so happy we went with Kuiseb Delta Adventure‘s Historian quad-biking tour! Again, book any of these excursions in advance so you are not disappointed and come prepared with camera, water, hat, sunscreen, and any other items your guide suggests so you will be ready for anything. We had never been on quad bikes before but Fanie du Preez, the owner of Kuiseb Delta Adventures, was patient and thorough. He made sure we were confident and safe the entire time (4+ hours!) and the tour was nothing short of spectacular! More than just a romp through the desert, this tour is informative and fascinating; Fanie shows you fossilized footprints from animals and humans that are over 2000 years old as well as peeks into the plant and animal life you wouldn’t discover on your own. Exciting, focused on history, and dedicated to being environmentally responsible, I can’t recommend this tour enough! ​
by Karla J. Strand
Thinking about traveling to Namibia? (Hint: If not, you should be!) If you are, look no further! After reading an article or two about Namibia’s Skeleton Coast years ago, I knew I had to travel there. I’ve traveled to South Africa six times (for doctoral research in libraries there, leading a university group, and holiday) and Swaziland once, and so am familiar with this part of the world… or so I thought! Namibia is very different from South Africa and Swazi but just as amazing, with incredible landscapes, warm people, and an abundance of wildlife. More posts on this trip will be coming soon but for now, check out where we went, what we saw, and what we did!

Thinking about traveling to Namibia? (Hint: If not, you should be!) If you are, look no further! Here is your ultimate 14-Day Namibian Itinerary! www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

This itinerary assumes you will fly into and out of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, and so begins and ends there. I would recommend renting a vehicle and driving yourself around the country, just make sure you familiarize yourself with driving in Namibia and rent a higher-profile vehicle such as a Fortuner or Hilux to make the driving more comfortable. Unfortunately a two-week itinerary doesn’t allow for exploration of the southern part of the country or Caprivi Strip area in the north but if you have an additional week, you could absolutely add on Fish River Canyon and/or the Caprivi Strip.
Days 1 and 2: Arrival and Exploring Windhoek
Windhoek is a growing city with lots of new construction occurring but the historical charm is still there to explore. One place to take in is the Christus Kirche (Christ Church), the oldest evangelical church in Namibia, built in 1896. You can also explore the Namibia Craft Centre for souvenirs and the National Museum of Namibia for a history lesson. Visit the Parliament Gardens for some serenity and beauty as well as the Trans-Namib Railroad Museum if you are a railway buff. We stayed at the Hilton Windhoek (only because I was on business for part of our stay) which was comfortable and centrally located but as a Western-style hotel, it lacks some originality and charm. You may choose to explore alternatives such as hostels or Airbnbs. As far as restaurants, try the Hilton Skybar for a city view, Gathemann for German food, Joe’s Beer House for a fun vibe, or Cafe Balalaika (also known as Cafe Zoo) for delicious game choices.
Day 3: Kalahari Desert
After picking up your rental car, head a bit southeast of Windhoek towards the Kalahari Desert. This is probably the first time you will say, “This looks like another planet!” but it certainly won’t be the last. The city landscape will give way to desert scrub and sand in beautiful reds, oranges, and browns. Take it all in and have your camera ready! That night (or maybe two!), be sure to stay at the beautiful Kalahari Anib Lodge, part of the Gondwana Collection of properties. They offer a phenomenal sunset drive as well as delicious dinner and breakfast. Kalahari Anib was one of our favorite accommodations during this trip.

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

The beautiful accommodations at Kalahari Anib. (Photo by Karla Strand)

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Our chalet at the Dune Star Camp. (Photo by Karla Strand)
Day 4: Namib Desert
After an amazing morning drive provided by Kalahari Anib, jump in the car and head west to the Namib Desert. Landscapes will change again but be no less beautiful. You will also start wondering, “How can anything live in this climate?” The folks at the Namib Dune Star Camp, another Gondwana Collection property, will be able to tell you when they lead you on a desert walk that uncovers secrets of insects, lizards, plants, and larger mammals. Sleep under the stars at Dune Star Camp, as each of the nine cabins has a deck onto which the double bed can be rolled out onto in order to enjoy fresh air, sights, and sounds of the Namibian nighttime. What a relaxing and unique experience!
Day 5: Explore Sossusvlei
After being transferred from the Dune Star Camp, have breakfast at the Namib Desert Lodge to prepare for the day exploring Sossuvlei, the iconic red dunes of Namib-Naukluft National Park. Be sure to take plenty of water, sunscreen, and sunglasses for the walk to Deadvlei or hiking the other dunes in the area. If you are up for it, make a stop at Sesriem Canyon, an incredible display of rock formations to explore. When your adventure is complete, head back to the Namib Desert Lodge in time to take in their sundowner drive followed by a delicious al fresco dinner.

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Deadvlei (Photo by Karla Strand)
Day 6: Solitaire and Walvis Bay
​After enjoying a breakfast in the company of weaver birds and oryx at the Namib Desert Lodge, pack up and head north to the oceanside resort towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. On your way, a stop in Solitaire for Moose Macgregor’s famous apple pie. Explore Walvis Bay and Swakop that afternoon and evening and choose from a variety of accommodations depending on your preference. We stayed at an amazing beachfront Airbnb between the two towns in an eco-c0mmunity called Dolphin Park. If you are interested in more information about this property, contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions.
Day 7: Kayak tour, Moon Landscape, and Welwitschia plants
​After a relaxing dinner in Swakop and a good night’s sleep, it’s time for adventure! For our first excursion, we went kayaking with seals with Eco Marine Kayak Tours. Owner Jeanne Meintjes is a spectacular guide and even if you have never kayaked before, this is an accessible must-do tour for you! You get up-close and personal with these seals as they frolic, jump, and swim. They are such curious animals, they will want to check you out as well! Be sure to book this excursion in advance so you don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Sunfish was our kayak! (Photo by Karla Strand)
After the morning kayaking, we grabbed a bite to eat and drove out to see the Moon Landscape and the 1000-year-old Welwitschia Mirabillis plants. Once again, the landscape is unreal and you will see very few other cars or people. In fact, you will need a permit to drive this area, so be sure to pick one up at Sesriem Canyon. After an afternoon of desert driving, we looked forward to a relaxing dinner and we weren’t disappointed at The Farmhouse Deli in Swakop. Located in The Strand Hotel, The Farmhouse Deli was charming and comfortable and the food was absolutely delicious. My partner said her steak was one of the best she’s ever had (and it was, I had a few bites!), so don’t miss it. With full bellies and cameras loaded with pictures, we headed back to our amazing home on the beach for a wonderful night’s sleep.
Day 8: Quad biking and Cape Cross
As Walvis Bay and Swakop are known for their adventure sports, be sure to book another excursion while there! From sandboarding to dolphin boat tours, it was hard to choose, but we are so happy we went with Kuiseb Delta Adventure‘s Historian quad-biking tour! Again, book any of these excursions in advance so you are not disappointed and come prepared with camera, water, hat, sunscreen, and any other items your guide suggests so you will be ready for anything. We had never been on quad bikes before but Fanie du Preez, the owner of Kuiseb Delta Adventures, was patient and thorough. He made sure we were confident and safe the entire time (4+ hours!) and the tour was nothing short of spectacular! More than just a romp through the desert, this tour is informative and fascinating; Fanie shows you fossilized footprints from animals and humans that are over 2000 years old as well as peeks into the plant and animal life you wouldn’t discover on your own. Exciting, focused on history, and dedicated to being environmentally responsible, I can’t recommend this tour enough! ​

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

Our quad bikes in the Namib Desert! (Photo by Karla Strand)

14-Day Namibian Itinerary by GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library and Blog www.globaletalibrary.com (Photo by Karla Strand)

We saw these 2,000 year old footprints on our quad biking tour. (Photo by Karla Strand)
After our tour, we filled up our bellies and our gas tank and headed to Cape Cross. Cape Cross is home to a huge seal colony but we arrived just a few minutes too late to visit. But our disappointment faded quickly when we arrived (practically next door) at Cape Cross Lodge, our accommodations for the night. Cape Cross Lodge is an oasis in the midst of practically nothing else and it is wonderful. Right on the beach, we wandered for a long time looking at shells and taking photos. The restaurant is large and lovely with a fireplace and sitting area but we chose to have a light dinner at the bar and retire fairly early. The butternut squash soup and rolls warmed us and the atmosphere is homey and comfortable.  ​
Day 9: Skeleton Coast and Twyfelfontein
​After a relaxing night’s sleep at Cape Cross Lodge, we hit the road again for what I had been waiting for… the famed Skeleton Coast. Aptly named, the Skeleton Coast is an unforgiving stretch of coast that is known for its diminishing shipwrecks and barren landscape. After a stop at the gates for a permit, you proceed along coast and one or two shipwrecks, an abandoned oil rig, and the otherworldly landscape offer haunting photo opportunities. We went about as far as Torra Bay before turning east to exit the park and head to Twyfelfontein to see the ancient rock carvings of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be aware that this tour requires some hearty shoes and the ability to scramble up and over some rocks and terrain that may be a bit challenging to some. But it is worth it – the tour guides are informative and charming and the carvings are fascinating. In the interest of time, we skipped Burnt Mountain and Organ Pipes but if you had time, these would be interesting additions and are very close by Twyfelfontein. Instead we made our way to our next accommodations, Damara Mopane Lodge, another wonderful Gondwana Collection property.
Days 10 – 12: Etosha
Etosha National Park is Namibia’s best-known park and is a must-visit while there. There is a shocking abundance of wildlife especially because again, you will wonder how anything could possibly live there, in such a harsh climate. But you will see oryx, springbok, wildebeest, giraffe, elephants, as well as lion and leopard if you are as lucky as we were. Spend a couple of nights but be sure to book accommodations well in advance if you want to stay within the park. I highly recommend staying at Mopane Village Etosha, about 14 kilometers outside of the park. Seriously, Mopane Village Lodge was our favorite place of the entire trip because of the personal attention, accommodations, food, and atmosphere. Take guided as well as self-driven game drives into the park but be sure to bring cash because there is no ATM at the Etosha entrance and when electricity goes out, you won’t be able to pay with plastic.
Day 13: Waterberg Plateau and Cheetah Conservation Fund
​After having breakfast at Mopane Village, we got an early start in order to get to the Cheetah Conservation Fund by mid-morning. CCF does such valuable work in the conservation of cheetahs, it is really a must-visit while traveling in Namibia. Be sure to read our post about Cheetah Conservation Fund to learn more about their work. Depending on where you stay on this night, take in an evening sundowner or game drive before getting a good night’s sleep for beginning your trip home tomorrow.
Day 14: Windhoek and Departure
As all good things must come to an end, on this day we left the Waterberg Plateau area and drove back to Windhoek to start the long journey home.
Disclosure: I received sponsored stays from Gondwana Collection, Cape Cross, and Mopane Village Etosha as well as tours from Cheetah Conservation Fund while in Namibia but my opinions are always honest and my own. Thank you to Gondwana, Cape Cross, Mopane Village, and CCF!
This is just one example of a two-week itinerary in Namibia. If you have more time, you can add sites such as Burnt Mountain, Organ Pipes, the White Lady, or as mentioned earlier, time in Southern Namibia or the Caprivi Strip. Have you been to Namibia? What was your favorite part of your trip? Comment below to let me know!

 

Packing List for an Epic Trip to Namibia

If you follow this blog or our social media, you know we are gearing up for an epic trip to Namibia next week! You’ll be glad to know that I finally booked flights and a car and most of our accommodations and excursions. So this post will give you a look into what we are packing for our trip, so you can use it when you visit Namibia

Having never been to a place, it can be challenging to know what to take and what to leave behind but I do have the experience of visiting Swaziland and South Africa a number of times, so most decisions I am basing on those experiences. But I have done enough research to know that Namibia is different in its “wildness” as well as its desert coverage, so we need to be prepared for lots of sand and hot weather this time of year. Just a note: we are not luxury travelers. We backpack and stay in lodges or bush tents as much as possible. If you are one for luxe travel, you may have a very different packing list! 😉

So as backpackers, we find one of the most important items to be the backpack itself. We love Osprey packs but my advice is for you to go to your local outdoor store and actually get fitted for a pack. Try several on with weight in them and walk around the store to get a feel for each. This is not a place you want to skimp. (And we would say the same about hiking shoes and boots!) After packing, we secure each pack in a handy zippered bag so that the straps don’t get caught in the airline’s equipment and then check them to our destination. Then we each bring a carry-on, in the form of a flashpack, regular backpack, or a camera bag with camera plus room for other carry-on items.

Suggested in carry-on bag:
  • Passport and drivers license
  • Cash/Credit card/Debit card
  • ​Copies of:
    • Passport
    • Credit cards
    • Itinerary
  • Emergency contact info
  • Snacks and gum
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Camera, memory card, charger
  • Stuff to do on the plane: iPod, journal, books, Kindle, etc.
  • Lip balm, lotion, eye drops, saline nose spray
  • Travel tissues
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Chargers and batteries if you might need them
  • Light change of clothes
  • Basic toiletries
  • Travel pillow
  • Pashmina or scarf (optional)
  • Eye mask/blanket (optional)
  • Headphones or earbuds
  • Reading light​ (optional)
  • Medications/prescriptions
  • Contacts/Solution/Glasses/Case
  • Anything valuable that you have to bring!
Suggested in checked bag:
  • Walking/hiking shoes or boots
  • Flip flops/sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Buff and brimmed hat or cap
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 2-3 pair walking or cargo pants/shorts
  • 3-4 T-shirts/short sleeved shirts
  • 2 Long sleeved shirts and/or base layers
  • Fleece or hoodie
  • Wool socks
  • Washcloth and towel
  • Outlet converters
  • ​Ziplock bags
  • Weather-resistant coat/raincoat/windbreaker
  • Knit hat, mittens, gloves, if needed
  • Protein bars or other snacks
  • Insect repellent/sunscreen
  • Binoculars
  • Solar charger, other chargers, batteries
  • Toiletries
  • Swimsuit, if needed
  • Undergarments
  • 1 pair of pajamas
  • OTC medicines (anti-diarrheal, pain reliever, etc.
  • Headlamp and/or flashlight

Other suggestions for the rookie traveler:

  • Don’t overpack. It can be costly and a drag!
  • Attach a luggage ID tag to each of your bags, even your carry-on bag. It’s also suggested to put your name and address on the inside of your bags as well.
  • Carts are available in airports, usually for no (or a nominal) fee. Safes are normally available in hotel rooms or hostel front desks. Make use of these!
  • Carry-on luggage must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin of the aircraft. I suggest you carry all prescription medications, a light change of clothes, basic toiletries, and any valuables in your carry-on bag. This is helpful if luggage is delayed for any reason.
  • ​A pillow and blanket are provided on the international flights. I suggest bringing your own travel pillow. Bring a travel blanket and/or eye mask if you prefer.
  • Zip lock bags, plastic bags, or packing cubes can help keep small items organized and keep dirty/wet items from soiling other items.
  • Never underestimate the power of a clean, dry pair of knickers or socks. Bring plenty of ’em or, even better, bring your own travel-sized, environmentally-friendly laundry soap, clothespins, and even a clothesline to wash and dry your items yourself.
  • Think of packing interchangeable pieces of clothes for maximum versatility and convenience. Don’t plan to bring a new outfit for each day.
  • Layering clothes can offer versatility in changing climates and conditions; plan to bring a windbreaker, fleece, or hoodie, etc., as well as short-sleeved shirts and base layers. It will be COLD on early-morning game drives and overnight in tented accommodations. Wool blankets are usually provided in game drive vehicles and bush tents but if you are someone who gets cold easily, consider bringing a knit hat, gloves, etc. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes for the flights.
So this is my packing list for Namibia! What am I missing? What do you see on the list that you think is unnecessary? What other suggestions do you have?  Let me know in the comments below!

Travel Shortlist – NAMIBIA: In the Top Spot

I have never not had my plane tickets just three weeks prior to a trip abroad. But here I am. Three weeks before a dream trip to Namibia and I don’t have tickets yet. Or a car rental. But those are just details, right?  
​I have wanted to visit Namibia since I started going to South Africa in 2009. After going to support my doctoral research, I simply fell in love with South Africa, so I went back five more times since then. At some point I read about the Skeleton Coast of Namibia and decided I had to see it. I’ve always had a love and respect for Africa but besides South Africa and Swaziland, I have seen very little of this amazing continent. So I decided to start heading north and as Namibia was sitting atop my Travel Shortlist, it would be my next stop.
So for this Shortlist installment, I thought I would share with you some of my plans for my trip next month. I am a planner (despite evidence to the contrary… the plane tickets and all) and create a spreadsheet for each trip. With the bones in place, I started at the GlobalETA Travel and Outdoors Digital Library of course, and went through each link on the Namibia Resource Guide. There are not a ton of resources out there on traveling in Namibia but these articles, blog posts, and other sites gave me a good idea of the things I wanted to do and see while there.
From these, I was able to piece together a framework itinerary for Namibia that I would fill in and change around as I learned more about the places I wanted to visit and the distances between them. Distances are important when driving in a country as expansive as Namibia; petrol stations don’t pop up behind every sand dune, so planning ahead is important! I think this is what I like about creating itineraries: it’s like a puzzle to me. And I love puzzles! I have learned to not plan every last minute but to at least have a place to stay every night and an idea of areas to visit throughout the days.
I knew I would start and end in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. I am presenting at a conference on women and poverty at the University of Namibia there before heading out on the road trip. I also knew I wanted to drive (I always want to drive when I travel) and I knew the Skeleton Coast would be part of the itinerary. I also heard incredible things about Etosha National Park so of course I had to see the wildlife there. Since both of these are in the northern part of the country and I only had two weeks, I decided to head north and unfortunately save the southern attractions such as Fish River Canyon until next time around.
​In addition to the desolation and shipwrecks of the Skeleton Coast and the oryx and other wildlife of Etosha, I have to see Sossusvlei, located in the Namib Desert. If you haven’t heard of it, you most certainly have seen the photos of the giant red sand dunes, white salt pans, and black dead camel thorn trees that after 900 years have still not decayed because of the dry climate. Four nights we are staying at Gondwana Collection properties and I am especially looking forward to sleeping out under the stars at their Dune Star Camp. As this will be my first desert visit in Africa, I can’t wait to step on the sand and take in this otherworldly place.
As this will be my first desert visit in Africa, I can’t wait to step on the sand and take in this otherworldly place.
Also on the itinerary is Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. While in this area, I am going to book a 4×4 tour and a boat trip of Sandwich Harbour in hopes of spectacular views as well as flamingoes, dolphins, seals, and whales. Rounding out the trip will be exploring the ancient rock carvings at Twyfelfontein and visits to the Cheetah Conservation Fund and/or AfriCat Foundation near Waterberg National Park.
​So the itinerary and bookings are coming together, and even those pesky plane tickets, but hopefully I will have some time left over before I leave to get everything set for the blog and social media. I plan to post while I am there but who knows what the internet access will be like in the desert! I am certain to be able to post occasional pics to InstagramFacebook, and Twitter along the way, so be watching for them… and many blog posts will be written and posted upon my return, to be sure. And the photographs? Opportunities for incredible shots of this country will be innumerable!
Disclosure: I received sponsored stays from Gondwana Collection and tours from Cheetah Conservation Fund while in Namibia but my opinions are always honest and my own. Thank you, Gondwana and CCF!
So now that you’ve read about the things I am planning for my Namibia trip, it’s your turn! Have you been to Namibia? What am I missing? Where are you headed next? Comment below to let me know!
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