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Old 06-01-2012, 09:50 AM   #1
NoraG
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A few questions

Hi Everyone,

My mother (65) and I (23) are taking the upcoming June 17th Safari to South Africa. We've never done an ABD before, so I have a few last minute questions.

We know we're getting a backpack (and no, our box has not arrived yet. ABD promised it would be overnighted on June 5th), but I am not a big fan of backpacks for trips like this. I feel that they are insecure and attract pickpockets. They also promote overpacking-I don't want to carry a backpack full of stuff everyday. We don't have children coming on this trip, so our needs may be different from families with children.

So, here come the actual questions (thanks for hanging in this long)! We've been told that the internal flight in South Africa do not offer overhead bins. So, we've searched high and low for an under the seat bag and found one, so I think we'll use that as our carry-on and we each have a medium sized purse. Does this sound reasonable? Maybe those that have done the safari can chime in on this aspect. But, feel free to comment even if you don't have specific experience here.

I am particularly interested in knowing if anyone has found anythign gadget particularly helpful on their travels - for any purpose, large or small. I've done quite a bit of international travel and I am always finding that something might make my travels easier. So, something to hold tips, easy laundry tools, charging tool, anything that made your life while traveling easier.

I know ABD does suprises and I don't want them to be spoiled, but please let me know if ABD offers "extras" that I might not need to bring with me. I tend to be a pretty comprehensive packer, planning for just about anything, so I hate to double up if I don't need to. For instance, I have heard that the guides carry ponchos to hand out when it rains. I like to be prepared without overpacking, so anything I can eliminate from my list is great.

I know these were pretty general questions, but not having done an ABD, I'm not entirely sure what to expect. However, we are thrilled to be going and have read some of the trip reports and that's heightened our excitement.

One other thing, we've been on guided tours that don't allow you to eat or drink on the bus. Is this true for ABD as well? I sort of assumed it wasn't because of the "kid factor," but please correct me if I'm wrong.

Please feel free to add anything else you think we might want to know. Thanks!
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:31 AM   #2
Bobo912
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We've gotten various items on the trips, but always gotten the small duffle bag to carry any souveniers or whatever you might want to use it for. Last year we didn't receive as many little gadgety things (cooldanas, little hand held fans, small binoculars are some examples from the past), but we did receive water bottles, which are useful. The guides do carry ponchos and packs of wet wipes. Sometimes bug spray and other things. Maybe somebody else can think of some more things.

You can eat and drink on the bus. The guides hand out water and snacks.
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Old 06-01-2012, 11:44 AM   #3
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Eating & drinking on the bus is DEFINITELY not a problem! The Guides will ply you with water & snacks throughout the trip, especially while you're on the bus! (Oh, sorry, motorcoach.)

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Old 06-04-2012, 03:10 PM   #4
disneyphx
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Hi
We did the South Africa trip last summer and loved it!
My recollection is that the planes in SA are small - so there is room overhead, but it is narrower so can only fit small bags. We travelled with a six year old, so I cannot comment too much - but you may want some kind of 'day bag' to carry on the trips to the Cape and the wine country.
The hotel in Cape Town did not have a clock as I recall - Magellan's and Eddie Bauer have a great travel clock/alarm.
I also love the Travel Laundry Clothesline - Flexoline.
We took lots of winter clothes we did not need - layering is definitely the way to wardrobe plan.
Have a great time!
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:15 PM   #5
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The great thing about ABD is if you need it, the guides will probably have it We brought rain gear with us to Costa Rica...lots of folks on our trip kinda forgot its a rainforest, but no matter the guides had ponchos for everyone. If they dont have it, the guides will help you find it...one guy on our CR trip lost his luggage enroute, ( no fault of ABD). A big huge pro hockey player, (great guy BTW!) they took him where he needed to go to recreate some kind of wardrobe that would fit him. So, fear not...I'm a packer / planner myself and I'm so relaxed going into this Galapagos trip

Now, we have done Africa ( non ABD) and here are my recommendations:
-a UV block long sleeve safari style shirt- I use this even when it's hot,to keep the sun off my arms
-Windblock fleece or wool sweater
-Light weight anorak or windbreaker
-.Lightweight fleece or wool gloves and cap or ear band ( tuck these into a pocket of one of the jackets/fleece)
-Wool socks


This is all the cool weather gear you are likely to need, you will probably put all of it on on early morning safari days and peel it off bit by bit as the game drive progresses, so plan to use your small back pack ( which should fit easily under plane seat even if there is no overhead)

For clothes, we packed:
-Zip off style pants- but any will do because in winter you aren't too likely to need to zip them off to shorts!
-Comfortable cotton tee shirts ( quick dry is better if you plan wash and wear on your own- our trip included daily laundry, so we weren't hanging our own stuff up...it will,dry super quick, it's very dry!)
-warm fleece or thermal style pjs.
- quick dry travel undies

Some other tips ideas:
-It's very cool and dry in winter, you don't sweat so much ( and I'm a sweat-er) so I could re wear stuff or wear things longer than on other trips

-the included bug stuff is often deet, powerful stuff that melts plastic, so we packed our own Picardin based insect repellent in small 3 oz bottles. There aren't malaria zones on the ABD trip, so this will keep them away from bugging you...but big but...we NEVER, I mean NEVER saw a mosquito in 2 weeks during our Late June early July trip ( SA, ZA, AND Botswana) Too dry!

- very rich heavy duty hand cream, did I mention dry?

- a small note book for jotting down game you see on game drives and the names of your local guides. I'm sure Disney will give you some kind of game spotter, but being a scrap booker , I wanted to keep it pristine, so I jotted in the 3x5 notebook, the day, any local guides or areas and each species we saw, then I used the nice game spotter to keep a master list of everything we saw.

-we did pack a money belt, but never felt insecure...I imagine ABD will be much like our trip, there are people to smooth you through all the potential " trouble " areas, we noticed they did not let us mull in the unsecured areas of the airports, we were quickly moved to secure places. Guides kept a very close eye on luggage etc. We never felt unsafe, and I was worried like you...I can assure you ABD will do a super job to keep you secure! We experienced this in CR, where the guides watched all our bags in a National Park which might attract thieves, just by its nature of being a tourist place. The ABD guide in charge of stuff, never took their eyes off of it, the ABD guide watching the guests kept a close eye on all of us.

I did bring a pretty comprehensive first aid kit, but I'm sure ABD will have those things too, I'm bringing less to Galapagos myself! But do pack any important medications.

Don't forget your camera and your binoculars! And most of all, have a blast! You are in for such a treat, I bet you will love Africa...I know I did!
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:56 AM   #6
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Have you checked out the company called Magellans? They have a great website & catalog w/ all sorts of bags, clothes, gadgets, money holders, anything you need for travelling anywhere. I got a "pickpocketproof" pocketbook from them last year when we went to Italy. Have a great trip!
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Old 06-06-2012, 11:36 AM   #7
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REI is good too

REI is a good place to look for quirky things for travel (and camping and whatever). They are a little pricey... but they have things other places can't always get and they have a brick and morar store.

DH went today to pick me up the clothes line I want to take on the July Africa trip...

I downloaded an alarm clock app for my not-exactly-cell-phone so I can use it for more than just a small paperweight overseas.

Several trips ago I bought a pacsafe bag at REI that I love. it is a purse that you can't slash and grab the handle on or the bottom of or the front of because it is wire mess reinforced. I love it, I use it every time we travel. It wears well, too...

REI is great for light weight (they have a HUGE backpacking department for heavy duty backpackers) things, too and odds and ends that come in handy for travel.

Our box came yesterday (we leave for our pre-days in 21 days) and I love the blanket/pillow thing but the messenger bags were way better last year (these ones don't even zip across the top... I'm pretty sure I won't be using that on the trip!!!
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:23 PM   #8
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While we're suggesting sites for travel stuff, www.travelsmith.com also has an array of both unusual & useful travel gadgets, clothes, etc. They are also a bit pricey, but the stuff is really good.

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NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:24 PM   #9
NoraG
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Thanks!

Thanks for all the tips. They are definitely appreciated. I hadn't thought of the clotheslines and wished I'd had one on other trips, so that was a great idea. I have a wonderful travel alarm clock I actually bought at Walmart, go figure. It's been everywhere with me! We are prepared to layer and de-layer for the weather. I had no idea it would be so dry though. Very good to know. As far as clothes, since it's winter, I don't think we'll need quick dry anything, but I've heard those are very convenient. WE're planning on doubling up and doing some laundy-and this trip I've put the drain plug on the list. I didn't have one and Russia and that posed a rather unique challenge as did the small pedestal sink I was forced to wash my clothes in. We are bringing repellant with Deet-Mom would not compromise there and are prepared with anti-malaria pills. I know someone who got Malaria, so we're going to be cautious here. Not to worry, he was not on an ABD and was actually in Tanzania, but he almost died, so that's non-negotiable. Glad to know we may not really see msoquitos because I attract them like honey. Must be my unfailing sweet disposition.

Hmm...I'm allergic to wool, so no wool socks. Did you need these during the day or at night? I can bring warm socks for night, but I think I'll just have to settle for regular cotton socks during the day. We are definitely bringing a hat/scarf/gloves because I think anything under 60 degrees is cold. Did I mention I'm from Florida? Anyway, I think we'll be prepared there.

We really hate the backpack idea-Mom is older (but not old, just to clarify) and I already have bad posture (I know, I know, stand up straight), but we may bring a bag to have on the bus, to store de-layered items, etc. Can we leave something on the bus? Will it be secure? We just don't want to encourage ourselves to bring the kitchen sink with us each day.

As to the carry-ons we've decided to bring a very small roller (think rolling briefcase) and one that is often referred to as an in-flight bag (it's small and attached to a roller for convenience in the airport). We're going to crosspack in case a bag is lost or we have to gate check the roller. Mom's just not up for carrying her own bag through the airports and we've got a couple of layovers. We are bringing our own neck pillows for the plane. I've heard the ABD pillowet is nice though. We'll just have to do another ABD to qualify for some. FYI, our welcome pack came today, 8 days prior to departure.

In other news, we're finally discussing what to do doing our pre-trip days in Cape Town. Robben Island is a must, but what else should we do that's not included later on?

Thanks again and keep them coming! We can't wait.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:32 PM   #10
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Pre-Day

I'm not sure if we do the whale watching thing on the regular adventure... and I'm not SURE when the Whales are available to be watched... but DH booked us on a Viator tour that includes whale watching...

We also got tickets for the aquarium (my not so little kids will enjoy this and after the flight it won't be too terribly strenuous)...

DH decided that my DIY idea for the clothes line wasn't going to be practical (although I'm PRETTY sure that I'm going to do it any way just because I can and it is made out of rubberbands so it isn't like it's going to cost much to play)

I think the wool socks are mostly for the dark time safaris (early in the morning and in the evening)... you might be able to layer a couple pairs of light cotton ones to get the same warm effect as the wool ones (or maybe silk under cotton... I've heard that silk long underwear is warmer than anything else... )
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoraG View Post
Thanks for all the tips. They are definitely appreciated. I hadn't thought of the clotheslines and wished I'd had one on other trips, so that was a great idea. I have a wonderful travel alarm clock I actually bought at Walmart, go figure. It's been everywhere with me! We are prepared to layer and de-layer for the weather. I had no idea it would be so dry though. Very good to know. As far as clothes, since it's winter, I don't think we'll need quick dry anything, but I've heard those are very convenient. WE're planning on doubling up and doing some laundy-and this trip I've put the drain plug on the list. I didn't have one and Russia and that posed a rather unique challenge as did the small pedestal sink I was forced to wash my clothes in. We are bringing repellant with Deet-Mom would not compromise there and are prepared with anti-malaria pills. I know someone who got Malaria, so we're going to be cautious here. Not to worry, he was not on an ABD and was actually in Tanzania, but he almost died, so that's non-negotiable. Glad to know we may not really see msoquitos because I attract them like honey. Must be my unfailing sweet disposition.

Hmm...I'm allergic to wool, so no wool socks. Did you need these during the day or at night? I can bring warm socks for night, but I think I'll just have to settle for regular cotton socks during the day. We are definitely bringing a hat/scarf/gloves because I think anything under 60 degrees is cold. Did I mention I'm from Florida? Anyway, I think we'll be prepared there.

We really hate the backpack idea-Mom is older (but not old, just to clarify) and I already have bad posture (I know, I know, stand up straight), but we may bring a bag to have on the bus, to store de-layered items, etc. Can we leave something on the bus? Will it be secure? We just don't want to encourage ourselves to bring the kitchen sink with us each day.

As to the carry-ons we've decided to bring a very small roller (think rolling briefcase) and one that is often referred to as an in-flight bag (it's small and attached to a roller for convenience in the airport). We're going to crosspack in case a bag is lost or we have to gate check the roller. Mom's just not up for carrying her own bag through the airports and we've got a couple of layovers. We are bringing our own neck pillows for the plane. I've heard the ABD pillowet is nice though. We'll just have to do another ABD to qualify for some. FYI, our welcome pack came today, 8 days prior to departure.

In other news, we're finally discussing what to do doing our pre-trip days in Cape Town. Robben Island is a must, but what else should we do that's not included later on?

Thanks again and keep them coming! We can't wait.
Warm socks for bed, yes...I brought just two pairs, and the quick dry is more so when you hand wash- they will dry quickly.

As far as temps go, we New Englanders thought of it as a lovely October day...the folks from FL, Atlanta and CA we met were freezing! Especially those early game drives in fairly open vehicles, you will be starting out quite early and without the sun and an open moving vehicle, it can get cool. Likely, ABD will have heavy duty blankets to toss over you in the vehicles and our tour even had hot water bottles for us...it was heavenly!

Any bag will do for your day bag- whatever you are comfortable carrying is best. Our experience was things left on the bus ( with ABD) were secure...absolutely your guide will tell you if not! They will brief you every night for the next day, they are great and will take any questions, so no worries there!

I think you are very smart to travel with limited stuff that you can manage yourself! We traveled with 3 young teens and each had a medium carry on duffle, ( we couldnt take the roller bags in our trip due to small plane regulations, they had to be soft) and a back pack, so it was very easy getting around, no one needed a porter or assistance! We use a roller carry on bag everywhere else we go ( usually, that is all we take) and it makes it so easy to just get around the airport etc.

Happy packing!
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:21 PM   #12
NoraG
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Quote:
Originally Posted by familygoboston View Post
I think you are very smart to travel with limited stuff that you can manage yourself! We traveled with 3 young teens and each had a medium carry on duffle, ( we couldnt take the roller bags in our trip due to small plane regulations, they had to be soft) and a back pack, so it was very easy getting around, no one needed a porter or assistance! We use a roller carry on bag everywhere else we go ( usually, that is all we take) and it makes it so easy to just get around the airport etc.

Happy packing!
Just to clarify...Did you do the S. Africa ABD? And were specifically told not to bring roller bags as carry-ons? My mom and I have gone over this several times and we called ABD, but they were less than helpful on this matter. They just said that the carry ons had to fit under the seat. I too thought there could be problems with roller bags, but have read conflicting things on other boards. I know it depends on the airline, but we wer told ABD does not book our internal flights until we arrive, so we can't know which airline we will be flying. If rollers will be a problem to carry on, I would very much like to know ahead of time. We'll pick another bag to us for sure. We'd prefer to bring carry-ons that can actually both be carried on since we each have toiletries and medication we'd like to have with us at all times when flying. You could have roller checked bags, right?
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:02 PM   #13
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WE did the ABD South Africa in 2009. My trip report is in the trip report sticky at the top of the topics. Our trip was pretty cold and rainy in late June. The trip after us had beautiful weather, cool and sunny. Bring a winter hat for the game drives and gloves. They do give you blankets for the game drives. The early am ones are quite cold (I'm from Pa, it gets cold here) Don't stress about the carry bags. If your bag doesn't fit on the plane, they will gate check it (really tarmak check it). You'll figure it out and the trip will be great. I had several fleeces and a sweater and found myself wearing a lot of layers on the game drives. I actually wore my pants over my pj pants for them. The hotels are not as heated as we are used to so I wore my fleece to sleep in too.
Enjoy
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Old 06-06-2012, 03:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NoraG View Post
Just to clarify...Did you do the S. Africa ABD? And were specifically told not to bring roller bags as carry-ons? My mom and I have gone over this several times and we called ABD, but they were less than helpful on this matter. They just said that the carry ons had to fit under the seat. I too thought there could be problems with roller bags, but have read conflicting things on other boards. I know it depends on the airline, but we wer told ABD does not book our internal flights until we arrive, so we can't know which airline we will be flying. If rollers will be a problem to carry on, I would very much like to know ahead of time. We'll pick another bag to us for sure. We'd prefer to bring carry-ons that can actually both be carried on since we each have toiletries and medication we'd like to have with us at all times when flying. You could have roller checked bags, right?
Please do NOT put your medication in the bag if it's going to be Gate checked. You just really never know, and you want to make sure your medication is available to you when you need it. Even if you just have a little purse for your Meds & identification, I would do it.

And for the warm socks thing? Wool socks really make me itch, so I found some *fleece* socks! They are wonderfully warm!

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/s~acorn-fleece-socks/

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NOW POSTING! My DIS Unplugged London/Paris/Disneyland Paris Trip Report! (2011)
Now posting my Greek Odyssey Trip Report (2013)
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Old 06-06-2012, 06:57 PM   #15
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Socks - I took Polypropylene Sock Liners, and actually wore pantyhose or tights under my jeans on morning drives. One morning our daughter wore her pyjama bottoms under her fleece pants - and it turned out one of the ABD guides did the same thing.
We had extra time in Cape Town - we did the Hop On Hop Off bus - and never actually hopped off....http://www.citysightseeing.co.za/
We also did a township tour which was eyeopening, but also kind of a shock to the system. I am glad we did it as it was a side of Sth Africa we did not see at all with ABD - and a side of the world I have never seen. I found it on TripAdvisor, things to do in Cape Town.
Have a great time!
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