"Who would use a Groupon coupon to go to Africa?"
So, I have been looking for mid-level budget package deals to Africa. And I am horrified at my findings.
Planning my own adventure, is the way to go. But traveling with family members who have expectations can complicate things. That's where the travel agency comes in and my money goes out the window.
|Lone Zebra in Nakuru National park - Kenya|
This is not my first Africa rodeo folks. And these " Packages" can stomp a several thousand dollar mud hole into your savings account. Holy sh*t you say? - Holt sh*t indeed my friends. But this pre-packaged tour, is going to hurt way more than my pockets.
You see, I am a rehabilitated chronic spender. And this "purchase" could send me spiraling into the relapsed-chronic spenders version of a crack house with a dirty mattress and a smart phone buying shoes online.
|Whites sands beach of River No.2 - Sierra Leone|
The problem is, if I say no, I stand to disappoint. But if I say yes, I will probably be harboring a grudge for the next 6 months. Neither option is acceptable. That's when groupon came up.
When a friend told me about these all inclusive safari packages that groupon was offering to South and East Africa, I laughed. And then, I said something snarky like, "Who the heck would use a groupon coupon to go on a safari in South Africa?"
No seriously, who does that? I will tell you who; travelers who question having to fork out $4-$6 grand for 6 days of regimented, mediocre touring - that's who!
"But it's Africa!" you say, "a once in a lifetime adventure!" Well folks, I digress, This doesn't have to be your only international escapade, simply because of the presumed restraints of a mid-level budget.
|Lodge in Naivasha - Here, you can take a walking tour of the grounds where hippos, |
zebra, giraffes and other animals roam freely just behind the compound.
In my experience, it really depends on what you're looking for. Sure there is a vacuum of information out there for "do-it-yourself travelers." But websites like Travel Dudes, for travelers by travelers works as a great alternative for mindful folks looking to minimize costs without sacrificing a good time.
Not to discount the need for professionals who can alleviate certain concerns unforeseen or otherwise. But if you knew that you could do more with your budget (with a little leg-work) would you do it yourself?
I've also used AirBNB to find a great guest house in Tobago. No sooner than I dropped my bags off at Miller's Geust House ,Winston, the owner introduced me to the other guests and I was whisked off to a local dinner party. From there I spent the next four days with an amazing group of locals and travellers.
|Sleeping inside the safari Park at Sarova Lion Hill Lodge in Nakuru.|
All I'm saying is, weigh your options. If you're an adventurous solo traveler who's not afraid to do your homework to save hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars, then you can hit the international travel circuit as often as you like. Sure, you might say that I'm a tightwad-dreamer - but I'm not the only one....And I hope some day you will join us... And the world will be as one.
Still not convinced? No problem. Below are a few suggestions for these
WOULD ANY OF YOU USE A GROUPON COUPON TO TRAVEL ABROAD? OR WOULD YOU RATHER USE A TRAVEL AGENT?*
My Africa Tour Package Wish list
|"You paid how much to come see me?!|
..and you call us stupid animals?"
- First class, non-stop flight on anything that doesn't have the words American or Continental in the airline name. However if non-stop is not optional, then no more than a 2-4 hour layover. A great option is Emirates, Having flow with them, I can assure you that their economy feels less like Guantanamo Bay and more like the back of a modern SUV
- All meals included - ALL - for the length of my stay. Several of which should be at local eateries. Whether that means goats milk and cows blood in a Masai camp or Nyama Choma (BBQ) and banana rum at a local eatery in town, i want local fare baby!
- Feeling obligated to tip transport drivers. If the agency gets a commission from my purchased package then so should the drivers. However, I will gladly tip the safari park ranger for not letting my ass get chomped to pieces by a hyena.
- Next, don't put me in a 2 1/2 star hotel and then tell me it's 5 stars by Africa standards. If you promote it as four stars then that's what I'm expecting. Not an adult hostel with a continental breakfast. I've seen the hotels in Africa and they are very first-world modern. So no cutting corners with my money!
- Give me some options - if you are going to strip me of $3-$6 grand, at least take me to two countries. African countries are, sometimes, within a few hours drive from each other. I have travelled by car from Kenya to Tanzania within hours. Even pulling over to pee next to livestock, (not my classiest moment folks). Then pulled over to to eat; pulled over by extorting policemen; and pulled over again to pee once more. Still arriving in less time than it takes to drive from NYC to Virginia. So take me to Uganda, The Gambia, Botswana Zanzibar -please!! Chances are I will never spend this type of money again on a trip.... but treat me right and I might recommend you to someone else!
|Fisherman in Lake Nakuru|