Category Archives: Things to do

#BudgetTravel: 7 Ways To Save Money While Traveling In Kenya

Peak season is fast approaching. If you haven’t booked yet, Dennis Carruthers is happy to let you in on tips to help you navigate this beautiful country without breaking the bank.

#1. Don’t travel at peak season if you can avoid it.

So we know the mention of peak season would suggest that you get right on it and book your travel before you are left out of the action but to be honest, the best time to save money on travel to Kenya is off-season on the tourist calendar. The country has tropical climate throughout the year, so anytime goes. Unfortunately, this might also mean missing some engaging experiences. The peak season falls in mid June through October (The best time for safaris and the famous wildebeest migration takes place in July) and mid December to February.

#2. Travel with a group

Individual costs are higher when you travel solo. You will still pay the same for things such as taxi fares and guides. A shared tour also offers the advantage of shared costs. Service providers such as safari operators will still charge you for a dedicated guide and vehicle when you travel alone. You can save on the accommodation budget as well as meals when shared. Additionally, group tours carry more bargaining power even on the ground.

#3. Look for tour packages and special offers

Tour operators frequently run discounted campaigns and specially organized tour packages. Take advantage of these, as they are cheaper than standard rates. Expect minor sharing challenges. For example, a tour operator may decide to pack eight passengers in a van, the standard tour vehicle, instead of the usual six. This lowers the cost as you pay per seat and not for the whole car alone.

#4. Evaluate your accommodation options

zurukenya budget travel

Kenya offers excellent urban hotels such as the Intercontinental Hotel and the Nairobi Hilton alongside two and three-star establishments with elegant facilities and service. Additionally, there are numerous luxury camps and lodges, but since we are in the business of cost saving, why not book yourself a chic budget boutique hotel or better yet stay at a rental, shop at the farmer’s market, live like a local and save on your meal tab. Kenyans are also very hospitable people and if you are lucky, you might just land yourself a host for your stay – try couchsurfing. Feel free to also compare your dining options away from your accommodation.

#5. Plan your itinerary in advance

Which sights excite you the most? How do you want to get there and for how long? A layover of a few hours is different from a week’s safari. Some destinations require travel outside of the major cities e.g. Lamu, Maasai Mara Game Reserve, and so on; Batch together destinations within the same locality to maximize time and save on cost.

#6. Research pricing and costs in advance

Knowing the average price of key services will increase your confidence. In Kenya, you can bargain the prices on any product or service unless the provider firmly insists it is fixed, which is rare. Brush up on your bargaining and negotiating skills. For example, a day’s meals should cost you around a $10 or lower if you try local meals and double that for a day’s alcoholic drinks.

#7. Do as locals do

zuru kenya budget travel
Image credit: Modern

Hotel vans and tour operator services can get expensive. Although there is no government-run public transport system, locals use numerous alternatives. These include urban public transport vans, cross-country buses, and a revamped passenger rail service.

Things to note: The local currency is the Kenya shilling. One US dollar is roughly a hundred Kenya shillings.


About the author

D Scott Carruthers, a graduate of Western State University loves photography, exploratory travel and blogging about his adventures and journeys.

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7 Wildlife Photography Tips to know for Your Next Safari

There’s only one thing better than an actual wildlife safari adventure, and that’s going through all your photographs on your return. Shooting photographs of wild animals is an art form and it can be extremely gratifying when you get extreme close ups of the big five or an action shot of a kill. Not only is it cool to boast to your friends about what you’ve seen, but you’ll have all these amazing memories of your trip to look back on forever.

zuru kenya photography tips

Any African safari produces the perfect opportunity for memorable photo taking. Here are some photography tips for your next safari.

#1. Make Sure You Have The Right Gear

Having the right photographic gear while you’re on your safari is essential. You’ll want to capture a number of different shots, which will require a variety of lenses. You’ll also want to ensure that everything is easily accessible. If you don’t have a proper camera bag that fits your camera and gear, it would be a wise investment. Then you only need to remember to take one bag on the game vehicle with you and everything will be within reach. In your camera bag you’ll want to pack:

  •       Camera body
  •       Lenses with lens covers or caps
  •       Battery packs
  •       Memory cards
  •       Battery charger
  •       Cables for instant transfer to your tablet or laptop
  •       Camera cleaning equipment

#2. Zoom Lens Is A Must-Have

Make sure you have a great zoom lens on hand in order to capture shots that are further away from the vehicle than a standard lens can capture. You don’t want pixelated photos, but want to be able to enjoy every detail down to a lion’s whiskers. Anything from a 200mm to a 500mm is your most popular choice and is still manageable and easy to carry around.

Image credit: Dave Dugdale

#3. Pack Extra Batteries And Memory Cards

What could be worse than spotting an incredible sighting such as a leopard in a tree or a mother hyena feeding her young… and you realise that your memory card is full? Frantically trying to delete photos from your memory card could result in you deleting something worth keeping. A dead battery is the absolute worst and it’s totally avoidable. Ensure you have a spare, charged battery and memory card in your camera bag to avoid any missed shots.

#4. Use Your Guide’s Knowledge To Your Advantage

Your safari guide or ranger will have expert, intimate knowledge of the bush and will – in most cases – be able to tell when you’re about to encounter an animal. They can track animals from kilometers away and also hear or see them long before you do. Alert them to the fact that you’re seeking that elusive photograph and they can give you a heads up when the opportunity is approaching. They can also position the game vehicle favorably for your photographic benefit.

#5. Be Camera Ready At All Times

Make sure that the shutter speed and aperture are both ready and set for you to take photographs at will. Then when the moment arises, you simply need to perfect your composition, focus and snap the shot. If you’re not comfortable working with a manual setup then you can always set your camera to automatic and simply point and snap as and when you see the perfect moment.

#6. Avoid The Flash At Night

It sounds counter intuitive, but the flash can blind the animals temporarily, which can be really dangerous for prey and tame game. It also makes the animals eyes come out red or white in the photograph, which isn’t very appealing.

#7. Practice Before The Drive

Take a few practice shots before the drive at different angles and with the light coming from different directions. Make sure you’re happy with your setup and that you’re aware of how the direction of light and angle of the shot will affect your end product. The sun behind you will always produce the best shots, but isn’t always possible. Take full advantage when conditions are perfect and take as many photos as you can.

Of course you can always edit your photographs afterwards, but the best shots are those that require minimal tweaking.

Good luck!


Guest Post courtesy of  TourRadar, an online marketplace for travelers to compare and book multi-day tours.

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6 must-try indoorsy attractions in Nairobi

Nairobi is probably the most popular destination in Kenya, and with good reason. The city known as a place of cool waters is famous largely for blending the country’s largest urban area with the nature that brings so many tourists to this part of the world. As such, it’s known largely for outdoor attractions: the national park, the Uhuru Gardens, the giraffe center and elephant orphanage, and even some of the authentic markets. These are the main draws to the city.

If you happen to visit Nairobi, however, there’s always the chance that the weather will keep you indoors, or that you’ll simply be interested in breaking up your trip with a day away from nature exploration. In such a case it helps to know about the indoor attractions that are available, even in a city known largely for nature.

Banana Hill Art Gallery

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaBecause there are so many natural wonders to enjoy in Kenya and the surrounding countries, some might be surprised to learn that this country is actually particularly well known for its numerous art galleries. The Banana Hill Art Gallery in Nairobi showcases the work of over 70 artists and sculptors largely from Kenya and the East African region. Having been opened some 11 years ago, the art gallery makes for an excellent exhibition of contemporary African art. Paintings and sculptures alike show off some of the best tendencies of artists from this part of the world, and make the gallery a perfect place to explore on a rainy day (or otherwise!).

Panari Sky Center Ice Skating

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaYou don’t exactly think about ice rinks when you imagine a vacation to Kenya. Nevertheless, ice skating is very much an option, and can be a great change of pace from exploring the city and the surrounding country. Particularly if the weather is just getting a little too hot for you, you might want to duck in for a few hours of skating.

Finix Casino

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This is a casino just outside the main part of town that has it all: table games, slots, jackpots, roulette, etc. The slots in particular will be recognizable even if you’re not much of a casino person. This is because we’ve seen a lot of these slot games make a successful transition to smart devices, and therefore into mainstream gaming culture. At Finix, you’ll find some of these newest and most popular games, in addition to a generally festive atmosphere that’s always a nice break from the city. You don’t have to put much money down to enjoy the environment (and perhaps a few cocktails as well).

Nairobi National Museum

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaAs stated, the area is known for a lot of art galleries. But the Nairobi National Museum is less of a painting exhibition or a demonstration of contemporary art, and more of a tribute to Kenya’s history. There are outdoor attractions (a hiking trail and botanical gardens) for nicer days, but if you’re looking to duck inside for a few hours there’s a lot of fascinating art and history to be enjoyed. You’ll find paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and explanations of numerous pieces significant to Nairobi and Kenya as a whole.

Le Palanka

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaThis is a restaurant in town, but a very unique one that international travelers in particular will enjoy. That’s because the menu is very authentic, offering African ingredients and preparations done to perfection. A lot of guests rave about the environment, which makes for an experience that is fun and intimate. It’s a terrific place for a bite to eat, and for a prolonged meal if you’re escaping the weather for a little bit or for any other reason.

Brew Bistro

indoorsy-activities-zuru-kenyaKenya actually has about as strong a reputation for beer as any place in Africa. Thanks to the famous Tusker Lager, one of just a few African beers that are well known outside of their home territories. It’s not uncommon to see pictures of tourists enjoying this beer, or even to run into people wearing Tusker shirts, having traveled to Kenya at one point or another. As a result of the much savored kenyan brew, the brewing scene in the country has garnered great recognition which has seen smaller more custom breweries crop up. All the more reason beer lovers will enjoy Brew Bistro;  a place where one can enjoy a larger range of Kenyan beers in a clean, modern, miniature brewery. It’s a very fun option day and night, and a nice way to enjoy yourself indoors.

——–

Tyler Martin

|Freelance writer and world traveler|

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What the tuk-tuk?: Mombasa’s Love – hate relationship with the little three-wheeled hardy vehicle

There are lots of things to expect once you land in Mombasa. Cultural diversity, a city rich in history, scenic beaches, a myriad of touristic destinations, warm people…

And then, there is the tuk-tuk.

There’s no missing the tuk-tuk.

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Source: thirdlocal.com

Swiftly maneuvering the old city’s narrow cobbled and congested streets, the little sputtering three-wheeled motorized vehicle has undoubtedly become very symbolic of Mombasa. They are everywhere! A multitude of them!

Preferred for their compact size and swift maneuverability, tuk-tuks make wheezing around Mombasa such a breeze. Their ability to negotiate tight corners and park almost anywhere is perhaps one of the reasons that locals favor them as a short-distance mode of transport which allows for convenient door-to-door service. Tourists would especially enjoy the tuk-tuk experience with their small canopy and windowless body providing for full view of the scenic sites while enjoying a breezy ride through the city at a much lower cost.

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Source: thirdlocal.com

This little three-wheeler with a capacity for three passengers (but just like a taxi, mostly boards one passenger at a time) has a little space at the back allocated for luggage and in case of bad weather, there’s a drop-down side flap that covers the windowless frame. You will also come to notice that tuk-tuks in Mombasa have a personality of their own, no two are the same. Well of course there are those drivers who prefer to stick with the tuk-tuks original outlook whereas others tend to get a bit more creative with their autos; tricking them out with bumpin’ speakers, flashing neon, graffiti amongst other forms of ‘bling’.

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Source: travelstart.co.ke
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source: Graphic World

With the much expediency that tuk-tuks offer, why would anyone have a problem with them?

Here’s why,

The tuk-tuk invasion if you like, has primarily been a thorn in the side of the county government for a while now with several attempts to steer them clear of some parts of the central business district having been futile. Not only are they noisy but they are also believed to be a major contributor to the congestion of the city’s main streets. Getting rid of them has however not been an easy feat. This is especially so when a large number of passengers utilize them to traverse from one point to another within the CBD itself.

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source: Daily Nation

Did I mention Noisy? Many residents tend to fume about the noise pollution and rightly so! The puttering noise that these hardy vehicles make is simply unbearable! Especially if you have to listen to it every second of every day bearing in mind that Mombasa city is not only a business area but also a residential area that houses a large number of locals. Sound proofing makes for a good investment if one resides within the city.

In case you are yet to embark on your own tuk-tuk experience within Mombasa city, we’ve listed some tips below to help smooth along your first encounter.

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Source: monitor.co.ke

Things to note:

  1. Don’t just board and pay at your drop-off point.  

Have you ever boarded a tuk-tuk only to be asked to pay an outrageous amount upon alighting?

Unless you are aware of the tuk tuk fare, do not attempt the “board and pay later” tactic. As you will learn fast, locals have a way of sniffing non-locals so to be safe, always settle on the fare before you climb aboard, otherwise you will find yourself having to shell out a hefty charge at your destination. Please note that some drivers will tend to note give out the rate firsthand after you ask, responding with “just get in” instead.  Be persistent and ask again until they respond with a satisfactory rate.

  1.  Familiarize yourself with route fares.

Find out the local rates before hailing a tuk-tuk. It shouldn’t be so difficult to realize the appropriate price by asking the locals – of course some of them will give you rates above the norm but mostly you should be able to get the correct price point. Be careful not to ask the driver the distance or duration of the destination, if they see that you are new to the area they will definitely lie and overcharge you for a distance that you may not have needed to get a tuk-tuk in the first place to get there. It’s also good to note that the locals of Mombasa are majorly friendly and readily willing to assist (unless of course for some elements whom I can neither confirm nor deny to be native locals), so plenty of times responses given should be pretty legit.

  1. Its ok to negotiate!

Familiarizing yourself with the price-points gives you a good advantage at bargaining where you can easily talk the drivers down to a certain level that is satisfactory to both of you. It’s also okay to walk away if you feel the fare is super high. There are plenty of tuk-tuks lined up so if one driver doesn’t budge another one will.

  1. Where to hail a tuk-tuk? 

Certainly, not in front of a fancy restaurant or resort I can tell you that much. Some tuk-tuk drivers have a habit of sizing people up and if they pick you up at a somewhat upscale location then that is some extra change for them. If you intend on using a tuk-tuk and are staying at a hotel, do not let the driver pick you up from the hotel’s entrance instead walk to the main road which shouldn’t be very far away. This will give you a better chance of striking a good bargain.

  1. The destination

There’s one thing in Mombasa that highly differs from Nairobi and probably other cities and towns, locals familiarize themselves with places and not street addresses. Do not expect an accurate response when you ask for Moi Avenue, Haille selassie, Nkurumah road, Nyerere Avenue or even Tom Mboya Street only a people few can pin-point that out for you if you are lucky. Instead ask for Ambalal, Posta, Nawal centre, Fort Jesus, Ferry and so on…

It is therefore more convenient to tell the tuk-tuk driver the name of the place you are going to instead of the address. The drivers have familiarized themselves with most of the hotels, touristic attractions, market places, office buildings and so on. If you give them the address, you will definitely get lost. That’s a  guarantee!

  1. Enjoy your ride!

Once you’ve gained the confidence and are now familiar with the tuk-tuk ways, just hop on, tell the driver where you want to go, give the fare and hop off. It’s that simple. We do not however promise you of a smooth ride all the time; some streets tend to be bumpy, sometimes with potholes and never ending stream of pedestrians. Just hold on tight when the tuk-tuk bounces from one lane to another as some drivers tend to be oblivious of the fact that they have passengers on board.

#Stargazers: Chasing the African Night Sky

City life tends to get us engulfed in so much that we forget to appreciate and enjoy the little things in life. One such little thing is simply looking up at the African night sky, undoubtedly one of the best things you could ever take time to do.

The city robs us of this experience, what with huge skyscrapers, light pollution among other distractions. To be honest most of us only get to appreciate the existence of the moon let alone the stars when power goes out no?!

If you are yet to marvel at the beautiful African night sky, your best bet is to travel to the remote country areas. Something the  astrophotographers below got to appreciate. We are just glad they got to bring back souvenirs from their Kenyan stargazing adventures courtesy of their night captures.

Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Turkana – ©2008 Jon Warren/World Vision
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Amboseli night sky – Nick Saglibeni
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Amboseli National Park, southern Kenya ©Tunc Tezel
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
African night sky – @deadmau5
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Babak Tafreshi/National Geographic Society
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
The Mara night sky – Mark Gee
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Milky Way over Mount Kilimanjaro – Dale Johnson
Zuru Kenya - African night sky
Kenya Stargazing – image via flickr user Weldon Kennedy

Haller Park: From wasteland to Paradise

The beauty that is now ‘Haller Park’ was once an industrial wasteland. In 1970, one Dr. Rene Haller, took upon him the task of rehabilitating a barren cement quarry whose floor was hard as rock and groundwater saline.

Dr. Haller set out to transform this industrial wasteland into a flourishing natural park, something that was unheard of at the time. His vision; to establish a multitude of plants, providing food and shelter to a large variety of animals.”

Through careful observation of how plants and animals interact, and a series of trial-and-error experiments, Dr. Rene Haller achieved what many had thought was inachievable.

Over 1 million trees  planted, and having a range of insects, butterflies, birds and mammals introduced, we now have Haller Park; a serene nature enthusiasts’ haven. Each plant, insect or animal had a purpose to keep the ecosystem in balance. Now Haller Park is a beautiful Wildlife Sanctuary, home to over 30 species of endangered animals and a favorite spot for family time over the weekends.

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NB: Nearly 100,000 people visit Haller Park every year.

Entry Fee: kshs. 500 per person *subject to change

The Little Beach at Barracuda

Driving down the small trail, a Watamu local in the backseat giving us directions, I couldn’t have envisioned what awaited us. I’ve had my fair share of coastal beaches but what I was about to step into I couldn’t have imagined. This little piece of paradise sitting pretty outside the small village of Watamu, is no wonder Watamu is listed as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Once you step on the beach, the rocky lagoons across the street instantly catch your eye. These reef-protected lagoons line the Watamu National Marine Park and Reserves, which are the oldest in East Africa and one of the best kept secrets in the world recognized internationally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

The Blue Lagoon bay where we chose to spend our christmas afternoon is known for its extraordinarily clear waters sheltering a rich marine life; ideal for snorkelling and offers great panoramic views out over the bay. Watersports, swaying hammocks and luxury beachfront resorts complete the picture – it’s the perfect definition of paradise.

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What to anticipate: A “beach boy” or two may approach you with a boat ride offer to the Marine Park. On seeing that we weren’t interested in seeing dolphins, the guy who’d approached us offered to join him and his crew at their hangout joint, a small makuti restaurant where they look out for clients.

Here I met Hussein Guida Turistica who currently goes by the alias Brian when at work. Given the terrorist attacks that majorly hurt the tourism economy, he fears that using his real name Hussein will ward off clients and he could not afford to lose his main way of earning a living.

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Hussein Guida Turistica taking me round the bay

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Hussein Guida Turistica requested for this photo with this lovely lady when we first met him

Italian is the language of commerce here and once in a while he and his friends would shift from swahili to italian when they didn’t want us  to here what they were saying while bargaining for a boat ride to the Marine Park.

Ways to keep kids happy during a game drive

Now that we are settled on a safari this festive season, we of course have to give you tips on getting through it with ease and ensuring that you enjoy your experience to the fullest.

If your’s is a family getaway, you may be a bit worried if your kids will be safe and sound while embarking on game drives. Worry not; our tips will set you up for that perfect holiday experience.

The biggest attraction of any family safari holiday is naturally “The Big 5″: lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceros. With this in mind, guided safari drives are the safest way for children and families to maximise the magical Kenya experience. Whilst children may get very excited about seeing wildlife, patience is often needed while tracking the African game therefore the main concern here is whether your kids may or may not behave.

Wait until your children are at an appropriate age
The key is to wait until your kids are at the point where they can take instructions (especially on when to keep still and be quiet for the safety of the group). Recommended ages is 5 and over, however ensure that you check with the accommodation first on their policies regarding children and game drives (most require children to be at least 8 years old).

Encourage participation
Children get bored easily. You definitely want to ensure that once bored, they do not start causing tantrums. Let your kids be part of the action by either letting them use a camera or a binocular, who knows they may spot the game before you do.

zuru kenya ways to keep kids happy on a game drive

Have activities ready to keep children busy during the drive
Driving to your safari destination may take a few hours and parents know that even the most patient child will get bored during the drive. You can either prepare your ‘our activity package’ with coloring sheets and quiet games, or ask your safari guide and lodge for ideas to keep children busy.

Consider a self-drive or private safari
At larger lodges where families may have to share vehicles during a game drive, keep in mind not all travelers will enjoy having children on their safari. In such cases, get a private guide and vehicle if possible.

ways to keep kids happy on a game drive - zuru kenya

Book with a reliable tour operator that accommodates kids
The family travel market is full of tour operators offering safaris to families on a budget; it may be tempting to book with a less expensive operator. Keep in mind that not all lodges accommodate children and that less expensive is not always better. Look out for a single tour operator offering an established portfolio of properties.

Pack clothing that will keep them comfortable
Most family safari game drives take place in the morning or afternoon but older children may want to take part in night drives too. If this is the case, remember to bring warm clothes in the jeep.

ways to keep kids happy during a game drive - zuru kenya

Remember your little kids are potential prey for the Big 5
Yes, it’s a scary thought that your young children could potentially be a meal for wild dogs. On her post on National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel, Heather Greenwood-Davis reminds parents to weigh the prey factor. “My sons once stepped out of a jeep at a game reserve where wild dogs were being preserved and the immediate transformation of the dogs from playful puppies to hunters made me very grateful for the electric fence,” she writes.

Don’t feel pressured to go on every safari game drive
The excitement of being on a family trip can get the kids wanting to take part in all the drives and activities offered which in turn may leave them cranky and exhausted. If your children are tired, let them sleep. “Let your little ones rest when things are slow and rouse them for the highlights, tired kids make for terrible safari companions.”

ways to keep kids happy during a game drive - zuru kenya

Since safari lodges and camps offer several drives throughout the day, you and your family can still get a break from the excitement of it all and enjoy some quiet family-time together back at camp.

Image courtesy: andbeyond.com, bushtracks.

Tips for traveling with kids

August is here!! which means school term is over for a majority of the kids. Which also means that your kids will need entertaining.

For those of you planning to take your kids off to some fun destination this August, we have compiled some facts you need to put into consideration before you embark on your travels.

travel with kids zuru kenya
Image source: Kuoni

Let’s be honest. Traveling with young children during holidays is a hassle for a number of parents. This can be attributed to kids throwing tantrums, becoming disorderly and a nuisance hence messing up with the whole fun.

Traveling with small children doesn’t need to get on your nerves though. With a bit of know-how on how to manage them, good recollections can become of the road trip. Traveling with them should be a moment to ignite indelible memories of joy and provide a platform to bond well with them without much worry.

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Here are a number of tips you can put in place before you go for a vacation with small children.

Safety for the kids
When hitting the road, safety comes first. Is your car in good condition? Are the seat belts well fitted? Or is the children’s car seat comfortable? In case you are going to use different cars make sure the seats are comfy for them to enjoy when traveling regardless of the distance.

Look for a child friendly hotel
Quite a good number of hotels in tourist attraction sites are not child-friendly to a degree of exposing kids to stress or danger. Before settling in any of the rooms, as a parent you have to make sure the room is well lit, windows and doors are well fitted to keep the kids out of cold weather in cases of winter/cold seasons. You should also take note of those doors with noisy hinges that may wake up kids while in sound sleep. If the room has a balcony, make sure the guard rails are firmly fitted and not providing a chance for them to pass through to an extent of falling off the balcony. If not change your room real quick.

Eat at nice hotels
Remember you are on vacation and everything has to be exciting mostly for the kid(s) so as his/her attention cannot be diverted. The hotel should be appealing to the little angel(s) ask the waitress/ waiter if certain kinds of foods are offered to avoid giving the children food they are not fond of. DON’T do buffets. Some hotels have a low food turnover and this can result to food poisoning not only to the kids but also, you as an adult. To avoid this, you can look for a busy hotel where you can be sure the food served is very fresh. You can also request for a comfortable sitting arrangement that won’t ruin other people’s peace at the hotel since kids tend to pull tables or run around disrupting other people.

Engage the children….
It is rewarding to include the kids in activities during the outing. It is sensible that children are kept aware of the trip. Involving them in planning, shopping makes them feel part of the trip. This will help impart some sense of responsibility. When in a park, let them learn to take photo shots or if it’s a fishing escapade for instance, teach them how to do it. It will help them recollect the memories after the trip.

Finally, you can never be sure of weather patterns and though you are guaranteed of experiencing fatigue, you may not know if the kids will develop some allergy while on the trip. It’s therefore of much essence that you carry some medicine with you.

Reasons why you won’t feel like a loner, backpacking!!

Sipping my healthy smoothie by the  Kilifi Backpackers bar counter, I watch as my friend tries to get a splinter off of *James (a fellow traveller’s) foot . Poor thing went swimming at the beach and left his stuff (bag, shoes, and bicycle) unattended. Unfortunately for him, “Cha kuokota si cha kuiba” finding is not stealing, is a rule some people live by on this ends, his bag and shoes got stolen and had he not left his bicycle somewhere in the bushes, his transport back “home” would have gone too! With his shoes gone, getting his bicycle from the bushes left him with a thorny situation.

Even after cleaning his wound when he got back from the beach, *James could still feel some sharp pain on the foot and that’s when he asked us to check it out. Funny thing though about this whole situation, I doubt he would have gotten any such assistance from fellow guests in a classic or luxury travel setting, everyone keeps to themselves! Imagine you and your friends enjoying your drinks in some luxurious hotel bar, laughing with each other about jokes nobody outside of your group will understand, based on memories and past experiences you had with those friends. Now imagine some random dude approaching you and asking for help with his foot situation. What would your reaction be? weirded out perhaps?

With backpacking, things are different.  Sure, not everyone will be welcoming with open arms when you ask if you may join them for dinner, some people want to be left alone sometimes, but I guarantee you that 99% of people will say “sure, no problem”.  See even though we were not really “buddies” with James, we were not really strangers per se, we had cheered him on during the daily beach volleyball, shared conversation over breakfast,  heck we even got to “babysit” his beers!! so we were already familiar with him.

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If you are setting out to travel on your lonesome and are worried about loneliness creeping up on you, fear not, backpacking is here!

Just like our time at Distant Relatives, you will realise that almost everyone backpacking is travelling alone as well. Moreover, everyone wants to make friends. As a matter of fact, you may have to TRY to be alone!  It does not matter how introverted you are, it is impossible not to meet new people; for instance, at times you may just be sitted by yourself wanting some alone time when a stranger joins you for conversation.

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Whether you’re lounging in a hammock on the balcony or frying something in the communal kitchen, at any moment you could strike up a conversation with a  stranger and make a friend for life.

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Aside from that, meeting new people is inevitable when staying in a hostel, or dorm rooms. You won’t have a choice but to get to know them. Just say hello and ask where they’ve been, where they’re going, how long they’ve been around and if they’d recommend anything cool to do or see.

I’m not sure it’s possible to feel lonely at a hostel and more often than not, you may end up craving some alone time.

In the backpacking world, it’s always someone’s first or last night and therefore a reason to go out – which means there’s a lot of drinking going on (A LOT!). Therefore, if parties are your thing, you will never fall short. Going out for dinner one night with several strangers and never seeing them again is part of the fun and it’s what happens. People are aware of it and it’s kind of the norm.

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You meet great people, and then tomorrow they are gone. Maybe you will see each other again, maybe not. In some cases though, some of these people may end up being the group you travel around with, which is a great bonus!

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Backpacking is a great lifestyle; It’s fun, social, has a  youthful vibe to it and you get to meet amazing people. There will be people you meet who become your friends for a week, friends for a month and friends for life. Happy Backpacking!!!
Photo Credits: Distant Relatives Kilifi Backpackers