There’s no doubt social media can be a huge time waster, what with all the Instagramming of breakfasts and updates about needing a good nap. *yawn* But I have to say, when it comes to travel, Facebook and the adventurous people that are all over it have made planning so easy these days that I don’t even bother buying guidebooks anymore.
All I have to do is land in a country and throw out a question on my Facebook page, like “If you only had a few days in Johannesburg, what would you see?” And within minutes I get a slew of responses like these:
“Leave Jo’Burg and go somewhere better. Haha.” – Brendan
“Without a doubt the Apartheid Museum.” – Michaela
“Drive to Pilanesberg. It’s a game reserve about 4 hours north of Joburg. It’s got the big five, it’s small and not very touristy. Much better than Kruger, etc.” – Lucy
“We went on a half day tour of Soweto, thought it was amazing.” – Toby
“When in Cape Town spend some time in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek–beautiful vineyards and quaint towns.” – Sheri
I suppose, in theory, Ryan and I could spend hours poring over guidebooks and doing online research before landing in any given country. But, often, our itinerary is already so jam-packed with transportation logistics (like arriving by racing yacht and tracking down a rental car) that by the time we get to the traveling part, a guidebook isn’t much good to us since there isn’t a waking minute left for me to waste on reading. And why bother when we have our friends to plan our itineraries for us anyway?
I’m pretty sure Google Glass had people like me and Ryan in mind when they invented a no-hands device just a few more evolutions away from inserting information directly into my brain at the mere hint of a question. But until that device is invented, I will have to rely on my amazing friends’, readers’ and fellow travelers’ suggestions on Facebook. Because, well, you never have time to see everything. But you can start with your friends’ favorites and just see where that takes you.
And, granted, sometimes you end up in places like Hermanus for the recommended whale-watching, and in reality you just end up laughing at the droves of people taking photographs of tiny black specs on the sea. But, unexpectedly, while we were in Hermanus, we discovered the most heavenly coastal trail runs, which made us wish we’d spent more time there just running and hiking. Barely visible whales? Meh. Trail running? Amazing!
Or sometimes a suggestion goes badly wrong, like when we were determined to see penguins and our trusty Facebook friends suggested we go to Boulder Point. But then we made the silly mistake of letting a local convince us to go to Betty’s Bay instead because “there the penguins are wild” (unlike in Simon’s Town, apparently), and it was en route to Cape Town, where we were headed next.
Except we discovered that the problem with “seeing animals in the wild,” is they don’t exactly adhere to tourist’s schedules. So, instead of seeing penguins, we found ourselves wandering around the coast aimlessly searching for wild life, getting sand-blasted on a rather unattractive patch of windy beach and running back to our car for shelter, all the while laughing at our own stupidity.
But even with our epic fails, the wild penguin chase and the road trip around the country driven by Facebook suggestions gave us more than enough of an adventure as we drove our little rental car around South Africa.
In the end, we didn’t need heaps of guidebooks or expensive tour companies to have an amazing African adventure chock full of incredible wild life. All we needed to travel South Africa in style for three weeks was:
- An Avis rental car – $350 for 21 days (Bargain!)
- Hospitable guesthouses and hostels, of which there are many – $25 per person per night
- A Vodacom sim card – $10 w/$10 credit plus $30 for 3 GB data
- Facebook smartphone app – Free
- Advice from well-traveled Facebook friends – PRICELESS
See for yourself how we did with very little money and a lot of help from our friends…
…Until our wonderful facebook friends suggested where to go next! Which was the beauty of the whole trip — it just unfolded as we went, like some kind of real-life choose-your-own-adventure, where you (my friends and readers) all turned to your favorite page and we (Ryan and I) just drove the car to the next destination.
Sure, there were things we probably missed, but that’s true of any trip. The important thing to us are the incredible people we met and the adventures we had along the way.
To read more about our road trip through South Africa, click here: http://turftosurf.com/category/destinations/south-africa/
Tasha and Ryan have just finished Leg 1 of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, which started September 1st, 2013 in London, UK, and they are racing in Leg 3 from Cape Town, South Africa to Albany, Australia starting November 4, 2013. Tasha is competing on CV21 (the Henri Lloyd boat) with Skipper Eric Holden and Ryan is competing on CV28 (the PSP Logistics boat) with Skipper Chris Hollis. You can read more about the crew and the boats here at www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew