You’re the Adventurer–Planning Ahead


Welcome to an experiment. You’ve been a spectator reading my travelogues about life overseas from Korea to Zambia, but now it’s your turn to go on your own adventure! Immerse yourself in the story and make key decisions by choosing from among several options. Your selections could make the difference between a great trip or a travel disaster! Read and make your choice, and stay tuned as your story unfolds.

If you haven’t read the story from the beginning, stop reading this post! Click here to begin your journey.

Your destination is set, and now you have to arrange your travel schedule and handle the logistics. Travel overseas isn’t like getting into the car with a suitcase in hand to visit family or friends. There’s more to it. You’re going to visit a different culture and have to anticipate what you’re going to need before you leave. Grabbing a piece of paper, you jot down a list of things to do.

Flights. Driving isn’t an option. The thought crosses your mind that it would be fun to take an ocean cruise but dismiss the thought when you realize how long it would take — days or weeks. You’d rather spend your time enjoying your final destination. Flying it is! You search online for airline tickets and compare prices, exhaling as the sticker shock hits you, and finally purchase an affordable one with a couple of stops and several hours in transit.

airplane

Lodging. The online options for lodging where you’re planning to stay are mind-boggling. Beyond a few well-known hotel chains, most of the names mean nothing to you. Travel websites give you a variety of hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts to choose from, and you book places to stay close to your preferred attractions. They look quaint and clean in the photos with a list of amenities like complementary breakfast, but who knows what they’re like until you show up in the lobby with luggage in hand.

Ground transportation. Moving around the country might be easier in a car rental, but you’re not sure about local driving conditions. Cities may be crowded and perhaps dangerous if you venture into the wrong part of town. The rental may offer challenges like right-hand driving or manual shifting into tight spaces. Without GPS, driving could become a misadventure you didn’t anticipate and don’t want. You decide to use public transportation, taxis, and organized tours to get around.

taxi

Travel guides. You research online for travel information about your destination and dig up dozens of websites with a wide range of data of varying quality. Some have great pictures but scarce information about the country, while others read like encyclopedias that leave you perplexed over a dizzying array of choices. You decide that travel guides on electronic media like smartphones don’t adequately replace old-fashioned paperback guides. You check the ratings on a few of the more popular ones and choose a guide that vaguely registers in your memory, throwing in a local phrase book for good measure as you don’t know if or when you’ll need to speak the local language. While English is a second language for many worldwide, it might not be widely spoken in some places you’ll visit.

luggageBaggage. You dig your luggage out of storage and lay them out on the floor. Opting for one large suitcase and a smaller carry-on bag, you wonder whether your soft-top bag will be sturdy enough to handle the journey and recall a time when you saw another traveler’s broken, splintered hard-top suitcase flailing about on the baggage carousel, its contents spilling out of the bag for gawking bystanders to ogle. Soft top is fine, you think. You make a trip to the store to buy luggage tags and belts and TSA-compliant locks.

Electronics and cameras. You grab your digital camera that’s been anxiously waiting to take great travel photos and all the electronic equipment begging to join you. Unsure whether theft will be a major concern, you consider which items you can keep safe on the road. You opt not to bring an oversized laptop that won’t fit into a locked bag or a hotel lockbox or your cell phone that won’t work at your destination. Instead, you jot down the phone numbers of your hotels, the nearest embassy in case of an emergency, and other contacts to input into a local cell phone after you arrive. Whatever you can carry in your carry-on bag will go with you. The lucky items cheer their good fortune.

Power converters and plug adapters. You discover that your electronics are incompatible with the plugs at your destination. You check to make sure that all your equipment uses 220-volt power, avoiding the anguish of your electronics blowing a fuse after an electrical surge. You stop by a local store to pick up a set of universal plug adapters that will fit any foreign socket.

plugs

Clothing. Local weather reports help you plan your wardrobe. The forecast suggests that temperatures will be variable with a chance of rain. You recall the different latitudes and hemispheres where the seasons are reversed and decide to bring both warm- and cool-weather clothing. You’re careful not to pack too much to avoid an airline charge for overweight baggage; enough clothing for a week is sufficient with downtime to do laundry.

Insurance. Uncertain whether your insurance will cover accidents and theft overseas, you check online and learn that a serious incidents overseas such as a medical evacuation or lengthy hospitalization may not be fully covered. You decide to play it safe and check out travel insurance coverage in the event you’re injured, robbed, or worse.

Money. Although the thought occurs to you that it may be better to purchase travelers’ cheques or local currency from a money exchange before arriving at your destination, you realize that cash and credit cards should work where you’re traveling. You make sure that you have your credit cards’ personal identification numbers (PINs) handy, mindful to keep them separate from your cards.

money

Travel documents. You check your passport to make sure it’s still valid. It’s close to expiring, and you wonder whether you should renew it before you leave. You’re also unsure whether you’ll need a visa to enter the country. Reading International Travel Information, you learn that Brazil and China require visas, but South Africa does not. You should also get the recommended immunizations from your doctor and an International Certificate of Vaccination — better known as the “yellow shot card” — issued by the World Health Organization.

passport

With your trip planning well in hand, you breathe a sigh of relief. While not much fun, you feel better knowing that most of the logistics are done to help make your trip a good one. Crashing on the sofa, you ponder what to do about your travel documents. You hope you have enough time before your trip, but you’re leaving soon and aren’t sure if you can get them back in time. If you apply for a new passport, you risk not getting it before you’re scheduled to leave. Applying for a visa can be a notoriously slow and time-intensive process. Adding a visa to a new passport will take even longer, possibly jeopardizing your trip. You can get vaccinations and a yellow shot card, but who wants to gets shots? Maybe the immunizations aren’t required and can be avoided.

What should you do about your travel documents?

Click here to travel to Brazil with your current passport.

Click here to travel to China with your current passport.

Click here to travel to South Africa with your current passport.

Images courtesy of Microsoft.

buythumbM.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories and Alexander the Salamander, a children’s story set in the Amazon. His books are available to purchase as an e-book and in print from Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

© 2012 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author.

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You’re the Adventurer–South Africa


Welcome to an interactive online story. You’ve been a spectator reading my travelogues, but now it’s your turn to go on your own adventure! Immerse yourself in the story and make key decisions by choosing from among several options. Your selections could make the difference between a great trip or a travel disaster! Read and make your choice, and stay tuned as your travels unfold. If you haven’t read the story from the beginning, stop reading this post! Click here to begin your journey.

You’ve decided to take a trip to South Africa, a land of African and western cultures, scenic beauty, and wild safaris. Congratulations! Now the fun begins. You have to plan your visit.

You think of all the places in South Africa where you might want to go. Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and Kruger National Park are the first ones to cross your mind, but there are many more you’d probably like to see if you had the time. You’re going to travel a long way to visit Africa, but you can only take a couple weeks off and have to plan your schedule carefully to make the most of your time. An Internet search of popular travel destinations reveals more potential sites, from the Drakensburg Mountains to Blyde River Canyon near Kruger. The long Garden Route that follows the Indian Ocean along the southern coast sounds gorgeous, but two weeks isn’t enough time to drive it and tour other parts of the country. You decide to focus on two locations where you’ll spend most of your vacation.

2010_10_26 South Africa Garden Route

You write down your travel preferences and think about how to fit them into your itinerary. You definitely want to experience the South African culture you saw on television during the 2010 World Cup and decide to visit a city for a taste of the local culture. Which one? Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria are the most obvious choices. You jot them down.

2010_10_25 South Africa Capetown

You also want to see some of the country’s natural beauty and draw up a list of some of South Africa’s natural wonders, including Blyde River Canyon, the Drakensburgs, and the Cape of Good Hope and Table Mountain near Cape Town. Poring over a map of the country, you see them scattered in different places. You can’t visit them all; you’re going to have to narrow them down and choose. Connecting the dots, you notice that many are clustered near Cape Town and Kruger.

2009_11_22 South Africa Blyde (2)

2009_11_23 South Africa Kruger (5)

2009_11_22 South Africa Blyde

2010_10_26 South Africa Cape

A safari is a must-do on your list. You enjoy watching wildlife programs on television and want to see African game animals for yourself. The thought of seeing lions, rhinos, elephants, and other wildlife is exciting. Observing animals in their natural habitat certainly beats visiting them in a zoo!

2009_11_23 South Africa Kruger (4)

2009_11_23 South Africa Kruger (6)

2009_11_23 South Africa Kruger

2009_11_28 Johannesburg

2009_11_23 South Africa Kruger (3)

2009_11_23 South Africa Kruger (2)

So you have to choose where you want to go. You don’t have enough time to see everything. You whittle your list down to three options:  Capetown; Johannesburg and Pretoria; and Kruger National Park. You can only visit two of them. Which ones do you choose? Choose your preferred destination.

After making your choice,  click here to continue the story.

 

buythumb42M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in the mystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He also writes travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One Man’s Quest to Go Over the Hill, a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain and a collection of short stories called Real Dreams: Thirty Years of Short Stories. His books are available as an e-book and in print on Amazon.com and other booksellers. He lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers. Contact him at me@mgedwards.com, on Facebook, on Google+, or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

You’re the Adventurer


Welcome to an experiment. You’ve been reading my travelogues about life overseas from Korea to Zambia, but so far you’ve been a spectator. Now it’s your turn to go on your own adventure! Immerse yourself in the story and make key decisions by choosing from among several options. Your selections could make the difference between a great trip or a travel disaster! Read and make your choice, and stay tuned as your story unfolds.  

You’ve been busy. Work has been stressful, and you haven’t had a real vacation in months. Life has become mundane, and your spirits need a lift. You think about finishing those nagging assignments left undone and taking a break. At home after another long day, you decide that you need to go on a trip somewhere. You’ve been saving up to travel, and it’s time to spend it!

You could visit family or get away to someplace not far from home. The thought crosses your mind that you could get away from it all and go overseas. Spending time with family could be fun, which of course you have to do, but it wouldn’t be as exciting — or at this point, as fulfilling — as traveling. You could head to somewhere nearby, perhaps a tourist attraction or an interesting site you’ve wanted to visit but haven’t yet. It might be enjoyable, but will it be a vacation?

After an internal debate, you decide that you need something more. The thought nags at you to go abroad and see more of the world. Where would you go? You think about visiting a popular tourist destination. Thoughts of iconic monuments and glamorized moments captured on film cross your mind. The Eiffel Tower lit up over the River Seine on a drizzly night. The New York Skyline. A cruise on the Rhine River to see German castles. A café on Piazza San Marco in Venice. A quaint Swedish village made famous by a Stieg Larsson thriller novel. Those would make great trips. Then it occurs to you — what about heading someplace that’s not so touristy? You remember pop culture references to people who go to exotic places to “discover” themselves. That’s not me, your head shakes. Suddenly, your hectic life tells you that something more exotic will do you some good.

You decide to go on vacation to someplace out of the ordinary. Somewhere, but to where? There are so many places to experience around the world, but where do you really want to go? You think about countries you’ve always wanted to visit, such as Brazil with the Amazon, Rio de Janeiro, beaches, and the buzz of Latin America. You think of Michael Caine blaming it on Rio, Carnival parades, and Blue the Parrot from the movie Rio.

And China, that big, enigmatic country in the Far East that seems as far away from the West as you can go, yet growing closer by the day; a place with more than 1 billion people steeped in more than 5,000 years of history. You can’t help but think of the 2008 Olympic Games, Terracotta Warriors, and the films Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Mulan.

And South Africa, a diverse country that has come into its own with a mix of African and western cultures, scenic beauty, and wild safaris. You recall Table Mountain in Cape Town, Kruger National Park, the 2010 World Cup, and Animal Planet episodes filmed in South Africa.

All three are very different, and you can only visit one. Which trip would you choose? Make your choice. Where you go depends on you.

Click here to visit South Africa.