Following the previous post, I decided to do a How-To for those who really cannot travel internationally, because truth is, not everyone can actually afford to travel abroad and I can relate to this because that’s exactly how I started out. I don’t remember what motivated me or how I started madly travelling my city when I could, or how I got to the point of taking leave off work to travel my city. I’ll share my story with tips and I hope this motivates you to travel your city too.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Subsequent to hiking Lion’s head and seeing all those tourists (as discussed in this post), I went through a phase where I was depressed and very closed off. I miraculously got over it (Praise Jesus *in Igbo choir leader’s voice*). Once I got out of it, I promised myself I’d never let myself fall back into it again, and one of the ways I knew I could do that was going out more. At first, I didn’t think so much of my city. I mean, Cape Town, and so? But on my way to work I saw troops of tourists walking around, looking so amazed and in awe of the different sites their tour guide was showing them. I saw this happen so often that I started to think there had to be something about this city. That was when I fully made the decision. I mean, if people were flying from all over the world to come visit this city that I’m so lucky to live in, why don’t I just make the best out of it and travel my city?
FIRST MAJOR ADVENTURE
One really long and annoying afternoon at work, I was so tired and bored of the Monday to Friday thing and I thought to myself, I desperately needed a break. So I decided there and then to take a 3-day annual leave. I literally had just 300 bucks ($20) to my name and I decided I was going to make it happen with all that little cash. I found myself the next day with a backpack, snacks, two bottles of juice and lots of bananas, my camera and a jacket, hopping on the bus to get to one of the many private beaches in my oh-so-gorgeous city. Thinking back to that day, I don’t know what motivated me so much. I was doing it alone without even thinking, I was doing it with zero doubts. All I knew was that I wanted to see something that’d give me life again.
This was my first solo travel: alone, no one to help take pictures, but I was so determined, not even that could stop me. Again, this was still winter, not extremely cold but not Spring yet. I took the MyCiTi bus to a stop close to the beach, and walked the rest of the way. It was very quiet and empty because it was still winter, so I was the only one there. There were all these little beautiful beach houses surrounding the ocean and I took to taking pictures. The time came for me to take photos of myself and trust me to improvise. Yes, I took these pictures myself. I lay my jacket on the floor, sat, fed the seagulls and just enjoyed the view for about 2 hours, then a nice lady let me use her restroom and even offered me a muffin. Day 2 and 3 were the same, woke up, got dressed and out I went to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and The Boulders Beach with the penguins on the last day (I just realised I never blogged about this, oops! I’ll try to fix that soon). On one of those days, I did the most scary and exhilarating thing I had ever done in my life (at that moment, of course I’ve done more now hehe) and I felt so freaking alive. I got help from a hot French tourist who literally pulled me with him all the way to the top of this rock and took photos of me. It was so exhilarating, and the little conversation I managed to have with the French hottie (what with my terrible French and his terrible English), I found another motivation to keep travelling. So now that I’ve shared a little bit of my story, let’s talk about you, and how you can start travelling your city too, wherever you are.
TRAVELLING YOUR CITY: PLANNING
First step in travelling your city is deciding on where to visit. I like to choose a quiet but very aesthetically pleasing location for a first time so that the possibilities of having a bad experience and being completely discouraged are avoided. So I’d suggest choosing a quiet but really good location, with little or no crowds, you get to have the best experience that way. Another thing to consider would be the appropriate outfit and gear for that trip. Choosing the right outfit on your trip is very important because the wrong outfit can be the only reason you don’t get to experience some of the most exciting things. For example, wearing a maxi dress with sandals on a hike, best believe you won’t experience that trip the best way you’re supposed to, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to not fall. Also, consider any other gear you’d need for the trips, e.g. a camera or your phone.
Till now, some of my photos are taken with just my iPhone and then edited with Snapseed (I prefer to use this because you can select a particular section of the picture that you want to edit without ruining other parts). Also, you’d need a backpack preferably to carry your food/snacks and other stuff you will need. Invest in a tripod stand for your phone which you can use in situations where you are travelling solo, so you can still get great photos. They’re quite reasonably priced – you can find one here and here. Take your bus/train card with you, some tissue paper and most importantly, food. We’d discuss food in the next section.
TRAVELLING YOUR CITY: BUDGETING
When it comes to budgeting, I’m the queen of budget travelling, because considering my love for fashion and my expensive taste (which I still can’t afford because I’m too frugal with money and don’t think it makes sense to buy expensive fashion items when you still can’t afford the basic luxuries like a really good car, a really good home rental and some reasonable amount of savings or investments), a lot of my money goes into that too, so I usually don’t have much left to travel with. Look for good, cheap, reliable and comfortable (because you don’t want to make the process too inconvenient that you dismiss it eventually) transportation. I used the bus and the train for all my trips, completely avoided the taxis/combi taxis/danfos because I wasn’t about to stress my life and get to my destination fatigued and exhausted. I put 30 bucks ($2) worth of points on my bus card on the first day and that way more than enough for all my trips that day. Once you’ve chosen a location and planned transportation, now you need to consider other costs involved.
Are there entrance fees? Do you need to pay for a guide? I would suggest trying out free locations first before you concern yourself with those with entrance or guide fees. Some free locations are GREAT for amazing photos and meeting new people, well because everyone loves free stuff. So, don’t discard those free locations just yet, use them properly and get great photos as proof! Now, to the most important part of all, food!!! Because if your tummy isn’t filled up on your trip, how do you plan on enjoying yourself? Especially since you’d be moving around quite often and burning up a lot of energy. Bananas are so great because they provide a food/snack balance for you, fill you up quick and leave you feeling like you just had a proper meal. Juices are also great for such trips too, I’d suggest 100% juices to give you the right nutrients needed for your adventure. Add some home cooked meal in a take-away pack if you can, and take as much water as you think you’ll need.
MAKING THE BEST OUT OF YOUR ADVENTURE
Now, to the crux of the matter, enjoying your adventure and making sure you make the best out of it. One discussion I have with a lot of people relates to this; I have this belief that if you’re an adventurous person, you have to be really good at socialising, or at least try. On most of my trips, the most exciting parts happened when I made a friend who I tagged along with to discover a new location they knew that I had never heard about or somewhere we both had never been before. Truth is, travelling solo or even travelling as a rookie can be a bit tricky because you’re either not excited enough to try out things alone or you don’t have a lot of experience with adventuring and would need some assistance. I can boldly say that one major key to being able to explore and have the best adventures is socialising. Talk to people, because there’s always something they know that you don’t and you always get exposed to more information and more adventures.
You should also ensure you try to visit every inch of the location you’ve chosen, even if it looks boring from afar. Walk to every corner, climb every rock, step into every restaurant, say hello to as many people as you can say hello to – you never know who might be looking for a friend -, and of course, take pictures of EVERYTHING. You can later get home and delete the pictures you don’t like, because some times, the eyes might be too tired to appreciate a view in the moment, and you might need a clearer head and a rested body to appreciate certain things.
TRAVELLING YOUR CITY: SAFETY
I’m sure everyone knows that safety is very important while travelling; from location to people, terrain, your belongings and everything else. Ensure you keep your belongings safe and with you at all times (try to take as small a bag as possible so it doesn’t inconvenience you), be careful about who you talk to, what you tell them and where you follow them to. I think it is very important to be perceptive when travelling and be able to read a person’s body language, at least. I don’t need to tell you the amount of weird people that are out there, so ensure you feel very comfortable with whoever you’re socialising with. Also, be very careful about the terrain of where you’re visiting and pay close attention to it, because a fall could land you in a hospital or even worse… . So stay safe but don’t be too paranoid and you’d be sure to enjoy yourself.
TRAVELLING YOUR CITY: CONCLUSION
Travelling your city is one of the best ways to start a travel lifestyle and make lots of memories from adventures and the people you meet on those adventures. Guaranteed it’ll change who you are, your views and the things you think matter. It is a great way to make the most of your situation, instead of lying in bed and wondering when you’d be able to afford a flight ticket. And you never know, you could meet someone on one of your local trips that can offer you accommodation and feeding if you were willing to visit their country (yes, a lot of travellers are very nice and genuine), which can save you a whole lot of money. So, I’d advice you, go out there, there’s literally nothing stopping you. Explore, meet people, have amazing adventures, make perfect memories and have the best time of your life, because all we really have is NOW.
Joy Idahosa xx