Why choose a bespoke holiday?

Why choose a bespoke holiday?

A bespoke holiday is one crafted to your needs. In most cases, it is synonymous with luxury travel and excellent service. Because I have traveled for many years, I believe some things or experiences can differentiate between a good trip and a fantastic trip. My recent African safari was one from the Elewana Collection, and here are a few reasons I chose this bespoke holiday.

The Elewana Collection is known for its unique and iconic locations. One of my recent blog posts discussed my stay at the Elewana Treetops, but each place I stayed was equally impressive. My bespoke trip to Tanzania included:

The itinerary of my safari was custom designed and well thought out. Its primary focus was to provide unique experiences in the places visited. Although the itinerary was tailored for me, I could change it at any time. All activities were well organized and timely, and options for bespoke experiences were limitless, including sunset dinners on safari, beach, and other ideal locations.

The trip included all accommodations. Because the trip covered all Elewana properties, the only check-in was on the first day. Every stay after that, we were escorted to the room by our butler. All requests went through the butler, who handled our requests efficiently and timely. It was like having a personal concierge service.

Drinks and meals were all-inclusive. Premium drinks were available for a charge, but the drink selection offered was more than adequate. In addition, the trip included all transportation to and from the lodges and camps, Kilimanjaro airport, and Zanzibar airport. All the scheduled game drives had a personal English-speaking guide for the duration of each destination.

There was no need to overpack as laundry services were available at every destination. The package also included emergency evacuation insurance. However, it did not have travel insurance. Other items not included were gratuities and tips, visas for Tanzania, and flights into Tanzania and from Zanzibar. The resort in Zanzibar provided a driver and guide, but trips to the city were at an additional cost.

If you’ve never had a bespoke travel experience, I would highly suggest one. Not having to worry about different accommodations, making travel arrangements within the country, and sorting out guides and transportation was priceless. It is so worth the expense and can be a most memorable time.

Are you interested in a bespoke travel experience? Check out my trip on Levantr and create your own bespoke travel experience. Let me know.

Traveling with the USD

Traveling with the USD

As a frequent traveler, I am aware of the value of the US dollar. It is the most recognized currency in many foreign destinations. The US dollar is also the closest thing to an international currency because it is so widely accepted. However, please know that individual international businesses can decide whether to take the money. Here are a few tips on traveling with the US dollar.

In many countries, the value of the US dollar is high. Many local vendors prefer payment in USD rather than the local currency. However, when using larger bills, you are often given back change from your purchase in the local currency. If you don’t plan a lengthy stay, the money is usually not worth it back at home. It can also be difficult to get a decent exchange rate.

It is good to note that some foreign countries will not accept currency older than a specific date. On my recent travel to Tanzania, a particular vendor would not take US currency older than 2009. I learned that there are no restrictions on banks to accept or reject the USD with further research. In some cases, if older notes are accepted, you may be given a lower exchange rate.

Similarly, many may not take torn or mutilated currency at some foreign locations. There was much concern while shopping in the local Maasai village because a bill had a small corner ripped. While this is a common occurrence in the US, note that foreigners are suspicious of the currency’s being valid when presented for payment elsewhere or at their banks.

Try to travel with currency in small denominations. Small notes are great for tipping, so before you travel, try getting your small bills from the bank as they are less likely to give out damaged or dated currency. With currency from the bank, you are more likely to have your USD accepted wherever you travel.

Has your US currency ever been denied when traveling abroad? Were you even aware of the possibility of your USD not being accepted when traveling? I’d like to know.

My stay at the Elewana Tarangire Treetops Tanzania

My stay at the Elewana Tarangire Treetops Tanzania

There are places and destinations that travelers have dreamed about experiencing.  Many times, the expectation may not fit the reality.  In the case of my stay at the Elewana Tarangire Treetops in Tanzania, it was beyond expectations.

The property is remote and is located just outside the Tarangire National Park.  It makes up for all you could want in expectations from property within a city proper.  The greeting not only includes the staff from the Treetops but local Maasai warriors in traditional tribal outfits.  Smiles and genuine happiness are evident from everyone was so heartwarming. The experience here truly depicts an example of sustainable tourism.

The Tarangire Treetops reception area is designed around an enormous baobab tree in Tanzania.

It foretold the actual treetop room I would eventually stay in and is an excellent site in terms of design and style.  In the reception tree, which must be hundreds of years old, live a colony of bats. Yes, bats! At first, I was skeptical, but as we sat down to dinner, bats flew around us, and there was no hint of mosquitos, no doubt due to the bats.  Another excellent example of the beauty of living within and with nature.

Dinner was on the patio with a nearby watering hole, where several animals visited throughout the day.  We saw zebras, impalas, elephants come right up to the property.  The animals were so protected and respected that we could not walk to our rooms since they roamed the property freely.  Going back and forth to our room, the Maasai tribesmen often escorted us, a surreal experience. There was also a sundown cocktail experience on a hill with a beautiful sunset and snacks served by our personal butler and staff.

The property itself is in southern Maasailand.  We got to visit a local Maasai village which was yet another unbelievable experience.

The Maasai elder of this village had more than 70 children and countless wives who all lived in harmony. We got to see their homes which are incredibly simplistic and functional. The warm-hearted reception from the Maasai people is a memory I will never forget.  Even with the different cultures, I left feeling that the Maasai were more blessed than I would ever be.

My treetop room was a treasure and truly exemplified my childhood dream of living in a treehouse. The room was large with a practical open design.  It included a large wrap patio from which we had excellent views of the sunset and treetops.  A wrap-around deck was attached so you could sit out and commune with nature.

Our final night included an outdoor dinner in a traditional Boma with a giant bonfire, dancing and chants from the Maasai people, and an incredible menu.  We also got to enjoy a walking safari, night game drive, sundown cocktails, and have a fantastic safari experience.

If you are considering an African safari, you will not be disappointed with the Elewana safari experience.  Have the Elewana Treetops inspired you? I’d like to know.

True but little known facts about Tanzania.

True but little known facts about Tanzania.

I am a strong proponent of research.  I believe it’s essential to know about the culture and customs of the destinations you travel to.  It’s a well-known fact that Tanzania is home to Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa.  However, several other points are important to know.  In my blog, I try to give more than just picturesque information. Here are some true but little-known facts I found out about Tanzania.

Since 2019, mainland Tanzania has been enforcing a ban on plastic bags. There are a range of fines imposed on travelers if found improperly disposing of plastic bags.  Visitors should avoid carrying plastic bags in their suitcase or carry-on before arriving in Tanzania. Ziploc bags for toiletry are still allowed.  There is a special desk at all entry points into Tanzania to dispose of plastic bags visitors may unknowingly bring into the country.

It is illegal to wear camouflage in Tanzania.    Green camouflage clothing is reserved exclusively for Tanzania’s People’s Defense Force. While you may see some people may be wearing some colored camouflage outfits. Know that only official military personnel is permitted to dress in the official green camouflage uniforms. Travelers can be stopped by police, forced to change clothing, and fined.  It’s simply not worth the hassle.

Parts of the Tanzanian population are Muslim. Some places can be conservative, and men and women usually cover their knees in public. Traditionally women wear only skirts. However, tourists and foreigners often wear pants but should try not for them to be form-fitting. To be safe, avoid shorts and skirts above the knees. Also, avoid wearing tops that bare your shoulders or cleavage. A headdress may also be appropriate. And as always, please try to respect the culture.

Knowledge about Tanzanian culture is essential.  Visitors should always use their right hand for greetings as the left hand is associated with toilet activities.  Greeting only one person in a room is considered impolite, so acknowledge everyone in the room.  Males and females may eat in separate rooms even when related. Also, saying no to food being offered to you or smelling food is considered impolite.

Age is highly respected in Tanzania. Greeting an older person is sometimes accompanied by a bow.  Much respect is given to older tourists.  It’s common to see bargaining in shops and marketplaces, even to have prices increased for foreigners.  However, age can be advantageous when bargaining in shops and the market.

These are but a few little-known facts about Tanzania.  I encourage all travelers to research their destinations before travel.  Have you ever been surprised by cultural etiquette? I’d like to know.

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