Nyama Mama Delta

All You Need To Know About The Popular Nyama Mama Restaurant

Sponsored by The Good Earth Group

Nyama Mama Delta is more than just your average diner. The impression it leaves in your mind at first sight is similar to that you get when you notice an eccentric performer on a culture night out.

They offer a great range of dishes, which are served in a way that instantly evokes fond memories. Remember when you were young, probably visiting your grandparents upcountry and they would serve you yams and porridge in a metal Kikombe and platter?

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cape town

How To Save Up And Travel Around The World

Admittedly, saving up for a vacation can be the trickiest thing as most of us prefer buying an expensive fragrance, go out on Fridays or spend the weekend binge watching with friends while having a polite drink.

That’s the typical Nairobian. Not many people I know treasure global travel, yet they are always posting about their dreams on Instagram. It is easier said than done. For you to be someone else’s goals, you need to walk the talk.

Whether you want to vacation in Punta Canta in the Dominican Republic or go skydiving in Dubai, you need to know how to do things smartly.

hard rock punta canta

Hard Rock in Punta Canta, Dominican Republic

I bumped into a very interesting post by a good friend of mine, Sally G, a Kenyan travel enthusiast and blogger based in the US. Her Instagram is laced with travel photos; she is always on the move! From Yacht cocktails to candle lit dinners, she is basically someone you would love to hear from on this topic.

Here’s what she had to say:

When most people learn about my passion for travel and the frequency in which I travel, the question I often get is, “How do you afford to travel so much?” Followed by, “What do you do for a living that allows the jet setting lifestyle?”  Some people are genuinely curious and want to know so that they too can learn how – my favorite kind:)  Some ask the questions with a raised brow suggesting a myriad of ways.  My least favorite kind are the ones blatant enough to spell out their misguided assumptions e.g.

a:  Mysterious rich man pays for the trips *rolls eyes*  If this was the case, my frugal travel ways would be tossed out the window and I would be having the most kick-ass getaways! Heck, I would never be home!

b: I’m a drug mule!  I’m not kidding! A co-worker asked me this with a straight face! Have you seen an episode of Locked Up Abroad?  Why would I want to put myself through that?  There is still so much of the world to see and I need to be FREE to explore it.

pretoria, South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa / Lonely Planet

I don’t have tons of money at my disposal.  I’m very transparent when it comes to sharing how I am able to travel for cheap to anyone who asks.  Sharing is caring and I do care about you my reader:)

This year,  I’ve been fortunate enough to visit the following destinations – not including domestic travel:  Dubai, Abu Dhabi, cruise to Bahamas, Rome, Mykonos, Barcelona and Istanbul.  I also have an upcoming trip to Bali with a stop in Tokyo.

In the interest of full disclosure,  I do have a full time job in the Hospitality industry and have been at the same job for close to 10 years!  I have earned myself somewhat decent vacation time compared to the average person in corporate America. But that alone doesn’t cut it. Here’s how I have been able to travel to multiple destinations over time for way less that you would imagine:

1. Priorities

We all have priorities.  Ways in which we appropriate our funds.  Over the past few years, my preferences on how I spend my hard earned savings have changed a great deal! I’d rather buy experiences *read: trips/excursions* rather than things. Experiences last a lifetime, things, not so much.  I am also pretty frugal and hardly care for designer labels.  I used to want the latest, greatest trend/thing/gadget etc only to have buyers remorse few days/months after acquiring said items as they did not bring the fulfillment I was seeking. Most of these things would end up just sitting in the closet anyway.  I am yet to regret purchasing a trip over an item.  Travel is truly the only thing you buy that makes you richer! This past summer I was able to purchase a return ticket to Barcelona for $424 on Swiss Air.  A steal!  The trip was pretty spectacular and the cost to get there even better!

the W in Barcelona

Sally at the W — Barcelona

2. Bargain Hunting

Gone are the days when travel was exclusive to the wealthy.  It is now more accessible than ever!  Technology has also made it so easy to hunt for flight/accommodation deals.  There are plenty of apps and websites available for this.  I never pay full price for anything if I can help it. My travels are no exception.   I have signed up for travel alerts with various websites where I learn fast hand, if there are glitch fares, insanely low prices on flights or a price drop on an itinerary I have been eying.  The key is to remain flexible.

To put it to perspective, earlier this summer, I received an alert for a return flight to Sydney, Australia from Atlanta at $500 inclusive of taxes and fees.  This is unheard of! Tickets for this itinerary run from $1700-$2300 depending on the season.   I actually paid about $1800 for my flight to Sydney two years ago during low season.  The $500 price tag was no glitch fare either! United Airlines was running a short-term promo for a new route on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from USA to Australia.  Needless to say, it was sold out in no time! I did refer a few people who booked it.  They have since returned from down under with lifetime memories!  I find that it costs me way less to travel to an international destination than it does to fly domestic – thanks to these real time alerts and a flexible schedule.

Being in the hospitality industry has also helped me in terms of great savings.  One of the benefits being; deeply discounted rates on accommodation.  The amazing thing is that I’m able to extend the discount to my friends and family.  AirBnB has also been a great resource in finding amazing places for very reasonable pricing! I’m a HUGE fan of AirBnb!  I have used them multiple times this year.

3. Low Season; Low Cost

I pay close attention to travel trends and as most people would know, travel in the Summer time is very popular.  Kids are usually out of school and family vacations are the norm. High season usually means high demand hence high prices.  The best flight deals are for travel during Spring and Fall.  Another advantage of travel during these times is less crowds at the airports and attractions while the weather is still favorable.  A win win!

No crowds to beat in Istanbul…  There were 5 tourists on the entire bus!

the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

At the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

4. Flexibility

Most of my trips are booked on a whim – based on the deal of the day that I receive.  I buy then plan! Some deals are usually too good to pass up. On Christmas Day of 2014, Etihad Airlines posted a glitch fare of $185 for a return flight to Abu Dhabi from New York with a 14 hour layover in Paris! It took them almost 12hrs to fix the error! They did honor the rates for the many that reserved it!  I lost out on this deal because I was waiting on friends to confirm their plans – something I will never do again!  See my solo travel post on why I have since stopped consulting others on travel plans.  The key is just to book the ticket, confirm your plans later! You have 24hrs risk free cancellation.   Glitch fares or insanely low fares are usually only available for a very short time.

I live in Atlanta and have noticed over time that most of these incredibly priced itineraries do not originate from ATL as we have fewer international airlines departing from the city.  I  constantly receive deal alerts from New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas.  That does not stop me.  I usually cash in on my credit card points/miles to fly to those cities and take advantage of the deals. Changing your departure city allows you to enjoy some great deals! My friends and I flew from Chicago to Mykonos for $430 – return flight on Alitalia.  This itinerary also had a long over in Rome that allowed us to explore the city and spend a wonderful night there.

Overlooking the old port in Mykonos, Greece

5. Points for Miles/Accommodation

I saved my best method for last!  I have cashed in points for plenty of travel and free hotel stays.  This is how it works for me, I use 2-3 credit cards for all my purchases.  This includes everyday purchases that range from groceries, gas, utilities and even rent! My credit cards offer between 2-5 points per dollar spent on all purchases.  Basically, I get rewarded to spend money I would have had to spend anyway.  Using cash/debit card would get me nothing!  Since these are credit cards, discipline is required.  I pay off my credit cards within the month of purchase and no interest is accrued.  The points do add up quickly.  I convert most of my points to airline miles mostly for domestic travel.

istanbul, turkey

Sally in Istanbul, Turkey

Another great way I have earned a lot more points is by signing up for a credit card/s with great travel benefits.  Most of these cards have a great sign-in bonus once approved.  I have received more than 300K points in sign-in bonuses to date – the equivalent of $3000.  Thanks to The Points Guy blog for making me understand this practice! There is a set spend requirement on the cards to earn the points and some may have a hefty annual fee.  I chose the cards that work for ME. The benefits I have received have ranged from the huge Sign-In Bonus, Credit for Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check Application, $300 travel credit per year,  no luggage fees on domestic flights, No Foreign Transaction Fees abroad –  I do not spend my hard earned money on avoidable fees and neither should you! Airport Lounge Access all over the world, Free Night Stay at a 4-Star hotel on card’s anniversary date and many more.

Again, this method is not for everyone! It requires financial discipline and organization to be successful. Get savvy and reap the benefits!

There you have it! I hope this sheds some light on my methods.  I hope that you too can incorporate some of them to allow more travel in your life!   Let me know if you have any questions or comments.   Happy Travels!

Be sure to check out more of such amazing pieces on her website, www.sallygworld.com!

traveling the world

8 Things You Should Know About Traveling Around The World

Traveling the globe is one of the most coveted pleasures that anyone can have. Many agree to the saying that the best gift that you can ever give yourself is the memories that you get from traveling around the world, experiencing what this beautiful planet has to offer.

The food, culture, fun and views you’ll sample give you more satisfaction than any material object that you can buy.

Are you planning to visit several locations around the world? Well, there are some things you need to know before embarking on globetrotting.

I teamed up with my good friend Fatma McCraig, a Kenyan air hostess working with a leading airline with HQ in the Middle East. Her Instagram life is basically an inspirational gallery through which she shares her day to day experiences on flights, at airports, shopping malls, coffee houses, walking parks and much more.

Hemmingways, Nairobi

Hemmingways, Nairobi / Fatma McCraig

She is not only beautiful but hardworking, smart and visionary. By the time we were working on this piece, her next stop was to be Helsinki, Finland.

Fatma had loads to say about what you need to know about global travel. Here’s what you need to know:

1.Documentation

For one, people overlook vaccine cards (Yellow Fever mainly) and some countries even in Africa as an African you can’t get in without. Also take note of the the expiry dates of documents. I just had a friend sent back because she did not realize that she had less than 3 months before her passport expires — yet she was just visiting the particular country for a weekend.

There’s “Visa shopping”, which some countries regard as a crime. Others are OK with it. For instance if you get a Schengen Visa it’s thought you can go to any EU country but for some countries like Switzerland, you are expected to to stay for at least 10 days before leaving especially if you got the Visa from them. Other countries are OK for you to use any port of entry.

Travel Essentials

Travel essentials

So basically check all documents needed for each country because they vary. Research on each country’s immigration rules before travel.

2. Luggage

Many people assume that their bags are safe in the cabin. I’ve had to get handbags for two ladies on two different flights from some guys that had stolen them when they were asleep.
It’s not known to many people that there are gangs that travel purposely to steal onboard. People reach their destinations and cannot find their bags and other important stuff. So never get onboard, have your drinks and sleep soundly. Beware of this.

3. Weather

I always feel that it is best to check the weather before hand, but I also get that wrong all the time. It could change any minute in some countries. However, because of the distinct seasons most locations have, it is easier to decide what to buy.

Always leave room for an impromptu purchase in case you need change — you can’t bring an entire closet to cover every ‘what if’.

Grand Millenium Auckland

Fatma at the Grand Millenium Auckland

Most times people check in all their warm stuff especially during the transit but fail to realize in case of any weather changes at a transit port they’ll be are stuck at the airport for an indefinite period. Most airports the air conditioning is pretty intense.

The gulf is notorious with that. It’s freezing in there and if one wasn’t ready, they’ll have to make an unforeseen purchase of a jacket.

4. Food

For this, make sure that you’ve got extra cash for food. Y,es some airlines provide food with the ticket purchase but in case of long delays one needs to be able to buy a meal especially for kids. I’ve seen people come on board starving.

5. Jetlag

Have you ever taken a long flight for an awesome, much anticipated trip only to arrive nauseated, disoriented, forgetful, joint swelling and stiffness, exhausted, unable to sleep at night, can’t muster hunger at socially appropriate times or generally awful? Certainly not the vibe of a glamorous jet setter you had in mind while planning your trip.

Fatma McCraig 1

Jet lag, which is basically a range of symptoms experienced while adapting to a different light-dark schedule after a flight to a new time zone, can be a serious downer the first few days of your international trip, and what makes it so jarring is that it happens all at once. Jet lag is common even among seasoned jet setters.

You can minimize the effects by sleeping well, get adequate hydration, avoid alcohol, do slight exercises like walking during flight, spend some time outdoors, among other things.

6. Choosing the best route

It’s cheaper to do connections. Multiple legs with the same airline or even with partner airlines are way cheaper especially for long trips. Anything under 6 hours — a direct flight makes sense — but I know people that do Nairobi, Addis Ababa, then Dubai just to get a little discount on the prize.

If the cost is not an issue then a direct flight is perfect.

That’s where the price of tickets and services offered vary. The higher rates the airline the better services and comfort compared to others. There are companies like Skytrax that rate airlines. If you consider their ratings when choosing an airline, you’ll know what kind of service to expect.

7. Airport transfer services

You need to ensure that you get to your destination safely and that your luggage is intact. There’s a website I love; Skyscanner. It deals with airport pickup and hotel transfers. Airlines handle baggage lost mostly unless it’s out of the airport.

Those backpacking for example or those that didn’t plan in advance… check out the metros or bus systems for thieves. The airport should have information desks about that.

airport transfer 2

8. Culture

With culture, I tell people, the minute you walk out of your house, it’s best to have an open mind when dealing with people. So being in a foreign country, it’s polite to try and understand that cultures are different; your way of expressing or seeing things is totally different and maybe learning a few things about the place you travel to isn’t so bad.

Lot’s of patience is required. It’s also good to keep opinions in check especially with food people eat or how they eat it. It’s easier to politely decline an offer than say how something that you have seen is unacceptable back home.

Like they say, when in Rome…do what the Romans do. Embrace new cultures, enjoy being there, try the food, learn a few words and about their beliefs.That’s the whole point of travelling I believe. People have stopped me in some cities to take photos with me. One place North of Italy in the mountains we were the only black people anyone there had ever seen when I went visiting a friend. That was super interesting!

Check out Fatma’s Instagram account and follow her for future snapshots of where she’ll be visiting. You never know, she might just be in your city next!

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