As a celebration of our 10th Anniversary, my husband and I planned a 2-week trip to Africa. After careful consideration of all the amazing places we wanted to see in Africa, we decided to plan a safari in Tanzania and add a few days of luxuriating in Zanzibar. We worked with Access 2 Tanzania to develop our itinerary and guide us on this journey.
This post will focus on my learnings, but a full Safari experience post is in the works 🙂 I wanted to share these learnings because – a similar theme is emerging year after year, so hopefully these little habits will start sinking in soon!!
NINE TAKEAWAYS FROM OUR AFRICAN ADVENTURE (plus nine delicious foods to try):
- 24-hour travel itineraries (and any travel itineraries) will leave you feeling wonky so make sure to drink lots and lots of water. During our safari days I drank 3 liters of water daily!! Also, sometimes when you are incredibly tired, your body starts to crave food (usually not the good kind), so be aware of that and try to get plenty of protein and fruits & vegetables. Some people even recommend fasting during travel days (which is not something that is right for my body right now). TAKEAWAY? In addition to making smart food choices, add movement throughout the day and plenty of water. This, I’m happy to report, is fully ingrained in my daily routine.
- I learned to eat slowly, again. I feel like this is a learning on most vacations and I wish it would stick better throughout the year. But inevitably we get busy, we rush around caught up in the day-to-day and find ourselves eating faster again. The TAKEAWAY? Space out vacations better throughout the year and make meal times relaxing 🙂 Just kidding (well, actually I’m not), but it would probably be more realistic to try to chew every bite 20 times (think I heard that one from Jenna Wolf). At any rate, slower eating and more dinnertime conversation is good.
- A mental break is really, really good. My mind really relaxed – there’s nothing like focusing on spotting animals all day long…. Clear and pure. That is the ultimate goal. Of course it’s easier said when you don’t have to clean, work, cook, look after children, or make any significant decisions – at all! TAKEAWAY? Simplify your life so you can clear your mind. This comes up time and again, take time to meditate (even if it’s 5 min), simplify your clothing choices, declutter and focus on what’s important to you. Although I am steering away from self-help books (because you have to DO not just read!) I did speed browse through Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and picked up some good tips.
- We get into habits at home that make us feel better, to break up the monotony or just because. For example, I like to have my dark chocolate every night. Is it bad? No, but probably more of a habit now. Well, that didn’t happen during the trip. Yes, I had dessert, but it was whatever was served (which I didn’t always eat) and most times with a piece of fruit. I think after two weeks, the habit is gone….TAKEAWAY? When you go away for any amount of time, try to introduce a new habit or remove an old one when you return. Wipe the slate clean on your terms, don’t wait for the new year.
- I reconfirmed that I love to move, and that is not going away anytime soon. I need movement everyday and it makes me feel good. Movement is part of participating in, enjoying and living life. As I’m rereading this blog before I hit “post” I decided to look up the definition of the word life. The words that struck me were “vital and functional” and “capacity for growth.” TAKEAWAY? Find ways to be vital, functional and grow! Move throughout the day – it doesn’t have to be “exercise” as defined in a gym, but any movement is good. Running around the playground with your kids, some stretching in the morning, a walk before/after dinner, etc. You brush your teeth, wash your face and strive to eat well, so make it a priority to keep your body moving, too. Challenge yourself physically and mentally everyday, find a way to grow and change.
- A break from news, and phones and internet and commercialism is sooooooo needed. It allows you to slow down, simplify and just be. Truthfully, we had internet in most places, but only checked twice a day at most to check in with the kids and we did go 3-4 days without any connection. I did not miss a thing. TAKEAWAY? Ban devices during a certain time of day or train yourself to only check at certain times. At least ask yourself, are they really ADDING something to your life? If not, check yourself and set it aside.
- No TV! No problem. First of all we watched more than enough movies during two 8-hour flights and there were no TVs anywhere, well, there was a TV when we got to the resort in Zanzibar BUT – we didn’t turn it on once. LOVE. TAKEAWAY? Do you really need your television? Check to see if you really need that cable subscription and go without it for a few months to see if you miss it. So many shows and movies are on demand now, I would bet you won’t miss it much (and you’ll save some money!) Additionally, you can use that time to spend with family, read a book or learn a new skill.
- Reconfirmed how much more of this world I want to see! The world is so amazing and the people are so nice and interesting. My favorite places on this trip were the Ngorongoro Crater and Zanzibar. And since we’ve been back I already planned two short jaunts near home, as well as started looking at trips for next year 😉 TAKEAWAY? Traveling is one of my passions, and although it might not be yours, make time to focus on what you’re passionate about. It’s inspiring, refreshing, gives you new perspective, makes you grow and a whole lot more.
- Besides the safari experience takeaways, here are some of my FAVORITE FOODS and beverages that I tried and enjoyed on our adventure.
- Noosa! They served it on the plain in the morning (Delta/KLM) and I was SOOOOO overjoyed to have something other than a stale piece of bread.
- Tanzanian COFFEE – while we do enjoy flavored coffee I also enjoy straight up black French Roast. The coffee in Tanzania blew my mind. They served it in French presses in some of the tented camps and it was amazing every morning.
- African dishes including Chappa and ratatouille for breakfast, Couscous salad, octopus with eggplant, ugali with pumpkin leaves, whole red snapper, little bananas, amazingly seasoned lentils, and breakfast accessories like African honey, groundnut butter (peanut butter), mango and passion fruit jam
- Samosas, samosas, samosas
- Avocado tomato salad with a splash of lemon juice (this has already entered our rotation at home)
- SOUPS! Every. Single. Night. I was so surprised. Everything from pumpkin to vegetable to zucchini/spinach, potato leek, tomato, corn and avocado – they were all equally delicious. Two I’d like to try at home (and found on Pinterest) are the zucchini/spinach and potato/leek.
- Desserts! Banana cake, peanut butter mousse, saffron panna cota, spice cake, creme brulee, HIBISCUS ice cream and cinnamon ice cream.
- I tried okra! And it wasn’t mushy southern cooked (which is not my cup of tea), but roasted/grilled, gently crunchy
- Hibiscus tea and LEMONGRASS tea with mint (I will be adding the lemongrass tea to our pantry)
Besides my lifestyle learnings I leave you with this beautiful quote from Mark Twain:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
What did you learn from your last adventure and how has it changed your life?