We Recommend…

These are quite simply products, properties and attractions we like. Generally, we’ve purchased them ourselves. If the product has been provided by a sponsor or as part of a blogger outreach campaign, it will be so noted. But unless we like it — channeling Sally Field, REALLY LIKE IT — it won’t make it to the Recommendation list even if we’ve blogged about it.

Travel Essentials

TravelSmith. This is a vendor I’ve liked for quite some time. Really nice lightweight professional clothes, if these factor into your trip. Great accessories as well – things like travel pillows, blankets and so on. Ever since a flight attendant told me that people are always putting their luggage in the overhead next to the pillows and blankets, we DO NOT use the pillows on the plane. I’d rather bring my own or do without. Why? Because just before he rolled that rollerboard onto the plane, your seatmate rolled it into the lavatory. I’m not a germaphobe, but I do draw the line somewhere.  – Susan

Good shoes.

Clark’s Patina Shoe These shoes are really comfortable, weigh virtually nothing, and are great for walking.  Even I can walk across the back yard with falling over something when I wear them, which is remarkable in itself. – Sandy

nikon binoculars  We Recommend...

Gear

Get a pair of compact lightweight binoculars that will fit in your pocket or purse. I bought the Nikon Sportstar 8×25 last summer. As of June 20, 2009, the 10×25 model was available on Amazon for less than US$60.00  Nikon 8202 Sportstar 10 X 25mm Binoculars We Recommend... – Susan

Water Bottles.Whenever possible, we bring our own refillable water bottles with us rather than waste money on disposable bottles. We like CamelBak’s plastic or stainless Better Bottle and SIGG stainless bottles with the Active Top.  If you are interested in the impact of plastic disposable bottles on the environment, check out CamelBak’s Choose to Reuse micro-site. Note: I did some blogger outreach for the CamelBak Choose to Reuse site in Fall 2007. Update 8/23/09: SIGG bottles manufactured before August 2009 have trace amounts of BPA in the lining, but there is no evidence of leaching (hat-tip Cool Mom Picks). The CamelBak bottles are BPA free. – Susan

Books

Fodor’s Around the City with Kids series. We Recommend... We’ve used these guides for Orlando, San Francisco and San Diego. Best part about them is that they fit in your travel bag or backpack, unlike the BIG guidebook. Since we are often at a timeshare or using a conference hotel as a base, lodging information and even restaurant ratings are not as important as knowing the best places to go with kids in an area. Not to mention where to feed them. – Susan

Africa

These are places and services we visited/used during the trip to southern Africa that went above and beyond the call. We’ll have posts that include them but wanted to be sure to highlight them here as well – Susan

Journeys of Distinction – We cannot say enough about the excellent advice, service and arrangements from this company, which is effectively the “house” travel agency of the Rattray Reserves – Mala Mala, Mashatu and Mount Anderson Ranch. They don’t have a website apart from the reservations sections of the game reserves but can be contacted directly at info@journeysofdistinction.co.za Ask for Angela. She handled all our arrangements in Africa, excluding the flights to/from the US. Everything was impeccable.

Wilro Tours, Joburg – Patrick, a freelance tour guide with Wilro Tours, brought us to the Apartheid Museum and on the way back to our hotel, gave us a brief tour of Johannesburg. He also gave us two excellent pieces of advice:

  • Don’t bother changing money. Most places we would be going to would happily take our US dollars
  • Make sure your checked bags are within the weight allowance leaving South Africa to avoid nasty surcharges. Carry books and heavy items in your carry-on.

Southern Sun at OR Tambo Airport, JoBurg – The rooms are standard hotel rooms, but the food is absolutely marvelous. Nothing like the hotel buffet we usually see in the States. And the staff is among the most welcoming and accommodating we have ever experienced. From the front desk to the bellmen to the wait staff  to housekeeping. Especially housekeeping. We arrived back to the hotel (where we  had stayed when we arrived in South Africa) after two days in Livingstone Zambia with a desperate need for clean clothes. It was late afternoon, well after the usual laundry deadline. Plus, we departed for Botswana the following morning at 5am. Nevertheless, the staff rose to the occasion and took care of us. That’s hospitality.

Bushtracks Africa – This company handles the road transfers to and from t he Livingstone, Zambia airport and the hotel we stayed at during our visit to Victoria Falls, the Zambezi Sun. They are also the tour operator at the hotel, and arranged our helicopter tour of the falls and an afternoon game drive in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.