South Africa's "Travel Buddy" travelers help

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Oct 4th, 2005, 08:30 AM
  #1
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South Africa's "Travel Buddy" travelers help

Has anyone used this service recently? Travel Buddy is a network of volunteers who look out for travellers, welcoming and advising them, and making sure that they are safe while moving around the country.
I found this on SouthAfrica.info. It seems that you register before leaving your home country, providing itinerary details. Upon arrival in South Africa, you buy a local SIM card for your cell phone (or a hired one - we plan to hire a phone), contact Travel Buddy and get a phone number to use in emergencies.
This sounds like a good idea, but has anyone tried this? Please let me know this week, as we are leaving next Tues. the 11th for South Africa for our 2 week trip beginning in Joburg, and driving 4 days to the coast and on to Cape Town. We're careful people and will take all precautions and not drive at night etc. Thanks in advance for your input. - Joan
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Oct 4th, 2005, 08:57 AM
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I am not in South Africa at the moment so maybe Selwyn and others can offer their local perspectives as my knowledge is spotty.

There are two schools of thought on this. SATSA apparantly does not endorse this - claiming it to be alarmist as this indicates a very unsafe country.

The feeling is also that too much SMS contact from "streetwise" but unknown locals with no tourism experience can lead to abuse & confusing/mixed messages - even harassment at times.

I have no opinion on this as I don't know how the system works. Hopefully someone can explain it here so all visitors will understand the pros/cons.
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Oct 4th, 2005, 03:59 PM
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climbhighsleeplow,
I have the same reservations that you mentioned about letting a lot of people know just where we plan to travel, and stay; mainly people who may not be thinking of our best interests.
I suppose just having the cell phone with emergency numbers will be all we need for safety.
If someone out there is familiar with this service please give me your input.
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Oct 5th, 2005, 02:32 AM
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Hello,

Whilst I have not used Travel Buddy, I don't think it's at all necessary. I spent a month in SA driving around on my own, and never felt unsafe. I took the usual urban precautions and avoided driving at night on rural roads, and had no problems whatsoever. For me, the idea of unknown people knowing where I was travelling and staying would have increased concerns about security, not lessend them.

If you feel a need to have someone know where you are, leave a copy of your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member at home. If you want to be extremely safe, arrange to call or email that person at specific times.

When you are in South Africa, people are very helpful and friendly and are willing to bend over backwards to help you if you need it. B&B and guesthouse owners and hotel concierges are great sources for local advice on which areas of town are safe, etc. On a more positive note, they can also recommend places which are worth visiting and good restaurants!

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 5th, 2005, 09:54 AM
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Thanks, Jasher,
Your advise, as usual, is excellant. We were thinking the same. We will be staying at B&B's all along the way, taking a phone, so we don't feel that we will be in any difficulty if we're careful.
We'll let everyone know of the good B&B's when we return. Joan
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Oct 5th, 2005, 01:02 PM
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You will love it. People are incredibly wonderful, and the countryside is extraordinarily beautiful. If you hit Capetown, you'll see it is one of the most stunning cities in the world.
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Oct 5th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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LadyOLeisure,
Thanks, we are spending six days in Cape Town and really excited about the entire trip. - Joan
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Oct 5th, 2005, 02:34 PM
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Hello Joan,

Glad my advice was of help. Did you end up using the Portfolio Collection to book your accommodation?

Cheers,
Julian
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Oct 5th, 2005, 05:30 PM
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jasher,
The first B&B is run by a friend of my brother and sister-in-law they knew in Zim for a long time. The couple had to leave Zim, didn't have much so they were able to work running this guesthouse for another Zim friend.
All five of the other guesthouses I located on the listings for AAtravel.co.za Quality Assured lodging site on a South African search. I corresponded with each owner (most are small 3 to 6 rooms, gueshouses), the prices are reasonable, not too low or high. All have secure parking, non-smoking and en-suite baths, supply and english breakfast etc. I was able to pull up photos of each...so we shall discover if this was a good idea. But next trip I will definately check out the Portfolio Collection to book lodging. I didn't learn of it in time, this trip. Thanks so much for all your help. - Joan
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