I’m thrilled to have on the blog today Chelsea with @familybeachtravel, an Instagram account I’ve been following for a while now, and one dedicated to family travel inspiration and tips. They are a family of surfers based in San Diego, and travel all around the world surfing and exploring with their two kids! Here they share with us their family vacation to South Africa, a country I’ve never been to before but hope to visit some day.
In regards to family travel, Chelsea says, “We decided to take our kids with us on our travels, because we want them to experience these foreign cultures and we want to share these experiences with them. We also started @familybeachtravel to inspire others to get out more and to see the world. Lots of couples cite kids as reasons they don’t travel, and we feel that you don’t need to stop traveling just because of the young ones. They make traveling a little more challenging and a little less relaxing, but it is really awesome taking them around the world and watching them learn new things and say things in different languages!!”
Below is my interview with Chelsea on their South African vacation:
How did you decide on South Africa as a destination to take a family vacation?
We decided on South Africa because it was winter here and summer there. It was off-season (smaller crowds) at Jeffrey’s Bay, which has some of the best waves in the world, and we had always wanted to go to South Africa for the culture, food, waves and safaris. We had a few week window to travel and wanted to do a big trip and do something memorable for the kids.
My husband and I took both of our kids, our daughter was 2 and our son was 10 months old.
What time of year did you go and how was the weather?
We went in the first two weeks of March. The weather was perfect. It is late summer there and it barely rained. It was hot, but not unbearable.
Where did you stay and how did you discover it? What were the accommodations and amenities like?
We stayed at a surf house in Jeffrey’s Bay and then we stayed in a hotel near Tsitsikama Park and at a game lodge (called Nyaru Game Lodge ) near Mossel Bay and then at a hotel in Cape Town. We found all of these accommodations through Airbnb. We always go for simple accommodations and avoid luxury travel. We travel economically and found places that had kitchens, space for two kids, a crib for the baby…etc. We went for location and proximity to what we wanted to do. The game lodge had the coolest accommodation. We stayed in an african hut. It was the coolest place I have ever stayed in.
What kind of activities did you do on the trip?
We went on a safari at Addo Elephant National Park, surfed a lot, hiked, saw national landmarks (Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain), walked around town and hung out at beaches. We even saw a bunch of penguins at one of the beaches.
What were the highlights for you? And the kids?
The highlights for us were everything. From the perfect waves to the scenic drives, the good food, the beautiful nature, the safari was the most unique experience though! That was probably the kids’ favorite experience.
How was the food? Did you discover some favorite restaurants?
The food was great. We ate at a lot of really good causal restaurants all over the place. I can’t remember the names of most of the places but we didn’t have a bad meal. We always ask the locals where they recommend and it always ends up being the best!
What are your top tips for taking this kind of vacation?
Our top tips for taking kids on vacation are making them go with the flow. Trying to find compromise for things that they would like and things that you would like. Our kids are so young, that we just make them do what we want to do and they end up loving it. We all love being outdoors and exploring nature. The flights weren’t even as bad as we thought they would be. We connected from LAX to MUN and had an 18 hour layover, so we were able to get a hotel and walk around and eat some really good German food. We did the same on the way back. It was a good way to break up a 52 hour door to door travel time!!!!!!!
Were there any challenges?
Most of the challenges were logistics, planning. There was so much to do and such little time to do it. When we were there, we didn’t have any challenges. Everything went really smooth.
Did you feel the trip was good value for what you got?
The trip was an insanely good value for what we got. The exchange rate between USD and ZAF Rand is insane, so once we were there, everything was really cheap. We got really good deals on the flights too!
Would you recommend this vacation to others?
We would absolutely recommend this vacation to others. Especially those who love adventure and being outdoors. Initially, we were a little worried because we heard so much about crime in ZAF, but we decided that shouldn’t hold us back…We travel a lot and use common sense, so we realized we would not be putting ourselves in bad situations. Of course, anything can happen, but we were prepared and nothing happened at all. It requires a lot of research before you leave, but once you know where to go and what to avoid, you can relax and enjoy the trip.
Thanks so much, Chelsea, for joining me! Go follow her at @familybeachtravel now!
You may enjoy our other Travel Exchange posts: