February 25, 2015

Issue 2 of Sure Travel Journey - now out!

Sure Travel Journey Magazine Autumn issue
Last year we introduced you to our new quarterly travel, leisure and lifestyle magazine – Sure Travel Journey. If you haven’t seen one yet, pop into your nearest Sure Travel agency to pick up a complimentary copy. Here’s a sneak peek into our hot and hip second issue...

Sure Travel CEO, Vanya Lessing, shares her thoughts on why it’s so important to take the time to travel, living in a global village and travelling when safety is at the top of everyone’s mind.

Here's what was in Issue 1 of the Sure Travel Journey Magazine.

Sarah Duff visits Reunion Island - the intense island that has it all.

Cuba libreRichard Holmes investigates why there has never been a better time to visit Cuba.

How Vusi Thembekwayo travels (Global business speaker. Private Equity CEO. Dragon. – according to his Twitter bio).

Durban re-invented – 10 Reasons why Durban is cooler than ever.

Hotel reviews of Durban’s iconic The Oyster Box and the recently revamped Drostdy Hotel in Graaff-Reinet.

Work or pleasure? Make it both on your next bizcation.

How to save for your dream holiday

Get a glimpse of below the decks as we go behind the scenes of cruising.

Ask a Sure Travel expert – How do South Africans obtain visas for countries that don’t have embassy representation here, like Bosnia or Macedonia? Wayne Gadow, client of Sure Travel Scene in Kempton Park, gets an answer from our visa expert, Jan Schavemaker, MD of Rose Visas.
Comment below with your #AskSureTravel question and we'll answer it in the next issue!

Sure Travel’s Wild Dog initiative, island hopping in the Seychelles, and much more

Pick up your complimentary copy of Sure Travel Journey at your nearest Sure Travel agency.

February 13, 2015

Sure Travel HO staff and their destination loves

What is it that makes you fall in love with a place? The food, the people, the architecture or simply some indefinable factor that makes your heart skip a beat?  Whatever it is, here at Sure Travel we’ve lost our hearts to many places across the globe. This Valentine’s Day, some Head Office staff share their destination loves….

Anthea – Malacca, Malaysia
Malacca is such a special place. It’s a World Heritage Site so basically everything has a meaning and story behind it and the food, and coffee (somewhat surprisingly), is really good. The street markets are a must-do, as is tasting a pineapple tart – they’re amazing!  You can get them anywhere in Jonker Street. I also had the best meal ever at a Baba-Nonya restaurant. Baba-Nonya cuisine is Chinese cooking that uses Malaysian herbs and spices along with Melayu, Chinese and some Indian techniques. It was fusion food long before fusion was a thing!

Malacca is also right next door to James Bond Island. After being featured in the 1974 James Bond movie, “The Man With The Golden Gun”, Khao Phing Kan became popularly known as James Bond Island. Its official name is Khao Phing Kan or Ko Khao Phing Kan, a pair of islands in the Phang Nga Bay, Strait of Malacca. Malacca is also not far from Kuala Lumpur – shop till you drop!

Read about Anthea's Malacca trip here.

Martin – New York
I love New York and it has a special place in my heart because one of my most treasured travel memories is of the city. Performing in the Carnegie Hall! I sang as part of a mass choir consisting of 25 choirs from around the world. New York also has a never-ending vibe unlike anywhere else.

Layla – Singapore
I fell in love with Singapore for so many reasons. It was my first ever international destination I visited (I’ve since visited three times) and its beautiful, green, clean, the people are friendly, it’s safe and easy to get around and you can have any food you can think of! Shopping is an obvious attraction and Bugies Junction is a must-do, as is sampling all the satay. A highlight was that I enjoyed my first night safari there as well.

Jenna – London
London has a special place in my heart as I spent 2 years there after school on a gap year. It will always feel like a second home to me. Some of my favourite places in the city were Wimbledon Park (in the long summer days having a picnic in the park until 10 at night is just the best), drinks and dinner in the vibey, cobblestoned Covent Garden, walking along the Thames in the evenings and the incredible sense of history that surrounds you everywhere.

Yolanda  Dubai
Dubai was my first international trip and I loved it! It’s quite similar to Durban weather-wise – very hot!- and there are so many things to see, nice beaches, shopping, nightlife and everything. People are friendly and accommodating and quite a few of them speak English so it’s no problem communicating. The trains are also superb so it’s easy to get around. Some highlights were the desert safari experience (and the food!) and when we went to a nightclub right at the top of the Burj Khalifa.

Natasha – Israel
I fell in love with Israel when I visited there in 2009 and am excited to go back next year for another visit. I enjoyed the fact that so many places I had read about were brought to life and I absolutely loved the food – lots of hummus, fish, salads, olives and dates. Some highlights were the Jewish Museum, the Garden Tomb and a boat cruise on the Sea of Galilee.

Odete – Antarctica
Antarctica is an amazing destination to visit. We were on a cruise cruising past the various research stations in the area  - soaking in the Jacuzzi drinking port while it’s freezing outside is one of my favourite memories! Some of the wildlife we saw from the ship were leopard seals, whales and Albatross birds. What an out-of-this-world destination and one of my all-time favourite holidays.

Charne – Mauritius
I love Mauritius and although it's somewhat clich├ęd, I would hop on a plane there any time! It’s the ultimate relaxing destination. The beaches, clear water, cocktails and snorkelling are just the best. My favourite hotels on my recent educational were the ultra-luxurious LUX Le Morne and the Oberoi. Next on my Mauritius bucket list is swimming with the dolphins, parasailing and undersea walking on the sea bed.

Shanaaz – Rio de Janeiro
I visited Rio many years ago, flying on SAA’s inaugural direct flight from Joburg, and it still has a special place in my heart. Highlights were Sugar Loaf Mountain (I took the 2 cable cars up there even before I got around to taking the cable car up Table Mountain!), Corcovado, Copacabana beach, etc. Surprisingly most of the people seemed to talk Portuguese rather than Spanish which sometimes made getting around a bit tricky but they were friendly and helpful. Wonderful place.

What destination have you lost your heart to? Comment below and let us know!
Happy Valentine's Day!

February 9, 2015

A Thailand travel story and tips for visiting

Mango rice pudding, bathing elephants and getting drenched in the rain are just some of the awesome memories Taryn Classens, Senior Travel Consultant at Sure Travel 24-7 in Boksburg, made on her educational* visit to Thailand last November…

We were lucky enough to experience Phuket, Khao Lak and Bangkok. When I travelled, Thai Airways was still operating direct flights from Joburg to Bangkok. Unfortunately they don’t fly from SA anymore.

Several airlines offer flights from SA to Thailand; none are direct routes.
Search and compare flights here

We stayed at six different hotels but two of these were my favourites as they were completely out of the ordinary. Having been to Thailand previously, these just stood out to me. The first was Elephant Hills luxury tented camp, where you actually stay in a tented camp in the jungle. Various activities are available to you there such as an elephant interaction where you get to feed and bath the elephants. For travellers wishing to do something totally different, this is it!

Then we got to stay at the 5 star Mai Khao Lak hotel. It’s a stunning property right on the beach. I really enjoyed Khao Lak, as it’s not yet as popular as Phuket which allows you to have a more laid back holiday in a beautiful setting. We were also spoilt as we stayed in pool access rooms and could literally jump into the pool from our patios!

Phuket is the most popular city for South Africans to visit and we stayed the The Patong Merlin Hotel. This is a great hotel as it is right in the heart of Patong where all the action is, but once you enter the hotel it is quiet and serene. You feel like you are miles out of the city.

I am a big believer in trying the local cuisine. Thai food is spicy and if you enjoy spicy food then you are spoilt for choice. If hot stuff is not for you there are plenty of more westernised restaurants. Keep in mind that you will pay more for this than you would a local dish. My favourite meal was the Thai Mango Sticky Rice pudding. Delicious!

•  Pack light and comfortable clothing. Thailand can get extremely hot and humid, which you may not be used to.
• Drinks lots of water (bottled). It’s best to stay hydrated if you want to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
•  Although Thailand is not a malaria area, due to the humidity, there are a surprising number of mozzies. Some mosquito repellent is a good idea.
•  Have cash on you for getting around (tuk tuks) and for general items that you may want to buy along the way.
•  ALWAYS negotiate the price before you get into a tuk tuk. Drivers can always be bargained down to a reasonable amount but they may take advantage if you are unprepared and do not negotiate your fare beforehand. That being said, tuk tuks are a fun and easy way to get around town. Same thing goes with the markets. Always bargain down the price. It is a common and accepted practice.

•  If you are visiting tourist attractions, for example, Simon’s cabaret in Phuket, you WILL be forced to pay to have photos with any of the performers. It is better to know what to expect.

This is one of those you have to laugh so you don’t cry moments. Looking back it is really funny, but at the time we were not impressed! The day our Phi Phi Island Tour was booked, we woke up to pouring rain. We thought the trip would be cancelled…how wrong we were! Apparently it would take an actual hurricane before your Phi Phi Island trip would be cancelled. So we set off with a good attitude, determined to make the best of it despite the weather. It rained the whole day continuously…and the only protection we had were some brightly coloured plastic Ponchos. After a few hours these were also soaked and basically just protecting us from the wind. Now bright spark over here doesn’t pack an extra set of clothes so the dress I was wearing was drenched. When we eventually reached dry land again, the thought of the 2 hour drive back to Khao Lak looking like a drowned rat was not really appealing. Luckily there was a shop at the Marina and I managed to buy myself a T-Shirt. Needless to say, I got more than one strange look arriving back at our 5 Star hotel in my swimming costume covered only by an I HEART Phuket T-Shirt!

• If it’s raining…don’t go on a Phi Phi Island Excursion!
•  Always pack a spare set of clothes when going on a day trip (rain or shine).
•  Know what to expect. Expect breathtaking scenery, but also keep in mind that this is a major tourist destination. There will be loads of tourists and way more boats than you expect to see, but if you can deal with that, then you will get to experience one of the most stunning places on earth!

Don’t be afraid to explore. There is so much to see and do that you will really miss out if you spend most of the time at your resort. If you are nervous getting around on your own, book a day tour.

Besides the fact that it is absolutely beautiful, it is really affordable for South Africans. You get such great value for your money that you can experience so much more and stay a lot longer than you would when visiting other destinations.

*An educational is a trip undertaken by those in the travel industry, usually organised by a tour operator, to allow the individuals to experience first-hand a new destination. The purpose is to educate the consultants on all facets of the destination and will include site inspections of properties, activities on offer, etc. so that they are able to confidently impart this first-hand knowledge and advice to their clients.

Keen for Thailand? Visit our website for more info.
Contact Taryn and Sure Travel 24-7 for all your travel needs:
9 Orkes Road, Sunward Park Ext 1, Boksburg.
Call:  011 896 5295
Email: taryn@travel24-7.co.za
Like them on Facebook here.

Taryn has been in the travel industry for 9 years, is a crazy animal lover, loves sport and spends every Sunday on the soccer pitch. Her first overseas trip was to Spain and she's most definitely an island girl. Sun, sea and sand are her happy places.
Read more about Taryn here

February 3, 2015

Sure Travel wins at the ASATA Diners Club Awards

We are so proud to congratulate the Sure Travel winner in the ASATA Diners Club 2014 Awards. Congratulations to Celia Kluever from Sure African Imprint Travel in Pretoria for winning Corporate Consultant! The winners were announced at a Gala Evening on 28 February at the Montecasino Ballroom in Johannesburg. Well done Celia - we're so proud.

The awards acknowledge travel industry individuals who are inspiration role models with superb attitude, expertise and dedication. Otto De Vries, CEO of ASATA says that “ASATA believes these awards are of great value to the industry in creating a professional environment. This industry awards programme is reflective of the excellence that we have in South Africa’s travel sector.”

Congratulations also to all the Sure Travel finalists:

Laurie Wilkinson, Sure Travel Studio, Pretoria

Robyn Daneel, Sure Stellenbosch Travel, Cape Town
Read an interview with Robyn here. 

Riaana Ferreira, Sure African Imprint Travel, Pretoria
Tessa Hattingh, Sure Etnique Travel, Bloemfontein

Celia Kluever, Sure African Imprint Travel, Pretoria
Maria Simitopoulos, Sure Glenwood Travel, Centurion

Contact these Sure Travel agencies here.