Going to Africa has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. So for my birthday (50 - eek!), my husband Stan and I finally decided to take the plunge and plan the trip of a lifetime to Africa.
To answer a question I get a lot - "How did you manage a 16 hour plane ride around the world?!" - here’s my travel essentials for just about any trip:
Discovery Collection: (It's TSA approved!) The first thing I did after take off was wash off all of my makeup with the Radiant Cleansing Balm. Then I applied Sheer Renewal Cream every few hours to keep my skin moisturized.
Beauty Water: If the cabin pressure had my skin feeling tight, I would reach for my Beauty Water for a quick, hydrating spritz. (Also TSA approved!)
Regular Water: I’m sure you read it all the time, you HAVE to stay hydrated on long trips. It is tough to avoid those complementary diet sodas, but don’t give in! Your body will thank you when your feet hit the ground and you are not swollen. If you are like me and want to mix it up, grab a few water flavoring packets. They're super portable, and sometimes a girl just needs a sip of lemonade while cruising at 39,000 feet!
iPad: Loaded with my favorite documentaries.
Noise canceling headphones: Not only are they good for watching movies, but they are great when it's time to snooze.
Our first stop was Johannesburg, South Africa. We visited the Apartheid Museum and Nelson Mandela’s home. I imagined what it would be like while researching our trip, learning about the culture and history of South Africa, but I was not prepared for the impact those “tourist attractions” would have on me. Both experiences truly are indescribable.
From Johannesburg, we took a small plane to Kruger National Park, where we spent five days on safari. Every morning at 5:30AM, we would set out with a tracker and a guide to roam around the wilderness in a Land Rover with the most interesting people from all over the world.
In those five days, I had the chance to photograph all five animals on my photo bucket list - which is supposedly pretty rare! Seeing them all in their natural habitat was amazing and a little scary sometimes. Our guides had to ease my fears a couple (ok, a few) times.
Now guys, I don’t know if I can stress enough how much I LOVE elephants. I’ve been obsessed with these magical creatures my whole life. In the picture below, we came across a momma and her one week old baby. I literally cried with happiness! One afternoon, I spent a full hour taking video of an elephant bathing in the river just outside our villa.
In between safari treks, there was time for swimming, napping, high teas, and sunset gazing. I almost can’t find words to describe how I felt in that place. The adventure was spiritual, in a way - leaving behind the day to day hustle and being in this breathtaking place. It’s a humbling, exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Next up, we decided it was time for some R&R, resort-style, on the beach in Mozambique, where I didn’t wear shoes for 5 days! (Amazing!!) The beach here is the most beautiful, luxurious place I have ever visited in my life!
One day, we ventured out to explore the local village and brought supplies to a school. As if the safari wasn’t humbling enough, visiting the school really opened my eyes and gave me a sense of humanity. I truly was thrilled to see all those sweet smiling faces. And even though we couldn’t communicate verbally, I could feel their love and happiness - I hope they could feel mine.
My favorite part of this trip was the balance of adventure and relaxation. We spent time in the big city and in the middle of nowhere. We witnessed some of the most beautiful scenery and amazing people. We laughed. We cried. We reminded ourselves every day to be grateful for this experience and for the incredible opportunities we have been given. I hope my thirst for adventure is never quenched, and I hope my journey inspires YOU to dream big and travel outside of your comfort zone.