Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Our First Snag in Planning our Trip to South Africa

Welcome to my weekly summary of how our trip planning is going for our upcoming family trip to South Africa in December of 2012. Please look for it every Tuesday morning. I started it last week as I realized that while I preach that people should "think outside of the box" when choosing a great family vacation, many people may not know what goes into planning one.

So we are going to share our experiences of planning this trip with you, and to be honest it will keep me on track for planning and booking our trip.

As I said last week, this is a graduation trip for Montana. She will be graduating from High School in June of 2013 (we can't believe it!) It will be our last big family trip for a while we guess, so we want it to be great.

We booked our flights in February as we used more than half of our airline loyalty points with Air Canada. Warren flies a lot for our regular bricks and motor business and has racked up quite a few. Usually when people from our side of North America (we are in Toronto, Canada) fly to South Africa, they fly East to Europe and then south to South Africa (to Johannesburg or Capetown).

Because we are flying over the Christmas holidays, and South Africa is a popular destination for Europeans, the only flights that would work out for us using our points was for us to fly south first to Sao Paulo Brazil and then east to Johannesburg. This will give us a 15 hour layover in Sao Paulo.

Here is the Snag:
After reading a post from a friend of mine that is going to Brazil next week, I realized that we will need visas if we leave the international transit area of the Sao Paulo airport! Our plan was to rent a hotel room, have a nap and a shower and then go back to the airport for our next flight that night. My initial research shows that a tourist visa will be about $100 each! That just increased our "hotel" bill by $300! We can't apply for our visas until 90 days before we plan on leaving, so we will have until then to decide if a shower and nap is just worth $300. Otherwise it will be a long day in the airport!

I guess one of my "things to do" will be to research the Sao Paulo airport and see what there is to do there if you have a long layover! Maybe there is a loyalty lounge!

Montana at the Air Canada Lounge in Toronto

So our lesson learned: Do you research on visas for stopover countries as well as the country you are visiting!

Look out for our next update next week - we are looking at our itinerary next...

What would you do? Please comment below and share with us what you would do if you have a 15 hour layover and it will cost $300 for visas, just to stay in a hotel?

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