Five Things to Avoid When Traveling to Zanzibar

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I’m going to start a new series where I discuss the top things or problems to avoid when traveling. The first of the series being my most recent trip to Zanzibar, Tanzania:


1. The stress of Being a US citizen when getting a visa.

Courtesy of Goodloe Byron

OK. So you can’t really avoid this one if you are a United States citizen. Most natives from other countries, from the list I saw, can get a temporary 3 month visa. But as soon as they find out you’re from the U.S., your minimum duration of stay for a visa becomes a year. This means you pay $100 instead of $50. On a positive note, as I was entering the airport to depart, one of the security officials that was supposed to be checking my passport and luggage asked me one serious question, “Obama or Trump?” Most of the nations around the world just aren’t huge fans of Mr. Trump. Surprise, surprise! The security official said I answered correctly and let me through without a hassle.


2. Those guys always expecting a tip, even for the most minuscule task.

My man Muchi

I get it. In most developing countries that are used to tourists, these guys are just trying to support their families the best way they know how. However, snatching your suitcase from your hands and carrying it 10 feet to the taxi, then demanding a tip just doesn’t rub me the right way. It’s a step down from theft. In Stone Town you can’t even walk across the street without people hassling you to take a cab ride, or a tour, or buying their garments and jewelry. I’ve never seen it so bad before. That being said, many of the people are friendly. Although he tried to sell me everything under the sun (check his glossy eyes) this gentleman in the photo above was super kind, helpful, and wanted to keep in touch after I left.


3. Nephila spider.

What more do I need to say? Look at this evil creation from Hades! This is more of a personal thing. I realize some people like spiders; They just aren’t my thing. Maybe if they looked fluffier or had kinder eyes or ate all the damned mosquitoes, I would make more of an effort to be more affectionate. But this fucking thing is what nightmares are made of.


4. Hospital visit/getting sick.

There is nothing worse than being on vacation and coming down with an illness. Having to wait at the hospital for ages in the heat and then staying in your hotel room when it’s gorgeous outside while the view from your window is of the beach is the furthest thing from fun. This is all just a part of travel sometimes. You’re most likely going to get sick at some point. Make sure to take precautions while staying hydrated and healthy with bottled water.


5. Don’t go during Ramadan.

Alright. So nothing against the Islamic month of fasting. I’ve participated before. Not because I’m Muslim but because, as I’ve said before, I’ll try anything twice. The problem is finding shops, restaurants, and bars that are open during the day. There aren’t many, and eating or drinking in public is looked at as a bit rude. Even if it’s just water. And I’ll admit, I understand. Also, it’s sort of a ghost town compared to the busy times of the year. Although at night, there is a bunch of awesome street food available.

Zanzibar is a gorgeous place. There are plenty of beaches and cheap, shitty, local beer. It’s fantastic. It’s relatively safe and definitely the kind of place you want to go to just relax and play with giant, ancient tortoises, enjoy whale watching, or go hiking through the forest to find colobus monkeys and bush pigs.

If you have any other travel tips, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

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