It’s been a minute!

I’ve been meaning to write about my cycling experience in Mallorca, however, things have been hectic and stressful amid all these covid19 news! ( I will write about this someday)

Am grateful that my family and I are doing well and trying to stay as positive as possible even when everything around is very scary with all the bad news which am sure we all know whats the current situation.

On a positive note, Tanzania has been receiving divine favours by having only few cases of the covid19 and zero deaths, which is amazing since we know some of the countries are having it very hard. I hope the number of cases will decrease and not increase.

In Riyadh, the kingdom have been taking great precautions and this is our third week all international flights have been suspended, schools have been closed, restaurants and malls are closed, and we have a new curfew where no one should be out after 7pm and before 6am.

The process has been very smooth so far and we appreciate the efforts. We all need to keep doing our part until this situation is managed and controlled.

Everyone has been fairly considerate and people have not gone crazy with toilet paper shopping😅 or food shopping like what we hear from other countries which is very good and refreshing. The only thing that runs out as soon as its restocked is hand sanitizers.

All our travels plans for this year have been cancelled at a moment and its okay. Once everything is back to normal we’ll evaluate and decide on what to do.

I appreciate all the health care people and authorities who are on the frontline fighting against this pandemic disease, I hope we all stay grounded and safe to help them help those in need of their services.

Sending love and positivity to everyone out there, we’re in this together and lets not forget to pray for each other.

How does covid-19 affect my travels?

I first heard about it end of december 2019 and to be honest, I did not know much and had no knowledge about it apart from the scary news from the media platforms. I decided to educate myself about this scary disease and will share what I learnt and hopefully someone else will benefit from this.

Corona virus is an outbreak of disease that is believed to have started from Wuhan, China and its believed to have originated from the seafood market in Wuhan which also sells wild animals.

Symptoms are dry cough, fever and breathing problems. It seems pretty mild to lots of people and probably dont even end up to the hospital. But, we only know about the more severe cases where people have developed viral pneumonia and those people obviously ended up at the hospital and all deaths have been amongst those people.

Most patients are over 40 years of age and the youngest diagnosed is 12/13 years which means small children have not been affected. Those who died in most cases had other health issues already like heart diseases, cancer, etc which made them vulnerable. Unfortunately, there’s no actual treatment for the virus.

Should you wear a mask? Most public health authorities say its not necessary if you are okay. However, keep distance from anyone who has a cough because they dont think particals can travel more than a metre away.

In China they are advised to wear masks so that they can protect people who are not sick and thats because many people have the virus already and they need to keep fighting against it. While in other countries its not as bad and its not really a sensible precaution to wear a mask if not sick.

Now back to the question, have I changed any travel plans because of Covid19? Yes. The situation is scary and all we hear on the media is the bad news of how number of death is increasing daily. We had to cancel our March trip and hopefully in the near future the situation will improve and we will start to hear more of the good news and less of the bad news.

I guess one can only decide to either change the travel plans or not depending on where they are going and what feels right to them. Also lets not forget to be human by saying hurtful things to people from the countries with high rate of infection. To some, these places are home and others have lost their loved ones to Corona Virus which means its hard as it is, no need to rub salt on an open wound.

So many sectors have been affected in the world, tourism and entertainment sectors being directly affected because so many things have been cancelled or are being rescheduled. Stay safe, be positive and be helpful by educating people about Covid19 and prevention.Don’t forget to spread Love! Together we can fight against this Corona Virus.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

This trip was not on my annual travel plans last year, however, it was one of the highlights of my trips especially after I decided I want to start writing about my travel experiences. And I was lucky to have my U.S visa, I didn’t need to apply for one in Mexico!

My trip to Puerto Vallarta was long😅 very long!! By the way, its pronounced Puerto Vayarta. I was in Riyadh, but I had to go to Dar es salaam, drop off my son, then flew to Miami to surprise my young sister who had no clue I was there, then finally flew into Mexico and had a very long layover of 7 hours before I made it to Puerto Vallarta! (It was worth it, I promise)

I met amazing young women, very well connected and doing amazing things out in the world. I learnt so much from them and it inspired me with the light of how to start on my journey.

I stayed at Hotel SanTropico, such a beautiful colourful place with lots of cute spots for pictures or just relaxing, very spacious rooms with a lounge area and a furnished kitchen. Loved it and I had two beautiful roommates in the villa.

This lovely hotel is just 5 minutes drive from the airport and its about 2 usd per ride with an uber. The hotel staff were very friendly and I will never forget the delicious authentic mexican food that was prepared daily for us.

I also spent a day in Sayulita with the girls, it was about an hour drive from Hotel San Tropico. Sayulita was an interesting city/village surrounded by beautiful beaches and decorated shopping streets. I tried the local food and again it was very good.

I was lucky to visit Sabal Playa beach club in Nuevo Vallarta for the day ( thanks to the pangea dreams team) I had the best guacamole that I wont forget anytime soon. The mexican cuisine was very authentic and delicious in a very artistic way! And when the sun is setting, you get to enjoy different shades of the sky, from yellow, orange to pink, just amazing and highly recommended.

I did not know what to expect in mexico, however, I enjoyed my time with the girls and learnt some few spanish words. I am grateful to have experienced it with the pangea dreams team. (Follow them on their ig: @pangeadreams and if you decide to join us on the next retreat please check out their website and don’t forget to mention, I recommended them to you❤️)

Traveling with a child!

Traveling with my son has been a game changer! I can’t just wake up in the morning and decide to go anywhere without thinking of who can help take care of him while am gone, if I’m not taking him with me. Or what I need to take with me and if I need to do the last minute shopping or not. It’s all about planning and more planning.

On the first trip with my son, we were going to Munich, and I thought I was prepared enough and had everything I thought I would need to make our trip smooth and we considered a night flight because he would sleep through the night which he did for most of it thankfully.

What I forgot to pack was my change of clothes in the carry-on bag and ofcourse he got sick right before take-off and threw up on me😅 the only thing I had was a kitenge that I used to cover myself over my then soaked tshirt after he was changed.

So here’s the list of the things you need to consider when traveling with your little ones😁

  • Checklist – have a checklist on everything you think you might need in the flight and on your entire trip. I love traveling light so this helps not to overpack or forget anything important.
  • Food – have your childs’ food or milk and snacks prepared and packed. I had the avent milk powder dispenser that worked amazing for me. But anything that works for you consider it.
  • Wet wipes and diapers – can you imagine if you forget to pack either of these for whatever reasons? Haha.. I can assure you it wont be fun and it might turn out to be one of your longest eventful flight.
  • Toys – dont forget the favorite toys if he/she has any. These will come to your rescue when you least expect it. Keep your child busy and entertained (most parents are against screen time these days but please do whatever that works for you both)
  • Backpack over a cute handbag – when I’m traveling with my son I prefer having a backpack over my regular travel handbag and a carry on bag because its easier to manage and have more storage room.
  • Portable baby stroller/pram – whoever invented these things is a genius and i love him/her. Portables strollers come handy at the airports and if you love traveling light then you dont need to take your regular stroller if its big. Life becomes much easier with a stroller.
  • Be spontaneous – when you travel with a child you have to be ready to change plans because sometimes they fall asleep and you dont want to wake them up. And sometimes they get cranky or they just get tired.
  • Child friendly accommodations – these days I always think about playrooms or playgrounds and toddlers activities. Play area in the facility is always a bonus and keeps the kids busy when at the hotel. And for long layovers try to find the play area at the airport, most of them have one.

Traveling with kids is not always cute, do what you’ve got to do to make that flight and trip as smooth as possible. If you have any suggestions that are not listed please comment below and it might be helpful to someone.

How do I manage to Travel?

Traveling is fun, expensive and can be exhausting and frustrating (Yes. I said it) and it takes a lot of efforts to be able to go to places but also very thrilling and exciting. I love it 🙂 So, how do I manage to travel?

Mallorca, Spain

At this point I also check on the nearest consulate or embassy from where I’ll be applying from (in my case Tanzania). If there’s no representatives in the country, I would email them to ask on how to best send in my applications and what is the process.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the clean arranged stamps!

First, I normally research on the places I want to go and if I can go. What does this mean? It means before I decide where to go next I must know what are the visa requirements considering our passport is not that strong, I almost always need a visa.

Serbia

If the respective country has visa exemption with a certain visa, they will always tell you on their response. (By the way, you can ask of this information too if they do not mention on the email and email communication is best because I can always show the immigration at the entry point if needed. They sometimes have 1000 questions so it helps when you beat them to it with correct information and it might save you both time)

Mallorca

For example, I applied for multiple entry schengen visa last year when I wanted to go to Croatia. It was easier for me that way because they do not have any representatives in Tanzania. And I used my US visa to enter Mexico too. We have a consulate in Dar es salaam, however, the US visa made it easier for me and gave me an opportunity to connect with my Pangea Dreams family.

Pangea Dreams Family (Mexico)

Once I have all the necessary details, I start planning. This is where I check my finances and calendar. I plan most of my annual trips end of November or early December. If you want to travel you must have the budget for it, and depending on what you want or where you want to go; you can decide on when to start the visa application process and when to book your flights and accommodation(s).

Ireland

Its good to be keen on when to send in your applications and in most embassies you can apply for your visa as early as three months prior to your travel and allow up to 14 working days as visa processing time. (It could take less days depending on the embassy/consulate procedures)

Mindset and Determination, you have to want it bad enough to make it happen. There are always challenges in life and reasons not to do something you love but If you set your mind to it and are determined you can travel to more places than you ever thought you could! I understand that traveling is very expensive and more when you’re in Tanzania. (Flight fares can be insanely expensive)

Zürich

However, you don’t need to fly business class to reach your destination and it does not have to be a five-star hotel accommodation at your destination. This means you can still reach your desired destination and visit the tourists attractions and eat the local food and enjoy learning the new culture on a budget.

Mallorca

And if you are not ready to travel out of the country, its okay, there’s so many people coming to your country to enjoy the above mentioned and you can do the same! Go to that city and explore the tourist attractions, learn the history, visit those national parks, climb the mountains, cycle to undiscovered locations, enjoy the nature and do not forget to have fun.

Dar Active Cyclists (DAC)

What’s the fuss with the U.S Visa?

We’ve all heard of how hard it is to get the U.S visa and especially if you’re from the developing countries like Tanzania. Jokes aside, this is one of those visas that one can legit celebrate once done successful😅

US Visa page

Many people might not know the struggle of visa applications and the American embassies knows how to be thorough on their application processes. Not to say other countries are not but if you’ve done the process you do understand what I mean.

Statue of Liberty

The process itself is fairly straight forward, and I would say its devided into 4 phases:

  • Filling the online form and submission (DS-160) Its a few pages form, and its easier if you do it yourself because you need to provide your personal informations, reasons for travel, family history, itinerary, host details, etc (yes its a lot of information and the good news is you can save your form if not done and get back to it later or in few days)
  • Payments for visa fee (160 USD) you can pay by airtel money or cash at City Bank (I like paying by cash because the money is non refundable and the mobile network system can be challenging at times.) Other nationalities can find the same information at their respective consulate or embassies because the money is paid in local currency.
  • Set up your appointment for interview ( after the payment is registered on the system, takes about 24hrs or less. Thats when you can pick a date and time for your interview)
  • Interview ( regardless of what you filled on the form, this physical interview will determine if you qualify for the visa or not) my advice: do not provide any false information and come back home before your visa expires
Riyadh, KSA

Speaking of my experience, I normally get one year multiple entry visa, and I’ve always been grateful for that considering the paid $160 visa application fee. (Not sure if everyone else gets the same or not) They could have given me the exact number of days I request but they are always very generous. (I know a country that gave me exactly 7 days that I requested)

Miami, Fl

What more can you do with this visa? There’s a few more countries that would give you visa exemption to U.S Visa holders. And honestly it comes very handy, at one point I wanted to visit Panama but the nearest consular from Tanzania is South Africa, after calling them and trying to figure out how i can get the visa to Panama, I was happy to know I had visa exemption as long as my US visa was valid!

Panama

Here’s the list of the 23 countries/ territories you can visit with your american visa, every country/territory have its own requirements and limitations, so please visit the respective embassies website for further information before visiting and incase there are changes or updates:

Montenegro

The countries offer visa exemption to US Visa holders because of strict screening done when applying for your visa, they make sure you have strong ties to your home country (family, assets, work/business,etc) and for financial reasons (a good screening system is expensive, therefore these countries might be taking advantage that if you were screened by the US then its enough, they dont need to worry about it)

Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Antigua and Barbuda, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, Qatar, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Korea, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom (24hrs only and while on transit and its available at Heathrow airport only)

Serbia

Therefore, take advantage of this amazing opportunity if you have the U.S Visa and visit other places. All you need is good planning around your time and finances and you should be good to go. Let me know in the comments where you’ll be heading this year. Am thinking of taking advantage of my US visa and will be visiting Georgia later in the year💃🏾

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Where can I go visa free?

Where can you go with your Tanzanian passport without worrying about visa applications? I think this is a very good question that many might not know the answer to it..

Cape Town

Visa application process can be such a pain for different reasons, ( this will be a story of its own topic) the good news is; Tanzanian citizens have a lot of places to go around the world with either a quick online application (e-visa) or visa on arrival if not free entry.

In Africa a Tanzanian citizen can visit 29 countries visa free or entry visa on arrival and some countries with electronic visa application. Here’s a list: Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cape Verde, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. E-Visa: Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Djibouti, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Sáo Tomé & Principe.

North America and South America have a total of 15 countries: Bolivia, Ecuador, Antigua & Barmuda, Barbados, Belize, The Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica,Nicaragua, St.Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines. E-Visa: Suriname

Asia has a good number on us too: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines and Singapore. E-Visa: Cambodia, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Qatar and India.

Europe: Georgia (e-visa)

Oceania: Fiji, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Unrecognized/ Partially recognized countries: I know 😁 and there’s Dependent and autonomous territories: Here’s the combined list: Northen Cyprus, Palestine, Somali Land, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Hong Kong, Macau, Cook Islands, Niue, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Monserrat and Pitcairn Islands. E-Visa: Ascension Island and Saint Helena.

This list gives the Tanzanians a wide range of 87 countries (including the unrecognized/partially recognized countries) and territories that they can visit visa free or with online application (e-visa). As of January 7th 2020, the Tanzanian passport ranks at 73 in terms of travel freedom tied with Zambian Passport. It might not be the best position but there are options for good and beautiful destinations.

This is Neema!

Hello, my good name is Neema. Neema is a Swahili name to mean Grace. I love traveling and I get excited at the thought of going places and even more when it’s somewhere I’ve never been to. Growing up I did not have the luxury of traveling anywhere out of Tanzania and my first trip abroad was in 2009 when I went to America for my master’s degree. Before that I was a flight attendant and was fortunate enough to be able to fly to different places like South Africa, Uganda and The Comoro’s Islands. However, those trips did not count per se because I was working and did not get to explore the places apart from airports and hotels when we had night-stops! I still enjoyed what I did and loved my job.

I was determined to go abroad for my masters degree because I wanted to see what the world looked like and get exposure and learn new things apart from the academic world. We have very good and accredited universities in Tanzania, however, my main purpose for traveling to America was to challenge myself and of course I loved the idea of living in a new country all by myself 🙂 Two years later, I returned back home, fulfilled the purpose, happy and motivated.

Since then, I’ve been to 29 countries and 17 states in United States of America. I never thought I would be writing about my travels or the experiences because am a leisure traveler, I don’t do it as part of my job, however, I won’t complain if it somehow pays me:)

I hope someone somewhere will be inspired by my stories. There’s a lot to talk or write about and I won’t be the most organized person when it comes to these stories, but I still hope you enjoy reading through or just enjoy the pictures 🙂

I’m a Tanzanian and I’ve lived in Tanzania most of my life and I love my country. With that being said, I’ll be highlighting about all the good things in Tanzania and I will also be writing about my experiences traveling abroad, visa requests and the processes and lots of other tips that you can benefit from.

I guess I should also mention that I’m married and have a son😍 and I come from a big family of seven kids😜 Love them all too much and maybe some of them might be gracing our page once in a while 😁 They might not let me but lets wait and see.