Jeff and I spent the weekend working out the details of the African portion of our RTW trip. This will be the second leg of our journey, after 60 days or so in Europe, but because it is also probably the single most expensive part of the entire trip, we wanted to book flights and car rentals early, to take advantage of lower pricing and to insure we could all get on the same flights. We have been using Google Flights to look for deals, since you can put in a number of departure cities and find the best deals across many airlines and dates. This showed us that if we could be flexible on departure cities and dates (which we can!), we could find significant discounts--sometimes as much as $1000 savings, just by leaving one day earlier or later. Unfortunately, you cannot book flights directly with Google flights, and finding those same deals on other sites often proved challenging, if not impossible. Then, Jeff discovered the "explore" option on Kayak, where you can see prices to any location in the world, from any location in the world. Then, you can plug the best options in to their engine, and they will compare fares across sites like Priceline, Expedia and others. You can even purchase tickets directly through one of these sites, so you don't have to waste time trying to find the same flight elsewhere on the web. And, you can get great deals on rentals cars on Kayak's site, as well.
So, long story short, we booked our Europe-to-Africa flight, as well as our intraAfrica flights. (This time around the best deals came through Expedia, and we took advantage of significant discounts.) I'm so stinkin' excited! I spent a little time in Africa (Zambia and Zimbabwe) just after I graduated from high school, and I have always wanted to go back and share that experience with the people I love. We will get to spend three weeks in Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa), visiting Victoria Falls, Cape Town and Kruger National Park. And, as a complete bonus, our return flight gives us a nice long layover in Cairo, Egypt, so we will most likely get to see the pyramids and the Sphinx. This wasn't even on our radar for places to visit, so we are super-excited to have this side trip thrown in!
To keep our travels organized, and to insure we don't overlook anything from flight times to the local weather, we are using the TripIt trip planner. You can simply forward your travel confirmation emails to them, and they will put everything in order, from beginning to end, all in one easy-to-navigate spot. So far, we are very impressed with it! And, it's really, really fun to see our adventure coming together in black and white!