Travelling into Africa as a Small Business owner

By | 26th September 2016


CEO of SMEasy, Darlene Menzies, shares her top travel tips!

As a small business owner, travelling for work doesn’t often hold the perks of first-class flying, a PA to book you into a five-star hotel or a luxury car service waiting to pick you up on the other side. More often than not you’re doing your own booking, hunting for the cheapest flight and a decent hotel on a limited budget.

Travelling as an entrepreneur requires some shortcuts and it really helps to know some of the tricks of the trade. Entrepreneur and CEO of SMEasy, Darlene Menzies, says that she’s learnt a few things that have made travelling in Africa much easier as a small business owner.

  • Don’t use your South African SIM card: If you use international roaming when you travel, you will be in for nasty surprise when you get home and get your cell phone bill. Menzies recommends that you remove your SA SIM card before you land and go straight to a mobile service provider at the airport when you arrive. Buy a local SIM card as well as some airtime and data (you can ask the person serving you to help you load it). The marvel of modern technology is that as soon as the data is loaded you will have immediate access to your WhatsApp messages, email and the internet without changing any settings. The only difference is that you have a different cell phone number. You can use this number to make local and international calls until you fly home. This way you can keep in touch with your clients, staff and family while you are away without breaking the bank.
  • Leave a voice message on your phone before you leave SA: Menzies also recommends that you record a new voice mail message before you leave South Africa letting clients know that you will be travelling out of the country and will not be accessible on your usual phone number. Let them know that you will have easy and immediate access to emails while you are away, and depending on the nature of your business and relationship with your clients you could also let them know that you are available on WhatsApp.
  • Use Uber: It’s by far the most convenient, and typically the cheapest, way of getting around when you land in a foreign country. Uber is a reputable, safe taxi service that allows you to hire your own private driver via your cell phone. One of the great features is that you can check the estimated fare cost for your journey before the taxi arrives. This is very helpful when you’re in a place with which you’re not familiar. It also gives you an idea of the distance travelled and helps you know what you’re in for so you can’t be taken for the wrong ride. Another significant benefit is that you don’t have to pay cash; Uber simply deducts the fare from your credit card. This is very helpful if you don’t have any local currency with you. An important tip to remember if you use Uber in another country – make sure you change your phone number in the Uber’s setting to the cell number you are using in that country. If you don’t do this, the Uber driver won’t be able to contact you should they need to.
  • Use your phone as a hotspot: If you need access to the internet and there is no Wi-Fi in the vicinity you can easily turn your smartphone into your own personal Wi-Fi___33 zone, as long as your phone has some data loaded. It’s extremely easy to do this, even for non-techies. You simply select the “settings” option on your phone, look for the “tethering” or “personal hotspot” option and then turn it to the ‘on’ position. Once it’s on you, can select this Wi-Fi option on your laptop and voilà, you have internet access.

Travelling doesn’t have to be a stressful and expensive experience; do your homework, plan well and follow useful travel tips. Menzies quips that the best things to pack if you’re travelling to Africa are patience and flexibility. It’s a colourful, incredible, challenging and unforgettable experience. 

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