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Gifts for staff

Macksville...
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Gifts for staff

My husband and I will be travelling to South Africa in May (and on to Botswana, Tanzania and Rwanda). In many cases we will be staying at game lodges and tipping the staff in $USD. We were thinking of also bringing small Aussie gifts to give to staff that have been particularly helpful. Any suggestions as to what to bring, given luggage restrictions?

Thanks for any input in advance.

Johannesburg, South...
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for Johannesburg
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1. Re: Gifts for staff

It would really be better, IMO to forget about gifts, and concentrate on leaving a meaningful tip, in the local currency (Dollar equivalent).

As most local shops will be reluctant to accept foreign money, it is usually necessary for these people to exchange their dollars, often on the black market.

It is sometimes very difficult for people in "the bush", to exchange dollars into local currency, and consequently, changing on the black market, they get ripped off, not getting the full value that the 'tipper' intended.

Randburg, Gauteng...
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2. Re: Gifts for staff

I have found on many travels that the locals who mostly are the local people who work in the lodges and hotels, dont have access not only to exchange money, but to basic supplies for the children who go to school. Many of my clients bring clothes they no longer wear or need and leave them in the room as they go along. Also school supplies like ball point pens, colour pencils, exercise books and pencils, erasers, go a long way to make them very happy. I have even been asked by the women for underwear such as bras, where i have taken what i had out of my luggage to give to them and conintued with the one i was wearing! In Zimbabwe for instance, the menfolk are so desperate they offer to give you beautiful carvings in exchange for your denims or sneakers. I hope this helps....

Lyn - Owner - Thorntree Tours and Safaris

Macksville...
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3. Re: Gifts for staff

Thank you both for those suggestions. I will make sure we change enough $USD at the airport to give tips in local currencies. Also, like the idea of school supplies. With the clothing, we are travelling very light, but will leave what we can at the end of the trip.

Johannesburg, South...
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4. Re: Gifts for staff

Being South African I am well aware of the struggles of living in rural Africa. Whenever my husband and I travel out of major cities we pack a 'gift bag' for each stop of our stay and take it to the local school. We like to include puzzles, books, stationary, a South African Flag and footballs.

I think a bit of 'world' knowledge is very important for kids, so I am sure there would be Australian colouring in books or puzzels that would be cool to take with you.

Otherwise if you want to take more personalised gifts (say for the game driver etc) perhaps Oz t-shirts?

Macksville...
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5. Re: Gifts for staff

Thanks also Sarah. We might also take some Aussie caps as they will stack well in our luggage. Have lots of great ideas now.

Many thanks

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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6. Re: Gifts for staff

Through the years of running safari tours, I have settled on some suggestions for clients and they echo much of what is mentioned above. Weight limits on baggage for overseas travelers affects the thought of bringing much in the way of clothing, but caps, T-shirts with logos - these are appreciated. New, or nearly so, please. School supplies are terrific gifts - and my feeling is, bring enough for one good gift that's big enough for a full classroom. Pens, strange to say, are especially good. Strange? They are so cheap we wouldn't instinctively think they would be in short supply in a school, but they commonly are. Notepads are just too heavy. Books? Picture books suitable for young children that can be passed around and used by all the class are good.

Tipping - As much as possible, in local money. Most lodges now will let you charge tips to your bill and pay it all by credit card. Convenient for travelers, not nearly so good for the staff. I ask, make an effort to get rand in South Africa and pula in Botswana. In Zimbabwe, the national currency is now the US dollar, so for Americans, that one is simple.

Dave Patterson - Owner - The Africa Safari

geneva
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7. Re: Gifts for staff

If you can, try to do your shopping for school supplies when you arrive in SA, that way you "kill 2 birds with 1 stone", you support the local economy and you don't have a spend a fortune carrying it all with you...

Tempe, Arizona
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for South Africa, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
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8. Re: Gifts for staff

Great advice! Wish I had thought of it before I wrote my post....

Tucson, Arizona
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for Quito, Ecuador
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9. Re: Gifts for staff

Yikes, Bwanadave, what happens when we charge our tips to our credit cards? I did that at three lodges and appreciated the convenience, and the ability to leave a generous tip instead of getting caught short of cash with no access to an ATM.

10. Re: Gifts for staff

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Removed on: 06 August 2013, 15:05
Edited: 06 August 2013, 15:05