Military Travel – Useful TDY Travel Tips

If you have orders to travel TDY (temporary duty yonder), you have a choice to make it a smooth experience or a difficult time. From the moment you get to the airport, to the speed at which you are reimbursed for your out-of-pocket expenses after you return, a handful of tips can easily tip the scales in your direction. Why not avoid a bunch of frustration? Consider applying all the tips below, and you will enjoy your TDY. You’ll become a travel specialist fast!

Tips and Information

A. Make one number out of multiple similar expenses by adding accurately.

Look at all the different taxes on a hotel room receipt. Add them up, and make that number: “Hotel tax,” for example. Make it easy for the person reviewing your voucher to pay you.

B. Do everyone’s job to make a smooth road for you.

Don’t wait for DTS to contact you. After submitting, check on the progress of your voucher and take care of any problems fast. Be a “Nice squeaky wheel.” You can call anybody repeatedly about anything as long as you are nice. You’ll catch more bees with honey than with vinegar, and you’ll get a reputation for being a military travel professional.

C. Join every travel club and get every travel advantage card.

Current rules let service members keep miles and points. You don’t determine how you’ll travel; the government does. Because you’ll have so many cards, get something to carry all those cards in an organized fashion. If you start out organized, you’ll find the points and miles add up. You’ll enjoy that free flight or vacation down the road because you started out organized.

D. Keep your stuff neat in your hotel room.

It’s easier to see if someone has gone through it while you were gone. It is also easier to “drag bag” when you’re leaving a room because you are less likely to leave something behind. Military travel professionals don’t find themselves frantically calling the hotel from the airport to see if the maid found a watch in the room!

E. Don’t let your voucher sit there for five days on your return.

Complete your TDY by filing your voucher as soon as you get back. You’ll appreciate getting your money back sooner rather than later.

F. Scan your receipts.

If you fax them they may not be readable. Check all your expenses twice. Do everything you can to make it clear and easy to process your voucher. Your professional processing of your voucher will be appreciated.

Before you leave for the airport on TDY:

1. Make sure that your orders are finalized.

You will also need a vocal order (VOCO). Take off without it and you may not get your money back for some expenses. Yes, you are serving your country but that shouldn’t mean taking money out of your pocket to do it.

2. Make a TDY envelope for every trip.

Maintain an envelope with related Operations Order (OPORD). This envelope should also be home to your itinerary, orders, and receipts. Your life will be so much simpler if you keep all the papers from one trip in one envelope.

3. Does your travel card function?

Just before your travel date, buy some gum or a drink at a store and use it. Why be embarrassed on your trip? Make sure it works before you leave on military travel.

4. Pack early.

Look over your OPORD. Do you have everything? If you’re going to a school, check on the net to see if you can get the packing list for that school. It is possible that you won’t be able to get what you need where you are going – be prepared.

5. Print your boarding pass in advance.

This just saves you from one less potential problem. Why not put it in your pocket before you get to the airport? Be a prepared military traveller and perhaps wear something military like military rings to indicate your rank or profession.

6. Get to the airport two hours early, period.

Just carry something to read if you have extra time. The security process and the potential for problems with security means you’ll want the time to keep your sanity should anything go wrong.

Build travel habits early which will serve you well throughout your career. You will enjoy TDY if you do. You’ll live with less stress and more rest. Make the above tips into habits, and you will be a military travel professional. Have a great trip!

Travel Tips for Russia

Russia is becoming increasingly popular with tourists due to its rich cultural heritage and its popular cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. If you are planning or are going on a trip to Russia, then we suggest you consider some of the following travel tips.

Familiarise yourself with Russia

Do some reading around Russia before you visit it to find out a bit about the country. To give you some insight, Russia spans nine time zones and is the world’s largest country, with landscapes ranging from frozen tundras in Siberia and the endless wheat fields and pine forests of central Russia to the mountains and palm trees of the Caucasus in the South. The population was approximately around 140 million according to the last census with Central Russia, which includes Moscow, being the most densely populated area.


Be sure to check what to eat and what not to eat before you head to Russia. The country does not pose any serious health threats, with cases of food poisoning the most common problem. Most guidelines suggest avoiding buying kebabs at stands, especially at train stations, while tourists are also advised to be wary of dairy products. Tap water is safe to drink in Moscow after boiling, but tourists are advised to drink bottled water everywhere else; avoiding ice cubes and using bottled water to brush teeth is also recommended.


Russia is a spectacular country and so are its prices. The large cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg are, like most famous European cities, very expensive. On the outskirts of the larger cities you will find cheaper restaurants and accommodation. Holidaymakers are advised to get their Russian Rubles before travelling, but there are ATMs from local banks like Sberbank and international ones such as HSBC and Citibank all over Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities. When paying for something, retailers in Russia prefer to be paid in cash, but credit cards are generally accepted and travellers can still pay with traveller’s cheques.


Before jetting off to Russia you should be aware of some Russian etiquette. If you are on a business trip and are running late, there is no need to panic as this is considered normal, often due to the awful traffic in Moscow. If you are offered a drink, it is considered rude not to accept it, especially for men. Some travel guides also say that Russian men often only shake hands with a fellow male upon meeting, so women travelling with their husbands should be prepared to see that their husband’s hand is shaken and not theirs. Russians also like to dress up almost everywhere they go, so it might be worth packing some smart clothes for your trip.

African Travel Tips when visiting Malawi

Malawi is the ‘warm heart of Africa’, Malawi is a stable, safe African country known for its people with their welcoming smiles and friendly nature. The centre-piece of its tourism, though, is the enchanting Lake Malawi, Livingstone’s ‘Lake of Stars’. Boasting a rich diversity of wildlife, fish and bird life as well as flora, the country is ideal for nature lovers with its Lake Malawi Marine Park having been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Varied treasures including many unique species await bird watchers, anglers, outdoor and water sport enthusiasts and game viewers. Other ways to enjoy the country include sampling the local ‘chambo’ fish or a Malawi Gin and Tonic and buying souvenirs made by highly skilled craftsmen, such as chief’s chairs, floor mats, wooden masks, traditional cane items, baskets, carvings and raffia beach hats.




Tropical with wet and dry seasons. Dry season (Apr-Nov) is also a good time to visit. Warm months are mid-Aug to Nov, with October the hottest. Rains (Nov-Apr) are intermittent. In winter (dry season) there are high winds and some dust storms.


1 Malawi Kwacha = 100 Tambala. USD or Pounds Sterling traveller’s cheques are recommended. Credit cards are not commonly accepted, except in big hotels. Foreign exchange shortages can be a problem. The import of foreign currency is unlimited if declared. The export of foreign currency is allowed up to the amount declared upon arrival.


230 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin square.


A yellow fever inoculation is an official requirement for travellers coming from an infected country or area. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (risk exists throughout the year in the whole country), Hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. Other health concerns are meningitis (depending on time of year and area visited); insect-borne diseases; cholera (officially considered infected); bilharzia (some stretches of Lake Malawi: it is recommended that you don’t swim in stillwater pools or ponds in rivers below the plateaux or on the shores of Lake Malawi away from the sandy beaches of lake-side tourist resorts, Lake Malawi should not be used as a source of drinking water unless water has been boiled or filtered first); pollen (people with allergies or asthma may suffer discomfort from pollen etc.); poor medical facilities; unavailability of medicines; and HIV/AIDS.


Chichewa is the national language and widely spoken. English is the official language.


New Year’s Day (1 Jan); John Chilibwe Day (15 Jan); Martyr’s Day (3 Mar); Good Friday (9Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Freedom Day (14 Jun); Independance Day (16 Jul); Mother’s Day (9 Oct); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)


Wood and soapstone carvings; wood and cane furniture; pottery; beadwork; colourful fabrics; raffia items; instruments.


Over 99 percent of the population is African, with the largest group being Chewa. The main religious beliefs are traditional. Suits or jacket and tie are suitable for business meetings. Although the dress code is now more relaxed than used to be the case, visitors should take care not to offend local sensitivities.


GMT +2


Tipping is permitted.


Lake Malawi:

One of the world’s biological wonders and Africa’s third-largest lake, Lake Malawi forms an inland sea with a rich marine life surrounded by palm-fringed beaches and lively villages; sailing, waterskiing, scuba diving and game fishing for Tiger Fish and Lake Salmon can be done here; Lake Malawi Marine Park in the south has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site and protects a unique diversity of tropical fish (more than 400 species have been identified, most of which are unique to these waters), a renowned colony of otters and a rich birdlife.

Kasungu National Park:

Miombo woodland interspersed with sandy plains and wide rivers; ideal for game viewing and bird watching especially at Lifupa Dam; of particular interest is Kasungu’s famous elephants; Stone and Iron Age sites and rock paintings can be found.

Zomba Plateau:

Stands 900m above the city of Zomba covered in evergreen forest and verdant grassland; home to Blue Monkeys, rare montane forest birds and epiphytic orchids; ideal for fishing in the Mulunguzi Dam and hiking; the viewing points of Queen’s View and Emperor’s View allows visitors to take in the invigorating air; of interest in Zomba city are the traditional African market and botanical gardens.

Nyika National Park:

The Northern Highlands form the greatest wilderness area in Malawi; the Nyika Plateau holds Africa’s highest concentration of roan antelope, great herds of eland and other mountain game, which can be viewed from horseback; other activities include mountain biking, birding, trout fishing and hiking; alpine flowers, orchids and proteas cover the high meadows; nearby visit the Vwaza Marsh Game Reserve.

Liwonde National Park:

Malawi’s premier game area and habitat of the Big Five, this riverine park on the bank of the Shire River features many hippo, elephant, crocodile, lion, leopard and birds; a must-do is the leisurely boat safari upriver into Lake Malombe; the Park contains the only population of Lilian’s lovebird in Malawi.

Lengwe National Park:

Home to the attractive Nyala Antelope, buffalo, Livingstone’s Suni and birds like the Gorgeous Bush-strike, African Broadbill and Crested Guineafowl.


Also known as the ‘Garden City’ for its colourful flowering trees and wooded slopes of indigenous trees; visit the Kitu Botanical Gardens; Chinese Pagoda and Water Gardens; Capital Hill; National Library; Lilongwe Nature Sanctuary; New Market; Old Market; Old Town; and Asian Quarter.


Founded in 1876, this is the commercial capital of Malawi; surrounded by hills and mountains; visit the nearby Michiru Mountain Park; Thyolo tea district; Shire river and game parks; Majete and Mwabyi Game Reserves and curio shops.

Mount Mulanje:

An isolated massif containing 20 granite peaks, the highest of which soars to 3000m offers serious climbers several challenging routes; spectacular waterfalls, forests and tea plantations decorate the area; of botanical interest is the Mulanje cedar, believed to be unique to this area.

Viphya Plateau:

A must-do for bird watchers; the Luwawa Dam has established itself as an adventure centre, with canoeing, abseiling, rock climbing and more available.

African Travel Tips When Visiting Kenya

Kenya is the land that has given birth to the most popular African activity for tourists, namely the safari, and its easy to see why. Blessed with tremendous topographical diversity stretching over four climatic zones and featuring coral reefs, desert landscapes, volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, Kenya has it all in one.

Inhabiting these diverse landscapes and wilderness areas are Kenya’s world-famous wildlife, which can be viewed from horseback, 4×4 vehicle, verandah or on foot. There are over 1000 species of birds and huge colonies of colourful butterflies. Also attractive is the rich history, which dates back to the Stone Age, and the various cultures expressed through the sought-after arts and crafts.

So, if you are lazing on the white sand beaches of exotic Mombasa or gazing at the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle, the annual wildebeest migration, you are sure to enjoy a world-class experience.




Four climatic zones exist: tropical, equatorial, semi-desert and desert. Only two seasons are identified, namely dry and rainy. Due to altitude and topographical differences of the various regions, these seasons and temperatures are not uniform and vary greatly. However, in general the climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east.


The official currency is the Kenya Shilling. Traveller’s cheques are widely accepted and many hotels, travel agencies, safari companies and restaurants accept credit cards. Foreign currency such as US dollars, British pounds and Deutschmarks can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and authorized hotels. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought into Kenya, but taking out more than 500,000 Kenya Shillings requires written authorization from the Central Bank. Before departure, travellers are advised to convert any excess Kenya Shillings into foreign currency at a bank or bureau de change. Departure taxes can be paid in local or foreign currency.


220/240 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin square.


A yellow fever vaccination is recommended if the traveller comes from an infected country or area. Visitors are also advised to take pre-arrival precautions against typhoid, hepatis A, polio, malaria and meningitis depending on the area visited and time of year. Other health concerns include cholera, rabies, the Nairobi beetle (don’t touch, threaten or kill), dysentery and diarrhoea.


English is the official language, but Kiswahili is the national language.


New Year’s Day (1 Jan); Good Friday (09 Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Madaraka Day (01 Jun); Moi Day (10 Oct); Kenyatta’s Day (20 Oct); End of Ramadan (14 Nov); Independance Day (12 Dec); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec)


Traditional artefacts, beaded jewellery and decorative items, animal wood and soapstone carvings, furniture, coffee, precious stones, furniture, Khanga and Kikoy cloths, musicical instruments, modern art, basket work e.g. Kiondoo/Chondo sisal baskets, Maasai Shukka blankets, ‘Thousand Miler’ sandals, ‘elephant hair’ bracelets.


Culture here is a mix of the modern and the traditional, with European habits prevailing throughout the country. Kenyans are a very friendly nation and you can dress informally for most occasions.


GMT +3


Not mandatory. Guides, drivers, waiters and hotel staff can be tipped at your discretion.


Maasai Mara:

National Reserve The world’s most famous Game Reserve due to the annual wildebeest, zebra and gazelle migration over this vast plain offering breathtaking views; home to a profusion of wildlife and birds; activities include excellent game viewing year round, balloon rides and bird watching.

Tsavo East and West:

The twin national parks of Tsavo, totalling 10 million acres of wilderness, form Kenya’s largest National Park, which make it ideal for those who enjoy solitude; of the two Tsavo West is visited more; apart from the wildlife and birds, visit Lugard Falls, the volcanic Mzima springs and a unique underwater observatory.


One of the world’s most exotic tropical ports with a turbulent history. Visit the magnificent Fort Jesus and harbour, see the Arab architecture in Old Town and smell the scent of spices. Many fine temples and mosques can be explored such as the Shiva Temple, the Baluchi mosque and the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque. Also don’t miss the Mombasa Marine National Park, the Moi Avenue gateway arch, dhow cruises and the beaches.

Amboseli National Park:

One of the most popular national parks in Kenya with a wide range of accommodation; the landscape is dominated by Mount Kilimanjaro and the park is famous for its big game and scenic beauty; bird life is abundant.

Lake Nakuru National Park:

Famous for its flamingoes and so popular with bird watchers and other nature lovers. Make full use of the view point and visit the Euphobia forest.

Mount Kenya National Park:

The country is named after Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa. For mountain climbers and hikers, it offers easy and challenging ascents with superb scenic beauty. The local tribes believe it is the home of Ngai (God). A number of unique, rare and endangered species can be found here and there is abundant bird life.


A peaceful tropical island with a fascinating history, which can be explored in the winding streets of its medieval stone town, a World Heritage Site partly due to it being the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa.

Lake Turkana National Parks:

The three national parks serve as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. Turkana is outstanding for the study of plant and animal communities and the Koobi Fora fossil deposits have contributed more to the understanding of paleo-environments than any other site in Africa, it is also the most saline of Africa’s large lakes and a World Heritage Site.

Aberdare National Park:

A must for landscape lovers, where one can view spectacular mountains, waterfalls, rainforest, trout streams, moorlands, thickets of giant heath, caves, abundant bird life, duikers, the black rhino and the elusive, rare Bongo – a forest antelope. This area is ideal for walks, picnics, trout fishing, camping and night game viewing.

Mount Elgon National Park:

One of Kenya’s most beautiful and pristine areas where you can find giant trees, about 400 animals, over 240 bird species and ‘cave elephants’ that venture deep into the four caves at night to feed on the salt rich deposits. Mount Elgon is also a famous botanical locality with a great wealth of Afro alpine flowers. Hot springs occur and sport fishing is popular on the Suam river.

African Travel Tips when visiting Namibia

Namibia’s name was derived from Namib desert, which is believed to be the oldest desert in the world. This unique geological feature is renowned for the pristine and haunting quality of its landscape. It’s this feature that characterizes the country most, and is home to some of the country’s top tourist destinations, notably Sossusvlei, Sandwich Harbour and the Skeleton Coast Park.

Far from being lifeless and barren, the desert features an unusual variety of desert-adapted flora and fauna, including a large number of endemic plant, bird, reptile and insect species. Many of these species are of particular scientific interest and attract scientists from all over the world.

CAPITAL: Windhoek

CLIMATE: Namibia has a dry climate typical of a semi-desert country where droughts are a regular occurrence. Days are mostly warm to very hot, while nights are generally cool. Average day temperatures in the summer vary from 20°C – 34°C and average night temperatures in the winter vary from 0°C – 10°C. There are vast differences between the arid southern desert and semi-desert areas and the tropical north-east with its abundant summer rains. The best time to visit Namibia is Apr-Oct.

CURRENCY: 1 Namibia Dollar = 100 cents. Rands are accepted as legal tender. Traveller’s cheques are accepted almost everywhere. German Marks, USD or Swiss Franc traveller’s cheques are recommended. In general, credit cards are accepted by most hotels as well as in Namibia Wildlife Resorts where MasterCard, Visa, (Diners Club and Amex not always), Namibian Dollars, Rand traveller’s cheques and bank guaranteed cheques are accepted. Credit cards aren’t accepted for fuel.

ELECTRICITY: 220 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 3-pin round.

HEALTH: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over 1 year of age coming from infected areas. Visitors are advised to take pre-arrival precautions against malaria (risk exists Nov-Jun in the northern regions such as Ovamboland and the Caprivi Strip as well as in Omaheke and Otjozondjupa and throughout the year along the Kavango and Kunene rivers), hepatitis A, polio and typhoid. Tap water is safe.

LANGUAGE: English is the official language. In shops, hotels and restaurants, Afrikaans and German are often spoken.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS: New Years’ Day (1 Jan); Independance Day (21 Mar); Good Friday (9 Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); Cassinga Day (4 May); Ascension Day (20 May); Africa Day (25 May); Heroes Day (26 Aug); Goodwill Day (7 Oct); Human Rights’ Day (10 Dec); Christmas Day (25 Dec); Boxing Day (26 Dec).

SHOPPING: woodcarvings; basketry; pottery; fur coats & jackets, especially Swakara; gold jewellery; individually-designed hand-woven carpets and wall hangings made from karakul wool; Namibian semi-precious stones and diamonds; Herero dolls.

SOCIAL CONVENTIONS: There is a Christian majority. Western customs and courtesies are observed. Business suits are worn in winter; in summer, safari suits are acceptable.

TIME DIFFERENCE: GMT +2 (GMT +1 during Apr-Aug)

TIPPING: 10 percent of the bill is customary.



The capital; a small, bustling city with a ‘continental’ atmosphere; many sights including the Gibeon Meteorite Fountain, National Art Gallery of Namibia, Tintenpalast, Namibia Craft Centre and National Botanical Garden; shopping.

Fish River Canyon:

One of Namibia’s most spectacular geological phenomena; contains Ai-Ais Hot Springs, rugged mountainland, Fish River Canyon (second largest gorge in Africa) and Huns Mountains with isolated and otherworldly landscape and wealth of interesting xerophytic plants; seasoned hikers regard the 4-5 day trail as one of southern Africa’s major challenges.


Naukluft Park Monumental dunes lie at the end of an erosional trough formed by the Tsauchab River; they are star-shaped.

Etosha National Park:

Namibia’s first conservation area and one of the largest game reserves in Africa; its definitive feature is the Etosha Pan, a vast shallow depression of approx. 5000km²; elephants here are reputed to be of the largest in Africa; of the 114 mammal species found in the park, several are rare and endangered; bird life is interesting during rainy season.

Skeleton Coast Park:

An aura of mystery and impenetrability surrounds this park with its many shipwrecks, dense coastal fogs and cold sea breezes; of special interest are the clay castles of the Hoarusib, the salt pans near Agate Mountain, the seal colony at Cape Frio and the remains of shipwrecks along the coast.

Caprivi Strip:

Lush riverine forests and seasonal flood plains; some of southern Africa’s top birding spots, especially the Caprivi Game Park; known also for its arts and crafts e.g. pots and baskets with their distinctive beauty and symmetry; shop at Lizauli Traditional Village and variety of craft centres; other activities include angling e.g. tiger fishing and game viewing on boat cruises.


Namibia’s most famous Ghost Town, situated in the Sperrgebiet approximately 10km from Lüderitz; the museum recounts the history of this abandoned mining community.


Popular because of its old-world charm and relaxed atmosphere; distinct German colonial character; historical buildings and modern aquarium; renowned for kudu leather shoes.

Cape Cross Seal Colony:

Home to the biggest and the best-known of the 223 colonies of Cape fur seals which breed along the coast of South Africa and Namibia; during Nov/Dec breeding season as many as 150,000 seals gather here; off the coast are protected bird islands.

Epupa Falls:

One of Namibia’s prime tourist spots; a series of cascades where the Kunene River drops 60m over a distance of about 1,5km, dividing into a multitude of channels and forming a myriad rock pools; it is possible to swim in these pools, but keep a lookout for crocodiles.