As part of the next instalment in Guests’ Corner – a local and international travel interview segment on Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust – I chatted to Jacqui Cooks, South African blogger and social media marketer.
Born and bred in Cape Town, thirty-something Jacqui Cooks is a woman of many pursuits and talents… Think: top South African blogger, social media marketer, global gypsy, TripAdvisor junkie and cupcake-er and all-round pleasure purveyor of note.
Through her gorgeous blog, The Jax Blog, Jacqui indulges in travel with fresh eyes, seeing the world as an incurable ‘wanderluster’ and social media addict.
What’s more, with some 17 years of local and international hospitality industry experience under her belt, Jacqui is a clear expert when it comes to all things travel and customer service-related.
She loves finding new places, faces and tastes – and her insatiable sense of both curiosity and adventure has led her to some fascinating spots across the globe and in the beautiful Mother City, too!
If you’re keen to discover new road trips, destinations, food spots and so much more… follow Jacqui on her exciting travels!
1) Who or what inspired you to go into travel blogging?
I’ve worked close to two decades in the travel industry, namely in hospitality. So, after a while, being in the same position can get a bit monotonous…
I always loved writing, so a friend encouraged me to start a blog just to share my little adventures. It was like my little travel journal online!
2) What kind of traveller are you: thrill seeker, culture vulture, adrenaline junkie, nature lover or something of everything?
Oh, my goodness, I’m a huge foodie – and yes, I’ll admit it a luxury traveller…
I find different cultures not only interesting but highly enriching. As for nature, as long as I’m near the sea, my inner mermaid squeals with glee…yes, cheesy and unintentional poetry. That being said, I will try anything at least once.
3) What was your most memorable travel experience in SA?
That’s a tough one; I’ve been so blessed to have so many good trips.
The ones that always stand out the most to me above all else, are the ones where there has been excellent customer service and attention to detail… Staff who greet you by name and go the extra mile to make personal recommendations are always a winner!
4) What was your most humbling or eye-opening local travel experience and why?
Does Kenya count as local? Well, it is Africa… I travelled there for business – but the distance between my hotel and the conference venue was two hours one way and in kilometres… it wasn’t even that far apart. Traffic was horrendous and my taxi driver took many back roads through the most poverty-stricken slums to get to my venue.
It was so heartbreaking to drive through that only to get to my four-star hotel on the other end. Yet to think thousands of Kenyans live like that every day.
My taxi driver himself had to get up at 05:00 am just to collect me at 08:00 am – and he did so every day with a huge smile and never ever complained… #humbled!
5) Worst local travel experience (and if you are comfortable enough to, please explain why)?
I stayed overnight at a really plush, 4-star boutique bed-and-breakfast/guesthouse, only to be told when I wanted to order dinner that the chef had decided to close early – so if I wanted dinner I had to either eat elsewhere or bring my own.
I had to buy my own food, which the barman/porter kindly heated in the kitchen microwave and let me eat in the restaurant… Definitely not the kind of service you’d expect from such a swanky spot. Needless to say, I’ll never go back no matter how nice the rooms were! #NotOn
6) Your top three travel destinations (or road trips) in SA are?
1) West Coast road trips, past Langebaan and the serene seaside town of Paternoster, with its idyllic white beaches are tops.
2. Through the gorgeous Garden Route, with stunning towns such as Knysna and Plett, are equally as fab.
3. And lastly, the wine route: Route 62, where one can discover such hidden country charm in towns such as McGregor, Bonnievale, Barrydale and Robertson.
7) Any useful travel sites/blogs, either local or international, you can recommend for following?
I really love my friend Anje’s Going Somewhere Slowly blog about slow travel and predominantly the Eastern Cape of SA.
As well, as Di Brown’s The Roaming Giraffe… She is a photographic genius! She captures the beauty of the skies beneath the majestic Table Mountain just perfectly!
8) If you could travel anywhere in South Africa – or the world in general – right now, where would it be?
In Africa: Zanzibar, I’m just dying to go explore this island.
In the world: Cuba, por favor. #HavanaOohNaNa
9) Do you have any handy tips for planning a trip/day out in your city (and please state which city it is)?
Yes, firstly throw away the tickets to any pre-planned tour… Download a city map for Cape Town or the very handy app from Cape Town Tourism, which you can get for your mobile phone for free.
Go explore the bustling, vibey Mother City, chat with locals, grab a coffee, buy a local MyCiTi bus pass and take a trip to Hout Bay or around the Peninsula.
Be brave… be bold… be spontaneous!*
*Disclaimer: Don’t travel with valuables or with ginormous cameras hanging around your neck. That’s just a flashing light to petty thieves and pickpockets that you’re from out of town. Be vigilant at all times and don’t leave your wallet or phone lying around.
10) Best travel advice for locals and tourists?
Don’t carry tons of cash on you at all times; be sure to have a mix of credit cards and cash on hand.
Always carry a power bank: you never know when your phone may need charging from all the photos you just took!
Always carry a map in case your phone dies – and a list of emergency/important phone numbers too, for that matter.
To read about and see all of Jacqui’s travel stories and experiences, you can visit her amazing site. Or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Thank you very much, Jacqui, for appearing in this South African guest travel segment. Until the next one… happy writing and reading, everyone!
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.