No… I don’t have another trip to Africa planned. Yet… I WISH! My friend, Marlene is going on her first safari and asked a simple question, “What is your number-one recommended item to pack?” One?? When only allowed 26 lbs. of luggage total, EVERY ITEM is vital. After I emailed her with this collection of suggestions from our three trips, I decided to provide it here, too.
Let’s pretend you already have the standard packing list, power converter, shots and visas. From there, here are my personal additions that have come in handy.
- Ultrathon Insect Repellant — recommended by the sales guy at REI, it worked great for me. 12 hours, a lotion, not much odor. It IS sticky, but your prize is a good bug repel.
- I purchased two pair of travel panties for Paris, WISH I had them in Africa, less to pack and they wash/dry overnight. EX OFFICIO TRAVEL UNDERWEAR
- Travel clothesline and laundry powder, not liquid.
- Really crappy clothes. Africa soap and water – and laundry services – wreck fabrics and destroy elastic. I save up almost-dead bras for these trips. On the last day of the journey, I leave clothes behind for more packing space for souvenirs.
- Clothes that dry overnight. My Patagonia travel pants (photo, above) drip dry in a few hours. In summer, linen is great (Europeans are linen lovers. Americans don’t appreciate wrinkles).
- Supply of ziplock bags. From snacks to camera equipment to travel documents, you just need them.
- Some rubber bands, paperclips, binder clips, tape, sewing kit, tiny scissors that wont get TSA confiscated. Things often need repair and this stuff works in a pinch.
- Extension cord – cell phone, camera batteries need recharging almost nightly. Larry and I compete for the outlet which, at best, the room has ONE. After our last Africa trip, I bought this one.
- Two cameras (we now have three), and a second battery and disk for each. We’ve seen heartbreak when someone’s disk goes blank, or a prong gets bent. Hotels don’t have reliable sundries shops and street vendors sell fakes.
- Sunglasses for wrecking. One of us typically breaks a pair.
- Walking shoes you can trash. Victoria Falls, you get soaked. Walk in mud, sand, weeds, poop. Lotza African poop. I love my used walking sandals purchased on EBay. Old Nikes, I bartered for baskets on our last day. Sweet.
- Winter Silks, aka “Long Johns.” Even in summer, nights can be frosty. Layer, layer during the day.
- Hard sour candy: lemon drops or Jolly Ranchers. NOT to give to local kids,* just to take the dust our of our mouths. Refreshing on afternoon game drives.
- Jackets, vests with tons of zipped pockets. I carry a lot of stuff on my body. Without zippers, I drop and lose things. I love this one.
- Scarf. Winter warmth and breathing through on occasion – dust storms in Kenya were brutal. India, I brought a cheap pashmina-ish thing and wore it daily over my head, under my hood.
- Hankies. Save the Kleenix for the “loo with the view” (bush breaks). There is always a reason I am sneezing in Africa, and hankies are a must.
- Thin, cheap tote in a color you won’t overlook. Jumping in and out of safari vehicles, my hot pink grocery bag tote was VERY helpful to not leave behind somewhere under a blanket or at the foot of a jeep. What I cannot carry in my vest, goes in there – camera equipment, snacks, binoculars.
- Spare drugs. Vicodin. Cipro. Keep in original bottles. You do not have the luxury of predicting your type of emergencies (did you read we ran over Ashok?). I traveled my supply of unused Cipro thru four African countries and later, India, ended up needing it in Texas when a bladder infection showed up on a business trip. Saved!
*Re: candy to local kids, I don’t do it. We’ve been told not to, same with toys and pencils, etc. If your intention is to teach a child whenever he sees a tourist (as in, white person) to stick out his hand (as in, beg) – then give candy. Works every time, in a FLASH that kid is back again with that hand out. So, there are real ways to “help” – charities are dedicated to it, donate. Or visit a school and give goodies to the teacher.
Bon voyage, Marlene!