Photo credit : Brooke Cassoff
Packing for West Africa will be more complex than packing for a domestic trip. Besides having to jump the hurdles of scheduling travel shots and visa applications, your biggest challenge lies in packing. Limited availability of certain amenities and a much different climate are just some of the things you’ll have to take into account. Take a look at this list of important and often-overlooked items for West African travel so you don’t end up with a necessity missing from your bag.
Pepto Bismol. We’re all for getting adventurous with your eating while you travel, just make sure that before heavy or rich meals featuring ingredients outside your typical eating patterns, you considering popping an antacid or stomach soother Pepto Bismol. They come in handy travel-friendly capsule forms and will help you digest well when eating, say, spicy food.
Adequately sized liquid and gel toiletries. This one is essential, and can be what tips you into a checked piece of luggage if you weren’t planning on traveling with that already. Once you arrive, there is often an up-charge for items like sunscreen and shaving cream, or familiar brands of shampoo and conditioner at convenience stores.
A sunhat. Your scalp, neck, and ears are the most challenging to protect from sun damage, and with the more intense UV rays at play, you really don’t want to risk a sunburn during your stay. Go with a UV protected hat like Wallaroo to offer extra sun protection.
A shoe bag. This becomes a necessity when you are walking through dusty city streets, which can be common during your stay. It will protect your other clothes from getting dirty.
Proof of travel vaccines and any prescriptions you’ll need while on the road. You’ll be required to have proof of vaccinations at customs when crossing the border, and the sooner you get these, the better. Certain vaccines like yellow fever must be ordered and made ready for you, while malaria pills require a prescription from your doctor. On top of this, you’ll want to clear with your insurance that you are taking a vacation so you can get an extended supply of any prescriptions you are currently taking.
A pair of walking shoes and sandals. Car access may be limited or not an option during your travels so you’ll want to find comfortable walking shoes for when you don’t want the dust or rocks sliding into your shoe. A pair of sandals will be light to travel with and a smart option for when you want to stay cool.
A razor. Especially if you are a female traveler who would prefer to keep your shaving regimen. Shaving is not always practiced by women in West African countries.
A rain jacket. Two words: rainy season. If your stay happens during this period, come prepared with a jacket that can handle both the temperature and the frequent rainfall.
Undergarments. Sink or bucket washing is often the quickest way to wash undergarments during your staay, so you will want to have a couple pairs on-hand so you can rotate between them with your wash cycle. Exofficio makes washable and wick-away pairs for men and women.
Travel sized laundry detergent. Go with Lewis N. Clark’s Travel Laundry Kit for travel-sized packs of detergent, and a sink stopper for your stay.
Now that you have all the essentials set aside, don’t forget to review our Packing Guide so you know you are making the most of your packing space!