Doing research for an Africa vacation is very important. Even if you’re taking a vacation in your own country, it’s a good idea to do some research and planning to make sure you and your family have fun and stay safe. But when you travel to another continent, doing research and planning ahead of time is vital to keeping everyone safe.
There are plants, animals, and bugs that can wreak havoc on your health. The customs are often very different and you could inadvertently insult someone simply by making a commonly used gesture.
And of course, making sure that your accommodations are clean and safe is also a must. An African safari is an adventure of a lifetime but only if you know what you’re getting into.
Here’s everything you need to know before you book your Africa vacation.
Know When and Where You’re Going on Your Africa Vacation
Weather and the time of year should be a huge consideration when planning a vacation. Besides the cost, there are also over 50 African countries to choose from.
Maybe you want to see the Egyptian pyramids or perhaps a wild animal safari is on your wish list. Know where you want to go and book your accommodations as soon as possible. Africa really isn’t the place to “wing-it” especially if this is your first time there.
The time of year is also a consideration. Depending on where you’re traveling from, their seasons may be out of sync with yours. And you also want to make sure you go when it won’t be raining most of the time.
Book your flights as early as possible as well. Most African countries don’t have tons of flights available and they book up quickly. Make sure that you know how you’re going to travel to everywhere you want to visit before you get there because otherwise, you may get stranded somewhere you don’t want to be.
Bring These Medicines
Getting sick while you’re on vacation is the worst. Not only can’t you enjoy what you’re seeing and experiencing, but there’s never a guarantee that another country will carry the same types of medications you need.
Especially if you’re on a safari adventure where the next pharmacy or doctor may be too far away for you to get the care you need in a timely manner. Which is why you need to pack your own ahead of time.
Visit a travel doctor in your own country a few months prior to your wildlife safari adventure and get all your vaccinations taken care of. Some vaccines require you to visit the doctor more than once so give yourself plenty of time before your travel date.
To stay safe you should probably be vaccinated for cholera, hepatitis, yellow fever, and typhoid. Check to see if you need a vaccination certificate to enter the country you’re visiting or if you’ll need it to re-enter your own country.
Ask your doctor for a prescription to prevent you from getting Malaria, as it’s common in Africa. To prevent bug bites from happening, pack plenty of bug repellent and pack long, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Your clothing will also protect you from the stronger sun rays as well.
Most people’s stomachs react unpleasantly when new foods and environments are introduced. Be prepared for that by packing medicines like laxatives for when you can’t go and Immodium when you can’t stop going. You might want to ask for antibiotics just in case.
Also, pack plenty of hand sanitizer and use it often. Packing a first aid kit is also a really good idea to treat minor cuts and scratches yourself.
Bring Plenty of Cash
In most English speaking countries, you can use a credit card nearly everywhere you go. It’s easy and convenient, especially if you travel overseas and there’s a different currency.
But Africa is a different continent. American Express and other credit cards aren’t taken everywhere you want to be, in fact, credit cards aren’t always accepted in certain places. And good luck finding an ATM machine while you’re on a wildlife safari.
However, you should take along at least one credit card and debit card to use. Bring along your VISA card as it’s most widely accepted. And don’t forget to call your bank(s) and let them know you’re leaving on an Africa vacation before you leave so they don’t assume it’s fraud and shut down your account.
Bring American Dollars
Even if you’re Candian, English, or Australian you’ll want to bring along American dollars to make your trip easier. You’ll find a lot of the time the locals are happy to trade with US dollars over their own currency. You’ll also find that it’s not always easy to change other types of foreign currency other than American dollars.
Also, many places where you visit will only accept cash. It’s a lot easier to have the right type of cash with you so you can buy whatever you want, whenever you need to.
There are two types of insurance you really should invest in before you go on an Africa vacation. Having both medical insurance and travel insurance will ensure you have a safe trip and if something happens, you can at least recoup some, if not all, of your losses.
While safari animals are stunning and majestic, they are still dangerous. If you need to go to the hospital, while they may ask for cash up front, you’ll still be able to get all your money back when you return home. Just make sure you keep any and all receipts.
Travel insurance is also necessary to get in case of any unforeseen problems. Your luggage may go missing or valuables may get stolen. Also, it’s not unusual for flights to suddenly be canceled. Make sure your insurance covers medical issues and sudden cancellations because Africa is a rather unpredictable place to travel to.
Check Visa Requirements and Register Your Travels
Some countries on your Africa vacation require visas to enter. While some countries do allow you to purchase a visa upon arrival, it’s far easier to just get one well before you plan to travel.
Especially because visa rules are subject to and often do change, especially in Africa. And even if a certain country doesn’t require a visa, there may be special requirements for your passport such as the length of time left on your passport and how many blank pages are available inside your passport.
Most of the rules are based on your country of origin. Check to make sure you can fulfill all requirements well before you travel. And make sure you make photocopies of all your documents and keep them somewhere safe before you travel, just in case they are lost or stolen.
Register Your Travels with Your Government
Not every African country is stable and no place is 100 percent safe. Should anything go wrong, it’s best to register your travels with your government before you leave.
That way, in case of some sort of an emergency, your government is aware of where you are and can help you get out as soon as possible. They can also contact you if something goes awry that you’re not aware of because you’re too busy enjoying your wild animal safari rather than paying attention to the news.
Bring Your Own Mobile Phone
So that you can enjoy your safari adventure, you should consider bringing your own mobile phone. Make sure you speak with your network provider before you travel and turn off your data roaming and anything else that will make your bills skyrocket.
This way, you can use wifi, contact group members or call for help should an emergency come up unexpectedly. And don’t forget to pack your A/C adapter so you can charge your phone.
Those in the UK should be okay with their own power adapters but if you’re from a different English speaking country, make sure you bring along a converter to safely use any electronics you have.
Know the Local Laws
There’s one way to quickly kill your Africa vacation and that’s by getting arrested for breaking the law. Before you travel to a new country, you should take some time to become familiar with their laws.
Don’t do drugs because the penalties in Africa are usually severe. Some even include mandatory prison sentences.
Also, be aware that in many places in Africa you aren’t allowed to take photos of airports, bridges, and government buildings. And it’s not always clearly marked or defined. If you’re caught, it could result in authorities confiscating your camera.
Bring Your Own Equipment
You’ll find you can purchase much better equipment before you go on your safari adventure. Check to see what equipment you’ll need to bring before you go.
Not every country requires the same type of equipment. However, in many places, especially for those embarking on a wildlife safari, you’ll want to bring along a good mosquito net, binoculars, and a durable and comfortable pair of hiking shoes.
Make sure to pack clothing for all types of weather and don’t forget to pack plenty of sunscreens! Don’t forget that while it gets hot during the day, it tends to get very cold at night.
You may also want to invest in a good camera to capture the memories you’re making.
Read Up on Travel Tips
Once you know where you want to visit on your Africa vacation, read up on travel tips for the area(s) you’re planning on traveling to. The more you know about where you’re going and the more prepared you are, the more likely you’ll have a great time.
If you’re planning to go on a wildlife safari, read up on our tip first.