How to Pack for a Trip to Africa
Writing this post makes my heart so happy. Why? BECAUSE I LOVE AFRICA. Out of the countries I’ve visited, a big BIG piece of my heart still resides in Africa. So if you’re reading this I am SO excited for you. You are either preparing for your own trip OR thinking about exploring this beautiful country (or there might be a possibility that you’re reading this out of boredom). I’m extremely excited that I’ve been given the opportunity to go back to Africa, this time on a veterinary medicine focused trip in South Africa.
Three years ago I participated in a wildlife conservation program that was based out of South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. This was a month-long summer trip I took after graduating from college and it was life changing. There’s nothing more breath taking than immersing yourself in a new culture AND being able to see animals in their natural habitats. This packing list is centered for those who might be going on volunteer/work trips. So If you’re wanting to look super stylish and cute in Africa…well this is not the post for you. I wish I could integrate both functionality and fashion, but I have not reached that stage in my life (I’ll let you know when I do 😉).
I put together a list of things I packed or wish I would’ve packed (mainly the latter). These are items that I believe are essential and will make your experience more enjoyable and stress-free. This is my practical packing list and I hope you find this helpful. So let’s get to it!
Since I was working on a wildlife conservation program, I was doing a lot of outdoor work with the facility and animals. My trip was during June-July so this is the winter season in Africa! My trip this summer will be under the same circumstances. So many of these items are based on fluctuating weather you may encounter!
2-3 pairs of pants
I had packed 1 pair of convertible/zip off pants during my first trip and these were life changing! Mornings can be SUPER cold but as the day goes on it can get very hot! These were amazing because I could zip them on/off depending on the weather.
I am bringing at least 2 pairs this trip because I wore my 1 pair Every. Single. Day during my last trip
2-3 long sleeve/ lightweight shirts
I had 2 long sleeve shirts that were mosquito repellent during my first trip that were fantastic. I also had a waffle-shirt/ long john material long sleeve for early morning/late night activities where it was colder.
I recommend trying to wear light colored clothes as well
1 pair of sweatpants/comfy pants/ leggings
Good for sleeping in, lounging or when you’re out by the fire for a braai (barbeque)
1 jacket/sweatshirt/rain jacket
I highly recommend packing some sort of jacket that is insulated/warm!
1 pair or work boots/hiking boots
I have a pair of steel toed Caterpillar work boots with ankle support. These were so helpful when working alongside animals and during our hiking excursions. You will be on your feet a lot so its important to invest in good boots!
1 pair of sandals
Great for weekend excursions/ evenings out
Although its winter, you may come across opportunities where you need a swimsuit…like SCUBA DIVING! I’m hoping this next trip will include some snorkeling, cage diving with sharks, etc!
1-2 nice outfits for evening events
I did not actually bring these in the beginning of my first trip but accumulated them throughout my time in Africa and they were awesome for keeping my hair out of my face and keeping my face warm when it got chilly.
At least 7 pairs of undies (this is probably just personal preference but don’t be nasty, make sure you have enough clean pairs for the week until you can do laundry)
Women—3-4 sports bras for working & 1-2 normal bras
7 pairs of Socks
Bring long and short ones! If your boots cover your ankles you’ll want a longer pair of socks to wear with them.
I tried to limit my packing to only the most necessary things! It’s important to not over pack especially if you will have access to laundry. I fit 2 months worth of clothes into 1 hiking backpack for 2 different seasons (I went from being in Africa for a month then straight to Laos & Thailand for the next month). So if I packed for 2 months in 2 different seasons you can too!
I believe toiletries are one of the biggest areas where people overpack. Keep in mind you may have access to complimentary toiletries where you’ll be staying and will have the ability to buy things you need once you arrive. I recommend only packing things that cannot be found at your destination such as prescriptions or specific products you cannot live without (not sure what that’d be but just had to put that out there). I like to pack a 2-3 day supply of toiletries and buy the rest once I get there.
Deodorant! Go ahead a bring a full sized one—you’ll need it!
Shampoo, conditioner, soap
Tooth brush/ toothpaste/ floss
Contacts (bring extras)/ Contact solution/ Glasses
Skin care products
Sunscreen (Keep that skin young and protected!)
You can bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.
Bring one! You’re going to want to document and reflect on your experiences everyday
Things you don’t necessarily need but might want!
This makes everything more organized, condensed, and easy to squeeze into a backpack!
First Aid Kit
I highly recommend! I always put one together to carry in my day bag. Some things I include are band aids, Benadryl (cooling spray & tablets), antibiotic/pain relieving ointment (Neosporin), surgical dressing, hand sanitizer etc.
I’m bringing 2 tubes of electrolyte tablets to drop in my water during long days working!
Ya girl gets hungry and will probably need snacks
This may be a good item to bring if your stomach gets upset easily
Wet wipes/baby wipes
Travel undergarment pouch/wallet
Check out my amazon page for my favorite travel items: https://www.amazon.com/shop/dogtorkristi