I decided to make a list of 6 Africa travel tips that I believe will make your trip to Africa even better! The list is based on my personal experience and knowledge, and I encourage everybody who are backpacking or going on tours in Africa to use their own travel skills and common sense, rather than base your luck on a few tips found on the internet. However, sometimes it can be very helpful to learn from other travelers and the tips they share.
My 6 Africa Travel Tips:
Step out of your comfort zone
This might be a weird advice to give, but it can also turn your vacation in Africa into a real adventure and a memory for life. I am not saying that you should go explore the deepest jungles on your own, but just push your limits a little bit. If you’re used to 5 star hotels, maybe you should try a luxury tented safari. If you’re used to 3 star hotels, maybe you should try to live with a local family for a week. If you like hiking and trekking, maybe you should try to climb the Kilimanjaro?
By pushing your limits, and stepping out of your comfort zone, you can experience so much more than you would do on your regular vacations!
Travel Like an African
There is of course not just one way that Africans travel. What I mean is that you should try the local options used by the local people, rather than stick to what you’re used to from home. Try to travel by the minibus taxis one day. Eat and stay where the locals eat and stay. Talk to the people around you and ask what they like to do, where they like to go, and what they would recommend for you. This will not only enhance you trip, it will also make your trip more responsible and beneficial for the local community!
Eat from Street Stalls and Markets
This might sound like a silly advice, considering the much feared traveler’s diarrhea, but I have personally never gotten ill from eating on the streets. Of course, use common sense, and don’t buy food from a dirty, smelly, bug infested stall. But if it looks clean, the food seems to be fresh, and you really want to taste the local cuisine; Do it!! It will probably be delicious! Oh, and by the way, the markets will often have fresher food than many restaurants, just because they buy their ingredients one day at the time.
Essential Items to Bring to Africa
There are few items you should make sure to pack before you leave. The most essential is a money belt for (passports, credit cards, etc), sun protection, malaria medicine (if you’re traveling in a malaria zone), mosquito repellent, good walking shoes and a guidebook with map. You will find more tips and advice for what to bring in this post: Useful Items to Bring for Travel in Africa.
Travel at the Right Time
This tip is important when you are planning a trip to Africa. The weather and climate of African travel destinations can vary a lot from different regions and different seasons. Remember that south of the equator the summer is from December through February. But still, some places this may also be the rainy season. So in general, it’s almost impossible to say what time of the year you should go, unless you know exactly where in Africa your destination is. A good way to find the best season is to use a guidebook for the relevant country. Personally I would recommend Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
There is one Africa travel tip that is more important than any other: Don’t worry too much. And this does not mean to be careless or stupid (click here for an example). What it does mean is that you should take some precautions to avoid the common crimes, food poisoning, etc., but other than that: Relax and be open to the adventures that Africa has to offer.
Before you let the fear of the unknown dominate, you have to make an effort to think: “Is this a rational fear? What is the worst case scenario, and how likely is it to happen? Is it really bad enough to let this chance go by?”. Personally this technique has allowed me to experience the small things that I initially would have been sceptical to (and I am NOT talking about drugs or illegal experiences, I am talking about the small things that turns a trip into a memorable adventure). My point is: The less you worry, the more you will enjoy your time!
These were my thoughts and tips for you and your African travel adventures. Please share your own opinions and advice in a comment below!