Travel to Africa
For the past decade, we almost visited every country in Africa. Traveling to the black continent might be challenging, especially if you are not a native. In general, there are a few guidelines to stick to in order to reduce the risk of injury. From my experience, I will be listing the points in their order of importance.
1. Get the Necessary Vaccines
Vaccines are a lifesaver in Africa and I am saying this out of experience. The most important vaccines are:
- Yellow Fever
- Hepatitis A and B
Initially, I was sarcastic about having to do all these vaccines. Funny enough I caught Hepatitis in Brussels, Belgium in well known fish restaurant. Luckily I was already vaccinated.
Out of all the vaccines, Tetanus was the most annoying. It induced a metallic taste in my mouth. Also I had some pain in the area where the needle was inserted.
2. Carry Medication
This point depends on the country or city/village you are in. For the possibility that you might not find the needed medicine locally, it is advised to carry medication for:
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Gastrointestinal infection
- Nausea and vomitting
- Wound sanitizer with bandages
Out of the whole list, I only used the medication for gastrointestinal infection… on three different trips. Before packing your bags, check that the expiry date on all the boxes is still valid.
3. Carry Malaria Medication
I did not include this point in the previous list in order it highlight its importance. Unfortunately, two friends of mine got infected with Malaria and only one survived. If caught, Malaria is extremely painful. Usually mosquito stings are responsible for transferring the disease to the host’s body.
4. Have all your Paperwork Ready
Trust me, it is very unpleasant to stay in an African prison. Always check that you are carrying a valid visa. In case you are going on a business trip, keep your invitation letter handy and inform your host of you arrival time just in case more information is needed. Most importantly, do not forget the “yellow book” which states that you completed all the necessary vaccines, else you will not be admitted into the country.
5. Be Wary
You personal security is paramount everywhere, but you need to double your guards in some cases. First, do not show that you are carrying a lot of money. Keep the large bundle hidden and keep some change in your pockets. Second, carry your bags whenever possible and try to avoid using helpers. Third, do not leave your baggage unattended. Fourth, depending on the country, don’t drive at night.
6. Watch out where you eat
This point depends also on the restaurant and country, but in general, do not eat food which is not well cooked. In this case, all food has to pass over the fire or be cooked at high temperatures.
7. Handle Bugs Correctly
Bugs are seriously bigger and more dangerous in Africa or other continents with the same climate. There are rules to follow which might save you a lot of pain or even your life. If you feel something landing on your skin, NEVER crush it. Its blood or secretions might be poisonous or will possibly cause skin irritation.
At night time, do not forget to turn on the bug repellents. It is preferred to stay indoor after sunset in order to avoid mosquitoes and other flying insects which will be swarming light sources.
8. Try to Pay in USD or EUR
Another key point to mention is related to currency conversion. Converting your USDs or EUR to the local currency is easy. However, try not to buy a lot of local currency because selling it back will be difficult, especially in countries using the CFA. Whenever possible, pay in USDs.
Furthermore, carry paper bills with no writings or stamps on them. Keep a lot of small bills handy as you will be paying a lot of tips.