Overlanding in Africa is a lifetime experience that all travel enthusiast ought to have. While there are many ways to do it, including privately (driving or using public transport), most of the packing tips I offer apply to any method of travel one chooses. For an introduction on what to expect while overlanding, read my previous post.
1. Forget the suitcase!
I’ve seen people struggle with suitcases so often, when all they needed was a bag. There are ladies that will pack a full suitcase for a one-night get away in the wild. Always remember this: suitcases are for luxury travel. If you will have a butler waiting for your luggage the moment you arrive at your destination, by all means, carry a suitcase. Otherwise, it will add tremendous stress levels to your trip. (Cue in my first Lamu trip; a two day journey involving buses, boats and ferries and a full suitcase that I was tempted to throw into the sea)
2. Invest in a travel pack- These travel-friendly backpacks excel where wheeled luggage cannot: on gravel, cobblestone streets, stairs and other uneven terrain. I have started to see these on sale in certain Naivas supermarkets in Nairobi, as well as any outdoor gear shops (There’s one at the hub in Karen). As they cost upwards of Kes 5000/- (50 Usd), it’s advisable to do proper research before your purchase. If you don’t intend to travel often a duffel bag is friendlier to your pocket-and your trip.
A travel pack and duffel bag.
3. As your trip will likely be a couple of weeks/months, it is expected that your laundry will have to be cleaned. Unless you have the muscle to carry around 21 outfits for 21 days, keep your luggage to a minimum. I would say 4-5 outfits are sufficient.
4. Carry and wear light clothes. I have found that light clothes are convenient on such trips. They are comfortable for various situations; sitting in a vehicle for long, bush bathroom breaks, walking tours and so on. In addition to that, they are fast-drying! Remember to pack neutral colours for animal park visits.
5. Comfortable shoes go hand in hand with comfortable clothes. As there’s bound to be lots of walking, Ive found that sneakers or hiking boots best serve this kind of trip. You might want to carry an extra pair, in the rare occasion that the ones you’re wearing get wet. A pair of bathing slippers is also necessary.
6. Mosquito repellent. You may live next to a breeding ground for these annoying insects; you still have not see the worst of their character. Mosquito repellent will be an every-day essential for your skin.
7. Any necessary drugs you may need. As you may not come across chemists as often as you are used to in an urban city, it is necessary that you carry your own medication on your trip. This includes pain killers, asthma medication etc.
8. Carry travel-size products, depending on how long your trip is. It’s unnecessary to carry a full size tub of lotion or bottle of perfume on a 3 week trip. Invest in smaller size bottles for all your personal-hygiene items.
9. Warm clothes. Some nights can get really chilly. A comfortable hoodie and other warm clothes are essential.
10. A headlamp. This is a tool that is overlooked but that will make your life so much easier. While pitching up a tent, you will need as many hands as you can get (ideally your two hands and your tent-mates’) thus leaving no room for a hand to hold a torch. A head lamp could be the difference between pitching your tent in 10 minutes and doing it in 30-every single day! As most campsites are in bush locations, it’s also good, for your own security to have a headlamp as you walk around and have your hands free to do whatever else needs to be done.
Remember to stay hydrated throughout your trip as dehydration while traveling is common.
PS: I’ll cover travel etiquette tips in the coming weeks.
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