Traveling to any country outside your own requires a fair amount of planning and adjustment beyond the basics. Sure, you need transportation and housing while abroad. However, there is much more to the story than this, especially when vacationing in Africa. Discover these essential tips and tricks for visiting an African country before you go.
Pack for the Weather
Africa is a vast continent that spans a wide range of climates along its latitude. Despite this weather diversity, there are certain weather patterns that you can research and account for. Packing for the weather in an African country involves exploring the differences between the rainy and dry seasons and knowing how the sun behaves during your month of travel. Many inbound vacationers visit various African countries for a safari, so make sure you know how to select safari clothing and pack light.
Remember Your Health
As a foreigner in a country with different bacteria, you must remember safe practices for personal health. One of the primary ways people get sick on African excursions is by drinking unfiltered water. Always keep a spare water bottle on hand to avoid this situation. Also, refrain from touching your face since this is a common way for germs to spread. Your hands will touch everything from airplane seat pockets to dirt on safari. Minimize your exposure to illness by prioritizing your health.
Explore Cultural Expectations
Each town in each district of each country in Africa has its own cultural idiosyncrasies. However, there are some overarching similarities that starkly contrast Western attitudes and behaviors. You may be accustomed to conversational turn-taking, straight-lined queues, and ample personal space, but these will go out the window the moment you touch down. Prepare for the unexpected and always show respect to those around you, especially to hosts, guides, and elders.
Prepare for Lifestyle Adjustments
Developing nations comprise a considerable portion of Africa. Thus, people often have fewer resources and make do with what they have. Prepare yourself for lifestyle adjustments like brushing your teeth with bottled water, wearing more conservative clothing to respect religious norms, having your bus or car break down, and feeling the near-constant stares of others. When you prepare for the various lifestyle adjustments to your waking, eating, activity, and sleeping routines, you will feel far less inhibited and inconvenienced by small setbacks or detours throughout your day.
Keep an Open Mind
Many people have subconscious—and sometimes intentional—assumptions about African culture and people. Though the war, poverty, and crime in some African countries are common knowledge, it is not the only narrative of the African continent. While you should always be wary of your surroundings, don’t be afraid—reach out to people and connect freely. You may be surprised by how many people respond kindly and warmly to you. Keep an open mind and try your hardest to ignore deep-seated mischaracterizations of African people.
With these tips and tricks for visiting an African country, you can navigate the geographical, social, and cultural landscape wisely. As you step foot onto another continent, focus on the fun and learning experience, and make memories that will last a lifetime.