I recently received some helpful information for packing and traveling to Malawi. I know that several of my readers have been to Africa or other places in which careful packing and planning is a must. I would love for you to share anything from your travels that may be helpful for my own adventures when it comes to packing an preparing. I have included the information that I have received below. Comments appreciated. I also hope this helps others, too.
BEFORE YOUR DEPARTURE:
Well in advance, call the health department about which shots you need for the countries that you will be visiting. Some to these are required to be administered as much as a month in advance and the serum can be difficult to secure.
Be sure to call credit card companies and tell them when you will be traveling abroad and where you are going. Be sure that you jot down the contact information for reporting a lost or stolen card (should be on the back of your card) and keep it separate from the card.
WHAT TO WEAR ON THE FLIGHT
Something very comfortable; remember you will be trying to sleep on the plane. Layers are recommended. Sometimes the airplanes very hot, but sometimes they are very cold. You will be required to take off your shoes at least ONCE each way. You will also be walking quite a long distance in some of your layovers. Include an extra pair of shoes in your carry-on. Be sure to check the weather before you go because it will probably be totally different from what it was when you left the states. You can do this easily on the Internet prior to leaving. Also, keep in mind that the temperature will vary from country to country and even city to city, depending on the elevation.
PASSPORT PACK (on a cord around your neck, tucked into a jacket or shirt when you’re sleeping)
Photocopy of other family members’ passports that are traveling with you
Info on how to report/replace lost passport
Contact information at your destination(s)
Hotel confirmation at your destination(s)
Drivers license or other photo ID
If taking lots of cash, put some here.
Exchange contact phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen credit cards and keep theirs here.
Cash for exiting country
Tip money ($2.00 U.S. per traveler in Joberg and Malawi)
Cash for spending money
Reading glasses (I wound up keeping these on a chain around my neck)
Lip Balm (flying dries you out terribly)
Quart size Ziploc bag with 3 OZ. TOILETRIES OR LESS
Liquid foundation makeup
ANYTHING LIQUID – hairspray, makeup remover, moisturizer, eye drops, mouthwash
Malaria RX (if taken daily)
Any other routine daily medicines
Medicine for motion sickness or allergies or whatever if you’re prone to such
Over-the-counter pain medicine (Ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc.)
If taking lots of cash, put some here
Book(s) for reading on plane or during layovers
Sunglasses (after being on plane, sun is very bright)
Makeup (liquids already in Ziploc bag)
Small hair brush
Shower cap or hair band to hold hair during face washing
If you do not have a piece of carry on luggage, you might want to put panties and a change of clothes, etc. in here. (Just in case you spill something on yourself in route or your luggage gets lost, etc. etc. etc.)
U-shaped, neck support sleeping pillow—this is essential for ANY sleep on the plane!!!! We tied these to the outside of our back packs.
CARRY ON LUGGAGE
Electrical products that you need in Africa (just in case your luggage gets lost.) Note: Converting from 220 (Malawi and most of Europe) to 110(United States) can be quite tricky. An adapter will only work on items that are below a certain wattage. Typically nothing that gets hot will be below that wattage with the exception of a few curling irons. Talk with your “hosts” to find out if they have converters available for you. (Converters are not the same as adapters.) If staying in a hotel in Joberg, South Africa has its own distinct electrical outlets. I took a bag of adapters and none of them worked. There was a hair dryer in the hotel room, but we didn’t need it. In other words, no need for curling irons, electric razors, curlers, flat irons, etc. in Joberg. Might want to inquire about camera chargers!
Pajamas (weather appropriate)
Toiletries (ones not already in back pack—NOTHING liquid)
Weather appropriate change of clothes for however long you will be in Joberg (if you don’t want to have to unpack your checked luggage)
Extra under garments
Outerwear (weather appropriate)
You are limited in weight, size and number of pieces and it varies from airline to airline. Typically, you are allowed to check two large pieces that each weigh 50 lbs or less. Be sure to use TSA locks on your luggage.
Clothing – Again, be sure to check the weather on the Internet before you go. Also, the number of clothing items that you take can be greatly reduced if you are able to wash your clothes while on your trip which I was able to do.
Shoes -- try to keep shoes to a minimum because they are so heavy!! Take primarily comfortable shoes.
Toiletries – anything that you need that was either not in the carry on at all or not in large enough quantities to last the duration of the trip. This includes shampoo, other hair products, bug spray, sunscreen, lotions, toothpaste, mouthwash, cotton balls, q-tips.
Pharmaceuticals -- This included Phenergan, Peroxyl, Benadryl, Neosporin, Bandaids, Imodium AD, Mucinex DM, Nyquil, Sudafed, a prescription antibiotic and anything else that you like to use for common illnesses that are not life-threatening, but make you miserable if you don’t have the right medicine.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
Since I am moving to Malawi what goes into my checked luggage will vary. Apparently, I can buy things like shampoo and toothpaste in Malawi, but not the brands I am used to. I suppose that becomes a bit of personal preference.
One thing that really stands out on that list is the use of the fanny pack. Not sure that I am a fanny pack person. Scratch that! I am not a fanny pack person. However, last time I flew in the U.S. the airlines required that I stuff my purse into one of my carry-on's. So the fanny pack may go unnoticed being strapped around my waist and possibly a means of getting more of my belongings on that flight. Something to consider. Sometimes practicality does outweigh beauty. More importantly, isn't there another name for a fanny pack? It makes me cringe every time I hear that term. What do you think?
Interested in more information on packing for Malawi? Check out these helpful posts.
Packing for Africa: Part 1
Packing for Africa: Part 3
Packing for Africa: Part 4