What to pack for South African vacations

What to pack for a trip to South   Africa.  If you are taking a South African vacation, the following checklist, in addition to your wardrobe, will insure that you have everything you need for a safe and enjoyable vacation.  Please, if you think of anything else, add it to the comments section at the bottom of the page.

  • Passport.  A copy of your passport, this can be a picture on your cell phone and/or a paper copy to be kept in a different place than your passport.  For added protection, you might like to register for the safe traveler program on www.state.gov.
  • Bring your own sunblock, the one that you use at home.  You already know the ingredients in this one work for your skin type.  Although you can purchase more while traveling, it may not be brands you are familiar with.
  • Plenty of bug repellent.  Bring twice what you think you will need.   There is no better investment.  Remember, even if you are taking anti malaria medicine, it is only effective against the night time mosquitoes.  The day time mosquitoes carry different germs and diseases, for which we have no preventative treatment but repellent.
  • Binoculars or a monocular for wildlife viewing.  I choose the smaller type that is manageable to carry for long periods.  Consider getting a suspender type chesty to hold the binoculars in place at your stomach.  When you see something you’d like to look at more closely, keep you eyes on the object and bring the binoculars up to your eyes; you won’t lose the subject and you’ll be quick enough that you won’t lose the moment.  They sell for about $10 at LL Bean.
  • A dry bag for your valuables when/if you go into boats or are caught in heavy rain.  Dry bags sell for under $10 and will hold a passport, cell phone and camera.
  • A camera with an extra battery and memory cards.  I happen to like the waterproof camera, but the quality of a full lens camera can’t be beat for great shots.
  • At least one hat, the sun will be hot.  If you are under trees, a hat will keep things from falling on your head also.
  • Your inoculation card  if you needed to get any shots. (I keep mine clipped to my passport)
  • An ATM card for cash at the airport and/or at the banks.  It should never be used at stand alone ATM machines.  Be sure to notify the bank of your travel.
  • A credit card to be used for any transactions other than using or getting cash.  Again, notify the bank in advance.
  • A few hundred US dollars stashed in your bag as emergency cash.
  • An umbrella and rain coat.  Also one or more long sleeved light shirts to be used in the cooler evening and also during the day to protect from sun and bugs.
  • Your personal medicine pack.  Even if you don’t normally need Imodium, bring it or the brand you would use when needed.  Bring a pain reliever, a stomach settler, Dramamine, and of course bring NEOSPORIN and bandaids.  Clean and wrap any open wounds, no matter how small, immediately.
  • Raingear, including a small umbrella.
  • Power converter.

A generic packing list is also available for those who want more information.

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