Being prepared is the key to a successful trip. We'll tell you all you need to know about health and safety, vaccinations, insurance, visas, climate, currency, culture, voltage, and language. We’ll even advise you on what to pack and how to tip. Here are a few frequently asked questions.
- What vaccinations will I need before my trip?
- What food or drink should I avoid, if any?
- What insects may I encounter on my travels?
- What should I wear on safari?
- What money shall I take?
- How much should I tip?
- Who should I call in case of a problem?
It really depends on where you plan to go. We always recommend following World Health Organisation and US government guidelines for the countries you plan to visit, some of which may require certificates for mandatory vaccinations. Talk to your doctor to discuss your vaccination requirements. Plan well ahead of your trip, too, as some vaccination courses will need to be completed two weeks before departure.
From Delhi Belly to Montezuma’s Revenge, we're all familiar with the stories. Fortunately, the food prepared in modern hotels is usually done so to a very high standard of hygiene so is perfectly safe to eat. That said, we prefer to err on the side of caution so you may want to follow these guidelines to help avoid illness caused by any sudden changes in diet:
- Resist the urge to launch your taste buds straight into the hot and spicy local food. Pace yourself with milder dishes and slowly build up to more eye-watering options
- Steer away from salads or food that may have been washed in local water
- Avoid eating raw vegetables, unpeeled fruit and fish away from coastal areas
- Where possible, order food that is hot and freshly prepared. Drink only bottled water and ensure the seal is intact before opening
- Enjoy your favorite tipple minus the ice, and avoid ice cream
One of the most common causes of illness on vacation is dehydration, because people forget to drink enough water in the heat. However, the truth is that millions of people travel every year and return happy and healthy with a lifetime’s worth of good memories.
Tropical climates can be home to a variety of small insects, including mosquitoes. It's a good idea to cover up between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants in pale colors, and use good quality insect repellents. At night, switch off your bedroom lights to avoid attracting insects, and on safari use the mosquito net provided. It's especially important to be vigilant in malarial areas as no malaria prophylaxis medicine is 100% effective, so avoiding mosquito bites is the most important first line of defense
If you're traveling to malarial areas with younger family members, you may be interested to know that Malarone is now licensed for use by children.
Avoid the temptation to rush out and buy an insect repellent-infused safari wardrobe, unless you like that sort of thing. We generally suggest you let comfort be your guide. Choose your favorite walking shoes over brand new heavy duty boots, for example. Clothing needs will differ depending on where you're traveling but generally speaking we advise choosing muted colors. Leave the disco hues to the Massai guides; African safari clothing is intended to help you blend in with your environment, which is particularly important if you're walking, canoeing or trekking. Use our checklist and you won't go wrong, but if in doubt, ask your travel consultant for our pro-approved packing list:
- Pick neutral colors: khaki, brown, green or beige. Avoid white/bright colors which attract insects and distract fellow safari-goers
- Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics such as cotton and linen, which are cool and easy to wash
- Long sleeved shirts and pants for game drives and treks will shield you from the sun and insects
- A crushable hat with a cord (or one with a peak and/or neck flap), sunglasses and sun screen
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Light rain jacket that's easy to screw up into a bag
- Sweater or fleece for chilly spells
- Quick drying swimwear
- Comfortable boots if climbing
We suggest that you only take enough cash (in US dollars) for your immediate use. It's best to rely on a widely accepted credit card for shopping and settling any additional hotel bills. It's wise to carry another card and/or travelers checks, which should be kept in a safe place in case of an emergency. In general, the best place to change money is at the airport where you'll usually get the best rates and the shortest queues.
How much should I tip?
This varies from person to person. It depends where you are and how well you feel you've been looked after. In general, we recommend that you leave a pooled tip for all the hotel staff of around $5 per day, per person with the manager (or in the tipping bx) so as not to forget those people working their magic behind the scenes. If you feel one person looked after you particularly well, you can always tip them individually.
We know that 'life happens' even on vacation so if you have any problems or concerns while you're away your first port of call is either the hotel manager or a Scott Dunn representative in the area. If the problem persists, you can call Scott Dunn 24 hours a day by reverse charge call. We'll do everything we can to resolve the issue at source, quickly and efficiently.
Please note: It's one of our booking conditions that any complaints are drawn to the attention of our representatives or to our head office while you're on vacation so that we have the chance to correct the problem, otherwise your legal rights may be affected.
In an out-of-hours emergency, please call us night or day on 020 8682 5099.