Hey ladies!! Congratulations on your upcoming adventure to Africa. Now what the heck do you bring?? Packing for safari can be tricky – you’re dealing with luggage weight restrictions, you need functional clothing, and let’s be honest, you want to look decent in your photos. Here are Africa Travel Expert, Lyndsey‘s top tips for packing for an African Safari…
I’m off to Africa for about a month, where my trip will include a combination of beach, mountains and classic safari. In the process of packing, I’ve put together my top Dos and Don’ts to ensure you pack exactly what you need – and nothing more. A lot of these top tips will apply to men as well, but I imagine they don’t have a 10 minute internal battle over whether to bring a combo SPF BB cream or their regular facial moisturizer and makeup combo.
1. TALK TO YOUR CONSULTANT
This should always be the first thing you do before you start packing or doing any sort of shopping for items you’re thinking of taking. Remember, your consultant has been to the exact areas you’ve been and I can guarantee that they have overpacked. Use your consultants to determine what type of clothing is appropriate, how much to bring, and what weather and experiences to prepare for. Someone traveling to trek gorillas in rainy season will be packing a complexly different bag to someone who’s doing a classic safari and beach combo when it’s dry and crispy. Your consultant will also be able to advise which of the properties you’ll be staying at include laundry.
2. LAYER UP
This really does go for guys and gals, but you can experience all different temperatures in just a few days in Africa. You need to be prepared to quickly strip items on or take a few pieces off. Really try to avoid bringing individual pieces that are really only are functional on their own and wouldn’t work on top of or in combo with another piece. The only piece of clothing this might not apply to is a rain shell. However, you likely don’t want to bring a rain shell that is insulated or heavy. You’ll be putting this piece over everything else, and you want to be sure you can wear it in warm weather rains as well as cold rains.
3. BE ABLE TO PAIR EVERYTHING TOGETHER
This is a big one ladies. Make sure that you can pair every top that you bring with every bottom. This essentially doubles or triples your outfit choices and ensures that you’ll always have a cute and functional outfit for each day. It’s best to choose one color palette and stick to it. Since you’re headed to Africa, I can pretty much guarantee that your color palette will be neutrals! It helps to try on each outfit together, all possible combinations and make sure you’re happy with the look and feel like the clothes are comfortable and functional. Wear them outside, go for a walk, sit in the sun. If one of the pieces doesn’t feel right, doesn’t breathe, etc. don’t take it.
4. USE WHAT YOU HAVE AND TAKE WHAT YOU LOVE
You know that grey tank you always wear on weekends? Or those comfy pair of shorts you end up in every day during summer? TAKE THEM! There’s a bit of a misconception that you have to go to your nearest REI or Eddie Bauer and buy up all the bland button-up, zip-off, insect repellent in sight. That’s simply not true. The great news is that you probably already own most of the pieces you’ll want and need to take. Those clothes are certainly functional and work for some people, but if they don’t work for you or you hate the look of them – don’t buy them!
5. USE PACKING ACCESSORIES
Traveling to Africa normally means you’re restricted to a duffle-type bag. While great for being lightweight, duffles stink at allowing you to organize your stuff. There are some really great packing tools available that you should absolutely take advantage of. My favorite is the Eagle Creek Pack-it systems. There are all different types and sizes of pouches, compartments, toiletry accessories and clothing compressors to help you stay organized and keep everything clean and easily accessible. They are designed to be extremely lightweight and there are so many ways these systems can be utilized. From my photos, you can see I’ve used two different sizes of Pack-it cubes, a toiletry hanging organizer, and one clothing compressor. All the clothes I brought are in that small blue folder. All of my clothing accessories (i.e. undies, bras, socks, bathing suits) are in the large packing cube. My rain shell is stuffed into the small packing cube. These allow me to really maximize space within my duffle and to easily locate whichever piece I’m looking for. I also like to keep an extra empty bag, whether it be a plastic grocery bag or one of these Pack-it cubes, for dirty laundry. Keeping your dirty clothes and shoes away from your clean items is a breeze when you plan for it.
1. BUY EVERYTHING BRAND NEW FOR YOUR TRIP
This is a bit of expansion on a few of the “Dos”, but don’t go out and buy all new items of clothing and footwear for this trip. If you know you’re going to need water shoes and you don’t have them, then by all means, get some. But be sure to wear them in!!
2. TRY SOMETHING NEW JUST FOR THIS TRIP
I’m certainly not talking about safari experiences, because you should and will try so many new things. What I mean is, don’t try out new looks and new products on this trip. Never tried out lightweight hiking pants and a button up shirt? Don’t put this on for the first time in Africa. Never used a combo makeup and moisturizer in the morning? Don’t try it on this trip. If you need those things and want to bring them, then do it! But don’t let your first day on safari be the first time you’re trying it out. Make sure you wear the clothes, use the face creams, etc. before you get on the plane.
3. ASSUME YOU WILL LIKE SOMETHING IN AFRICA THAT YOU DON’T LIKE AT HOME
This expands a bit on the above, but is something that happens way too often. If you do not like something when you’re at home, you will not like it while you’re in Africa. Hate khaki with your skin tone? Don’t wear it. You will hate it just as much in Africa. Hate 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner combos? (I do.) Don’t bring them! They aren’t going to magically work better in Africa. Remember what you love and what works well for you. Bring those things and you’ll be much happier.
4. DON’T PACK FOR THE APOCALYPSE
It’s very common to want to bring the entire pharmacy, plus gallons of big spray, packs of band-aids, and maybe a snake bite kit. Because it’s Africa right? And it could happen. Well the good news is that whatever you’re thinking might happen, likely won’t. Even better news, all the camps and lodges you’re headed to will already have everything you’re planning to bring, and much more. A small bag or pouch of the essentials will be just fine. Talk to your consultant about what the recommend and what they’ve experienced through their travels.
5. STUFF YOUR BAG FULL
As tempting as it might be, do not completely fill your bag. Whether you purchase items on trip or not, it’s inevitable that your clothing will all somehow manage to expand. And if you do want to bring anything back, you want to be sure you have the room for it.