Ready – Set – GO
No matter how many times you have traveled nationally or internationally, it is always helpful to have a travel checklist at hand for your convenience.
Include the following documents:
- Passport/visa(s) – make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6-months after your intended return or you could be denied entry into the country you are traveling to. This is a standard international regulation
- Personal ID – this is NOT in lieu of your passport. In the event that you lose your passport, you will need some form of identification when visiting your country Consulate office to have your passport replaced
- Airline tickets
- Hotel and/or tour contact information
- Emergency contacts and important addresses
- Frequent flyer card(s) and other loyalty program cards
- Cash and credit card(s). Remember to let your credit card company know that you will be traveling ahead of time and for how long so that they do not decline charges and/or freeze your card(s)
- Travel insurance policy
Scan (where applicable) high resolution images of ALL of the above and send to yourself in email form in the unlikely event that if anything unforeseen happens, you can access your documentation online. Since some people chose to photocopy this information and keep it on hand during their travels, scanning and emailing the documentation to yourself for easy personal access enhances your personal privacy and security.
Personal Item Carry On Bag
Now you’ll want to do is prepare your personal item carry-on bag with anything you’ll want with you on the flight. It’s always a good idea to make sure you have an outfit (or two) and a few essential toiletries in your personal item just in case your luggage is lost. It's always nice to have a bag that's easily accessible and since you’ll be carrying it, pack light! Select a carry on that will allow easy access to your travel documents for your convenience.
- Mobile device and charger
- iPad or e-reader and charger
- Headphones (consider noise-reducing headphones if you're sensitive to sound)
- Camera and/or a video camera, memory card(s), and charger
- Electrical converters and adapters
Travel Comfort, Entertainment, and Information
- Travel pillow, blanket, eye mask, and ear plugs
- Travel journal and pen
- Books, magazines, and games
- Guide books, travel guides, maps, language guides, etc.
- Hand sanitizer or wet wipes
- Prescriptions in original packaging (make sure you have these in your carry-on bag just in case something were to happen to your checked luggage) and scan high resolution images of original prescriptions in the unlikely event that if anything unforeseen happens, you can access your documentation online
- Glasses and case
- Sun glasses
- Contact Lenses – but remember the 3-1-1 rule and pack your saline solution in your main baggage
Choose Your Main Bag
Whatever you're planning, we recommend luggage that is versatile, lightweight and big enough to hold all your essentials. The most important decision you'll make as far as luggage is finding a piece that's versatile and can fit lots of gear while also being easy to carry. If you’ll be going through different types of terrain, or switching from airports to cobblestones, having a bag with the option to roll it or carry it like a backpack or duffel is handy. A duffel is particularly preferred for East African safari travel for they are easy to store in your transfer/safari vehicle.
When you have many different types of activities and a variety of gear to pack in your suitcase, keeping everything organized can be a challenge. One of the best things you can do when you're packing for any trip, especially one that requires you to pack lots of layers, is to make sure you use packing organizers. Keeping your suitcase organized with packing organizers will make it easy to get from one place to the next without having to rearrange your entire bag every time you reach a new destination.
You can keep clothing organized in compartments based on outfit type or activity type using packing cubes. These are zippered organizers that make it easy to keep your bag organized and neat and provide quick access to all the different things you'll need during your trip. You can use compression sacs or cubes to reduce the volume of your clothes by up to 80%. This is especially convenient for bulky items such as sweaters and jackets.
Here are items you don’t want to forget:
- Lightweight clothing that can be layered
- Shirts (long sleeved – as you heat up, you can roll up the sleeves)
- Pants and/or shorts (OR cargo pants that zip off at the knee converting long to short in a zip)
- Socks – best take thick socks for safari/walking etc. and 2 pair of dress socks
- Sweaters or fleece lined tops
- Jacket – a typical safari jacket works well for safari and a dress jacket for elegant dining
- T-shirts – keep neutral colors
- Comfortable walking shoes / boots for safari & dress shoes for elegant dining
- A swimsuit or swim trunks
- Safari hat or cap - one that preferably shades your neck as well
- Safari colors; you are well advised to wear khaki colored clothing on safari. You’ll blend in with the surroundings, khaki disguises dust and dirt, and dressed appropriately (layered) you can spend an entire day on safari in comfort. Bright colors are known to deter the game and lessen your safari experience whilst black draws heat and will elevate your level of discomfort. Avoid neon. Under all circumstances, DO NOT wear military style camouflage shirts and pants in Africa. You will immediately be associated with military personnel and could find yourself in a very awkward and precarious position.
It is generally recommended that you’ll want to pack lots of clothing options if your trip will take you to a variety of places. However, our friends at Van Heusen recommend that you stay within a single color scheme to optimize your outfit options. Great idea!
Having options doesn’t mean you’ll need to over-pack. Just pack smart. Include clothing that can be worn on your adventures and then dressed up slightly with a different pair of shoes and a scarf. You may want to try creating a capsule wardrobe – Lady Light Travel has some great tips for how to plan a travel capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe allows you to pick versatile clothing pieces to mix and match so you don’t have to bring separate pieces for each outfit.
Your Toiletry Bag
If you’re carrying on, keep your toiletry bag light and TSA-compliant. The TSA’s 3-1-1 rule makes it easy to remember: liquids, gels, aerosols, creams, and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container and they must be in a 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag.
Don’t forget the following for your toiletry case:
The Toiletry Bag Basics
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
- Hair brush or comb, hair ties, barrettes/bobby pins
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Make up
- Face wash and/or makeup remover wipes
- Lip balm
- Personal hygiene items
- Feminine hygiene products
- Extra contacts, solution, and case
Toiletry Bag Extras
- Cologne/perfume (you are ill advised to wear any cologne or perfume whilst on safari game viewing drives for fragrances are known to deter the game and lessen your safari experience)
- Hair products
- Clothesline and detergent
- Shaving kit and extra razors
- Sewing kit/clothing care kit
- Facial tissues
- Scissors, nail clippers, and tweezers (must be in checked luggage)
- First aid kit (bandages, gauze, adhesives, etc.)
- Personal prescriptions (copies of scripts)
- Pain and fever relievers (also children’s strength if you are traveling with kids)
- Cold medicines and throat lozenges
- Diarrhea/laxative medicines
- Allergy medicines
- Hydrocortisone cream/antibacterial ointment
- Sunburn relief
- Insect repellent/mosquito net/sting reliever
- Motion sickness pills or bands
- Eye drops
- Medicines and vaccinations specific to the region/activity
Click and check the TSA website for the 3-1-1 Rule.
Consider Travel Security
In most large cities, travelers should always be on the lookout for pickpockets. The easiest way to keep your belongings safe is to keep them hidden and close to you. One way to do this is to stash your valuables underneath your clothing. You can do this with a money belt, hidden pocket, neck wallet, undercover bra stash, leg wallet, or holster. All of these options let you keep your valuables, such as passports, credit cards, and cash, close to your body and away from prying hands.
You may want to consider select a money belt that has RFID protection. RFID protection keeps your passports (issued after 2006) and credit cards/debit cards safe while traveling. Identity theft can occur when someone is able to “read” through your purse or pocket, because these items contain microchips with information stored on them.
Prepare Your Home
- Have post office hold mail
- Stop newspaper delivery
- Set up an email autoresponder
- Arrange care of pets, lawn, and plants
- Pre-pay bills
- Prearrange school absences for children
- Empty refrigerator
- Unplug appliances
- Turn off heater/air conditioner
- Turn down water heater
- Turn off washing machine taps
- Lock all doors and windows
- Set up timed light system
- Store valuables in a safe place
- Leave house key and trip itinerary with a trusted friend
- Leave flight and hotel itineraries with a relative
- Reconfirm/check-in online with airline
If you will be gone for more than 30 days’ check, it’s a good idea to check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance for specific instructions.