You’re going on a trip to Africa! Over the next couple weeks, we will be sharing a few lists of things not to forget when traveling on any short term trip, but especially to our beloved Africa.
Whether it’s your first trip or you’ve been many times before, preparing to travel to Africa is best done by having a good list. Here’s ten things a veteran missionary, Ron Hanson, recommends you add to your checklist before you head out the door:
1. GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance may see like an extra cost for an already expensive trip, but trust me, this is one time you don’t want to skimp; in fact, our mission policy now makes it mandatory. My brother-in-law passed away unexpectedly on a trip to Tanzania, and without travel insurance, we were looking at a $25,000 bill to get his body home. Don’t skip the insurance. (Note: if you are traveling to work with an AGWM missionary, travel insurance is a requirement now. No exceptions.)
A few years ago, Cipro was in the news because of the anthrax threat, but ciprofloxacin is a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic that will cover a number of infections and diseases.
3. TAKE YOUR MALARIA MEDS CORRECTLY
Malaria is a dangerous disease. Many visitors to Africa don’t realize that somewhere around half a million deaths were attributed to malaria in 2013 alone. Malaria is easily preventable, so make sure you’re prepared.
4. LEAVE YOUR GOOD JEWELRY AT HOME!
This is a good idea any time you are traveling, but it is worth repeating. If you are on a ministry trip, odds are you won’t always be staying in a secure location. So don’t take the risk with grandma’s heirloom ring.
5. REMEMBER YOUR PASSPORT!
Several people I know didn’t remember their passport until they arrived at the airport! Be fanatical about remembering your passport. Be aware of it at every moment.
6. BRING A HAT
An Africa trip is not the place to get a suntan. Save that for your family vacation.
7. BRING SUNSCREEN AND SUNGLASSES
See number six.
8. HAND SANITIZER
Many of the work locations you may visit will have extremely limited access to water. Having hand sanitizer on hand (pun intended) will keep you healthier.
9. CHECK IMMUNIZATIONS REQUIREMENTS FOR ALL COUNTRIES TO WHICH YOU ARE TRAVELING
Most places in Africa have a variety of requirements for immunizations. For example, East Africa doesn’t require yellow fever shots for entry. However, South Africa considers East Africa a yellow fever zone, and as one of our missionaries learned too late, traveling from Each Africa to South Africa requires a yellow fever shot. Please speak to your host missionary if in doubt about what shots to get.
10. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH MEDICINE
You will need enough medicine with you to cover the entire length of your trip. In fact, bring extra if possible, since it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to get more while in Africa. Diabetes, blood pressure meds, and other conditions that require ongoing medical attention should not keep you from traveling to Africa. You just need to be prepared. There may not be a local pharmacy to provide you with the meds you need, so plan on having enough medicine for the trip, as well as a couple of weeks’ extra in case you experience travel delays.