10 Tips For Packing Light On Your Next Trip To Africa

Planning a trip to Africa doesn’t mean you’ll have to pack every single item you own with you. It’s possible to travel light, even when you’re staying for an extended amount of time. With these few helpful tips on freeing up room in your luggage, you’ll save money from extra airport fees from checking in multiple bags, too (and we all know how much we hate those). So leave that hair straightener behind and get ready for the adventure of your lifetime, here are 10 tips for packing light on your next trip to Africa.

(Elizabeth/Wikimedia Commons)

Leave the toiletries at home

Many of us are guilty of traveling with a giant bag of toiletries full of toothpaste, shampoo, moisturizer and more. We’re not saying you should spend the entire trip without them, but it’s quite easy to purchase them once you arrive to your destination. Your hotel most likely will supply all the toiletries you need. So unless they’re medical or you’re visiting a remote village in Zimbabwe where you won’t see a store for miles around, it’s better to leave them behind.

Rent a camera and lenses instead

Who doesn’t want to snap pictures of their adventures? But for many of us serious photographers, this means toting around gigantic, expensive and fragile lenses. But did you know that there are many places in Africa that rent out cameras and lenses (especially in South Africa) to get professional looking shots on your safari trips. You’d be surprised that several hotels and safari companies will rent out a camera for you (with all the equipment).


Courtesy of aesop/Flickr.com

Pack one or two pair of jeans

There’s no need to bring multiple pants rolled up into heavy logs that’ll take up space in your luggage. Instead, bring one or two reliable pairs of jeans that you can wear for a few days without washing. A pair of jeans are often versatile in its use as they can be worn during hiking trips, safari tours, formal wear (with a dressy top) and casual wear. In fact, you can pack one pair of jeans in your luggage and wear the other on a plane.

airport wait

Courtesy of Jason/Flickr.com

Wear your bulkiest clothes on the plane

Packing a jacket you absolutely need to bring with you? Wear it on the plane (or carry it with you on the plane) and use it as a personal blanket to keep you warm during your time in the air. It’s advised to leave the bulkiest clothing items like wool behind, but if you absolutely need to bring them, wear them instead of jamming them into your luggage. You can always take off your sweater on the plane. Also, wear the shoes that takes up the most space. If it happens to be your hiking boots, wear them.

Invest in a backpack

Research your airline’s carry-on requirements and buy a backpack that does not exceed the measurements. Travel experts use backpacks as “purses” and can re-purpose the bags for hiking trips and use them to take home souvenirs. Many people find using a backpack as a carry-on instead of a small luggage to be more beneficial since smaller luggage cannot be re-used for holding equipment on safari trips or exploring cities and towns.


Courtesy of Yagan Kiely/Flickr.com

Leave the laptop, take the iPad

When traveling light, ask yourself this; how much do I really need this laptop? Many iPads have miniature keyboards and mouse attachments that you can buy to turn your iPad into a makeshift computer. You’ll save plenty of room in your carry-on, and not to mention, it will be much easier on your back since you won’t be carrying around a heavy laptop.


Courtesy of moonjazz/Flickr.com

Have you considered a sarong?

You’d be surprised how much you can do with a sarong. They are made of thin and breathable fabric that can be transformed into skirts, shawls, dress, headscarves, beachwear and more. Some people will take their sarong and use them as a blanket to stay warm or as a picnic blanket. The possibility are endless. And guess what? You don’t really need to pack one either as you’ll find plenty of sarongs in shops throughout the continent as they are exceedingly popular among Africans.


Courtesy of Robin Fernandes/Flickr.com

Vacuum sealers are amazing

We’ve all seen the commercial of these magical vacuum sealers that’ll take 10 of your bulkiest clothing items and compress them to 1/5th of of their size. Well guess what? They actually do work and does wonders when it comes to traveling. This is ideal of travelers who need to bring more clothes on their trips and doesn’t want to shell out extra bucks for having more than one bag. Instead of spending the money on the extra luggage, order the Ziploc vacuum sealers and you’ll find them handy every time you travel (or move).

Sunscreen (earthlydelights/flickr)

Buy your sunscreen there

Wearing sunscreen lotion is very important, especially when traveling to a hot and sunny climate like Africa, but you don’t need to pack one in your bag. In fact, you’ll find them at your airport once you arrive to your destination and buy it there (you may score cheaper deals than you would in your home country).


Courtesy of Kristin Kokkersvold/Flickr.com

Bring a paperback book instead of hardcover

It’s always hard to travel if you’re a book lover. The idea of opening up a book on a sandy beach is too enticing. However, if you must bring one, it’s advised to bring a small paperback book with you instead of a heavy, hardcover book. And perhaps it’s wise to bring a copy with you that you’re not anal on keeping in immaculate condition since you’ll eventually want to cram the small paperback into tight spaces in your backpack or luggage. So in other words, bring a paperback book you love, but don’t bring a copy you’re keen to keep forever. Or if you’re traveling with your iPhone or iPad (and who isn’t these days), just download your book instead.

More from AFKTravel:

Beyond Backpacking: Where To Go Slackpacking In South Africa

The Best Places To Go Hiking In Ethiopia

Top Travel Tips For Nairobi And Mombasa


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