Grant, a journalist and social media coach, is writing a
book about backpacking solo through Africa. She blogs at
The Traveling Writer.
We asked Alexis to share her list of backpacking essentials
for your trip to that part of the world. This is what she
backpacking trip through Africa, there were so many moments
when I thought to myself, I’ve gotta remember this
for the next time I travel. Like most independent travelers
headed for developing countries (independent = travelers
who aren’t with a group and figure out accommodation
and other details as they go), I knew to bring a money belt,
invest in a pair of durable shoes and abide by simple food
rules: boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it. But I learned
a few more tricks along the way, ones you can use for your
next travel adventure.
My tips for
independent women travelers to Africa:
your mozzie net -- If you need a mosquito
net, buy one that includes poles and sets up like
a tent. (I use this Skeeter
Defeater from Long Road Travel Supplies.) Hangable
nets are useless when there’s nowhere to hang
Learn to Skype --
a free service that allows you to make calls over
the Internet, is the cheapest way to call home. The
drawback: for it to work well, you need a solid Internet
connection, which can be hard to find in some developing
countries. If you plan to Skype often, you may want
to bring your own headset.
Be your own office
assistant -- Create sticky labels
with addresses of anyone who deserves to get a postcard.
You won’t have to carry an address book, and
you’ll know you sent all required postcards
when the labels are gone.
Buy visas along the
way. It takes a little planning, but
buying a visa in the country adjacent to where you’re
going is usually cheaper than buying it from home
and requires less paperwork. Just make sure there’s
an embassy for country #2 in country #1, lest you
get stuck without one. Also remember to ask about
multi-country visas, which also can save you money.
Cipro for the sicko.
Convince your doctor to prescribe several doses of
Cipro, or Ciproflaxin, an antibiotic that treats bacterial
infections — pretty much anything that forces
you to spend your entire day squatting over the toilet.
Since travelers often suffer from stomach bugs in
developing countries, it’s smart to have this
drug handy. Bring Bacitracin ointment, too, and use
it; even small cuts become easily infected when you’re
not at home.
Make room for music.
Ditch something in your pack so you can bring lightweight,
portable speakers for your iPod. You’ll use
them at hostels, on the beach, everywhere you want
to share your music with others.
Wear your torch.
Bring a headlamp and an extra set of batteries. You’ll
use it on dark, unlit streets when the power goes
out, in hostel dorm rooms when you want to read late
at night and on late-night bush taxi trips.
Ask for the cheapest
room. When checking into a hotel,
ask if there’s a cheaper room. When they show
it to you, ask if there’s anything cheaper.
Since hotels make more money booking expensive rooms,
they’ll sometimes place guests in, say, a double
when all the client really needs is a single. Remember
to ask whether there’s a dorm, too.
Look for books.
Ask hostels whether they have a book exchange where
you can leave a book you’ve already read and
take one left by another traveler. If you’re
always on the lookout for book swaps, you’ll
never need to carry more than one book at a time.