Sunday, 23 October 2011

1.      Avoid carrying too much luggage, if possible Take only one bag
2.      Pack less
3.       For the techies… USB devices are great for transferring information, applications and pictures use one. However, remember that there are no condoms for USB devices and that every PC and internet cafe device should be treated as a pox-ridden carrier of digital STDs for your virgin device. Keep it faithful to only your computer (and vice versa).
4.       Paperbacks trump hardbacks. There’s a lot of waiting around when traveling, which makes it nice to have a book handy.

5.       Bargain for everything. Have a great conversation with the first seller of whatever service or product you’re interested in. Never buy from that person. Instead, figure out exactly where the line is and then haggle harder with the next vendor, tout or merchant. (You might find that If you’re paying 25% of the asking price, you’re still being ripped off.)

6.      On Cameras. A lot could be written about this, but suffice it to say that smaller is better unless you really like to take good pictures. I would suggest something that is waterproof.

7.      Spread your money out. Never carry all your money in one place. This isn’t just for security reasons, its for bargaining as well. I suggest carrying varying amounts of cash in 3 different spots and knowing what the amounts are so that you never pull out too much.
8.       Eat local. This is especially true if you’re going on the cheap; don’t be afraid to eat the cooked foods at the road-side kiosks. At $.50 you can get a good full meal and I can do it in a hurry if need be. If that’s too adventurous for you, you can choose other local spots, just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to eat at the “westernized” establishments.

9.      Mosquitos are made in hell and must be killed. Buy a can of Doom (insect spray), get insect repellent, sit on the smoky side of the fire, and use a mosquito net – whatever it takes.
10.  Remember your power adapter. Know what the outlets are going to be like where you’re going so you can recharge your computer, phone and camera. Not knowing where you’re going, I would suggest this one – though a little big, it does fit almost everywhere you’re likely to travel.

11.   Watches are overrated. It’s just one more thing to carry, use your cell phone for the time. Time doesn’t matter as much anyway to be honest
12.  14. Drink a lot. Whether you drink bottled water, sodas, beer or tap water – just make sure you’re drinking. You’ll end up sweating more, walking more and not realizing just how dehydrated you are until you notice that you haven’t gone to the restroom all day.

13.  Toss out your expectations, embrace the differences. It’s not all going to fit the “standard” that you think it should be. Just roll with it and keep a light-approach to life. When something goes wrong, which it will, remember that a smile, a shake of your head and a laugh will take you a lot further than the angry, frustrated and shouting “white person in Africa act” will.

14.  Make friends locally and listen to them. They know the area and can point you towards people and places that you’ll get a lot out of. They also know most of the dangerous and dark corners of the region that you should stay away from. People, at the end of the day, are your greatest assets when traveling, not your gear, knowledge or prior experience in the region.
15.  Bring a hat. One you don’t mind wearing all the time, one you can wash in the sink or a bucket every night, one that keeps the sun from frying your brain. Or buy one. But this is a “don’t leave home without it”
16.  Undershirts keep you cooler they’re essential equipment in tropical climates, and one of the few ways to remain presentable if you’ve got to do a business meeting.
17.  In urban or rural Africa tip a cheap flashlight/torch is your friend when the power goes out and you’re staggering home from the bar at 2am.
18.  Live as much like an average income local as possible (very poor by US standards).
19.  Listen and make friends locally. Stress on all those words. Take the time to greet and exchange greetings with people whose paths you cross, everyone is important, chat with the guard outside your hostel, make every effort to learn the local language, it’s a sign of respect and is appreciated, say a warm hello to the mama selling the peanuts on the street, make friends with taxi drivers, and know how to ask questions, and then how to listen.
20.  Carry a copy of your passport and an international driving license to be saved from trouble.
21.  Carry a USB-2-mobile cable instead that plugs into any USB port and also comes with an adapter for the 12v socket in any car. Helps you get some energy where there’s no socket and is much lighter than most power adapters.
22.  If you can’t patch holes in the mosquito net, apply some repellent around the hole.
23.  Nokia phone with built in flashlight becomes a clock, alarm, torch and phone…magically!
24.  Two each of small packets of tylenol cold (2 daytime / 2 nigh time) are great if you get slammed with some bug and just need to get through a day and a night somewhere.
25.  Always have tissues with you as the lavalatories s are seldom well stocked.
26.  Especially in very busy areas like indoor markets, hugely populated street corners, etc, carry your day backpack on my front.

No comments:

Post a Comment