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Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Do Your Research

The first thing I did before beginning to pack was talk with my African contacts to get recommendations on what and how much to pack. They recommended packing 7-14 days of clothes, then wash and repeat. Here’s what they recommended I pack for one year of travel:

  • One After-Five Dress

  • Two Business Casual Outfits

  • 1 Jogging Suit with Hoodie

  • 1 Workout Outfit

  • 1 Sleepwear

  • 1 Robe

  • 3 Socks

  • 3 Scarfs different sizes

  • Pair of Boots or High-top Sneakers

  • Backpack

  • 2 Long Sleeve & 2 Short Sleeve tee-shirts

  • 1 Pair of Jeans

  • Disposal Underwear / 14 Pair of Panties / 3 Bras

Things Not to Pack

  • Jewelry and Valuables

  • Heavy Duty Camera and Lenses

  • Extra Toiletries

  • Nice Shoes

  • More than One Heavy Jacket

  • Bulky Towels

  • Guidebooks

  • Pillow

  • Extra Gadgets

Items Purchased Six-Months in advance:

  • Mosquito repellent laced bracelets, scarfs, handkerchiefs

  • Packing Compression bags **** highly recommended

  • Safari Jacket and Hat

  • 7 Logo tee-shirts in 5 colors

  • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking

  • Hidden Bra Wallet

  • Money Belt

  • Waterproof Phone Pouch

  • Travel Size First Aid Kit

  • Rain Boots

  • Portable Light Attachment for iPhone

  • African Power Plug Travel Adapters

  • Rechargeable Head Lamps

Consider Taking a Second Phone

To secure a local number in each country, I purchased a second phone to save money and reduce roaming costs. My second phone also came in handy as a WIFI hotspot for my primary phone. Having a local number allowed volunteer locations to speak to me anytime, even when WIFI was not available, and not just via Whatsapp. In many countries eSIM was in limited supply, so having a second phone that was SIM card capable, was advantageous.


For most international flights you can check two bags free, maximum of 50 pounds each. You also can carry two bags on, limited total weight of 25 pounds. I checked two large bags, carried on a backpack, and a small overnight bag. By using the compression bags, I was able to get all my clothes plus some items in the large suitcase. However, the challenge was not the clothes, as noted above, I packed limited clothing. The challenge was all the other personal stuff you need like vitamins, hair shampoo, conditioner, other hair products, lotions, facial cleansers, sunscreen, makeup, electronic adapters for phones, computer, outlets, books, journals, notebooks, the list goes on, and weights a ton.

Don’t Waste Time on Suitcase Locks

Have you seen kiosks at the airport that wrap suitcases in plastic? Unfortunately, luggage handlers at the airport have been known to rummage through passengers’ luggage. I thought my luggage lock would be the answer, however I saw firsthand that luggage locks do little to prevent thief and protect your luggage. In fact, any motivated thief can rip open your bag without breaking the lock and without leaving a single trace behind. The plastic wrapping does prevent thief, but it is bad for the environment. The latest thing now is a Luggage Glove, a protective cover that will go over your trolley suitcase and be locked shut. I am looking into getting one. The money I am spending on plastic wrapping across the continent will more than pay for the Luggage Glove. Learn more about the Luggage Glove at

All in all, learning a lot from this yearlong packing experience. Hope some of my learnings save you time on your next lengthy journey.

Venida, over and out~

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