When traveling to Africa, knowing what to take and what to leave behind is decisive. Trusting that you can simply “get it when you get there” doesn’t always work. If traveling by air, limits on weight are seriously enforced, and exceeding the 50-pound limit on a bag is absolutely forbidden, or fined. Even a carry-on is measured and weighed. On the other hand, now days you can find toiletries such as shaving needs, body lotion, quality toothpaste, hair items, and deodorant easily at markets such as Shop Rite. Indeed, relatively new in capital cities is the addition of shopping malls that have greatly affected the supply of Western world items.
Air travel to Africa suggests that all valuables be secured in a carry-on bag. No locks on suitcases is a huge temptation to baggage handlers and items can be easily lifted. Fine jewelry, as well as perfumes and such, should be left at home, and medications should be in your personal care at all times. Then again, pharmacies here in Uganda carry most prescription drugs and they can be purchased without a written prescription.
Items such as ball point pens, can openers, rechargeable batteries that use a 220V, flashlights, and a personal mini fan are a must. When moving at night one can easily stumble on uneven or broken pathways and this should always be remembered as a huge cause for injury. All money and valuables must be secured in a money pouch buried beneath your clothing and not a pocket. Chances of having all your money stolen while moving about crowded areas are great. Cell phones should be secured, for having one snatched out of your hands is prevalent.
If not on a first-class tour, it takes a bit more than common sense to come out on top when in Africa. Theft is woven into the culture just as everyday routines. If you do become a victim of theft, don’t look for sympathy. Such practices are basic standards in this land and it’s up to you to take heed.