Since this is my first trip to a REALLY foreign country (by really foreign I mean: I have to get shots and buy an entirely new wardrobe – so Europe and French Polynesia don’t count), I’ve compiled some helpful tips for preparing for your OWN trip to Africa (that you’re going to ask me to plan after I go, of course).
Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots…EVERYBODY!
If you live in the state of Georgia, you have GOT to get your shots at Peachtree Travel Clinic. It was actually the most enjoyable doctor’s visit I’ve ever had, and I am not being the least bit sarcastic. It was fascinating!
The nurse sat down with me for an hour, explaining the medical do’s and don’ts when traveling to Africa and other foreign countries. It was riveting. Some of the things I learned:
– Always choose a pasta or red-meat dish while on the plane (avoid chicken & seafood)
– There are certain types of Malaria medications to avoid because they can give you extreme hallucinations. I for one choose malaria over those meds.
– Tsetse flies are terrifying but not a concern where I’m going
– The seasickness patch that I’ll be wearing before shark diving might make one pupil dilate, so maybe I’ll look like a freakshow and scare away the sharks
I had to get a typhoid, tetanus, and Hep A shot. If you are going into Zambia, you will need a yellow fever vaccination. However, I’m not any sort of authority on exactly what you’ll need, but that’s what’s great about Peachtree Travel Clinic. They take everything into account: your immunization history, where you’ll be traveling and for how long, etc. etc. When I tried to call around Columbus I could barely find a clinic that was able to locate South Africa on a map. I’m sure there are some, but I was clearly missing the mark. Just a four-minute phone call with Peachtree Travel Clinic, they told me all I needed to know and I had an appointment for one-stop shots the following week.
As far as medications: I was prescribed the non-hallucinogenic malaria pills, an antibiotic, Ambien, and a seasickness patch. Of course, depending on your activities, destinations, etc. you might need different meds.
The real reason I love Peachtree Travel Clinic: no matter what your age, they provide you with a pinwheel to blow on as a distraction from the tons of shots going into your arms.
This has been a tough one since I’m going to SA during the beginning of their winter. For internal air, you’re only allowed 44 lbs, which is going to make packing sweaters, jackets, boots, etc. pretty difficult. That’s why I love warm weather trips – throw in a few jersey dresses, couple pairs of heels, and you’re good to go. However, wintertime in Africa is the best time of year for game viewing (all of the animals gather at the same water source since it’s not rainy season and the leaves are off of the trees, so you have clearer views).
Also, I have a really hard time dressing down for anything. I was shopping business casual outfits loooong before I entered the workforce – I’ve probably only worn a t-shirt in public 5 times in my life. So, I’ve been trying my hardest to put together some safari outfits that don’t make me look like I fell out of a Goodwill clothing rack (because if you know me, you know that Goodwill is the last place on earth I would be caught shopping at).
I’m not really a neutral color person, so I’ve gathered any sort of mint-to-hunter-green and tan and gray clothes, bought a hat that can pass as safari-ready, and found a scarf to tie it all together. It’s not quite as Wild-Thornberry’s-ish as I imagined (does anyone else remember that show?), but I think that’s a good thing:
Little by little, I think I’m getting ready for this trip. That’s a good thing considering I leave in almost 48 hours exactly.