6 Tips for Efficiently Packing a Carry-On Bag for an African Safari Vacation

by Sandy Salle on August 20, 2013

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To many travelers, the mere thought of checking a bag for an international flight can cause anxiety. Too many times bags get lost and are never to be found again. And there is no traveler out there who wishes this fate upon his or her beloved bag.

So for all of you travelers out there who fear never seeing your checked bag again, here are a few tips for packing a carry-on bag for your trip to Africa:

Tip 1: Use a soft and durable travel bag that meets the maximum size of your airline’s carry-on regulations.

Get the most out of your carry-on bag by ensuring that it is the biggest size you are allowed to have on board. Make sure to check with the airlines that you will be traveling with to see what the maximum carry-on bag size is.

Tip 2: Pack diverse clothing items.

There are some tricks of the trade when it comes to packing clothing items that can serve dual purposes. Some of my favorite items to pack include a pashmina (can be used as a wrap or scarf), pants that can be converted into shorts (there are pants with zippers by the knees so that you can remove the bottom half of the pants to make shorts), and skirts that can be used for both athletic purposes and casual evening purposes.

Tip 3: Wear heavier items onto the airplane.

When traveling, it’s important to wear your bulkier clothing items on the plane with you as opposed to packing them. This ensures that you have ample room in your carry-on to pack more items and get the most out of your space. Whenever I am en route for an African safari vacation, I make sure to wear my sneakers (since they’re really bulky and would take up a ton of room in my carry-on) and fleece. Those are just two of the heaviest items that I usually bring with me, so I make sure to wear them on travel days. You can always take your fleece off and carry it in your hand or tie it onto the strap of your bag.

Tip 4: Bring only enough items to get you through the trip.

Some of the items you DON’T need on an African safari vacation include:

  • Jewelry
  • Dressy clothing (unless you plan on dining at a fine restaurant, you do not need any fancy clothes)
  • Multiple pairs of shoes

Make sure to only pack a few shirts / tanks and pants / shorts for your trip (you don’t need more than 5 of each). If you think you’ll run out of clothes to wear, bring a travel packet of detergent and clean some of your clothing items in your room sink. Note that many accommodations offer laundry services, so make sure to check with your African safari travel agent regarding each property that you’ll be staying at to see if they have these services.

Tip 5: Put necessary toiletries into smaller containers.

Although most accommodations have complimentary mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body soap in the rooms, some travelers prefer to bring their own toiletries. If you wish to do this, make sure to purchase small plastic, travel-size bottles to put your liquids in. Regular-size shampoo bottles can take up a ton of room in your carry-on, PLUS, if the size of the bottle is too big, you will not be allowed to carry it onto the plane since there are still airline regulations for liquids.

Tip 6: Fill up your personal item.

You are allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item on international flights (domestic flights can vary on this regulation, so make sure to check with your African safari travel agent about domestic flight regulations before packing). If you plan on bringing a nice camera with you, make sure to pack the camera in a larger camera bag so that you can put some of your personal items into the bag (use it as both a purse and camera bag). I personally like to put all of my travel documents into my camera bag, as well as my wallet, phone, and any medications I am bringing with me.

**If you are staying in Africa for more than 10 days you may wish to bring a checked luggage item. If you are traveling with another individual, mix your clothes amongst each other’s bags and make sure to put some of your key clothing items into your carry-on. This ensures that you will at least have some of your items, should your bag get lost in travel.

Download our complete African Safari Packing Guide by clicking the button below.

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