How I Packed Just a Carry On Bag for My Two-Week African Honeymoon

by Sandy Salle on December 23, 2014

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Article by Britt Urbach, Hills of Africa Travel’s Marketing Director 

*Picture to the left of Britt and her husband at Boulders Beach in South Africa

Let me tell you from experience that you can absolutely get away with packing just a carry-on bag for your African honeymoon safari. And yes, even look great the entire time during your trip! My husband and I both packed a carry-on duffle bag and also each brought a personal item – no checked baggage (and in turn, no hassle!) for our two-week (14 day) honeymoon.

Below are my 10 tips and secrets from personal experience for packing just a carry-on and personal item for your African honeymoon safari:

Use a soft duffle bag with no wheels. Depending on which airline you use, the ticketing desk might weigh your carry-on luggage. Make sure to check with your airline prior to packing on whether they weigh carry-on luggage prior to boarding. One of the best ways to reduce carry-on weight is by using a lightweight duffle bag without wheels. The structure and wheels of a solid bag make it heavier and, thus, you may be restricted on how much you can pack. Also, if you are taking charter flights within southern and eastern Africa, you will not be able to take rolling bags onto the lightweight aircrafts. A soft duffle bag that can be manipulated into the cargo area is essential.

Pack a personal item that can go beneath the seat in front of you. In addition to your duffle bag, pack a personal item such as a tote or backpack that can fit in the seat in front of you on the aircraft. Keep your money, identification, passport, airline tickets, and travel documents in your personal item, as well as any expensive electronics such as your camera or iPad. Not only will it be easier to take out during your flight, but you can also rest assured that your bag is at your feet with all of your important personal items.

Pack diverse layers. Depending on where you’re visiting, the temperature may vary dramatically between the mornings and evenings, so it’s important to pack lightweight and heavier clothing and remove layers when needed. To give you a hand at what to pack, I put together the exact list of items that I brought with me in my duffle bag. See below . . .

  • 4 T-shirts
  • 1 Fleece Jacket
  • 1 Rain Jacket
  • 2 Pairs of Leggings / Yoga Pants
  • 2 Pairs of Jeans
  • 2 Pairs of Hiking Pants
  • 5 Pairs of Socks
  • 6 Pairs of Underwear
  • 1 Pashmina Scarf
  • 1 Pair of Boots
  • 1 Pair of Sneakers
  • 1 Pair of TOMs Slip On Shoes

****Keep in mind, I packed knowing that the accommodations I was staying at offered complimentary laundry services. So I technically only packed for 1 week of travel as oppose to two weeks.

Wear your heavier and bulkier clothing and shoes on the airplane. On our flights, I wore leggings, socks, boots, a t-shirt, a fleece jacket, and my pashmina. The airplane was super cold, so I didn’t have to take off any layers!

Check which accommodations you’ll be staying at offer complimentary laundry services (and use them!). All of the accommodations we were staying at during our African honeymoon safari offered laundry services. We used laundry services at two of the properties and our clothing was even pressed for us – way more than I would have done for myself!

Pack a travel packet of laundry detergent. Just in case your accommodations don’t offer laundry services, or you spilled something on a piece of clothing that needs to be washed immediately, a packet of laundry detergent and your suite’s sink is all you need!

Check the weather. Before departing, check the 10-day weather forecast. This can always change, but it will give you an idea for the type of clothing you should pack. As I mentioned before, my husband and I traveled during the month of November to South Africa. There were occasional rain showers and some days were in the 50s while others were in the 80s, so we had drastically varying weather patterns. But we checked the weather prior to departing and were prepared for all types of weather.

Don’t pack shampoo and conditioner (or soap!). All the accommodations you will be staying at will have complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and soap, so there’s no need to take up extra room in your carry-on bag with bulky toiletry bottles. And as someone who is very particular about my shampoo and conditioner products (two-in-one shampoo and conditioner bottles are my hair’s worst enemy), I was very impressed with the quality of products! Just be sure to check with your African safari travel specialist to be sure that all your accommodations provide soap, shampoo, and conditioner.

Know which activities you’ll be participating in and pack accordingly. Will you be participating in a walking tour through Cape Town? Pack comfortable shoes! Will you be embarking on safari game drives? Again, pack closed-toe shoes such as sneakers, hiking shoes, tennis shoes, TOMs, or any other type of slip on shoe. Or, if you know you’ll be hiking up Table Mountain or going on walking safari tours, be sure to pack moisture wicking clothing. For example, I knew I would be in Cape Town and Cape Winelands for 6 days, so I made sure to bring jeans, boots, a rain jacket, sweaters, and t-shirts / button down shirts so I could look decent during wine tastings and dinners out in Cape Town!

Leave the hairdryer behind. Most hotels, camps, and lodges provide a hairdryer for your convenience. I didn’t bring a hairdryer with me and every property had one for me to use. If you do, however, wish to bring your own, purchase a travel-size hairdryer so that you don’t take up a ton of room with a big, full sized one! Again, check with your African safari travel specialist who booked your trip to see if all the accommodations you’re staying at have a hairdryer.

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