Over 30 million Americans visit Africa each year. Americans are slowly starting to understand that Africa is an amazing destination with so much to offer. Before you travel to this phenomenal continent, there are a few things you need to understand. Here are 5 things to know before you travel to Africa that can help you plan a fabulous vacation.
1. Africa is not a country
This may sound crazy, but you have to remember that Africa is a continent and not a country. Many people talk about Africa as it’s one big country when in fact it’s filled with over 50 different countries with hundred of languages, cultures, and customs. Going to Egypt is different than seeing Botswana and South Africa has nothing to do with Djibouti. Each country has its own beauty that is worth discovering.
2. You may need vaccinations
Before you buy your ticket, make sure to check which vaccinations (if any) are needed for the country you’re visiting. Each country has different requirements and you must know what those are. I wrote about my experience with vaccines to Africa in this post. The CDC (Center For Disease Control) will have the necessary travel information for you.
3. The heat can be overwhelming
The heat on the African continent may be very different than what you are accustomed to. Make sure to pack clothing that will help you stay cool yet also be respectful of the culture of which you are visiting.
Be sure to see if shorts, bare shoulders, and/or tight clothing is acceptable in the country you will be visiting. The last thing you would want to do is be disrespectful to the people.
4. What you’ve seen on TV is not full reality
Many times, the only thing we see from Africa is starving children and big black men with guns. Africa is so much more than that! Yes there is poverty but please name me one country that doesn’t have poverty or people living on the street. In America our homeless problem is ridiculous yet that’s not the narrative that is told when you hear about the USA.
In Africa there are beautiful beaches and mountains, five star resorts and restaurants, spas, and anything else you can think of that is luxurious. Poverty is not the only thing Africa has, and it’s the least interesting thing about this magnificent continent. The beauty on the continent is unbelievable. Do not let the negativity you see in the media factor in to your traveling decisions. Africa is wonderful.
5. Each country has its own currency
When you travel to Africa you will need to get currency for whatever country you are visiting. Each country has its own money which you will need in order to buy things. You can get money before you leave from AAA if that is an option for you or you can change it at the airport. There are ATM’s all around the continent but just know that you will be given local currency.