Hello there!

For my second post, I wanted to write about something super relevant for those wanting to travel within East Africa: packing! Before my first trip, I was so overwhelmed by the sheer idea of being in Africa that I really didn't think too much about packing - I just purchased a bag of Hanes white T-shirts and had an assortment of patterned skirts for flair. Four trips to Africa later, I feel as though I’m ready to speak on this topic. One, because I want to end the “Mzungu (white person) in Africa” tourist-wear but also because I want people to have the most amazing time in East Africa, and if I can help with packing, then count me in!

Disclaimer: I don’t know everything & of course this list will have different filters based on length and purpose of the trip. This list will mostly consist of things I wish I brought on my previous trips.

Here we go!


Having stayed in Uganda for 6 months I saw the two extremes from the tacky Western tourist to the oblivious luxury vacationer. Hopefully, we can tackle these two in a loving and educational way. To start off, East Africa values more conservative wear (this is where we challenge the oblivious vacationer). Through insight from fellow leaders and locals, I would try to stick to any bottoms that reach to the knees or below. When visiting a new culture, It is extremely important to respect their values, even if this means you sweat in those long pants a little more than you would want to. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have this rule follow you up north to your choice of top. While tank tops are fine in most common situations, it is always safer to wear some sort of sleeves when hit the town or the village. It just adds a level of maturity in my book. Knowing this, here’s a list of your “to bring” clothes:

Dresses – Depending on your trip’s purpose, you can’t go wrong with a stretchy maxi dress.

Skirts – Easy to slip on during the hot day and gives you a nice little breeze. Personally, I like ones that are soft. Keep in mind, when you’re sweating your buns off you won’t care if the skirt was made out of a “fashionable” fabric — soft and comfy is the way to go.

Pants – I loved having loose cotton pants. In many ways, you can dress them up or down and they're a quick-to-dry option that can be used for many styles.

Tank tops or T-shirts – Again, light and flowing shirts will prove to save you from the heat. I would advise choosing a ton of simply colored shirts that can be super versatile.

A Long sleeved shirt – You’d be surprised it’s not actually “hotter than Africa” in Africa. Chiller rainy seasons will get ya, especially if you’ve been staying for a while.

Windbreaker/rain jacket – Like I said…. Rainy season isn't a joke.

Underwear – Bring whatever your heart desires for this one. At the end of the day, once your clothing will have been dried under the sun, it’ll all be crunchy anyway. ALSO, socks… bring a pair or two.

Bras – One nice bra and some sports bras. I’m more of a comfy-cute kinda girl but it’s always nice to have options when you need a little pick me up, if you catch my drift.

Swimsuit – Why not bring one? You never know if you’ll end up in Lake Victoria, the Indian ocean or some insanely nice resort pool.

Hat – This is always nice for when you don’t want to style your ratty hair and/or want sun protection.


Depending on your length of stay, you might over-pack in the shoe department. As comfy as it is, I think there is always a way to “de-tourist” yourself by staying away from the sneakers and maxi skirt look. Here are some options:

Cute yet Sturdy Sandals – For me, these were my go-to’s on regular days. For some, this may look like a pair of Chacos while for others this may be strong broken-in leather Rainbows.

Well-supported Tennis Shoes – Of course you’ll want to explore East Africa’s glorious nature and if you don’t bring your best sneaks, you’ll regret it.

Fashionable Sandals – For those days when you wanna be super chic or just want to dress up a casual outfit.


This section was the hardest part for me on my first couple trips. Sometimes, I learned the hard way which meant that toiletries slowly became a luxury. Read these next tips so you’re prepared for the curve balls.

Conditioner – If you’re staying for more than a couple weeks, make sure to stock up on conditioner because it’s hard to come by if you’re not in the big cities.

Shampoo – I don’t wash my hair every day but shampoo is easy to find and shouldn’t be your biggest worry.

Soap or Body Wash – Can be purchased, I mean we’re all humans that need a cleanin’ aren’t we?

Lotion – To keep yourself from drying out.

Toothbrush/Paste – Easily Accessible

Deodorant – Not hard to come but if you’re loyal to the fruity/masculine smells found in American grocery stores you may want to stock up beforehand.

Perfume/Body Spray – A BIG one for those girls who don’t mind missing out on a shower but still want to smell nice. I forgot this one during my 6-month stay and was craving to smell flowery!

Razor – Some East Africans are astounded that Westerners shave in the way they do, as many in more rural places don’t partake in it as much. Some may marvel at your body hair or lack of. It can definitely be bought while in cities but I always brought some just for initial use.

Hair Brush & Accessories – Headbands and hair ties are always important things to bring to keep your hair off your sweaty neck. For people staying longer, I found it was always nice to have a little of home and bring a straightener or curler but keep in mind if electricity isn’t there… you may only finish one side of your hair (yes, that happened).

Feminine Products – Personally, I had a hard time finding tampons in more rural cities but they can be bought in the large cities. Pads are available in most cities.

Prescriptions – For the first time traveler to East Africa, malaria medication is a must, especially since our immune systems are super overwhelmed by the introduction to new environments. Surprisingly, when I stayed for a longer period of time I found that most expats don’t take it regularly because of the damage that long-term use can cause but also because treatment is fairly cheap. I would definitely suggest taking it for a week or two upon arrival but look more into your area of travel to better understand your risk. BIG ADVICE: If you can, I would suggest buying malaria meds when in Africa because it is significantly cheaper!

Additionally, bringing some kind of ciprofloxacin (cipro) for stomach bugs, traveler’s diarrhea and other material infections. It’s a pretty strong antibiotic that can, from my experience, attack many things! With antibiotic use, you’ll also want to consider bringing a probiotic to “reverse” the antibiotic effects.

Bug Spray – Bugs and Mosquitos will piss you off. Mosquito repellant is the best combat to fight those little suckers away and may save you a trip to a clinic.

Towel – Bring personal towels for your trip. I would recommend something lightweight for drying purposes and to maximize your bag’s capacity!

Sunscreen – No, you are not invincible from the African Equatorial sun! See below:


Depending on the length of your stay and your trips purpose, technology can be good or bad. For my first trip, I was encouraged to leave the gadgets at home and be fully present, which I think led to my first experience being so great. But, of course, if you’re going to do photo/video work or may be staying longer, technology is essential to documenting your adventures. KEEP IN MIND: You must be aware of where your gadgets are at all times and keep in mind that whenever traveling there is a certain risk with valuables.

Camera – My camera has been my lifesaver and allowed me to reminisce on so many beloved memories. But, make sure to actually be present where you are and not to be overtaken by the need to photograph everything or everyone (it can be very uncomfortable especially if you haven’t asked for permission). When in East Africa, you may feel the need to document every moment of the vivid culture, people and environment that surrounds you but please keep in mind that they are people just like us and that demands respect to be given. Additionally, by hiding behind a camera you can lose the opportunity to build genuine relationships which, for me, has been the biggest part. Sorry, passionate side note!

Laptop – Good to have if you’re studying abroad or doing photo work but if you’re not, don’t mind the useless hassle. ALSO, internet isn’t available everywhere (like it the USA) so remember that you’ll have to pay for additional MBs (Megabytes) of data.

Headlamp – Yep, buy it! It’s a holy grail for when the power is out and you’re wondering around your room trying to find something at night.

Chargers/Adapters – Remember to pack your technologies’ chargers so you can keep using them! Also, remember to buy a couple adapters because the East African Plugs are different than ours, see below:


With travel, comes a long list of things you forgot you actually use. Here they are:

Water bottle – Since most of the water you will consume will be bottled-water, it’s always nice to have the option of carrying a reusable bottle that you love.

An On-The-Go Bag – For your days out, pack a strong purse or backpack for daily travel. Maybe something you can carry on a boda boda! Additionally, I recommend having a big travel bag for weekend trips but could also supplement having two check-in bags and could lighten your load.

Passport – You may not forget this since it’s your key to traveling the world. But, here’s your reminder! Always make sure you have pages open on your passport and it’s signed.

Visa – Check out visa information beforehand. Most countries allow tourist visas to be purchased upon arrival but some also allow visas to be purchased online (Kenya, Rwanda… Uganda will soon). It is good to purchase online so you are assured to have the visa type you want.

Money – Whether in cash or credit card form make sure you have money available in case anything goes wrong but also for daily transactions & souvenirs. REMINDER: Inform your bank where you will be going if you are using it abroad. If you forget to do so, they could block your card. Also, remember to check your bank’s policy on overseas transactions so you know what you’ll be charged when withdrawing money.

Insurance Card – If you’re using an international insurance plan or have your home provider’s card, bring it in case of emergency.

Well, that concludes the list. I hope this could assist you in your future travels to East Africa. If you think I left anything out, please let me know. Or, if you would like further details on any one topic, feel free to ask!

Asante sana (Thank you)!


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