Packing (and writing a packing guide) for three months in Africa was way harder than I thought. I must have packed and re-packed at least ten times before I zipped up my rucksack one final time.
There are so many blogs offering great packing guides out there for the independent traveller in Africa. But our trip proved quite a tricky one to pack for, because our itinerary is so varied. We’ll be covering cities, safari, kicking back on the coast and hitting the big outdoors. We’ll be taking long drives that require the comfiest kicks and hopping between some of the loveliest vineyards in South Africa’s Western Cape. When it comes to our accommodation, this will vary massively, from airbnbs and backpackers hostels, to more high-end hotels and safari lodges. How does a girl pack for all of this, in one single bag?!
I guess the answer is, go with the basics and prepare to throw away and pick up new things as you go. Don’t take anything too precious (goodbye engagement ring and favourite shoes) and do take a variety of clothes that you can dress up, or dress down.
I do not claim to be an expert in packing – and I am not afraid to admit, I probably ended up packing more than I really needed to. Just because that’s what I do.
But here’s a list of the key items I took and recommend you consider for a three-month Eastern/Southern African trip. It all fitted in a 60L bag, so hopefully it will give you some inspiration if you’re heading off on a similar adventure.
FYI – I divided my belongings into 2 or 3 packing cubes (We bought Molain and Hiday packing cubes from Amazon), which are a god-send for helping you access your things without digging out the entire contents of your bag.
2-3 pairs of shorts – make sure you have one or two pairs that are in neutral or khaki tones for safari
1 x pair chinos / long khaki pants for safari
2-3 baggy hareem-style pants (cool but comfy!)
1-2 vest tops
1-2 T-shirts or blouses that cover the shoulders
1-2 long sleeved tops and shirts (both for modesty and to protect yourself from insects/mosquitoes
1-2 maxi dresses
1 x short summer dress for hot weather/beach
1 x hoodie/fleece
1 x jeans or thicker trousers
Lightweight jacket / waterproof
Swimming costume / bikini
Equipment & accessories
1 x scarf for an extra layer / dressing up an outfit / a makeshift pillow!
1 x sarong – can come in handy for all sorts of things – on the beach, to sit on, to cover shoulders
1x Fast-dry travel towel by The Eye (gifted)
1 x sleeping bag liner (for camping and in hostels)
Mosquito repellent -I also received these natural repellent wristbands from The Eye
Moneybelt (handy for when you’re travelling in packed buses and cities and don’t want your purse and phone on display).
Hairbands and headscarves (good for protecting your head in the sun and hiding less than perfect hair!)
Comfy sandals – these Velcro strap ones (above) by Merrell are so comfy
Hiking shoes for walking safaris, hikes and activities in the bush
Optional: Flat evening sandals (I threw in my favourite gold Topshop flats from the summer)
Tinted moisturiser with SPF and shimmer (Laura Mercier is my fave)
Small amount of make-up (as little as you can manage!)
Face wipes / baby wipes
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
First Aid Kit
Antihistamines (if you’re as allergic as I am to everything)
Steroid / insect bite cream
I hope this mini packing guide helps. As I say, this is an inspirational packing guide only and is based on the final items that made it into my rucksack for a 3 month trip covering both budget and high-end travel and across safari, city, coast and luxury wineland retreats. I’m day one into this trip, so I may well update it when I realise I’m missing something! Have any tips? Please feel free to leave a message below.