Who doesn’t love an awesome road trip? There’s something enticingly adventurous about packing your bags, piling in the car, and venturing out into the great unknown. A road trip in Africa especially can be the journey of a lifetime.
By following these 11 helpful tips, you can make sure you are prepared and that you stay safe throughout your trip:
1. Have plenty of water
Water is something you should always have around when traveling in Africa, especially in hot areas. A road trip requires you to be prepared for the unexpected, like breaking down in the middle of nowhere, so it’s important to have water on hand to avoid dehydration. It can also come in handy if your car overheats.
2. Bring a buddy
Though solo traveling is awesome, it’s not recommended in Africa, especially as a female. It helps having two heads instead of one in case you get lost or something goes wrong. Plus, the safety in numbers rule totally applies.
3. Beware of enormous potholes
Potholes are notoriously common among both backroads and highways. Anything from small holes to gaping caverns are possible, so be very aware and drive slowly through or around them. They are especially dangerous when filled with water and you can’t tell how deep they are.
4. Bring a spare tire
Following the previous tip, popping a tire is a fairly likely event. Having an extra or two (plus someone who knows how to change them) is a good idea.
5. Do not EVER drive at night
Highways do not have streetlights, so seeing things in the dark is next to impossible. Sadly, there have been far too many accidents to count due to unlit trucks, wagons, animals etc pulled over on the side of the road. Unsuspecting vehicles can’t seem them until it’s too late and then crash into them.
6. Expect to be arbitrarily pulled over and given tickets
The police, at least in Tanzania, are somewhat corrupt. Most don’t have cars, but instead set up checkpoints on the side of the road. Be prepared to be flagged down, given a ticket for something arbitrary, or even something that isn’t true. Police may also pull you over and ask for a bribe in order to let you go. You should never give more than a few dollars worth.
7. Pack snacks
Since there aren’t any McDonald’s or Subways around, it’s best to bring food with you. Snacks can also be used as bribes for the police.
8. Service your car before you go
Absolutely find a trusted mechanic to get a tune up, oil change, and tire check before you start an adventure into the bush.
9. Have a road map
In many parts of Africa, 3G service is inaccessible, rendering iPhones and GPSs useless. It’s always important to have a paper map to use in case you get lost.
10. Scope out a place to stay
Though being spontaneous is half the fun of road trips, the tourism industry in Africa is not up to par. This means there might not be restaurants or hotels at wherever you end up. It’s helpful to have a destination in mind, and from there search for a safe place to sleep.
11. Tell other people your general itinerary
As anything is possible when traveling in Africa, you don’t want to be stuck somewhere and unable to reach someone. Giving your general itinerary to friends or family is a good idea because if you do go missing, they will have at least a vague clue of where you are.