giraffeExplore the world and take your technology along! Here are some tips I picked up from my recent trip to Africa.


1. Take your cell phone but check with your provider to see if you can get a special rate for overseas use. Otherwise you might be surprised with a large bill when you get home.

  • For example, I used ATT’s Passport program for 30 days that cost about $30. I could text and use the internet all that I wanted, however phone calls would cost additional money.
  • Here’s the kicker—and what you need to pay special attention to—this program only worked in South Africa, not Zimbabwe. It all depends where your provider has partner agreements.
  • When in a country not covered, be sure to turn off data roaming.
  • When in Zimbabwe I could still use the internet if I was in a location with Wi-Fi.


2. Countries have different voltages and receptacles for electric appliances and devices. You need to be ready for both so do your homework!


adaptor plug3. There is a difference between an adaptor plug and a voltage converter. Some devices have voltage converters built in and all you need is an adaptor plug. This image is of an adaptor for South Africa. Spoiler alert—it doesn’t necessarily work elsewhere in Africa. This site is helpful:



adaptor:converter24. Here is a product that you can set for either devices that have a converter built in or ones that need voltage converters. There are many different varieties—read the reviews before you purchase one.


5. Apple products—iPhone, iPads, and computers—come with a voltage converter built in. They are the white cubes attached to the power cords. Therefore I only needed an adaptor plug. Check to find out the details for each digital device you plan to take.


multi plug6. A good investment is a multi-plug converter so you can charge you phone and camera battery at the same time. Search under “universal world-wide travel plugs.” The one we had included surge protection and USB ports. Read the details carefully to ensure you have what you need. You don’t want to be frying your equipment mid-trip!


7. Take multiple camera batteries. I had three with me because I was taking so many pictures. I would exhaust at least one a day. I always had two fully charged ones with me and one charging back at the lodge.

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8. Pack extra memory cards for your camera unless you are going to be downloading images to a device. I had my Mac Air with me because I was presenting at a conference before safari-time so I was able to download every night. Despite its lightweight, I probably would not have hauled it with me if I didn’t have to. Think about how much weight you want to carry on your shoulder.


9. Different countries have different security measures. Several times I did not have to take my computer out of my backpack when going through the screening. However, when we were returning to the US, we went through a thorough search at the gate where we did have to remove our computers.


10. When going through the airport in one country to get to another, make sure you have minimum of 2.5 hours between flights. More would be better. You have to go through immigration (long lines especially when tour groups are going through) and customs to get in, check in your luggage, go through security, and then immigration to get out of the country. We were huffing and puffing through Johannesburg Airport and barely made our flight.


11. Odd shaped packages or items that might be construed as a weapon (hand-carved walking sticks) might cause you problems at security.


12. If flying an unfamiliar airline, research their regulations for baggage. We were surprised to find out Air Africa charged for all checked luggage and ended up with a bit of a bill at the airport. Thank goodness for ATM machines because many places do not take plastic!


saddle billed storkDo your research before leaving home and you are more likely to have a problem-free trip. Bon voyage!