So, you have planned your trip to an African country. Perfect itinerary, air tickets booked, and bustling or beach hotel reserved. Seems like you are good to go, but not so fast! Just like other parts of the world Africa still has daunting places. Crime has remained a major concern in many parts of the world, including most African countries because of inequality and disparities between social groups and the bridge between the rich and poor. Although this isnít a comprehensive list, if followed, it will help you avoid some major headache.
We have listed some ways you can stay safe while traveling across Africa.
Have an Itinerary
You should familiarize yourself with every detail of your traveling and have the necessary contacts handy for your journey. You should ask questions about what to do when you miss your flight, delayed or stolen luggage, or have issues with the local police. Each country has distinct cultures, languages, and landscapes; make sure you know something about everything about the city you are visiting.
Connect with Loved Ones
You may not be the type who enjoy posting your affairs on social media. However, if you are trying to stay safe while traveling, social media may be used as a tool to keep friends and family updated about your trip. With the geotags in images and posts, you can always have your movements tracked by your friends and loved ones.
Be Wary of Large Crowds
A little homework will reveal some of the crime hotspots that you should avoid as you visit your designated destination. If you are a tourist, you may have to be careful of moving around secluded areas to avoid being kidnapped or robbed. It is easy to stay safe among the right crowd but getting your self-caught in the middle of the wrong crowd might be very catastrophic. Just like in any situation, be cautious and wary of your environment. If something looks suspicious or like itís going to get out of hands, listen to your guts and leave immediately.
Politics and Pictures
In all you do, try not to discuss politics, especially when it involves criticizing the local leaders. It may be very tempting to give your opinions about local conditions and how terrible a job the government is doing. There have been reports of foreigners getting sent to jail for openly critiquing government officials. The same goes for taking pictures. Ask for permission before taking pictures, especially when it seems obvious that an individual or organization doesnít want their pictures taken. If possible, do not take pictures of government installations and buildings. People have been sent to jail for doing just that.
Avoid Flashing Expensive Items
Avoid moving around with valuables that can attract people to you. High-end DSLR cameras, jewelry, bulky wallets or purses, plenty of foreign or local cash. These items should be left at home, in the safe deposit box at the hotel, or with a trusted individual staying back at the hotel. Again, do not flash items of value. It can get pretty bloody and nasty, and do not resist when confronted by gangs or thieves for your items of value. Your valuables can be replaced.
Obey Local Laws
The law enforcement agencies in African countries are known to loosely interpret the law, and the only way to avoid running into trouble is by obeying the law. What this simply means is that you must be familiar with the laws that guide a destination. Make sure you have the contact information of your countries embassy or consulate in the country you intend to visit as this information may come handy if you ever get into a situation with the law.
Traditionally, most African countries are religious, and this religious way of life is often portrayed in dressing modestly. Revealing clothes are highly discouraged in most places across the continent. Itís ok to wear whatever you want at your hotel, the beach, and other designated areas. Overdressing or overexposing can bring unnecessary attention to you. You donít want to miss out on all the fun experiences because of poor clothing decision.
Eat Well, Not Everything
The dishes in Africa are irresistible! You may not be able to resist most of the meals prepared for you, but make sure to ask questions about the content of the food. Especially if you have dietary restrictions. Do yourself a favor by making sure the meal is safe to eat, typhoid fever is the last thing youíd want to deal with as you travel. Hot meals are generally good. Drink only sealed bottled water or bring a filter water bottle along. Bringing an insect repellent along will also save you from having to deal with malaria. And finally, if you can, make sure you have a current health insurance with global coverage.
I hope this list will get you thinking in the right direction as to how to stay safe while traveling abroad in any African continent. Kindly let us know in the comment section how youíve stayed safe traveling.