As a passionate traveler I enjoy all phases of travel – including the preparation. I often do all the research and booking of specific tours, airlines, hotels, restaurants, etc. for my friends as well as myself. While I have to be honest and admit that part of this willingness to be responsible for the logistics of a trip is due in part to my OCD, it nevertheless adds to the anticipatory excitement. Most of the time.
All of the above elements of trip planning are generally fun, even if at times challenging. I am sure many of you or your travel agents have had to navigate the maze of lining up travel dates, hotel room accommodations, airplane flight schedules, seat assignments, even the dreaded activation of frequent flyer miles. I view these as challenging puzzles that i need to crack. I have learned, however, that it is okay to ask for help in those few moments when I get stumped (thank you, Amex Concierge)!
Of course all of my trips include photography, and as you can imagine I have quite a few electronic devices that need to come with me on my journeys. For example:
The Lightning connection kit is a new addition, as I have learned the hard way that not all[ wifi is strong enough to download my many photos onto my iPad. Interestingly I had the best connections in Peru and Iceland.
Then there are the specific add-ons depending on location. For Peru and my upcoming expedition in September to the North and South Western National Parks (more on this later) I added walking sticks to my pack.
And then there is my next big journey, one I have been planning for quite a while – Africa, coming up in July. Ironically this trip, although two weeks in length will require the smallest amount of packed clothing which must all fit into this bag:
This is actually a bit difficult, as I usually like to bring a few choices – not a boatload more – I come back from most trips with maybe one or two tops not worn. However, since there are airplane flights between Kenya and Tanzania – my two ports of call – I must adhere to a 30 pound limit. No worries, as the safari sanctuaries I will be staying at include free laundering service.
Of more concern are the other specialty items that I must bring, as well as some pre-trip actions I must take which are frankly out of my comfort zone. First, a hat for protection against the blazing sun (also used successfully in Peru):
As you can see, this hat does pretty much everything – floats, repels rain, uv rays, etc. It, as well as my clothes will be sprayed with an insect repellent containing DEET and my skin will be anointed with DEET cream:
Also, based on a recommendation from another travel blogger I purchased this:
Despite the comments on the cover, I won’t be using this dual light for security documents. Instead, the flashlight will help at night making sure I don’t walk headlong into a tree. The blacklight will be used to scan the floor and bed of my elevated tents, to make sure there aren’t any creepy crawlies trying to join me. Don’t feel too sorry for me – the tents are more akin to elevated cottages like this:
This brings us to the core of this post – not all trips are created alike and this one in particular requires some critical add-ons. While most of the news today is about the Aedes aegypti mosquito and Zika, this same species in Africa spreads the Yellow Fever flavivirus while its cousin the Anopheles mosquito passes on a Malaria parasite through its bites. In addition, due to poor water quality as well as other unsanitary conditions, visitors need to be protected against typhoid, hepatitis and tetanus, and also be vigilant about food preparation.
In general I am not fearful of injections, unlike my daughter who up until very recently (so proud that she defeated this personal demon) hyperventilated at the mere thought. I am simply adverse to taking any kind of medication – whether it be aspirin or antihistamines or flu vaccines etc. The thought of having to take preventative measures against the above diseases SIMULTANEOUSLY therefore created quite a bit of agita, particularly when the nurse at the clinic said there was a choice between taking the injectable typhoid vaccine which is effective for two years, or an oral vaccine with a resulting immunity of five years. BUT, the oral vaccine consists of four doses of LIVE attenuated Ty21a Salmonella type bacteria! No. No. No. No.
I soldiered on as I want to be as thoroughly protected as possible so I can totally immerse myself in this African adventure. With a stiff upper lip and arms I endured the injections for typhoid, yellow fever, hepatitis A and tetanus (two in each arm) and received zebra band aids for my bravery:
Now on to the anti-malaria drugs. For a previous trip to Malaysia it was also necessary to take precautions against this disease and the medication I took was called Lariam, the brand name for mefloquine. Lariam has some serious side effects, including depression. My reaction was more hallucinogenic although today I can’t recall the visions.
The nurse said there have been advances in new medications with less adverse effects and subscribed Malarone which is taken before, during and a week after my African visit. The principal side effect for this drug is vivid dreaming. Since I already do dream vividly from time to time this should not pose any issues. Lastly, she prescribed Cipro, or fluoroquinolone, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections to be used only if I succumb to some intestinal attack.
As testament to my courage I was given a certificate documenting my vaccinations (actually it is a required pamphlet to show officials in Kenya and Tanzania that I am vaccinated):
It is now three days after my injections and there have been no side effects. Phew.