T.I.A - This is Africa
Iris Mhlanga, shares tips for business travel through the African continent. Whether it's your first time or hundredth time visiting Africa, I have a few tips to make your trip easier, save you time and hassle and keep you safe and sound on your travels just remember - T.I.A - This is Africa, what applies in other continents may not necessarily be the case in Africa.
- Learn your destination. Each country in Africa is different, try to spend time beforehand getting to know the culture politics and visa and health issues of your intended destination. Most African countries require that you take Anti - Malaria tablets and have yellow fever and Hepatitis C vaccinations a month before travel. If you don't have time to research online buy a handbook.
- Be culturally aware. Business travelers, particularly females, should be aware of dress codes and appropriate behaviour when in Muslim countries, including Egypt, Malawi, Nigeria and Somalia.. If you do not take note of cultural differences in some countries, you may have difficulty getting around and face potential embarrassment. In Zimbabwe it is illegal to wear camouflage of any kind, and wearing camouflage in Zimbabwe can lead to your arrest, whether you are male or female.
- Fly via Regional Airports. Travel Agents worldwide will always push you to travel through hubs located in major cities in Africa. If your intended destination is not particularly in a major city where you have many choices of flights, flying in and out of smaller airports can save you troubles, as these are not as congested - security lines, parking, check in and check out processes are often easier and quicker at smaller airports
- Be Money Smart. Spread your money out and never carry all your money in one place. Rather, carry various amounts of cash in three or four different spots and always know how much money you have in each spot so you never pull out too much. Some African countries have restrictions as to how much cash you can carry on you, so in such cases it is also advisable to take Visa or MasterCard’s with you. With advancement of technology, most African countries accept credit and debit cards, so in addition to cash you may be able to use these anywhere. Also, do not keep money identification documents and passports in the same place, Carry ID on you always and keep certified copies of identification and drivers licenses separate from the originals in your luggage. It is also advisable to carry both your normal driver’s license from your home country and an international driver’s license for use when you travel. Make sure you carry any form identification on your person even when jogging or sightseeing after business hours.
- Stay aware. Lastly be aware of surroundings on your arrival and be vigilant during your stay, this applies as much in Africa as anywhere else in the world. In Africa, the efficacy of law enforcement maybe lacking and, in most cases, frighteningly annoying if you do not speak the local language. Recovery of stolen items is often rare. Be aware that you are in possession of equipment that others may want to steal, be on the lookout for distractions and never leave valuables in plain sight or unattended. Before taking any special cameras with you, always get local government clearance before you travel, to places like Zimbabwe for example, mobile phones and tourist hand held cameras, and camcorders are acceptable. Mobile phones in most cases can be of use for taking pictures of road signs and monuments so you can use these in areas where you cannot speak the local languages to ask for directions in case you get lost.