Before embarking on a trip to Africa, it is important to remember to take care of some key tasks related to your health and travel documentation. Just a little bit of advance planning in these areas can be the difference between a trip that is smooth and enjoyable versus one that is problematic and stressful. The first thing to take care of when planning a trip to Africa is to ensure that passports for all travelers are current and intact. While this may seem like a basic item, there are countless examples of people who arrive at the airport without their passports or carrying a recently expired passport. Travelers who carry passports that are torn, mangled or marred run the risk of being rejected for travel by passport control agents. Passports are required for all travelers, including infants and senior citizens.
The next thing to do is to determine whether a travel visa is necessary. Visa requirements vary from country to country in Africa, and it is the traveler’s responsibility to determine whether a visa is required and to complete the visa application well in advance of departure. This step should be covered as soon as possible in the planning process because the application review and approval process may take several weeks.
After ensuring that all documentation is present and current, it is necessary to ensure that all required vaccinations are up to date. Essential vaccinations include but may not be limited to polio, chickenpox, measles, DPT (diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus), influenza and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). Many African countries also require vaccinations for hepatitis A, yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis B.
Check General and Dental Health
In addition to making sure that all vaccinations are up to date, travelers should plan a visit to their regular health care providers. A visit to a primary care provider and general dentist is recommended to confirm that a traveler is in good general health and free of dental problems. This step is particularly important if travelers are planning to visit any remote areas of Africa where it can be very challenging to locate a medical doctor or dental professional. Advance planning is the key to maximizing enjoyment during a visit to Africa. By ensuring that required documentation and health care precautions are covered before leaving for Africa, travelers can help prevent potential travel delays and illnesses that can wreak havoc on their trips.