Beneath the skies and across landscapes that stretch from lush savannas to rugged mountains, from traditional villages to modern cities, from impressionable deserts to beautiful beaches, a continent calls those with an adventurous spirit home. Africa, a place steeped in ancient history and home to a diverse range of ethnic groups and vibrant cultures, holds an allure that transcends mere travel.
Traveling to Africa is an act of healing, filling AfricanAncestry.com co-founder and CEO, Dr. Gina Paige, calls the Africa Void. It is a hollow state of being without connection to or knowledge of Africa. It was created intentionally when our ancestors were stolen from Africa, and our families destroyed.
Traveling to Africa is one of the ways we can help fill this emptiness and reconnect with our history and culture. Before you take this step on your journey, here are five things to know before traveling to Africa.
Provide proof of US citizenship with your birth certificate when applying for a US passport. Be sure to give yourself at least six months for routine processing with the US State Department. Make sure you understand the visa requirements for the countries that you will travel to. Global Entry will help save time getting back into the country.
Knowledge is Power
Learn about the country’s customs, political environment, weather, foods, and other things will help you prepare for the trip. For example, having ready-to-eat snacks can come in handy on long bus rides or when you aren’t feeling the local cuisine. Make sure to be respectful. Practice a few phrases like ”Hello”, “Thank you” and “My name is”. Showing the locals that you respect them will go a long way towards a positive experience. Remember, no one likes an obnoxious tourist!
Make sure that you have a clean bill of health and the proper immunizations prior to travel. Some shots like Yellow Fever are required while others like Hepatitis A are recommended. Check which one you will need and go see your doctor. When traveling in West Africa, taking malaria pills is a wise decision. Remember to take your medications.
Be clear about how many bags you can check on the plane. You’re going to want to shop! Consider your wardrobe carefully so that you'll have space for the clothes and gifts that you’ll want to bring back home. You may also want to take small items that you can donate to an organization (i.e., school supplies, feminine products) or gift to the kids and adults that you will meet (i,e., candies, small toiletries).
Trace Your DNA and Find Your Roots! Reconnect with your specific African lineage and all the wonders across the continent.
You’ll come to realize that this journey is not just about crossing destinations off a bucket list; it's about embracing the transformative power of Africa and gaining a deeper appreciation for the lands your ancestors walked. It is an experience that will forever change the way you perceive both Africa and yourself.