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Safaridude

Some Very Important General Trip Planning Advice (Disaster Prevention)

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Posted (edited)

Here are some very important details to consider when traveling to Africa (that travel agents don't stress enough in my opinion):

 

- Disaster Prevention #1 - Make sure you have at least 3 blank visa pages in your passport (not just blank pages, but blank visa pages). One member of another family I was traveling with in 2008 could not board the plane (South African Airways)... he was sent back and had to get his new visa pages, and he had to take a flight out the next day (luckily, there was an expedited service place for visa pages in New York City).

 

- Disaster Prevention #2 - If you have purchased your airline ticket on-line -- with many, if not all airlines -- you are required to show the credit card that you paid your ticket with as you check in. I am not sure what happens if you don't have the credit card with you, but you don't want to find out.

 

- Disaster Prevention #3 - Bring a copy of your vaccination card with you. Take Zambia and South Africa for example... they have gone back and forth on yellow fever certificate requirements. Better to be safe and bring your vaccination records.

 

- Disaster Prevention #4 - DO NOT EVER put anything of value in your checked luggage. I am amazed that I see this happening still... you are guaranteeing yourself of losses. Remember, the bad guys have access to X-ray machines. The good news is if you don't have anything of value in your checked luggage, they won't open your bag (the bad guys with access to X-ray machines are too busy to go through a bag with only clothes and shoes).

 

- Minor hassle - If you are bringing US dollar bills, bring bills that have been issued after 2001. Whether true or not, there are rumors in Africa that there are counterfeit bills (issue date of 2001 and before). Some merchants won't take those older bills.

Edited by Safaridude
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Have made this a pinned topic. Please do add your essential trip planning advice to add to Safaridude's overview above.

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Read Safaritalk's advice on trip planning.

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Re # 2 that happened to me in India, I accidentally booked one of the internal flights with the wrong cc, one I left at home. After a bit of toting and front they let me through, I guess because I had the booking in print and my passport.

 

Re #4 I don't see how this can be avoided if you have a carry on full of cameras and also have a spotting scope and/or scuba gear, I will have both on my next trip! Best to take padlocks and get the bag wrapped in this circumstance I guess. But even then there is no guarantee and I have sadly been the victim of theft from my baggage once.

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In Kenya you need US$ bills issued since 2006 now. It is a right pain when you get caught.

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What is preferred in Kenya, smaller denominations? ie 5 and 10 dollar bills?

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$50s are scrutinised carefully so I take them because you can fit more into a space but try for smaller denominations. Not $100s, always give me problems. Not torn either.

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Re dollar bills, does this apply in other African countries as well?

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Zimbabwe yes,but not SA and Botswana.

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- Disaster Prevention #2 - If you have purchased your airline ticket on-line -- with many, if not all airlines -- you are required to show the credit card that you paid your ticket with as you check in. I am not sure what happens if you don't have the credit card with you, but you don't want to find out.

 

I found out!

 

Our SAA tickets (Jo'burg to Hoedspruit) were bought with VISA. Then our bank decided to switch to Mastercard. So we had to turn our VISA in (it was destroyed before our eyes) and got the other card as replacement. We did not thing about our SAA tickets at that moment. We only thought: "we need a credit card to travel, so we must get our Mastercard at the bank before departure date!".

 

Then, at Jo'burg airport, they wanted to see our creditcard. I gave them our Mastercard but obviously that is not what they wanted. As I could not show our VISA card, they did not want to issue our tickets (which were paid in full 6 months ealier)! They told us we needed to buy new ones.

 

The only way out was if we could get them a proof from our bank that it was them who switched the cards. Luckily, we had about an hour before the gate closed, and luckily our bank was open on a Saturday morning. They faxed a signed "proof" to SAA's front office, and we got our tickets ...5 minutes before the gate closed.

 

Not an experience I want to repeat!

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Make sure your passport expiry is over 6 months out. Also on visa pages, I normally request immigration officials to stamp the entry/ departure stamps on a page with other such stamps until there is absolutely no more space. I hate it when they stamp a new blank page if there is space available elsewhere. With the US Global Entry program one of the many advantages is you no longer get your passport stamped upon entry to the US and also don't have to fill out any entry paperwork including the customs declaration form as all that is done electronically at the self service Kiosk.

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What is preferred in Kenya, smaller denominations? ie 5 and 10 dollar bills?

Kenyan shillings ;) I think the only thing you need dollars for is the visa if your safari is prepaid.

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Thanks, #2 almost caused me a problem because I discontinued that card. But because the ticket was bought so long ago, they let me go. I saw a family in South Africa get denied boarding because they did not have their credit card.

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One thing I can add - those nationalities needing a visa ...... Please check in advance as to processing time for the visa and the procedure involved - act early; plan early ..........

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I regards to credit cards, it is advisable to check if Visa or MasterCard are the preferred. Depending on the country you may be out of luck with a Visa card or vice versa with a MasterCard. I got stuck once not having done my research.

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Posted (edited)

Re the dollar bills: this is true in Tanzania, and I think it's also after 2006 like @@twaffle says - the dollar bills with the "big heads" on them. If you pay anything in USD, the vendors all automatically check them and won't accept. If you're getting USD from exchange bureaus, check as well - as they sometimes will give the unsuspecting tourist the ones they can't exchange ;)

Edited by Anthilltiger

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Re dollar bills for Botswana - also US $ issued only 2007 and later ............ check before your travels.

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If you take medication like myself-whatever you do put it in your carry on baggage. I made the mistake of placing my meds in my baggage on safari in 2011; Kenyan Airways lost my baggage!!! I flew to Selous National Game Preserve without it. Thanks to the daily inquiries of my travel agency: Expert Africa, they found it 18 days later and I received it Lakipia. I can't stress enough that one should avoid this situation if at all possible. I'll have to say that what happened to me without my medication wasn't pretty. I thank ExpertAfrica for helping me in a bad situation.

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Check to see if you need an outward flight before they'll let you into the country. I had to buy a ticket out of the Phillipines at the airport as Air Asia refused to let me onto the plane without one. Turned out to be pretty annoying as I would have liked an extra few days in the country. I met an American guy in Thailand that claimed that he lost $4k worth of flights as the airline wouldn't let him board a flight. Why he didn't just buy the cheapest onward flight he could find at the airport is beyond me.

 

For those of you that have had stuff taken from checked luggage what's the least valuable item you've had stolen? I always put my binoculars and an external hard disc in the hold. I can't fit the binos in my hand luggage along with laptop and cameras and I like to keep the external HD in a different location to my laptop so I have a backup if one goes missing. Both items could be replaced for under £70 each but it would be annoying to do so whilst on holiday.

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With regards to $100 bill years, this is true in many countries outside of Africa. I have been to many countries that will check this. Not every country cares, but some do. And getting new bills is not always easy. If I get a new one I usually hang on to it, or I will inquire at the bank from time to time to get new ones and will the newest years on them. As the US $100 bill recently changed again, now it has color on it, I am wondering how long it will be before these countries will only take the colored notes.

 

Am I understanding correctly that in Kenya and Tanzania, small bills are preferred to larger ones? So 1s, 5s, 10s, and 20s are ok?? Do they accept USD or we need to change to local currency? Stupid question I know, but have never been to either of these countries.

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- Disaster Prevention #2 - If you have purchased your airline ticket on-line -- with many, if not all airlines -- you are required to show the credit card that you paid your ticket with as you check in. I am not sure what happens if you don't have the credit card with you, but you don't want to find out.

 

Been there.

 

Our bank switched from Visa to Mastercard at one point, and sent us new cards. We forgot we had booked SAA tickets on the old one.

 

As we arrived at Jo'burg, we were asked to produce the old card, which obviously we couldn't. It's a very stupid rule; the seats are there, they are fully paid for, the names on the passports are correct, etc etc... but it is somewhere in the small print that you also have to prove you own the credit card. Honestly, I cannot understand why a consumer-organisation has not contested this rule yet.

 

Anyway, we were lucky that our bank was open on a saturday morning. They were able to send a fax to the SAA desk, which stated what happened with our cards.

 

If that would have failed, we'd be forced to buy our own seats a 2nd time. Go figure!

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With regards to $100 bill years, this is true in many countries outside of Africa. I have been to many countries that will check this. Not every country cares, but some do. And getting new bills is not always easy. If I get a new one I usually hang on to it, or I will inquire at the bank from time to time to get new ones and will the newest years on them. As the US $100 bill recently changed again, now it has color on it, I am wondering how long it will be before these countries will only take the colored notes.

 

Am I understanding correctly that in Kenya and Tanzania, small bills are preferred to larger ones? So 1s, 5s, 10s, and 20s are ok?? Do they accept USD or we need to change to local currency? Stupid question I know, but have never been to either of these countries.

 

Yes, USD are fine, but it is easy to use local currency too as long as your ATM card is part of the Visa Plus system or similar.Don't use your credit card for ATM withdrawal unless you want to pay fees - but I guess that will be the case in Taiwan anyway. Arusha and Nairobi have many internationally-linked ATMs, as do the airports.

 

Where are you staying in Selous and Ruaha, and are you spending time anywhere else? Often Selous and Ruaha camps are all inclusive and so you will only be paying tips (if you want to). In that case as long as it is legal currency you don't need to worry about the size of the bill. For staff it is actually usually better in small camps to pay a single tip for all than small tips to each (again, if you want) so you don't need small bills for that. You may have to pay for meals in Arusha if you are staying there but unless you are at a small guest house, you can charge to your room and pay with large bills and they will have change (and probably a poor exchange rate, but it won't be much). The only reason you would need small bills is if you want to take a taxi and go somewhere to eat out, or have a drink or coffee on the street, or if you feel you need to tip drivers and porters in Arusha and if you want to shop (even then you can do this at the camps or at the large souvenir shopping malls in Arusha with large bills). I usually take my ATM card and USD 200 in smallish bills that I buy at the airport on the way out.

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As long as the USD bills are issued 2007 and later, I think you should be fine (100$ etc etc.,) ........ no need for small bills specifically, except for the examples cited above by Pault.

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- Disaster Prevention #2 - If you have purchased your airline ticket on-line -- with many, if not all airlines -- you are required to show the credit card that you paid your ticket with as you check in. I am not sure what happens if you don't have the credit card with you, but you don't want to find out.

 

Been there.

 

Our bank switched from Visa to Mastercard at one point, and sent us new cards. We forgot we had booked SAA tickets on the old one.

 

As we arrived at Jo'burg, we were asked to produce the old card, which obviously we couldn't. It's a very stupid rule; the seats are there, they are fully paid for, the names on the passports are correct, etc etc... but it is somewhere in the small print that you also have to prove you own the credit card. Honestly, I cannot understand why a consumer-organisation has not contested this rule yet.

 

Anyway, we were lucky that our bank was open on a saturday morning. They were able to send a fax to the SAA desk, which stated what happened with our cards.

 

If that would have failed, we'd be forced to buy our own seats a 2nd time. Go figure!

 

This is a really strange rule. I always buy my tickets online and have never yet been asked to show my credit card, however I don't think any North American Airlines require this. I often buy tickets for my mother to come and visit us so of course she would never have the credit card used to pay for the ticket. When travelling in other parts of the world I will be careful to make sure I carry the correct credit card.

 

Thanks for the warning.

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Posted (edited)

There was a time when I bought a ticket from my card for my Dad and unfortunately they asked for the card. I had to email them my Photo ID Proof with a letter saying I was the one who booked the ticket for him.

 

This was on a Kenya Airways flight out of Burundi.

 

When I talked to the local office here, their explanation was, Kenya Airways alone have been losing money in 6 Digit USD figures to fraudulent transactions. The Modus Operandi is to book tickets a day or two before the date of travel, use the ticket and then initiate a chargeback. The tickets will be booked in a different name to that of the card holder. Technically Visa and Mastercard has a 30 days chargeback policy in most countries.

 

A way around this is to use online money transfer from your bank for buying tickets or booking with a card that you can actually carry. It is also important that the card belongs to a person in the group. If you are gifting a trip to some one be sure to send an authorisation letter with them. That has your telephone number and a copy of your ID proof so that they don't have trouble at check in.

 

 

 

 

- Disaster Prevention #2 - If you have purchased your airline ticket on-line -- with many, if not all airlines -- you are required to show the credit card that you paid your ticket with as you check in. I am not sure what happens if you don't have the credit card with you, but you don't want to find out.

 

Been there.

 

Our bank switched from Visa to Mastercard at one point, and sent us new cards. We forgot we had booked SAA tickets on the old one.

 

As we arrived at Jo'burg, we were asked to produce the old card, which obviously we couldn't. It's a very stupid rule; the seats are there, they are fully paid for, the names on the passports are correct, etc etc... but it is somewhere in the small print that you also have to prove you own the credit card. Honestly, I cannot understand why a consumer-organisation has not contested this rule yet.

 

Anyway, we were lucky that our bank was open on a saturday morning. They were able to send a fax to the SAA desk, which stated what happened with our cards.

 

If that would have failed, we'd be forced to buy our own seats a 2nd time. Go figure!

 

This is a really strange rule. I always buy my tickets online and have never yet been asked to show my credit card, however I don't think any North American Airlines require this. I often buy tickets for my mother to come and visit us so of course she would never have the credit card used to pay for the ticket. When travelling in other parts of the world I will be careful to make sure I carry the correct credit card.

 

Thanks for the warning.

 

Edited by Vysakh R Nambiar
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