Revealed: How To Travel The African Continent In Your Gap Year
Gap years are a great time to spend traveling the world and experiencing different continents such as Africa. Africa is one of the most amazing and culturally diverse places in the world, and it is one place you should consider the next time you travel. From desert treks to wildlife safaris, there is always something to do and see in one of the most underrated travel destinations on the planet. However, you do need to take care before and during your trip because it is irresponsible just to turn up without understanding the customs. Plus, it is dangerous.
Thankfully, there are several ways you can negate the dangers of travelling the African continent, and they are listed below. The last thing anyone wants is for a trip of a lifetime to turn into a nightmare.
Step 1: Avoid Countries That Are Not Safe
No one wants to stick the boot in, but it is a fact that a few countries in Africa are not very safe for western travelers. And, regardless of how much you think this is propaganda, it is true. For example, you should keep well away from places such as Somalia, Eastern Egypt, and Northern Nigeria. At this moment, they are in the clutches of an Islamist insurgency and are not very secure. To figure out which countries are safe and which are dangerous, check your government’s website for more details. They kindly post all of the places that their intelligence says poses a risk to their residents.
Step 2: Don’t Wear Expensive Jewelry
Expensive watches and rings make you a target for thieves because they are a sign that you come from money. In some instances, they may think about robbing you and taking your personal items. And, in another instance they may go further. In all honesty, there is no need for a fancy watch or bracelet when you are travelling. The jewelry is pointless, and the watch is easily replaced with a mobile phone. Yes, a phone is valuable, but you can keep that in your pocket and out of sight of any thieves.
Step 3: Dress Conservatively
It is important to note that the majority of the continent is split between Islam and Christianity. As a result, most countries take their dress code very seriously as it is a sign of their religion. And, religion is very important to the people of Africa. To make sure that you don’t offend anyone, dress as conservatively as possible. Men and women will get away with shorts and t-shirts as long as they leave alot to the imagination. Women, in particular, should consider investing in three-quarter shorts or pants.
Step 4: Research The Area
You be wondering: ‘how am I supposed to know the customs?’ The Answer is simple: research. Africa is not like a lot of other places in the world where they let you off for being a foreigner. They expect you to adhere to their rules whether you are from the continent or whether you are a visitor. As such, you should follow The Leap and other sites that post articles on Africa. These posts feature almost everything you need to know about the major countries and cities that you more than likely visit on your trip. With their help, you will never get caught out wearing, saying or doing something you should not be doing.
Step 5: Be Friendly
The above may be making you think twice about taking a gap year to Africa, which is good because you should understand the dangers. However, it is not what the post is about, which is why this next tip should take the edge off a bit. The key to enjoying your gap year and staying safe is to be friendly. When you are friendly and polite in any country, the people will be friendly and polite in equal measure. And, Africa is no different. In fact, Africans may be as friendly a group of people as you are likely to meet. So, don’t be afraid to smile and make chit-chat with the locals. They will love you for it, and it will heighten your experience.
Step 6: Don’t Walk Around At Night Alone
Again, this is a safety announcement that applies to every country in the world, even your home country. Night time is when unsavory characters come out and try their luck. As such, it is important that you travel with a group at night to make you less of a target. If you do have to travel alone, try taking a taxi to avoid walking. Or, walk down well-lit streets where there are plenty of people. These tips will prevent you from becoming a target.
Step 7: Get The Right Vaccinations
The diseases in Africa are deadly if you don’t have the right medication or vaccinations. For example, malaria is rife in the entire continent barring South Africa. To prevent it from affecting your health, you should get malaria tablets before you leave. And, you should take them on a regular basis. Other vaccinations include Hepatitis shots and rabies as there are lots of stray animals. Another point worth mentioning is that Africa does have an issue with AIDS. Everyone knows what goes on during travelling, so use protection at all times. At the end of the day, it only takes a couple of seconds.
Step 8: Stay Out Of The Sun
The locals find the sun unbearable and too much, so your skin is not going to cope. To be fair, no one’s skin can cope when the mercury hits 45ºC because that kind of heat is dangerous. As a result, you want to keep in the shade as much as possible and drink plenty of water. Sunstroke and severe sunburn may not seem like much compared to the other ailments, but they are incredibly uncomfortable. One good tip is to take a long sleeved jacket or hoodie to block the sun. It may make you a little hot, but that nothing.
A gap year is a great time in any young person’s life. Don’t ruin it by putting your safety at risk.