Are you traveling to Ghana for the first time? Wondering what to pack?
Here are our tips for packing:
1. Lots of summer clothes - you do not want to hand wash your clothes every day!
Please note that work and volunteering places may have their own rules for dressing; shorts or sleeveless tops may not be allowed at all. Better find this out in advance.
Ghanaians dress in a festive manner when going to church. You will also be most probably invited to Sunday church many times during your trip. So we recommend you to pack along a few formal pieces of clothing and to try the church program at least once, it's a fun experience!
You can find lots of imported and second hand clothes from the market places, not forgetting the beautiful clothes made from local print or tie-dye fabrics. You could as well buy just a few yards of any nice looking fabric and take it to a dressmaker for custom made garments.
In the evenings, it’s advisable to wear long sleeves to prevent mosquito bites. (At least, get some mosquito repellent from a local pharmacy or supermarket. Citronella oil is also a great, natural way to protect yourself from those nasty creatures.) Sometimes during rainy nights, especially on the coast, it might get pretty cold and you’d love to wear something slightly heavier. In northern Ghana the temperature varies a lot between the day and night.
2. Medicines, wound care equipment and thermometer
Hand sanitizer will be useful as sometimes you don’t have access to clean water. Take all your prescribed medicines. You can not find blister bandages everywhere in Ghana, so better take some along too. Anti-malaria tabs can be purchased from pharmacies in larger cities but you might not find the same type that has been prescribed for you.
It is advisable to take a small medicine and emergency kit for travels in the country, as the pharmacies and hospitals may not always be close to you.
Also, consider the cold storage of certain medicines (e.g. insulin) in advance! I have sometimes stored eye drops even in a nearby kiosk’s refrigerator as I didn’t happen to have my own cold storage facilities. Ghana is free! ;)
3. Mosquito net
These are of course also sold in Ghana but this is something you’d want to start using right from the first night (depending on the habitat: forget about the net when staying in air-conditioned apartment houses or decent hotel rooms).
You can as well use insecticide spray (sold in every kiosk) but it may not be the ideal solution for daily use...
4. A few pairs of good shoes or sandals
Get ready to walk if you really want to explore Ghana’s vibrant everyday life! The streets are not so often in very good condition and you’ll need to jump over open sewers and make your way through the endless traffic. Trust me, a comfortable pair of sandals will make your day.
You can also shop some really nice sandals and shoes from local shopping malls, boutiques and market places too.
If you are intending to jog or do other sports, take your sneakers along!
5. Books and a diary
Write a couple of pages every evening before going to sleep; keep the best memories and reflect on your new experiences. Read a book on the beach or when relaxing in a hammock.
Once again, you can buy English books from any book store and in most bus stations in Ghana. Many hotels and guesthouses have a small selection of books to be borrowed.
6. Swimwear for women is not the easiest thing to find in Ghana.
Don’t forget sunscreen lotion!
Let a local dressmaker sew a lovely beach blanket or a beach bag using the Ghanaian fabrics for you.
7. Something to protect your head!
Wearing a cap, hat or scarf will help you deal with the hot midday sun.
8. Adapter is useful yet you can live without it too
… and you can get one from Ghana.
9. Hey, ladies!
Make-up! If you wear make-up you may want to pack them along because finding them in Ghana is a bit challenging.
Menstrual pads are sold everywhere in Ghana but you’ll end up making rounds finding tampons; take them along or buy them from well-equipped supermarkets in Accra.
10. Traveling documents
Find out the visa requirements from the nearest Ghana Embassy
Passport with a few copies
International yellow fever vaccination card
As you can see, you can get almost everything from Ghana. Not always as easily as you would back home but locals will be happy to help you find whatever you need.
It’s up to you if you want to carry shampoo, conditioners, lotions, mosquito repellents, etc. with you from home, or to just buy them when arriving to Ghana. Such consumables are available in pharmacies, supermarkets (Shoprite, Melcom, Koala), shopping malls and even in some small street stores. However it is worthwhile to purchase them before heading towards villages and rural areas. Don’t also forget to give a try to local black soap, shea butter and coconut oil that you can find from local market places. They are amazing for washing and moisturizing both the hair and the body. We’ll write more about Ghanaian, natural beauty products soon!