What to Pack!
Tanzania Safari & Beach Adventure
For my first trip to Africa, I headed to Tanzania to experience multiple days of game drives, followed by several days at the beach. Being my first trip to Africa, I was at a loss for what to pack for the big adventure and unsure of how to make it fit within the weight restrictions on the small bush planes I would be to using for quick transportation. If you are in the same boat, I hope this post helps you narrow down what to pack for your next African adventure!
In short, it seems like the key is to pack lightweight neutral colored clothing, plan to do laundry at your lodging/camp, leave anything you do not need behind, and ask the airline about purchasing additional luggage space if you absolutely cannot make it work!
Table of Contents
Packing for Tanzania:
Things to Consider
INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS
Once you know how you will be arriving in Tanzania, check with your international airline to find out their luggage requirements. Keep in mind that baggage restrictions often change depending on which cabin you will be traveling in, and many airlines offer the option to bring more bags or heavier bags at an additional cost.
What are the size and weight requirements for both checked & carry-on luggage?
What items are not allowed in carry-on baggage?
DOMESTIC FLIGHT / BUSH FLIGHT AIRLINE REQUIREMENTS
As your plans for your Tanzanian adventure start to come together, you need to decide your transportation plans will call for travel on smaller domestic flights or bush planes. Many of these smaller planes have much stricter luggage requirements, in terms of both size and weight, than international carriers. AND, the weight restrictions are generally for the TOTAL amount of your bags, including your hand luggage! Some of the airlines have strict requirements about the style of bag as well. For example, some require soft sided duffle bags and do not allow hard sided rolling luggage on board. Wheeled soft sided bags are okay. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may be responsible for helping to carry and load your baggage, so make sure you are comfortable with the weight and style of your bags.
What are the size and weight requirements for your domestic flights?
Are there any options for adding more weight at an additional cost?
Do I have to use a soft sided duffle bag? Are wheels on my luggage okay?
What if I want to bring a knife or other item typically restricted on flights?
To give you a better idea of what I am talking about, I am flying with Coastal Aviation multiple times to cut down on total travel time between stops in Tanzania. The standard luggage allowance on Coastal Aviation is 33 pounds (15 kgs) per person TOTAL. Bags must fit within the cargo door measurements: 30in x 19in x 11in (76cm x 48cm x 29cm). Soft-sided bags are strongly recommended, but not required.
As I started pre-planning my packing list, I realized this was going to be quite tight if I also wanted to be able to bring camera gear and scuba diving equipment. Could I make it work without bringing all of those items? Yes. Did I want to see if I had any other options? Absolutely! So I spoke with Coastal Aviation and was able to purchase an XL seat class on each of the flights. Instead of the 33lb weight limit, the XL seat class allows for 66lbs (30kg)! The bags still have to fit within those cargo door restrictions, but you can pack some heavier items without worrying about your bag being over the weight limit! Being able to upgrade your luggage allowance is subject to availability on each flight, and the cost varies depending on the flight as well. But if you are someone who enjoys the luxury of a few additional items, reach out to the airline for availability/price information & make a decision if the added cost is worth taking those items along!
What if you want to travel with a knife or similar item? Typically this is not a problem on international flights as long as it is in the checked bag. But what about the smaller planes, where you help keep track of your luggage at all times? At least on Coastal Aviation, it is allowed if you are willing to go through a little bit of a procedure. Before boarding you give the knife to the security officer, who gives it to the pilot for the duration of the flight. So, again, if you have any questions about what you can bring on board the smaller aircraft, just check with the airline. I can only speak for my experience with Coastal Aviation, but they were very helpful & quick to respond to my questions.
Packing for Tanzania:
My Packing Plan
For our international flights, I plan to arrange my items within my bags to fit my needs during the long flights and during the 5 hour layover in Amsterdam. I will place the majority of my clothing & some of my toiletries into my main duffel bag, and use my backpack for all of the items I may want during the flight or layover.
Many people (myself included) typically recommend carrying on all luggage when possible to avoid the risk of misplaced bags and reduce wait time at the airport. However, for this trip, I will most likely check my main bag and carry on a backpack containing my camera gear, flight essentials, a few toiletries, & a change of clothing.
I am leaning towards checking my main bag because:
- I am lazy & do not want to have to keep up with all of my luggage during my 5 hour layover in Amsterdam.
- I plan to pack liquids (such as sunscreen & bug spray) that do not fit into the carry on requirements set by the United States Transportation Security Administration.
- After looking at flights, I chose to add an extra day in Arusha (approximately 1 hour from Kilimanjaro Airport) to the start of the safari to rest, combat jet lag, and as a buffer in case I feel sick. (For some reason the older I get, the more often I get motion sickness or some kind of stomach bug when traveling – no fun.) So, with this added day near the airport, I feel more confident that my luggage will make it to me even if it gets delayed initially.
- For this trip, I am using a travel agent who will help in the unfortunate event that a bag gets misplaced and try to help get the luggage to us as soon as possible.
- I will also have luggage protection through my credit card and travel insurance that will compensate me in the event my bags are lost or delayed.
The choice to check a bag or carry on all of your luggage ultimately comes down to what you are traveling with, and your comfort level with the potential for loss, damage, or delay that comes with checking luggage.
If I am able to find all of the toiletries that I want to bring in 3oz sizes and fit all of those items into a TSA compliant bag, I may decide to carry on. Losing my clothes would be a huge bummer! But, I also feel I have made choices to help reduce the risk as much as possible. So we will see what I end up doing!
Once we are in Tanzania, I will shift some of the items around within my 2 bags to better suit my needs during game drives or trips into towns/villages. I will place items I wanted on the plane but won’t need during the day, like my e-reader, headphones, & clothes, into my duffel bag to make more room in my backpack for snacks, souvenirs, & things I may want during a game drive, like my sun hat or rain jacket.
Now… on to the packing lists!
The next section will give you a general idea of things to pack for a trip to Tanzania.
There is also a printable version of a general packing list for you to use for your trip!
If you would like even more information about the specific items I packed for our trip, check out my Tanzania Packing List! That packing list will provide the details of what I packed, links to those specific items (when available) & explanations about why I chose to pack those particular items instead of others.
For even more information about how to prepare for a trip to Tanzania, check out my Tanzania Plan With Me post highlighting the step by step events leading up to my African adventure!
Packing for Tanzania:
Packing Ideas & Packing Lists!
Clothing for Tanzania
- 3 OUTFITS – Being able to do laundry at your lodge/hotel in Tanzania is pretty common (either included in the rate or for an additional fee); You can easily get away with packing 3 outfits, plus what you are wearing if you are trying to pack light. Pack at least one or two pair of lightweight pants. You could also throw in a pair of shorts, a dress, or a skirt – especially if you are going to the beach. The style of dress in Tanzania errs on the side of being more conservative, but no one will think twice if you were wearing shorts or a bikini at the lodge pool or at the beach. Pack quick drying shirts in both short & long sleeves, and consider adding a button down style shirt to your luggage. Also pack at least one or two hoodies or sweaters. It can be quite cold in the early morning & evening.
- NEUTRAL COLORS – Avoid blue & black, as those colors attract tsetse flies. Avoid white for game drives if you want it to stay white. Avoid bright colors (like red) for game drives as well. Bright colors & white stand out against the landscape and may reduce closer animal encounters. Stick to neutral colors like khaki, brown, green, etc for your game drives. Again, this is not as important at the lodge, in town, or while at the beach. This is also less important for game drives where you will remain in the vehicle & more important for any walking safaris.
- SHOES – Make sure you take a comfortable pair of walking shoes, but they do not have to be safari boots. A good pair of sneakers / tennis shoes would work as well. Also consider bringing a pair of flip flops or sandals. It gets quite hot & some open shoes will feel great. Plus, flip flops are perfect for the pool, beach, or if you need to use an outdoor shower.
- BATHING SUIT – Even if you aren’t going to the beach, many lodges / hotels have a pool which can be quite inviting in the heat.
- SLEEPWEAR – Bring something to sleep in appropriate to your comfort level. In the higher elevations it can get quite cool at night. Check the weather forecast for the time of year you are planning to visit Tanzania & pack accordingly. Many lodges will provide thick blankets & even heated water bottles to place at your feet when it is cold.
- RAIN JACKET – Consider packing a lightweight rain jacket. If you are traveling with a guide the often have some rain jackets, but better to be prepared. Also, the slick material may help deter tsetse flies.
- UNDERGARMENTS & SOCKS – Bring your preferred undergarments and socks (a minimum of 4). If you wear bras, I recommend sports bras – the roads can be bumpy & the general consensus among travelers is that sports bras are more comfortable during the drives.
- UTILITY JACKET – Another super useful item is a utility jacket (or vest if you prefer). It will keep you warmer on those cool mornings/evenings & all of the pockets keep extra camera lenses, sunglasses, or whatever else you need close at hand without having to dig through your bag!
- HATS – I have this listed in the next section as well, but definitely do not forget to take a wide brimmed sun hat. Also, if you are someone who gets cold easily, consider tossing a beanie hat/skull cap in your bag as well if you aren’t packing a hoodie.
Example Clothing Packing List for Tanzania:
- Khaki T-Shirt
- Khaki Camisole or Tank Top
- Olive Green Long Sleeve T-Shirt
- Khaki Button Down Shirt
- Khaki Hiking Pants
- Olive Green Hiking Pants
- Khaki Shorts
- Dress or Skirt
- Underwear / Bras
- Light Brown Sweater
- Bathing Suit
- Flip Flops
- Rain Jacket
- Walking Shoes
- Utility Jacket
Want specific examples of which brands & styles of clothing we are taking to Tanzania?
Check out the Tanzania Packing List for an even more detailed list of what exactly we are taking on our safari/beach adventure & why we picked those items!
Non-Clothing Items for Tanzania
- PASSPORT – Make sure you have your passport in hand, that it expires more than 6 months after the end of your trip, and has at least 2 blank pages for each country you plan to visit while in Africa
- VISA – Check the relevant embassy for visa requirements from your country of origin; Apply for a visa approximately 6 weeks ahead of time, or make sure you take cash to obtain a visa as you enter the country ($100 for US Citizens / $50 for some other countries)
- VACCINATION / COVID CERTIFICATES – Check with the relevant embassy to find out the required vaccines or tests for your country of origin & countries you are visiting. Many people choose to receive yellow fever vaccinations and pick up anti-malaria pills. Make an appointment with your physician or travel clinic 6 weeks or more prior to your trip.
- DEBIT CARD / CREDIT CARD – ATMs are available in some cities, and some lodges/hotels accept credit cards; Cash is king, but having a debit or credit card on hand is a good safety net that doesn’t take up much room in your bag
- CASH – Tanzanian Shilling or US dollars are accepted in Tanzania (with the preference being towards US dollars in many areas); If taking US dollars, take small bills ($1, $5, or $10 bills) dated 2006 or later.
- TICKETS & ITINERARY – Regardless of you if you prefer digital or paper copies, it is a good idea to bring a copy of all of your tickets, passport, itinerary, and any contact information you may need during your trip. Also, bring a pen for immigration forms!
- INSECT REPELLANT – Some lodges/hotels may provide insect repellant, but bring your own just in case. Mosquitos are very common in Tanzania, and aside from creating an itchy bite can cause malaria or dengue fever.
- SUN PROTECTION – Tanzania is near the equator & the sun can be quite intense. Bring plenty of sunscreen, a wide brimmed sun hat, sunglasses, and a thin long sleeve shirt.
- FAVORITE TOILETRIES – Some lodges/hotels provide shampoo & conditioner, but it never hurts to bring your own favorite toiletries just in case.
- FIRST AID KIT – I always travel with a small first aid kit. While most airplanes or hotels have bandages, I like to be self sufficient just in case. Plus, I add my personal go-tos like pepto bismol, allergy meds, etc.
- HYGIENE ITEMS – Not just speaking about menstrual products here, but for anyone who has a period – definitely pack those too. I am also speaking about products like hand sanitizer & Clorox wipes to use to protect yourself on your travels.
- CAMERA EQUIPMENT – At the very least, pack your favorite camera. If you can, pack a telephoto lens if you have one or can rent one, extra batteries, extra SD cards, battery chargers, & a tripod. A lens cleaning cloth or camera cleaning kit are also useful when things get dusty.
- PLUG / VOLTAGE CONVERTERS – Electricity in Tanzania is 230 volts & 50Hz. Common electrical plugs are type G and type D. Make sure you pack the appropriate converters for your electronics. A power strip can be useful in lodges that only have electricity in the main area or only one outlet per room so you’re not stuck waiting for a plug!
- LEISURE ITEMS – For siesta time or travel time, consider bringing a book or e-reader, a mini pack of playing cards, headphones, a travel journal, or other easily packed activities to help you enjoy your time.
- FLASHLIGHT / HEADLAMP – If you are camping or staying in a remote tented safari lodge, consider bringing your own flashlight or headlamp to use when walking between the main tent, bath facilities, & your tent.
- FACE MASK – Although many restrictions are lifting, I still travel with a face mask, scarf, neck gaiter, or some type of facial covering in case I run into a situation where it is still required or I prefer to use one.
Example Non-Clothing Packing List for Tanzania:
- Vaccination Card
- Passport / IDs
- Cell Phone / Charger
- Hand Sanitizer
- Disinfecting Wipes
- Travel Documents
- Sun Hat
- Face Mask
- First Aid Kit
- Headlamp / Flashlight
- Camera Equipment
- Book / E-Reader
- Plug / Voltage Adapter
- Hair Ties
- Dental Floss
- Menstrual Products
- Hairbrush / Comb / Hair pick
- Body Wash / Soap
- Insect Repellent
- Itch Stick / Benadryl
Want specific examples of the camera equipment, toiletries, & other supplies I am taking to Tanzania?
Check out the Tanzania Packing List for an even more detailed list of what’s in the bag during my safari/beach adventure & why I picked those items!
Looking for a more detailed description of what exactly is going in my luggage for my safari & beach adventure in Tanzania?
Want to know why I picked that color, brand, or style for this particular trip?
Want some specific suggestions for clothing that will work in Tanzania?
Check out my TANZANIA PACKING LIST for a specific list of exactly what items are going in my luggage & why I chose those particular items over others.
Expect information overload!