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Advice for People Planning on Traveling to Africa

Updated on March 17, 2019
The Naughty Nomad profile image

Chandreia is a digital nomad, and an aspiring entrepreneur. Her motto is self-reliance is the key to obtaining a blissful and happy life!

Research is key to determining where you want to go.
Research is key to determining where you want to go. | Source

Do your research

Hi there! Chandreia here with a bit of news that you can use about traveling abroad to work remotely. I'm pretty sure that a lot of you may have thought that you can just make a reservation and just Jet off to some exotic destination to sit on white sandy beaches and type into your computer all day right? Well, I'd hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is quite a process to go through to get to where you want to go especially if you're intending to leave the United States. Depending on where you're headed you are going to need immunizations and travel documents. In some cases, you may even be required to have a physical examination by your healthcare practitioner. Now don't go getting your britches in a bunch. It's fairly easy and if you do your due diligence everything should work out just fine. So now that I have your undivided attention let's get down to business shall we?

I chose West Africa

I decided to go to West Africa. Lome, Togo to be exact. Nevermind the reason why I chose this place. But after extensive trial and error, I did manage to get on the right track. In order to travel to Lome, Togo my first priority was to find out what the entrance requirements were for the country. I first contacted the U. S. Department Of State- Bureau Of Consular Affairs to obtain information about the country and the region. It is there that you can find information pertaining to travel advisories about the country you intend to visit and how to be safe while traveling. It will also give you information about any current or ongoing security alerts and information about passports, visas, vaccinations, and currency restrictions for entry and exit to the country.

Get your immunization records up to date.
Get your immunization records up to date. | Source

Obtain the required Vaccinations

Before gaining entry into another country you will be required to obtain the necessary immunizations. You will also need to show proof of immunization to the U.S. Embassy prior to obtaining your passport. When you contact the U.S. Department of state, they will only display information regarding the immunization requirement for any outbreaks that may be going around. In my case, it was yellow fever and that was the only immunization requirement listed there on the site. Since I am a very good researcher and wanted to ensure that I knew everything there was to know about traveling to my destination, I enlisted the services of a travel doctor. Upon visiting the travel doctor I was advised that there were more immunizations that were necessary before I could even apply for my passport. I was also advised of the price of such immunizations and they were not cheap. In order to travel to Africa in general, you would need to have the following vaccinations:

  1. Hepatitis A + B
  2. Typhoid
  3. Cholera
  4. Yellow fever
  5. Rabies
  6. Meningitis
  7. Polio
  8. Measles
  9. Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
  10. Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  11. Chickenpox
  12. Shingles
  13. Pneumonia
  14. Influenza

Vaccinations can be costly, so check around for the best price

Now, when I found out the cost to receive these vaccinations from the travel clinic, I almost died as they were so freaking expensive! I quickly realized that I had already had most of these vaccinations as a child and so I contacted my local health department to inquire on what their prices were for the vaccinations. You may also contact your health insurance provider as some of the vaccinations can be covered by your insurance. By contacting the health department I learned that due to my age, I would only need a booster of the shots that I received when I was a child. It turns out that you should get a booster shot of meningitis, polio, measles, mumps & rubella, and Tdap every 10 years to keep you covered from the disease. I also learned that the local health department did not have the yellow fever vaccine and therefore could not administer it. The travel clinic charged $125.00 for the consultation which did not include the charge for the vaccinations. That price was just to discuss what vaccinations are needed and their side effects and was a total rip off. The hepatitis A + B vaccination is administered as a twin pack of a series of 3 injections and must be administered on a schedule. You receive an initial dose, and then another dose exactly 30 days later, and the next dose is administered exactly 6 months later or it can be given in 4 doses with an initial dose followed by another exactly 7 days, 21 days, 30 days and 12 months. The rabies vaccination follows the same suit being given on day 0, then exactly on day 7, 21 or 28. If you miss those days the vaccination may be ineffective.

Vaccination Prices

3 dose price
Yellow Fever
Hepatitis A+B
$450 / $345
$705 / $525
Measles/Mumps/ Rubella

I did not get the Chicken Pox or Shingles vaccinations because I've already had the chickenpox and the shingles vaccination is require for older adults.

Apply for your passport

If you do not already have your passport, you must apply for it in person. If you already have your passport, you must ensure that it is up to date and has enough pages for your visas. There are many online sites offering to assist you in the passport application fee, but trust me it's better to just sit down and fill out the forms yourself. If you use an online service or the aid of the travel clinic, be prepared to pay not only the fees to process the information for you but also the cost of the passport. The travel clinic charged me $225.00 to do the passport paperwork for me. They stated that if they did it I could get it expedited and receive it right away. Although they did the paperwork, I still had to go to the passport agency to file it. I learned from the representative at the passport agency that the actual cost to file the paperwork and all was only $97 which included a $55 passport fee, $12 security surcharge, and a $30 execution fee. I was floored! I explained to her that I had paid $225 for someone to write the information on the form (which had errors) because that is what they told me had to be done at the travel clinic. She stated that they clearly defrauded me and she contacted them and helped me get my money back. She stated to me that if I wanted the passport expedited, I would need to pay an additional $60. That was still cheaper than the travel clinic price. Boy did I learn a few things. These are the required documents to apply for a passport:

  • Application form - Can be printed from the website and filled in or filled out on the website and printed out.
  • Proof of Citizenship- Birth certificate or naturalization papers.
  • 2 Passport photos
  • Application fees
  • Social Security Number

Apply for your visa

Once you have received your passport, you can then apply for your Visa. To apply for the Visa, you would need to contact the U.S. Embassy of the country that you would like to travel to. All countries have an embassy office located in Washington D.C. where people from that country work in the United States. Their main objective is to provide services to people from their country that reside in the United States and they are the ones who issue the visa to you. The United States has nothing to do with the process. In order to obtain a visa you will need:

  • Visa application
  • Visa application fee ( Which must be made via money order or check made out to the consulate for that country)
  • Passport (your passport must be valid and have extra pages for visa endorsement)
  • 2 passport sized photos (they attach them to your visa application after it's been approved)
  • Your immunization records ( to verify that you have met all vaccination requirements to enter the country)
  • A return envelope ( you must include an envelope for return of your documents)

It usually takes approximately 2 weeks to receive all of the documents back in the mail. If you use FedEx or another mail service you have the option of expediting the return of your documentation. I only spent $140.00 which was the application fee and I had my visa back within a week without paying to expedite it.

My most current visa
My most current visa

Take Flight

Assuming that you are going to travel by airplane there are a few things that I would like you to know. These are the things that I wish someone would have told me and saved me a headache. Never use a third party site to book your airline tickets. I repeat, "NEVER USE A THIRD PARTY SITE TO BOOK YOUR AIRLINE TICKETS!" When searching for tickets for my trip, I made the humongous mistake of booking them through a very popular 3rd party site...big mistake. After I paid them for a round trip ticket, they emailed me 20 minutes later to tell me that the flight had been canceled and that I would need to book another flight, so I did. This time I called them up and a representative booked the flight over the phone but she said that I would need to pay again. I asked her why she couldn't just transfer the payment to the new flight and she said that she couldn't and that I would need to wait up to 3 weeks for that money to show back up on my card. So I paid again and it happened again; flight canceled by the airline. I was livid. I had to contact my bank to get those funds back into my account. It took 3 days to get it cleared. I then booked my flight directly through the airline and it was actually cheaper and I got more benefits than I did by going through a 3rd party site. Oh, did I mention that I didn't get all of my money back from them? They kept $500 of my money...$250 for each flight that was canceled by the airline and I still haven't received that money back. It's best to do everything directly through the vendor. That is the only guarantee that if something goes wrong someone who really cares will be there to help.

I hope this information has been useful.


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