Africa Trip Planning (Personal docs 2)

Now we have the personal contact sheet, what's the next batch of documents we need for a trip? Keep in mind that these tips relating to documents are generally in respect of a multi-country trip but is just as applicable for a visit to just one country. The copies of the documents below should be made into batches and then spread the batches around your bags, one batch in each bag at least including carry-on luggage and then one that is always at hand. It would be worth scanning (with a smartphone will do) all the documents and e-mailing one set to your e-mail address you'll be using during the trip and then, upload a set to the cloud to something like Google Drive, Dropbox etc.

If you'll be applying for visas during the trip, make extra copies of them as well. Although copy facilities are generally available and cheap, don't just rely on that being available. For couples: Each should have one set of copies of the other's documents - just a little back-up that you'll never regret!


Well, obviously we have a passport ready, but do you have enough pages? If you plan on visiting a few countries and your passport is already half full (even a 50+ page passport) then apply for another so you don't have to spend time in a foreign country waiting for a new passport to be issued by your embassy - that's of course assuming too that your country is represented in the particular country! Reason for this is that many visas are full page stickers/stamps so 10 countries will already eat up 10 pages, whether en-route or before you depart. Ensure you have at least 5 copies of your passport, ideally even more. You'll be surprised how many countries require a copy of your passport in addition to the other documents they ask for!


The visas are of course now in your passport but what happens if you lose your passport or you're waiting for a visa and your passport is sitting in some embassy? What I did was take a pic with my phone of every visa immediately after I got it; keeping that pic on my phone, I also copied it onto my laptop.

Birth Certificate 

Some countries in Africa even require a copy of a birth certificate when applying for a visa! Obviously, don't carry an original with you! Have a few copies certified and if you can, also some certified by a notary. The latter negates you having to carry the original with you.

Marriage Certificate 

If you're travelling as a married couple, both should have certified and/or notarised copies of the marriage certificate as well.

Travel/medical Insurance 

Make copies of your travel and/or medical insurance cards or confirmations, whatever form it's on. If it's a benefit on your credit card, make a copy or printout of those particular benefits from the relevant card provider's website and keep it with a copy of the front of your card. (Don't keep it with copies of the back of your card!!) Many countries require proof of insurance when applying for a visa; I've found it so common that I started including it with my documents for all my visa applications; not once did an embassy give it back and say they didn't need it. 
**Remember, try and make it easier for the embassy staff when applying for a visa, not only for yourself!


For most countries you'll need to show at least proof of your Yellow Fever jab. Obviously, there will be some other jabs/vaccinations you'll be getting depending on the country you're going to. Very important to have copies of these as well! Lose this and some bureaucrat is going to be smiling because there's money to be made, never mind the hassle of them making you get another jab right there. Johannesburg International Airport got me once when I forgot my yellow fever card in Rwanda; they have a clinic downstairs where I was escorted to and given the jab for US$100! And this was a late night arrival too!

Driver's Licence 

Have copies of both your national driver's licence and your international driver's licence. For the international one, you can make one copy of the page showing which countries it's valid for. There are different international conventions when it comes to these licences and some countries haven't ratified the more recent ones. For example, the International Driver's licence is required for Nigeria is valid only for Nigeria, Iraq and Somalia! (and trust me, the cops in Nigeria are very aware of this - unusual as it may sound! Guess it means more potential money for them.)That meant I needed two international driver's licences for my expedition through West Africa from Zimbabwe.

Cameras/laptops etc. (Serial/model numbers) 

Make a note of the model and serial numbers of each of your valuables and gadgets. In the event something is stolen, you can hand this to the police when reporting it. It also lends much credibility to the report for your insurance company (remember, they're very wary of lost property claims due to the large amount of scams out there!). I know of cases where the cops in a particular country were actually to find and return the stolen goods within days because of serial numbers being available. You can of course take photos of the relevant items and keep copies on your phone and laptop and/or online in the cloud.


In the next post I'll deal with the batch of documents for your vehicle. This can be quite a list although relative to the country/countries you're visiting.


Expedition Logistics, Travel Planning And Tourism Product Development

A diverse portfolio of services with the tourism and hospitality industry as basis, include travel planning, expedition logistics and support, tourism and hospitality product development, and product/destination marketing.