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17 Important Things You Must Do Before Travelling Abroad

Sometimes our holidays may not always go as planned, but one thing is for certain: good planning is key to a good trip, especially when visiting a new country. Whether it’s your first trip abroad or you just need a quick reminder, here are essential things to do before travelling out of Kenya.

1. Make copies of your travel documents

This is the essential thing you must do before going to the airport.  No one plans on losing a passport while on holidays, but it’s a good idea to make some backup copies just in case. You can scan them and save them on your email. ( Passport, Visa and your Ticket)


One thing I love about Kenya is the fact that we can easily get over the counter drugs ( medicines sold directly to a consumer without a prescription from a doctor ) In most foreign countries, accessing these drugs can be a hectic job. So to save yourself from all these, always carry a whole pack of Panadols, Antacids; Eno ( Just in case your stomach acts up) and any spectrum antibiotics for the sake of colds and respiratory problems.

3.  Avoid as much as possible making flight bookings with travel websites such as Expedia.

Ticket conditions are very rigid there. Try as much as possible to book with your local travelling agent or directly from the airline you will be using. However, local travel agents tend to be much cheaper.

4. Mark your luggage

Most people have suitcases that look the same. Because of fatigue and other travel stresses, people may accidentally carry the wrong bags. So mark your luggage with HUGE brightly coloured visible stickers, ribbons or tags. I was once a victim of this.

5. At the Airport Never Hold Anything For Anyone it could be Illegal. 

The warning is worth heeding. Drug couriers and users have indeed used fake water bottles to conceal illicit drugs. In fact, criminals use many clever methods of smuggling drugs across borders. And I don’t want you to be the innocent person tricked into carrying drugs for criminals.  If even if it’s a PK or a bottle of drinking water!

6. Plane sitting

When on long flights avoid the rows right in front of the emergency exits. Those seats don’t recline, you will find yourself sitting upright your entire flight. For the ladies, if you’re on a long flight, wearing a dress is the most important thing you will ever do. Jeans tend to constrict your circulation etc.

7. Always Carry Your Yellow Fever Certificate 

Some countries require all travellers to show proof of yellow fever vaccination before they can enter the country. Countries like Tanzania and South Africa are very strict about this document. This is like your Health Passport, always Carry it.

8. Never Use Your Main Bank Account Card While Shopping Abroad.

Most Kenyan banks try to limit their losses from fraud by suspending accounts when a customer’s credit card is used in an unusual location. To avoid this possibility, open a cheap bank account while in Kenya and make sure they give you a Visa. Top it up only when travelling or else your main bank account will be wiped out.

Another important tip: You can always be topping your card using Mpesa when doing online shopping, by this, you will save yourself just in case your card gets stolen.

Also,  get local currency at an atm in the foreign country you are travelling to. Some countries don’t accept the currency exchanged while in Kenya.

9. Public Transport is The Most Convenient and Cheapest Mode of Transport in Developed countries.

Avoid uber and other cab services. Remember that Uber only thrives in places with poor public transport. So, as soon as you land in your destination, get a public transport card and top it up. Check transport rates online before travelling and let Google maps be your friend in guiding you on how to use public transport.

10. Download Google Translate

One good thing about google translate is that it has an instant translation, no typing needed. All you have to do is open the app and let the camera capture what you want to be translated. Technology at it’s best!

11. Weigh Your Luggage Before going to the Airport

Don’t be one of those confused travellers always unpacking your clothes at the check-in counter because your luggage is too heavy. You will look disorganized and nobody got time for that!

12. Remove All The Wrappings and Discard Them Just In Case You Buy Stuff Abroad. 

For instance, if you happen to buy a perfume always remove from box and put it plainly in your suitcase. Those KRA guys at JKIA are no joke,  they will want to charge you for stuff you bought abroad if it appears to be wrapped in a new box.

13. Don’t Buy Stuff For People Using Your Own Money While Abroad. 

Most of us when we travel abroad, our friends and relatives tend to ask us to buy things for them. Always ask them to buy online i.e Amazon and have the stuff sent to your address while abroad. That way it’s easier, you won’t have to hustle looking for stores, and won’t have to always run after people to refund your money when back.

14. Use a Checklist

Before travel date, write down a list of everything you will need for the rest of the of your journey including your travel documents; always tick them off.

15. Carry Chewing Gums With You. 

Chew during taking off and landing. Chewing relieves you of the air pressure which is sometimes uncomfortable for some people.

16. If you are feeling sleepy in the waiting lounge, always pass the handle of your luggage under your foot/leg to secure it.

17.  Always Travel in flat shoes, Preferably Sneakers and Avoid Belts 

I always suggest wearing jeans or pants that do not need a belt. At almost any airport in the world, you will have to remove it for screening, so it is better to just not wear it in the first place.

Bonus tip: This one applies to airlines and hotels, so I won’t count it against the 17 tips: The most important thing you can program into your phone is the phone number of your airline; the second-most important is the direct phone number of your hotel. Do it now…NOW!

Victor Matara

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