How to Pack for Your Trip to Ghana

Ghana tro-tro packed full

Lets hope this is not your packing style.

Packing for a trip to Ghana can be tough for some people because they are unsure of what to expect or what they will need. There are of course different schools of thought for packing for travel that different people subscribe to according to what they think is important. Some people travel light some people travel with everything but the kitchen sink. It really depends on how long you will be traveling for and what type of travel you will be doing. If you have your own transportation it is easier to pack a little heavier than if you are taking buses, and tro-tros.

Generally packing lite to Ghana would be a good idea; it will offer you the most mobility and flexibility in terms of your travel arrangements and options. There are not a lot of sidewalks or paved areas so heavy roller bags are a little impractical. Also it is possible that busses and tro-tros will want to charge you more if you have a lot of luggage.

In this blog post we will cover some of the basics about packing for your trip to Ghana but ultimately it will be more dependent on the type of trip you are taking. Feel free to leave comments with questions so we can all learn from the questions and answers.

DO NOT FORGET

  • Passport with Ghana Entry visa

  • International Vaccination Card with Yellow Fever Vaccination Proof

These are two things that have to be packed and will make for a very miserable vacation if you forget them. Most airlines check for passport and entry visa before allowing people on the plane to Ghana or another country, but if you have a domestic transfer before your international flight this can leave you in a very sticky situation if you forget these items. Visas upon arrival in Ghana are not offered yet.

Proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination is a requirement for entry to Ghana and you will not be allowed through immigration without it.

We would be happy to help US citizens get their entry visa to Ghana.

Money

There are a couple of different ways to handle the money situation on your trip to Ghana.

Cash:

US dollars and Euros are very easy to exchange with decent exchange rates in the capital and are accepted at most hotels and by tour companies and other travel services. If you are using a tour company or major service during your trip to Ghana paying in US dollars or Euros is probably the easiest way to handle these transactions.

Be aware though that there are certain risks with carrying large amounts of cash and just use your judgment like you would in any major city in the US or Europe.

After going through immigration in the baggage terminal there is a Forex Bureau that will allow you to exchange US dollars and other major currencies to Cedis. If you can try to ask for some smaller bills because finding change for some of the larger bills can be very difficult at some shops and street venders, also if you are taking a cab from the airport you will want to have some smaller bills handy.

A little history on money in Ghana:

Prior to 2007 Ghana used a different version of the Ghana Cedi than is used today.  Then $1 was around 11,000 Cedis.  The largest bill that was available was 20,000 cedis so just under $2.  This made for a very fat pocket when going to the ATM for $80 worth of cash (the maximum draw at the time).

In 2007 the government re-denominated the currency and reprinted new Cedis with the value of 1 Cedi to $1.  With inflation this is currently fluctuating around 1.9 Cedi to $1.  Sometimes Ghanaians still negotiations and talk about money in the old Cedi value.  So if you are buying something small and you are asked for 9000 cedis try to hold back your estonishment because they are actually asking for .90 new Cedis, .01 Cedi is called a Peswah so they are asking for 90 new Peswahs.  This can get a little confusing but just think about a Cedi being around 50 cents or 2 Cedis to a $1 and always ask for new Cedi prices.

The average Ghanaian still makes less than 5 Cedis a day.  This makes the money situation difficult when an ATM machine gives you 20 Cedi notes, it will be very hard for you to find many places that have change for that.  When getting Cedis try to get small notes or get them broke as soon as possible.

Travelers Checks:

Travelers Checks are accepted at most major banks in Ghana and you will have more luck in Accra than the more rural areas. You will get a decent exchange rate but not as good as cash exchanges and ATM machines.  Even in Accra it can be a hassle to deal with travelers checks, so they are not recommended.

Credit/Debit Cards:

Visa and Master cards are the most widely accepted card in Ghana. It is advisable to use your card to draw money from ATM machines as you will get the best exchange rate this way and it is also the most convenient method to get money as there are ATMs in most major towns and all regional capitals in Ghana. It is NOT advisable to use credit cards for general purposes or paying hotels because for one not many places have the capabilities to accept credit card and Ghana has a fair share of credit card fraud.

This also applies to any lodging provider or tour companies trying to get you to book with credit card ahead of time. Make sure you do the home work on any tour company before you book ahead of time, as it is standard policy to pay for a tour before you travel, most tour companies in Ghana still do not accept credit card though. You can also use a company like Green Bug Adventures which is US owned and based and partnered with operators in Ghana, this offers the best of both world the security of paying with credit card ahead of time and then traveling with in depth local knowledge.

Clothing

Be warned there is not access to laundry mats or automated laundry services in most of Ghana. At some nice hotels in Accra it might be possible to have your clothes machine washed and dried but this is not the norm. You will either have to hand wash or pay someone to hand wash your clothes. That being said Cotton is king as it is breathable, comfortable and easier to hand wash. You also may want to consider cloths that are easily dryable if you feel you are going to need to do laundry on your trip, drying can take some time in the humid tropics. Also white clothing may be hard to keep clean with the dusty roads and such.

Here is a basic list of some good clothes to bring.

  • 1 light waterproof jacket

  • 1 pair of flip flops or shower shoes

  • 1 good pair of walking shoes

  • You may also want a durable pair of sandals like Chacos or Tevas.

  • Light weight cotton underwear amount depending on the duration of your trip.

  • 1-2 Pairs of jeans depending on the length of your trip, they are durable but can be uncomfortable in the heat and take a long time to dry.

  • Longer shorts.

  • Linen or light weight cotton pants for evenings or hiking in places with underbrush.

  • Swim suites, ladies go a little conservative here and keep it to the beaches and pools.

  • Ladies- Long skirts at least to the knees, long sun dresses, or pants.

  • Men- Longer shorts make the weather comfortable.

  • 1 sweat shirt or warmer shirt just in case it gets a little cooler like in the north in the dry season at night.

  • Good cotton sox, might even want them in a little darker color since white will get dirty quickly.

  • A hat for the sun

  • Cotton t-shirt

  • Ghanaians dress really nice so if you have any plans for formal interaction bring at least one nice pair of clothes.

  • Ghanaian funerals are quite the attraction and are a celebration of the person’s life, black and red are the colors worn at a Ghanaian funeral so take this into consideration when packing.

Baggage

Once again unless you have private transportation pack as light as possible. Luckily most international airlines still allow two checked bags on flights so there is not too much need to worry about that.

  • A day back pack is a must for day trips

  • A large backpack would be best if you are using public transport and moving around the country.

  • A large duffle or wheeled bag is handy for consolidating smaller bags and straps, also it can be filled with things that you may want to donate to a school, hospital or HIV/AIDS program. You can work with us for doing this or NGOs and other tour companies. They will also store that bag until you are ready to leave the country again. This spare bag then can be filled with art, crafts and souvenirs to take home.

Toiletries

  • Sunscreen

  • Bug Spray

  • Toothpaste and tooth brush

  • Deodorant

  • A natural shampoo and conditioner (kind when using outdoor shower)

  • Soap (optional, black soap is a wonderful product that can be found in Ghana cheaply)

  • Lotion (optional, Shea butter can be found in some specialty shops in the south and in most villages in the north and is a wonderful natural product)

  • Hair supplies

  • Aloe, if you are like some of the other fair skinned folks walking around Ghana you might get a little red like them.

  • Towel and washcloth (bring a lighter towel if you can they are not normally offered at hotels and lodges and heavy ones are hard to dry, back packing towels work great)

Electronics

Electronics are very sought after and valuable in Ghana it is fine to bring them but you may want them insured because of the risk of damage from water, viruses, lose, and theft. Also you may not want to flash them around.

  • Camera, and batteries for it (if you have a pocket printer you will be the most popular person in rural Ghana giving out photos)

  • Power inverter with a European style plug, 240 to 120 volt.

  • Headlamp or flashlights

  • MP3 player it might help with road time

  • Laptop if you wish

  • If you have a GSM phone there is a good chance you can get a chip for it local to make calls if you feel like you need it

Odds and ins

  • Sun Glasses

  • Mosquito Net, the self standing ones make it really easy to set up without a ceiling hook.

  • Malaria prophylaxis

  • Any prescription medication or other supplies like contacts and fluid

  • First aid kit, including aspirin or other over the counter medications you might need

  • At least one good book for downtime and while on the road

  • Travel journal or note-book

  • Bandana, the roads can be dusty and a wet one over your mouth may help, or just to blow your nose.

  • Duct Tape is very useful

  • Anything you want to bring to barter, things from home are very sought after, t-shirts, Obama gear, and any electronics are in demand.

You can save a lot of waste plastic which is currently at epidemic proportions in Ghana if you bring supplies for filtering your own water.  Please read more on this on another blog post here.

 

This entry was posted in For the Independent Traveler, Ghana, Travel Tips and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How to Pack for Your Trip to Ghana

  1. Pingback: Bills bug | Turnkeysmedia

  2. Pingback: Ghana Visa and Entry Requirments | Green Bug Adventures

  3. jean says:

    You should really plan before you come and this article is great …the only thing here is that the prices you quoted have changed a bit

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