Planning a Trip to Zambia
Step One: Securing a Passport
Basically, you will need to submit the following information:
- two passport pictures (which you can get from Walmart Photo, AAA office, etc).
- fill out the appropriate application (which you can get from Post Office or web site below).
- pay an application fee ($70-85 per person).
- provide proof of U.S. Citizenship
- provide proof of Identity
- social security number
Web Site: U.S. Department of State -- provides detailed information on how to get a U.S. passport.
Once you have received your passport, be sure to sign the first page where your photo is pasted. Also, it is probably wise to make a photo copy of your passport and the first 2-3 pages (and the page that has your visa for Zambia and other countries listed). Take this with you on your trip and keep it in a separate place from your passport. This will be most helpful if your passport is ever stolen or lost.
Step Two: Schedule Your Travel Dates (Reserve Itinerary)
Purchase round-trip ticket to Lusaka, Zambia. There are four basic routes from which to choose: (a) Lusaka via Europe (Delta/KLM), (b) Lusaka via South Africa (Delta/SAA), (c) Lusaka via Ehtiopia (ET), and Lusaka via Dubai (Emirates). The South Africa option is the fastest route, but it involves a 17 hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg (19 hour return). This would not be the best route for seniors or those who might be susceptible to blood-clots. However, if your time is limited, this is the fast route.
For additional information, you can email me to request additional information (as I have two pdf documents addressing this matter).
Step Three: Secure Your Necessary Visas
Zambia has frequently changed their policy regarding tourist visas. Currently, Zambia does not require American citizens to get a visa before traveling to Zambia and, in fact, we would recommend that you wait upon arrival in Lusaka to get your visa.
Step Four: Necessary Vaccinations and Health Concerns
The only vaccination that Zambia requires is Yellow Fever. You should, however, check the Zambian web page to see if this information has been amended. Be sure to carry a record of this vaccination with you.
Other vaccinations that we would advise you to get prior to departure include the following:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Booster for polio
- Meninogococcal (meningitis) -- optional (not currently suggested for Zambia).
You should, of course, consult your doctor about the latest information on vaccinations at the time of your trip. If you doctor does not have sufficient information on this (and most do not when it has to do with Africa), you should ask him to tell you where you can get the information and he can advise you further. You can also check theCenter For Disease Control for additional information.
This is one of the most difficult travel issues to resolve (malaria information). Your doctor will likely recommend that you take one of two types of malaria prevention medication:
(a) Malarone -- tablet taken once daily, beginning two weeks prior to travel and continuing for seven days after return to the USA.
(b) Mefloquine (Lariam) -- tablet taken once weekly, beginning two weeks prior to travel and continuing for four weeks after return to the USA.
However, there are some serious side-effects with these medications. Please consult the CDC web page concerning these side-effects. We would not recommended these medications to travelers with any type of heart condition. In fact, we are not sure that we would recommend them to anyone as neither Lorie and I plan to take any of these medications. Instead, I would personally recommend prevention (which you can read about on the CDC web page above and which we will instruct you about upon your arrival).
Travel and Health Insurance:
Check with your travel agent for advice concerning travel insurance since few (if any) American health plans include Med-Evac insurance coverage. In fact, we now require that anyone visiting us at Daybreak purchase travel insurance that includes Med-Evac insurance. We recommend "Travelx Insurance" which Nikki (travel agent) can assist you in purchasing.
There are also several good web sites on the internet that provide information on various types of insurance plans. These sites also will help you better understand what insurance needs you might need to consider (e.g. Global Medical Security ). Another company worth calling is International Medical Group (888-708-0812) whose web site will provide you with online instant quotes. Perhaps the best sources for insurance are Missionary Health Net (800-647-4589), a web site hosted by Mission Resources, and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance.
You can also purchase trip cancellation insurance from your travel agent or by visiting the web site for International Traveler Insurance. There are some situations in which you may want to seriously consider buying this insurance, if you have sufficient funds to do so.
Step Five: Final Preparations
By your tickets as far in advance as possible since that often will ensure the best price. Once you get your itinerary (and later your ticket), check and recheck to make sure that the dates and flights are exactly as you ordered and, if traveling in a group, that everyone has the same dates and flights. It is so easy for a mistake to be made. Make two copies of the ticket and itinerary, one to care with you in a safe place and another to leave with someone staying at home.
You will need to check with your travel agent, but (presently) you are allowed two check-in bags on the plane (70 lbs each with dimensions of not more than 62 inches). You are also allowed one carry-on bag and one personal item (e.g. woman's purse, camera bag, lap-top or briefcase). Airlines have gotten very strict in recent years about carry-on baggage, so make sure that you respect the weight limits and size of your carry-on items (ask Travel Agent to define what these restrictions are).
Confirm Your Flight:
Confirm your flight 72 hours before the flight. Call the airline and confirm the time of departure and that you are listed on the flight. This is very important for international flights, especially in the summer months as flights are usually full and overbooked. If you do not confirm your flight, the airline might bump you and give your seat to someone else.
We recommend that you carry $100 in cash (a few $1 and $5 bills and the rest in $20 bills) for snacks and incidental expenses on your trip. The rest of your cash should be new, clean $100 bills. You will get the best exchange rate is you use $100 bills. How much case you carry will depend upon many factors that you alone will have to determine (e.g. length of stay, travel plans, intent to purchase souvenirs, etc). It is not recommended that you use Traveler's checks as you will get a very poor exchange rate most anywhere you try to cash them overseas. We do recommend that you carry, at least, two credit cards with you (Visa, Mastercard or American Express). We also recommend that you carry your ATM debit card as this is one of the best ways to get cash in Zambia.
We recommend that you open a temporary account with hotmail.com, yahoo.com, or one of the other large, free email providers. Most every country in the world now have Internet Cafes where you can check your email during your travels. Hotmail and yahoo are almost the easiest accounts to log into overseas. But, because these are public computers, it is probably not best that you not use your normal home accounts (as your account information can be compromised). By using one of these temporary accounts just for this trip, you can cancel it when you return home. However, it may be possible for you to check your usual email accounts at our house using a secure computer. It would also be good that you ask us for our telephone number in Zambia (via email) prior to your departure so that others will be able to call you in Zambia, in case of emergency. You can give this number to your family in USA, but remind them that Zambia is about 7 hours ahead of the USA (Central time).
It is strongly recommended that you not plan to drive while in Zambia. Traffic laws are very different, especially considering that Zambia drives on the opposite side of the road from the USA. Transportation will either be provided for you or you can easily travel by public transportation which is in abundant supply.
Adjusting to the Time Difference (Jet-Lag):
Zambia is basically 7 hours ahead of the USA (Central Day-light Savings Time). This means that when it is 8 AM in Memphis, it is 4 PM in Lusaka. Paris France is 6 hours ahead of the USA. Thus, when you travel to Europe and then down to Zambia, it will be necessary for your body to adjust to the time differences. Based on our own personal experience (and on the advice of travel experts), we strongly recommend that you discipline yourself to sleep only when it is nighttime wherever your are in your travels. Thus, if there is daylight outside, DON"T sleep. If you do, you will greatly confuse your body and it will take much more time to adjust to the new time.
We recommend that you do your best to get as much sleep as you can on the night flight from the USA to Europe (watching the movie is not worth it). You can buy a neck pillow at the airport or at most any travel store that you can take with you to help you sleep. We would also recommend you buy some earplugs to take with you and use the blind-fold that that the airlines give you at the beginning of the flight. Most importantly, however, do NOT sleep during your first day in Europe. Drink coffee, go for a walk, or take several cold showers -- whatever you must do to stay awake. Wait until it is, at least, 8 PM before you go to bed for the first night. It's tough, but you will feel much better the second and third days than if you slept the first day in Europe. If you absolutely must take a nap, sleep no more than 10-15 minutes.
What To Bring:
Besides the normal personal items (e.g. toiletries, shaver/razor, etc), you will want to consider the time of year that you will be arriving in Zambia. Because Zambia is located south of the equator, the seasons are opposite of the USA. Zambia has three basic seasons: (a) Rainy season (Nov-Apr), (b) Cool, dry season (May-August), and (c) Hot, dry season (Sept-Oct). Thus, if you plan to visit Zambia in the rainy season, you will want to bring clothing that is best suited for wet/damp/humid weather. During this season, it rains most everyday. Mud is in abundant supply! However, if you visit Zambia in the cool, dry season, you will want to bring some sweaters and light-weight jackets. The temperature during this time of the year averages between 50 and 75 degrees.
Keep in mind that the electrical current in Zambia (as in Europe) is 220 volts. The plugs are also different from that in the USA. We recommend that you buy a travel kit that includes some converters and a wide assortment of plug adapters. However, there are limitations to what kinds of electrical appliances you can use with these converters, so you will need to read the manuals and instructions closely so that you don't end up, for example, bringing a hair dryer that will not work in Zambia. Most laptop computers will work on 220 volts, but you will need a plug adapter.