Resources for Backpackers

Truth be told, you don't need a bunch of fancy equipment or gadgets to travel Africa. You can make do with whatever you have. But there are some things that might make your trip easier.

Here are our top favorite picks that are also listed in the book, Backpacking Africa for Beginners. Unless we personally use it and find it helpful, we don't recommend it. So you can be sure that we are only telling you about these items because we actually think it will make your trip better.

Check them out and let us know what you think!

Products - Your Backpacking List

backpacking africa gear, clever travel companion, travel pants

Backpacking Africa Gear: My FAVORITE (& Affordable) MUST-HAVE Item!

Backpacking Africa Gear: The ONE item you seriously need!

As most of  you know, I'm obsessed with
Clever Travel Companion gear. Mostly because before my trip, I wasted my money on lots of useless stuff. And Clever is one of the only things that actually helped me. Plus, it survived my entire trip which says a lot about it's quality and durability. Because I pretty much destroyed everything else. I've been slowly building up my Clever Travel collection because it's the best backpacking Africa gear around. First I bought the black tank top which I completely adore. Most recently I bought the black leggings. This is my review on them & what I'll buy next! [caption id="attachment_382" align="aligncenter" width="480"]Backpacking Africa for Beginners, Clever Travel Companion Review The black tank top I used from Clever Travel Companion[/caption] But first, real quickly....

WHAT IS CLEVER TRAVEL COMPANION?

Clever Travel Companion sells travel clothes that have hidden pockets inside them which turns out to be the best backpacking Africa gear you need. I used my black tank top during my backpacking trip to conceal my passport, credit card, cash, and sometimes even my iPhone depending on how unsafe I felt. It's different than other clothing gear, especially workout gear, that has pockets because Clever clothes:
  • Have really small zippers so nothing can fall out and no thieves can reach in
  • The pockets are big enough to fit your entire passport plus even more stuff
  • The pockets are intentionally put in places that are most convenient and hidden from outsiders

DO I REALLY NEED SOMETHING FROM CLEVER TRAVEL COMPANION?

I don't recommend a lot of things to buy before your trip. Other than water sanitation pills, a good tent and backpack, and something from Clever, there's very little else I encourage readers to buy. That's one of the reasons I get called "naive" on other blogs and forums. (Never mind the fact, it's from people who have never even been to Africa. But that's a different issue... grrrr!). But seriously, you don't need a lot to backpack Africa. Clever Companion, helps with the few crimes that you are likely to face though. This includes:
  1. TAXI DRIVER THEFT....

    I heard quite a few incidents where a taxi driver would take someone to the wrong location, out of town, and ask the passenger for their wallet. You're clearly screwed when this happens. But if you always keep a $100, a credit card, and your passport tucked in your pocket, you won't be giving up everything. You'll at least have money for a hotel that night until you sort everything out.
  2. LODGE THEFT...

    Unfortunately some of the worst thieves of all are other backpackers or staff at the backpacking lodges. While some hostels have lockers for you, many do not. When this happened, I would leave my money and passport inside my Clever Tank Top and fold it up with my other clothes. That way if someone went through my stuff, they wouldn't see it. And they wouldn't steal a dirty, and definitely smelly, tank top. (Laundry is a legit issue when traveling...)
  3. PICK-POCKETING...

    Pick-pocketers are everywhere in Addis Ababa along with every major city in Africa/the world. Just assume that anything you put in your jean pockets will get taken. Especially in Africa, you'll find yourself in crowded cities, overflowing buses, at really cool music festivals like FESTAC, or at a local market.
  4. GETTING HELD UP....

    It doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen. There are lots of ways to prevent this (seriously, read my book). But if someone does come at you and takes your bag, it's handy to have your most important valuables in your pocket where they can't see. Basically, you're outsmarting the thief.
  5. YOUR OWN FAULT...

    Somewhere along your trip, you're just going to have a moment. Chalk it up to no sleep, too much beer, or traveler's diarrhea that makes your bus take off without you. But you're going to leave your bag somewhere very inconvenient. It happens. But at least if you lose your bag, you're still have some money and ID on you. That's what Clever allows you to do... be a dumbass, without totally ruining your trip.
[Don't be freaked out about these warnings. This kind of stuff happens in every country around the world. Just come prepared, and know that Africa isn't more dangerous than other areas in the world.]

TELL ME ABOUT THE PANTS

I bought the women's small black leggings this time. Overall I really like them. If I'm just going out for a normal day in Ethiopia, I'll wear them with some cash and my credit card inside. It feels nice walking around without a purse, and definitely makes me less of a target. If I need to be more secure, I'll put small cash in the pants so I can easily access it and pay for stuff. And then I'll wear my blank top with a shirt over it to hide my biggest valuables. [caption id="attachment_1097" align="aligncenter" width="700"]backpacking africa gear, clever travel companion, travel pants My new black leggings![/caption] Here are some more details.

PROS

  • There are two pockets. This allows for two places for you to keep your stuff. I usually fill one with small change that I easily access, and another has my passport or credit card in it that I keep just for emergencies.
  • Super convenient. Leggings by far, are just awesome, when traveling. They're comfortable, and you can wear them anywhere. It's nice to have a normal wardrobe staple double as a place to hide stuff.
  • Not weird looking. One thing I don't like about my black tanktop is that it looks weird to have a zipper in the middle. But having pockets in leggings is normal. So you can pull money out of there without people giving you a double look.
  • High quality! I feel like this word gets overly used to the point that it means nothing. But these pants are seriously good stuff. All of my H&M and Forever 21 leggings get holes in them super quickly. (I mean I pay $3 for them so what should I expect?). But these leggings along with my Clever tank top are built to last. I honestly think they're worth every dollar. And I am super cheap, so that says a lot!

CONS

  • Too big! The pants are definitely a little too large for me. I think all their stuff runs big actually. Normally I wear a size small from Forever 21 or H&M. But I should have bought the Extra Small leggings from Clever.
  • They run a little short. I'm 5'4'' and the pants hit me right at the ankle. I like it because normally leggings are too long on me and come over my feet. But if you're a super tall girl, just be aware that this is the style. They're also not super skinny around the ankles. My other leggings hug my skin where as this has a little extra space.

MY WISHLIST

Yes, I have a slight love affair with this company. But everything about them pretty much rocks, and I know personally how much they've helped me and other travelers. Next up on my to-buy list includes: Clever Travel Companion Underwear... My husband makes fun of me for wanting this, but it's definitely the most hidden, secure product they make. It's great if you're in a riskier area, or if you're like me and tend to get yourself into ridiculous situations. I would personally pair the underwear with another Clever product. For example, I'd put a $100, my passport, and a credit card in the underwear. But I'd put smaller bills in my Clever tank top so that no sales clerk has to see me pull money out of my underwear and hand it to them. That's just weird. [caption id="attachment_1096" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Clever Underwear. Super secure! Men & Women's available[/caption] Clever Travel Companion T-Shirt with 2 Side Pockets.... My friend Ansh bought this and I've been jealous ever since. He's wearing the t-shirt in the backpacking Africa gear video if you want to see what it looks like. The nice thing about the t-shirt is you can almost wear it by itself without anyone noticing. Whereas my black tank top has a zipper in the middle so I usually throw another t-shirt or sweatshirt over it.

PS- They also have men's and kid's stuff

Anyways, hope this helps! Seriously, go buy this awesome backpacking africa travel gear now! Just trust me, and know that as someone who has backpacked (and now currently lives in) Africa-- this actually will help you lots. And if you have any other questions about the pants just let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

life straw, water purification tablets, backpacking africa for beginners

Water Purification Device: Why You SERIOUSLY Need One!

Water Purification Device: Do You REALLY Need One?

Travelers Dirrhea, anybody? No thanks. While traveling Africa, most countries will not have clean tap water you can drink without getting sick. South Africa and Mozambique were the only safe countries I visited. I never ventured to find out, but most
African water can cause things like Giardia, Dysentary, Hepatitis A, Round Worms, & Cholera--all things my backpacking friends got. Bad water can also lead to Cryptosporidium, Shigella, Enterovirus, and other nasty unmentionables. I don't even know what those last few are, but I'm quite certain  I don't want them. [caption id="attachment_719" align="aligncenter" width="700"]water purification tablets, backpacking africa for beginners The yellow jerry can is how many African families carry their water. Photo Credit: obakkifoundation.org[/caption] All of these can be avoided by using a water purification device. I've already written an extensive health section for those who don't want to get sick. It includes:
  • Avoiding Malaria
  • Vaccines I took
  • Medications I bought
  • Food & water guidelines
  • Common African dangers
  • What illness I did get, & how they could have been prevented
  • And my top tips for staying healthy
But for now, lets just say I won't go on a backpacking trip to Africa without a water purification device.

It is true that:

  1. Water bottles are EVERYWHERE in Africa (even many remote destinations)
  2. Boiling water for 10 minutes kills basically everything
But there is a 1% chance, you'll end up somewhere with no water bottles & no way to boil. That's what happened to my friend Adam while traveling through Somaliland. His bus broke down on the side of the road for 2 days. He had no water. Out of desperation, he was on his way to drink from a nearby river when help finally arrived. No doubt he would have gotten terribly sick. [caption id="attachment_718" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Water Purification Tablets, backpacking africa for beginners My friend Adam smiling in Ethiopia after surviving his no-water bus experience[/caption] If he was carrying a water purification device, however, he could have safely drank from the river. Granted again, this probably won't happen to you. And I'm seriously all about backpacking light (especially after my disasterous packing job I did the first time), but since there are some pretty lightweight options, I highly recommend grabbing one. Water Purification verses Water Filtration? On my way to the airport for my backpacking trip, I stopped at a local CVS convenience store. I bumped into my ex-step aunt (my family is a little dysfunctional), and she picked up a water filtering device. "You'll need this for your trip," she said. I threw it in the cart, but later was so relieved I had a different water purification device in my bag. That's because there is a HUGE difference between a water purification verses water filteration device. Purification can handle the African germs you're bound to find. Filtration is what you use to make your own tap water taste better at your house. Sometimes a filtration device can handle river water you find in the US or Canada. But for backpacking Africa-- not going to cut it.

Water Purication Device: BEST Options

1. Water Purication Device: Tablets

Water Purification Tablets are my personal favorite. They're lightweight and super easy. All you do is drop one in a bottle of water, wait a little while, then you're good to go. No getting the shits for you! (On a side note--Before my backpacking journey, I would have been so embarrassed to talk about dirrhea or getting "the shits." But it's such a common topic among backpackers, for unfortunate reasons, that now I have no problem mentioning it. It's all much to the dismay of my boyfriend, but can any of you relate??) I use a combination of Potable Aqua Iodine and Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide tablets, but there are other water purification tablet options too. Pros
  • Cheap
  • Easy
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Doesn't remove dirt or other debris
  • Takes 30 minutes up to 4 hours before you can drink it
Water Purification Tablets, Backpacking Gear, Backpacking africa for beginners  

2. Water Purication Device: Liquid Drops

Drops are liquid versions of the tablets. There are two main types. Polar Pure which uses Iodine and Aquamira which uses Chlorine Dioxide. The differences between those active ingredients can be found in my water purification tablets review.  Pros
  • Cheap
  • Easy
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Doesn't remove dirt or other debris
  • Takes 30 minutes up to 4 hours before you can drink it
  • If you spill it or lose the bottle, you are S.O.L. (whereas tablets can be stashed throughout your bag)
Water Purification Device, polar pure, aquamira chlorine dioxide, backpacking gear

3. Water Purication Device: SteriPen

I've never used the SteriPen before, and probably never will. For starters, it's almost $70. I tend to break everything, and based on Amazon Reviews, the SteriPen needs some tender loving care. With that being said, it does have some pretty cool advantages if you have deeper pockets. Pros
  • No wait time
  • No funky chlorine or iodine taste
  • Effective against Cryptosporidium (Chlorine Dioxide Tablets and Drops are too, but there is a 4 hour wait time)
Cons
  • Not cost effective
  • Can break easily
  • Can run out of battery
Water Purification Devices: Steripen

4. Water Purication Device: Life Straw

When Life Straw first came out, it was like the holy-grail of water purification devices. Not only does it instantly remove bacteria and protozoa, but it's only $20. Pros
  • Effective
  • Cheap (Your $20 purchase lasts 1000 liters of water)
  • Helps block dirt, etc. from your mouth
Cons
  • Difficult to use for sink water (you either have to plug the sink and drink from it, or fill up a water bottle then drink from that)
  • You either have to bend over awkwardly on the ground everytime you want to use it or fill up a cup/bottle that may or may not be easily drank out of by a straw
Water Purification Devices: Life Straw

5. Filtered Water Bottle

Filtered water bottles fix cons associated by the Life Straw. No wonder why Life Straw Bottle eventually appeared on the market. Another popular bottle is Katadyn. Pros
  • Easy to drink out of
  • Can drink water instantly
  • Filter out dirt, etc. from reaching your mouth
  Cons
  • Not cheap. Costs between $30-45 depending on the brand.
  • If you lose it or it's stolen, you won't have any clean water the rest of your trip
  • Bulky/not as easy to pack as other options
Water Purification Device: Life Straw Bottle

Other Options

Believe it or not, there are lots more water purification devices on the market. But they're weird contraptions or overly huge! I only picked the top ones a backpacker should consider.   Again-- my favorites are the pills. They're the cheapest light weight option. In the end, you can make anything work. Just make sure you pack something for the just-in-case emergency!  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

water purification tablets, backpacking gear, backpacking africa for beginners

Water Purification Tablets: Review of The BEST choices

Water Purification Tablets: Do You Really Need Them?

Water in (most) African countries will get you completely sick. And unfortunately every backpacker I met had horror stories of upset stomachs gone wrong. I'll spare you details. But unless you want to shit yourself on a bus (this happened to someone I met) water purification tablets will be super handy. Thankfully water bottles are practically everywhere. On the off chance, your bus breaks down and you're stranded, you WILL NEED a way to drink clean water.  That's why, even though I promote
backpacking light in Africa, water purification tablets (or other water purification devices) are worth bringing.

Water Purification Tablets: How Do They Work?

The directions will vary per brand, but generally you put a pill in unclean water (from the tap, the river, etc.), wait around 30 minutes, and then it is safe to drink. [caption id="attachment_744" align="aligncenter" width="640"]water purification tablets, backpacking gear, beer in africa Water might be important, but I definitely spent more time drinking beer :)[/caption] Just remember:
  • NOT safe for regular, long term use
  • Strain dirt, rocks, etc out first!
  • Not 100% guaranteed (better if you can combine with other methods like boiling water)
  • Must drink within 24-40 hours for full benefits

Water Purification Tablets: My Top Choices

 

1. Potable Aqua with PA +

These are cheap, easy to use, and even prevent Giardia which is one of my main concerns backpacking Africa. It comes with two bottles. The first sanitizes the water. The second (PA+) gets rid of the nasty taste and color caused by the first bottle. The active ingredient is Iodine which also helps with radioactivity (in case you're in a nuclear disaster situation). You can buy the pills without the PA+, but for only a dollar more it's worth buying something that tastes significantly better. Pros 
  • Ready in 30 minutes
  • Cheap (50 pills for $7.99)
  • Natural (No harsh chemicals-- just Iodine which your body needs anyways)
Cons
  • Doesn't kill Cryptosporidium which is common in African countries
  • Not suitable for people with iodine alleries, thyroid conditions, or pregnant women
    Water Purification Tablets, backpacking gear, Iodine tablets
These pills come from the same brand, but use Chlorine Dioxide instead of Iodine. This means they kill off Cryptosporidium along with Giardia, etc. In my opinion, these are the safest and most effective pills. The downside is you have to wait 4 hours! I always forgot to plan ahead, and ended up being really thirsty for hours just waiting for the time to pass.
Pros
  • Kills everything!
  • You can get a 20 pack for only $11
Cons
  • Not as natural as Iodine tablets & relies on strong chemicals
  • Takes 4 hours
Water Purification Tablets, Potable Aqua, backpacking gear    

3. AquaMira Military Water Purifier Tablets

These are popular because they use Chlorine Dioxide too. They are individually wrapped, and kills off all kinds of bacteria and viruses including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Most people, myself included, won't find much of a difference between these and other Chlorine Dioxide tablets. Pros
  • Kills off everything
  • Slightly cheaper per pill than Potable Aqua Chorine Dixoide
Cons
  • Not as natural as Iodine tablets & relies on strong chemicals
  • Takes 4 hours
  • You must buy a larger pack size than Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide. Although cheaper per pill, your total cost is more ($21.95 for 50 pills)
  Water Purification Tablets, Backpacking Gear, Backpacking Africa for Beginners
These are the most frugal option. You get 100 pills for less than $10!  Supposedly this is NATO's top pick too. The downside is the active chemical (dicloroisocyanate) is the same one used in cleaning products and used to bleach textiles. That means it's very harsh, but still not as effective as Chlorine Dioxide tablets when it comes to Cryptosporidium.
Personally, I've never bought these and probably never will. If I'm going to pump my body with chemicals, I'm going to get something that at least kills off everything. And chances are you won't ever use 100 pills.
Pros
  • Cheap!
  • Ready in 30 minutes
Cons
  • Harsh chemicals for less results
  • Doesn't kill off  Cryptosporidium
aquatabs

What do I buy?

I carry both Potable Aqua water purification tablets with me on backpacking trips.
  1. I like the Iodine kind because it's natural and I've become one of those organic health freaks. They're also nice because like I said, I usually forget to sanitize my water until the moment I need it. Therefore waiting 30 minutes is much easier.
  2. But I always like having a few Chlorine Dioxide water purifcation tablets on me too. I use those for times the water seems extra, extra bad. For example, one time I ended up in a small fishing village in Tanzania. When I flushed the toilet, everything in the toilet came out the sink. No amount of Idoine can kill drinking your own shit that's running from the faucet. On the bright side, at least I noticed this problem before I brushed my teeth! :)
There's no good reason I buy the Potable Aqua instead of the Aquamira brand. Other than, spending $11 seems better than $21. But I'd actually get more pills at a cheaper price if I switched so perhaps I'll do that next time.
There are other water purification devices you can check out instead of tablets. But whatever you do, pick up something for the just in case shit-is-coming-out-my-sink scenario.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Clever Travel Companion Review

Clever Travel Companion: The best backpacking gear out there
When I was getting ready for my big trip across Africa, I bought a lot of backpacking gear. Most of it I threw away or it broke somewhere along the way. That's why I'm weirdly obsessed with my tank from Clever Travel Companion. It's one of the few items that actually immensely helped me during my trip and is still in perfect condition today. [Admin Note: Since writing this post, I've bought the
Clever Travel Companion black leggings too. They're awesome, but before ordering them check out my review... especially regarding sizing! ]
What is the Clever Travel Companion? The Clever Travel Companion was started by some pretty cool travelers. They basically created these items as an answer to the problems they were facing on the road.  (And on a random note, their customer service is awesome! I've had to email them a few times, and I feel like we're basically friends now because of how quick and friendly they are).    Clever offers secret pockets on your clothes. The passport size pockets are perfect for hiding your credit cards, cash, and of course your passport.
They offer a variety of different tank tops, t-shirts, underwear, and long john's that come in both men and women styles. Each one varies in color, design, and number of pockets.
Clever Travel Companion 3
How Does It Work? It's pretty simple. All you have to do is put your passport, cash, and credit cards into one of the secret pockets and zip up. You can also choose to squeeze your phone in, although it may look a little bulky. After that, you can either wear it as is or layer it by adding a longer pair of pants, another shirt, or a sweat shirt over it. That will conceal the pocket all together. All your valuables are now completely out of reach and invisible to pick-pocketers. More than that, if you are held up and forced to hand over your purse or backpack, you have all the important stuff still on you. Unlike money belts which every robber knows to grab, the Clever Traveling Companion is completely invisible to the outside eye. This not only saves you money, but keeps you safe. Because if someone does force you to hand over your wallet, you don't have to fight over it. You know that there isn't much in there anyways since most of it is in your hidden pocket. That means you can focus on what really matters which is getting out of the situation and to somewhere safe, fast!
How I Used It: I have the woman's black tank top with one pocket, and I used it all throughout my seven month backpacking journey in Africa.
It was by far the most useful, helpful, and best thing I took with me.
I wore the tank top whenever I was on a long bus ride, going through immigration, or in a city or area known for theft. Personally, I didn't like having the zipper show, so I always wore another shirt or top over my tank top. The best part of the tank top was the security and confidence it gave me. I loved walking around knowing that my money was safe. Let's face it, no one has cash to spare especially backpackers on a low budget. I also loved how safe it kept me. For example, one common form of robbery (all throughout the world, not just Africa) happens when taxi drivers take their clients to an unknown destination, steal their wallets, and then desert them in the middle of no where. Even if that happened to me I would still be okay. The driver could take my purse which I used only to carry enough cash for getting around, and leave me, but once he left, I still had my identification and enough money to get another way home or good hotel. I also used this tank top a lot when I was in the hostels. Sometimes there weren't locks or safes available which created a problem when I wanted to go swimming or somewhere else without my valuables. When that happened, I kept my valuables in the pocket, and then folded up the tank top and mixed it in with the rest of my clothing. That way if someone did go through my bag (because honestly, sometimes the worst thieves of all are other backpackers), they wouldn't see anything. No one would think to steal a basic black tank top, underwear, or whatever Clever Travel Companion item you bring. My tank top also came in handy when I went out for a run, to a music festival, or anywhere else when I needed a little bit of cash, but didn't want to have a purse.
Clever Travel Companion 2
Top 5 Benefits 1. Saves you money. You will never again be at the mercy of skilled pick-pocketers. 2. Saves you time. If your passport or credit cards go missing, you'll be spending the next few hours and days at the embassy and calling your bank. 3. Keeps you safe. If your valuables are stolen through petty theft or being held up, you become very dependent on whoever is willing to help you. That is a very vulnerable position. However, if your bag is stolen, and you have a couple hundreds in your pocket, you can find a good driver, a good hotel, and anything else you need. 4. Peace of mind. Both men and women will love this, however, as a girl traveling solo this is especially great. I felt much more relaxed about traveling by myself knowing that I was secure. 5. Keeps you happy. Getting robbed is a really bad feeling that can negatively taint your view of an entire country and your vacation. Don't let that happen. Keep your experiences positive and upbeat by taking away all the unpleasant possibilities.
Other helpful information: Good Quality. After my backpacking trip, I had to throw out most of my clothes. They were worn out, falling apart, and just utterly gross. Most of my shoes didn't even make it half way. Yet my tank top survived. It's still in perfect condition today. Sizes Run Big. If you are debating about which size to get, I recommend going with the smaller one. In the video above, I'm wearing a size small, but could easily wear the XS. Same goes for my friend, Ansh who is standing beside me. He is wearing an XL, but could probably fit in a size large too. The clothes seem to have a bit of stretch in them so if you are looking for a tighter fit, a size smaller should fit well. Order More Than One: If you've backpacked before then you know that doing laundry can sometimes be an interesting endeavor. During my trip, I did mine in the sink, in the shower, and even in a lake. (I even met a traveler who once did his in the toilet). With that being said, because I only took 1 tank top with me, it got a little bit smelly at times when I couldn't find proper laundry facilities. So for my next trip, I'll take my black tank top again, but I will also buy another tank top or t-shirt to go with it. This time I'll get one with the pockets on the side. That will give me two pockets and let me have different options for what to wear over it. I'll also order one pair of the underwear which is even more concealing and lets me wear any kind of top.
Clever Travel Companion 4 What Do Others Say? I'm not the first one to fall in love with this travel essential. This is what others had to say: “...no safer place to keep a credit card.”  -Lonely Planet Blog “pick-pocket proof”  -MSNBC “will fool thieves around the world”  -Trend Hunter “a smart and sneaky hiding place”  - LA Times Where to get Clever Travel Companion? If you want to get Clever Travel Companion for yourself, then click here or go to clevertravelcompanion.com. Remember, that a 15% off coupon for Clever Travel Companion comes with your purchase of Backpacking Africa for Beginners Complete Edition.  
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Travel Insurance

To prepare you for the unexpected, World Nomads offers great travel insurance that you can tailor to meet your needs.

Upcoming Events for Backpackers across Africa

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Book

IT'S FINALLY HERE!

Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Do you want to see the real Africa and make some incredible memories?

Published Date : Jan 15, 2015

Description : This book is intended for beginner travelers to africa...