If you’re considering going to Ghana (or anywhere else, but that isn’t really specific enough), I’ve gathered my top five tips as you prepare to leave.
Pack lightly (and avoid white clothes!) : If you’re going on an extended trip, there’s no point trying to pack extensively for the whole time. Pack clothes that you can wear multiple times and that are easy to (hand) wash. Avoid whites! Everywhere is dusty, and you will not be able to clean it well enough. I can’t stress that enough. When I got home, the white clothes I’d taken were brown, and were never the same again. rip.
- INSECT REPELLANT
Take an abundance of insect repellent. – I got eaten alive while I was in Ghana, all in about thirty minutes whilst I was sitting outside, at night, without any repellant. As well as the obvious avoidance of malaria, mosquito bites in themselves are really uncomfortable, so it’s worth taking the time to douse yourself in repellent every time you go outside. Also, don’t forget your malaria tablets, and actually take them.
Make sure your phone is unlocked, or be prepared to buy an old Nokia – You can buy really, really cheap phones out there for about five quid, but, if you want to be able to access the internet, get your phone unlocked! You can buy really cheap sims, and data doesn’t cost that much at all. It makes it a lot easier to stay in contact with people at home. For me, this was the one thing I wished I had done. It’s a lot harder to get your phone unlocked whilst you’re out there.
Be ready to try new things. (And give people good warning ahead of time if you’ve got intolerances!) When I went to Ghana, I was a vegetarian, which meant I ended up munching through a lot of eggs. Alternatively, there was chicken and beef, a lot of salted fish, and loads of interesting street food. Be willing to try new things. Some of my favourites were Red Red, Jollof rice and Omo tuo. Don’t go in with any preconceived ideas and be willing to try new things, and you’ll be happy with what you find!
Be ready to embrace a different culture – I still have an incredibly basic knowledge of Ghanaian culture, so I only speak from my experience, but it is definitely worth going with an open mind, ready to adapt to a culture very different from your own. The dancing, music and cuisine are incredible. Out of respect, you use your right hand for almost everything (especially eating), funeral rituals are incredibly different (and worth observing), and deference to elders and religion both remain incredibly important. As long as you treat everything with respect, and are willing to learn and adapt, you’ll have no issues!
But most importantly, enjoy every last second. It’s really easy to get caught up in the nature of your trip, and even easier to lose sight of why you went there in the first place. Explore, travel, buy souvenirs and support the community, embrace how welcoming the people are, and return their kindness with your own. It’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable trip.