SA Travel Checklist - What to pack when visiting South Africa

SA Travel Checklist - What to pack when visiting South Africa

by Shannon De Kock October 18, 2018

There seem to be a lot of articles on "what to pack when travelling to South Africa" or "South Africa travel checklists" but when reading them, they seem to be written by overseas bloggers who have just done some research and compiled what it seems you need when travelling to SA.

So we thought it necessary to compile a checklist of our own, written by actual South Africans of what to bring when visiting the beautiful South African coastlines, cities or bushveld. We've left out most of the obvious stuff to focus on the gadgets and items you might not think about.

What to pack when visiting the South African beaches:
South African beaches, checklist, travel, what to pack for the beachSunscreen with a sun protectant factor of 50+

The South African sun is far more powerful than in Europe or North America. This is believed to be from CFC damage to the ozone layer around South Africa and certain parts of Australia. While in a European summer, you could get away without wearing sunscreen while outside for the day, in South Africa, you will burn, have painfully raw skin and eventually peel, losing your tan or leaving your skin blotchy.

You could also buy sunscreen while here as with the favourable exchange rate it could be cheaper in SA than in your home country but if you have a brand you prefer, best to bring that along. If you're planning a day out, we recommend wearing nothing less than a factor 50 and reapplying after a few hours.

A hat or cap

Even with sunscreen, you could get burned if you don't reapply regularly enough. A hat or cap is great for when you want to have a fun day out without worrying about the sun too much. There are many street vendors selling hats for affordable prices or you could buy one from a trusted retailer.

What to pack when visiting South African bushveld
South African Safari, What to pack, Bushveld, Giraffe, Zebra, travel checklistMedicine

Most game lodges are quite remote and you might not be able to find a pharmacy nearby. If possible, get basic medication for stomach ache of colds before you travel to the bush. Malaria is an issue in certain areas so be sure to check with the relevant people so that you can be prepared with Malaria meds if necessary.

Mosquito or bug spray

While Malaria is not an issue in many parts of SA, mosquitos can be! If there is a large body of water nearby or if you're staying in a tent, best to bring the bug spray to ensure you remain pest-free during your stay.

A head torch

When scrounging around for things in your tent or just wanting to go for an evening hike, a head torch can be very useful. Depending on whether your accommodation has electricity, or if you're camping, this handy gadget could prove very useful.

What to pack when visiting South African cities
South African travel checklist, what to pack for the city, South Africa, Travel, ParaglideA beady eye

It's always wise to be alert when in the city. Make sure not to leave your bag unattended or walk around with your cell phone in your hand. You may see many people doing so and forget but try to remain vigilant while still having a great time.


We always joke and say we would like to bring our friends along in our luggage. Travelling alone in the city, however, is not recommended. Even hiking alone is dangerous so make sure you only travel in groups. There are numerous tour guides available who organise group day and night tours. South Africans are generally friendly people and you're sure to be invited to a ‘braai' or party if you come across a group at your backpackers or accommodation.

Travel plug adaptor

This you could also buy once you've landed in South Africa but if you prefer to rest once you've arrived and not have to wander around a shopping mall, then try to get one online before you leave or enquire with the accommodation you're staying with if they have adaptors.

Tips from the locals

We asked our Facebook community what they would recommend a visitor to South Africa should bring.

One of our locals gave this great tip for no matter where you're travelling, "just in case" you lose your belongings: Bring certified copies of all your travel documents along and keep it in a different bag. Should you lose your official passport or visa; this will not replace the others, but will speed up the process of getting a replacement immensely.

Others mentioned necessities like travel insurance and a good backpack while one lady suggested a sense of humour was important in order to ensure you have an enjoyable stay. After all, this is Africa or TIA as many would say.

Would you add anything to this list? Post it as a comment below. We hope you enjoy your stay in our beautiful country!

Planning a trip to or within South Africa? Book a tourflightsrent a vehicle and browse accommodation now to get the best rates.

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Shannon De Kock
Shannon De Kock


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