“I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.”
My trip to Ghana was such an amazing and eye opening experience that I think everyone should bask in at least once in their life. I’m already so excited to return back and when I do, I will be very prepared. There were a lot of things that I had to do to get myself ready for Ghana and I want to share them with you all as a little check list for your trip.
1. Before you book your flight, check to see if your passport is up to date. You will need it to leave out of the country amongst many other reasons, so make this the very first thing that you do just in case you should need a little time to update it.
2. Yellow Fever is the required vaccine for Ghana but you can get others vaccines like hepatitis, measles, rabies etc… I only got the yellow fever shot and it ran me close to $300. It is not cheap but it last for a lifetime so if you decide to visit Ghana or any other country that required yellow fever, you will be covered. The clinic will give you a mini yellow booklet for you to place with your passport as you will need to show it several times throughout your travel. Inside of the booklet is record of your vaccine(s).
You want to get your shot as soon as possible because yellow fever in particular is very high in demand so depending on your location it may take a while to get an appointment.
3. It is mandatory to have a Visa for Ghana. I went directly through the embassy which only cost $100. However, I got mine expedited because I underestimated the days that I had left before my departure and I wanted to make sure that my Visa arrive in time. That ran me an additional $100 but it put my mind at ease. I sent my info and physical passport to the embassy on a Thursday and it was back in my possession by Monday. There are two Visa options, Single entry or multiple entry. This is another factor that will affect the price. The visa I got was $100 because I chose multiple entries which will allow me to travel in and out of the country without applying for a new visa for up to 36 months.
· There are two Ghana Embassy’s in America, one in Washington D.C and the other in Texas. Texas only offers expedited Visa’s, while D.C offers both standard and expedited. If you are near either location, it is quite possible for you to walk in, submit your application and leave with your Visa on the same day. Here are the links to both Embassys:
· You also have the option to go through third-party companies if you’d like but most companies charge between $360-$450 to complete your application and send it to the embassy on your behalf. It is a complete waste of money in my opinion and trust me, you will need the extra few hundred bucks for everything else that will follow this step.
· The embassy application is not as intimidating as it sound. It took me a total of 45 minutes to gather everything, fill it out and head to the post office to mail it off.
Ø Here is a link to check off everything that you will need to send the embassy for your visa application.
4. Malaria Tablets. You will need these to prevent and protect you from Malaria while you’re in Africa. Malaria is carried by mainly mosquitoes and spread by other human beings and animals. There are several different tablets on the market but the ones I took instructed me to take them 2 days prior to my trip, the whole duration of it and 7 days once I returned. Yes it does seem like a lot, especially if you’re like me and rarely take medicine but it will be well worth it when you return home perfectly healthy.
Ø In Ghana’s airport before going through TSA they scan your forehead like the zombie apocalypse to make sure you do not have malaria symptoms.
5. Where are you staying? You actually need this information before you apply for your visa. On the application you will need to provide detailed information about where you are lodging and if you are staying with a family member or friend. If you are, be sure to include a letter from them attached to your application. Remember the more information included the better or at least those are my thoughts about it because you can in fact be denied access. They are wanting to know why you are requesting permission into their country so they more detailed you are, the more likely you will receive your visa with no problem.
If it is a hotel that you are staying at, no worries! Print out your booking info and attach it. Hotel name, number, address etc…
6. Pre-spray your clothes with mosquito repellent I used Sawyers spray that I got from Amazon. It lasts up to 6 weeks or 6 washes, and I didn’t get one mosquito bite until the very last day of my trip when I wore a dress that had not been sprayed. I did purchase other repellents but I only used them when I went to cape coast because I felt more comfortable with the extra protection on exposed skin.
7. Pack Benadryl. 2 days before I left I was bitten by a spider. My entire body broke out in hives followed by an almost unbearable itch. Once I took the Benadryl, everything cleared up within an hour.
8. Any snack that you think you may need and want, PACK IT! They do not have a lot of the things that we are used to eating in America and some of our similar foods are a bit expensive there. i.e: a bottle of my favorite hot sauce is normally $3 here in the states. It was $8 in Ghana.
9. Water. Only drink waters that are sealed. Their water is not as clean as it should be, therefore it will react negatively in your body. They have waters that come inside of bags as well. Do not drink it, I was told that it is not the same purified, mineral or still water that comes in a bottle. So I don’t care how thirsty you are or how hot it is, find a sealed bottle!
10. Currency. When you change your money over be sure to do a little at a time. Our money (usd) has an amazing exchange rate in Ghana so $100 will roughly get you 500 cedis. Spend all of it because converting it back to usd is worthless honestly. I kept a currency converting calculator on my phone to help with pricing, shopping etc…
Overall, once you get the major things taken care like your passport, visa, yellow fever shot and malaria tablets. Your trip will run smoothly ESPECIALLY if you follow these steps. You should have no trouble getting what you need before you take off.