Packing For An African Safari

Welcome to the 343rd Metamorphosis Monday!

This isn’t exactly a metamorphosis but in a way it is since it’s a drastic change from how I would normally pack for vacation or a trip. I guess you can call it a luggage metamorphosis.

When I travel to Africa in a few weeks, I’ll be traveling via “light aircraft” on two different occasions. On the smaller planes, suitcases with pull-handles and wheels are not allowed. The luggage has to be able to fit into the small luggage compartment of the plane, which means only soft-sided luggage (like a duffle bag) is allowed.

I figure this is a good time to use the Pendleton Weekender bag I purchased on eBay a while back.



I’ll also be traveling with my travel pillow, the one I’ll be using on the plane. It snaps onto the handle of the weekender bag.

Packing for African Safari


All important documents (Visa, Passport, Yellow Fever Vaccine Certificate) credit cards and cash will be tucked safely away in the neck pouch that I’ll be wearing underneath my clothing. This is the same little pouch I’ll be wearing when I head off to Italy in October. (It’s available here: Lewis N. Clark RFID Safe Neck Stash)


Lewis N. Clark RFID Neck Wallet & Passport Pouch


For fun, I purchased a cute Dooney & Bourke giraffe-print shoulder bag on eBay. I’m not sure I’ll take it with me since I’ll probably only shop in the nearby Massai Village market one afternoon. I think the Lewis ‘N Clarke Neck Stash will be the easier and better way to go.

Dooney & Bourke Safari Giraffe Print Bucket Bag


I may tuck the Dooney & Bourke bag inside my weekender bag to use when I stay overnight at Giraffe Manor. Do you think the giraffes will be offended? πŸ˜‰

Giraffe Manor in Nairobi


I don’t plan on checking any bags on this trip. Other than the Pendleton Weekender bag, the only other bag I’ll be carrying on this trip is a canvas & leather camera, laptop book bag I found recently on Amazon. I scoured the net for a bag that would hold my camera, a couple of lenses, my laptop, and had a fun “safari-like” feel. I was so happy when I found this bag because not only did I like how it looked, it has great reviews, too. It is sooo well made, I just love it!

It comes in several colors. I went with the one shown below called, “Light Coffee.”Canvas Leather Bookbag for Laptop & Camera in Light Coffee Color

My 14″ laptop (which measures 13.03 inches) fits across the back of the bag.

Canvas & Leather Laptop & Camera Bag

The yellow insert is designed to hold a camera and a couple of lenses. I have my laptop electrical cord laying across the top.

Inside Leather Canvas Laptop and Camera Bag


Underneath, there’s room for two lenses and the camera will fit in the center compartment. The camera will also fit inside the center compartment with a lens already attached and facing down into the bag. That’s the way I’ll keep it when I’m out on safari so I can grab it readily from the bag. It’s not a good idea to add/remove lenses in the field because of all the dust that’s normally flying around.

I’m only planning on taking two lenses with me: my Nikon 18-200mm and another lens I purchased recently for this trip. The 18-200mm lens will be my walking-around lens when I’m back at camp and wish to take photos of the room, the tents, etc…

Insert for Canvas & Leather Laptop & Camera Bag


The other lens I’m taking to Africa will be a Nikon 55-300mm lens I found in a closeout sale at Adorama. It will give me a bit more zoom and will come in handy for photographing birds here at home.

I’m probably going to take my Sony RX100 that I recently purchased for the Italy trip because I’ve read it’s good to have a second camera handy for when the safari guides are able to get closer to an animal and there’s no time to change the lens. Sometimes the animals come close on their own like THISTHIS and THIS! Yikes!

Nikon 55-300mm Lens


When I’m out on safari, I’ll be leaving the laptop back at camp.

Canvas & Leather Laptop & Camera Bag


Behind the laptop is another pocket. Inside that pocket is where I’m storing a super slim, portable hard drive that I’ll be taking on the trip.

Pocket Inside Canvas Leather Laptop & Camera Bag


This baby is super thin, yet holds 500GB of data! And it was just $99! I’ve been researching a good bit about how photographers protect the photos they take while on a vacation and they recommend lots of redundancy. You can never have your pictures stored in too many places.

I’m taking 6 good-size memory cards with me, probably way more space than I’ll need. Each day I’ll upload my photos to my laptop and then I’ll back them up on the portable hard drive. I won’t erase or format the memory cards until I’m back home and can upload the photos to my desktop computer, too. If you’re in need of a small, lightweight backup hard drive for travel, you’ll find this one here: Seagate Seven External Hard Drive

I plan on storing all my used/full memory cards inside my Lewis N. Clark neck stash. That way if the worse happens and my laptop/camera bag is stolen, at least I’ll still have my pictures.

I think I’ll keep my backup drive inside my Pendleton Weekender bag, once I’m at the camp and began taking photos and backing them up. That way I won’t have all my eggs in one basket.

Seagate Seven Portable External Hard Drive & Lenovo Laptop


I love this bag! The yellow camera case insert is removable so the bag can be used as a messenger bag, book bag or whatever.

Interior of Canvas & Leather Camera, Laptop Book Bag


For the trip over, I’m using the two front pockets to store my camera charger (with an extra battery) and the mouse I’ll be using with my laptop. I could have gone with a smaller mouse but I absolutely love this mouse! (You can read more about this mouse HERE.)

The side pockets are perfect for holding charging cables for the mouse and my eye mask/earplugs for sleeping on the flights. This bag is available here: Leather Canvas Shoulder Laptop, Camera Bookbag

Canvas & Leather Camera Laptop Bag with Pockets


Sure hope I can get all the clothes I’ll need in the Weekender bag. They will wash your clothes for you daily at Mahali Mzuri, if you wish. I’m only planning on taking 3 pairs of pants. I will probably take one or two pairs of shoes…maybe just one. This is going to be a very casual trip.

Pendleton Plaid Weekender Bag


I found the best deal on hiking/safari style pants this evening at Sierra Trading Post. They are on sale for just $29.95 AND I used the coupon code: ALSUNSET5 to get an extra 25% off, plus 50% off shipping! Such a great deal!

They are convertible, meaning you can unzip the legs and they become shorts. I doubt I’ll do that since I want maximum mosquito protection, but love the styling and how they look. I ordered one in this color and one in a Khaki color. They also come in black. You’ll find them available here: Zip-Off Stretch Micor Pants  Don’t forget to use the coupon code for an additional 25% off and half off on shipping.

Hiking- Safari Convertible Pants


Speaking of mosquito protection, this is the product that is supposed to be the best from everything I’ve read online. It’s the same thing the military uses. I ordered a tube of it this evening. I hate wearing insect repellent but I hate the idea of getting sick with Yellow Fever and Malaria even more. It’s available on Amazon here: Ultrathon Insect Repellent

Ultrathon Insect Repellent


Think I should bring along my photography vest bought in Banana Republic back in the 1980’s? πŸ™‚

Banana Republic Photography Vest from 1987


Anyone remember when Banana Republic sold almost nothing but clothing that looked appropriate for a safari? I loved shopping in there because it was so different from any other store. I noticed today, the tag in the neck says the vest was made in Sri Lanka. You never see that on tags nowadays.

Banana Republic Photographer's Vest from 1987


Looking forward to all the fabulous Before and Afters for this Met Monday!

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  1. Susan, thanks for hosting! You are so organized! I can’t wait to hear about your trip. I say yes to the Banana Republic vest!

  2. How exciting! Looks like you are all ready to go, Susan! Thanks for hosting! Hugs…Debbie

  3. Sounds like you have an amazing adventure planned! Good for you! …and are very well organized for the trip! Can’t wait to see your pictures when you return! …thanks for hosting Met Monday! ~Rhonda

  4. Susan, am so happy for you that you are spreading your wings and are going to do some more travelling and am looking forward to reports on your adventure to Africa but please, please stay safe. I myself have never been there, but one of my nieces had their vehicle over turned by a bull elephant and according to her it was a very frightening experience being one she will never forget. Warm hugs -Brenda-

    • Yikes…scary! I saw a video where an elephant was trying to push a vehicle around. The people were okay but the elephant ended up flattening all 4 tires! Glad your niece was okay!

  5. Peggy Thal says

    Looks like you thought of everything, Susan, for your African dream trip. Great collection of items for taking photos and traveling. Bet you bought some comfy shoes too. Just take along any meds you think you need. Also, take plenty of Airborne for your flights. Looking forward to hear about your trip and see your photos. It is going to be such and exciting adventure.

    • I think I’m going to wear my New Balance running/walking shoes. They are comfortable and I think will be good for this. I’ve got my Airborne…now I just need to remember to actually take it! Thanks for the reminder, Peggy!

  6. I am packing for a business trip and just thought of you as I dropped something in my bag. For the longest stretches of your flights you might enjoy a pair of Roll Upz. They are super thin, super light weight slippers that roll up into a soft sided little pouch that comes with them. They won’t take up much room at all in your bag and will make your snoozes with your new pillow even more comfy! They look like little ballet flats and have a bow. Super cute. Mine are gold which sounds a little glammy for a safari but they are just for the plane :). The outside of the bag says they are made by Spare Soles. I found them in a gift shop but you can probably find them on line. Have a good trip!
    Mary Anne

    • Thanks for telling me about those Mary Anne. I’m going to look them up. I’ve read that it’s good to take socks or something to wear on the plane since feet can swell on long flights. Thanks again!

  7. Well, aren’t you turning into quite the jet-setter! I love all of your bags! I’ve never been on a safari, but it has been on my list of things to do. However, I spent quite a bit of time in Italy when I was an opera singer. You will love it! The food, scenery and people are amazing. Also, the smells! LOL. Oh, and the sounds of the fountains. When I sang in Rome, we would have dinner at a restaurant that was located on the Piazza Navona. My favorite thing was to close my eyes and listen to the fountains. Heavenly! Thanks for hosting. Have a beautiful day. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  8. Susan, you are a brave, smart and well-prepared woman! I would take two pairs of shoes in case one gets wet. So excited and happy for you! Thanks for hosting!
    love and blessings~
    Lynda @ Gates of Crystal

  9. Susan, if you haven’t seen the Anuschka African Adventure bags, you should google them. Beautiful gift to purchase for yourself as a souvenir when you return.

  10. Love the D&B bag. However several years ago while dashing towards my next gate at Atlanta I heard my name being paged. Ran back to the gate. My passport had slipped out of my open topped purse! So grateful to the flight attendant who found it. I now always travel with a purse that zips across the top. Enjoy your bag pre and post trip but think safety first. Zippers also discourage pickpockets.

    • That’s scary, Pam! Yeah, that bag does cinch shut but I don’t think it’s very practical for this trip. I really don’t need a bag on the trip so I think I’ll just use it here at home. I’ve been using it the last few days and love it for everyday use. Thanks for that warning. I think I’ll just stick with my neck stash bag that will be under my clothing or maybe taken my Travelon back along.

  11. Love the Pendleton bag. Try the slim packing cubes (ebags) and fit all the clothes you need in it with room to spare. Thanks for the tip on the small hard drive with lots of space! Enjoy the trip. Gail

  12. Wow Susan – a safari AND Italy in one year !
    Can’t wait to see the pictures – and I’m going to order that mosquito repellent for the jungles of my Montreal backyard – because I have never been bitten the way I have been this year – I have marks all over my legs and back – it’s horrible !!!
    Thanks so much for the party !
    Hope you have a wonderful week πŸ™‚

  13. It looks like you’ve thought things through very well. My only caution is about the weight of the bag with the laptop, camera and lenses. When we had to hustle across O’Hare airport my carry on crossover bag got heavier by the minute.

    • I know, it’s pretty heavy. If I have room, I’m going to switch the plug/eletrical cord and maybe even the camera charger and mouse, over into my Weekender bag, to lighten it a bit. I just checked and it looks like I have a few hours between flights. Ugh. So, at least I won’t have to run. Hopefully the flights will be on time. I just got my vaccines today and my arms really hurt. Glad I don’t have to carry anything today…don’t think I could do it!

  14. You are uber organized Susan! Wow, you’ve really thought of everything! Now that you’ve got a giraffe print bag you are ready to go! Thanks for the Monday fun, it really gets the creative juices flowing for the week~

  15. You’re so prepared! I love the D&B bag and I need to get me one of those camera bags, so cute and it even holds the computer?! neat!

  16. Susan, you are so stylishly ready for your trip. I’m looking forward to your pictures. You have done such a good job of researching and finding what is best for your trip. I am seriously considering ordering that camera/laptop/ book bag. It looks like something I would use a lot, and I’m comfortable knowing that you have researched the options, and I can take your recommendation. I probably also need to see about getting some of the mosquito repellant. We have a terrible mosquito problem around here.

    • Thanks, Laurie, I love this bag! I’m so tempted to order it in green, too…but I can’t really justify buying two of them. I love how well it’s made. Good luck choosing a color. That was so hard for me!

  17. You are going to LOVE being on safari ! Hands down, best family trip we ever took! YES to the vest … all the pockets will be perfect for baby wipes, etc. … If your jeep is open air, it can get quite dusty. I remember we had to take tablets before the trip, during and after for malaria …. they caused crazy dreams …. possibly just a drug they only prescribe in the UK though! Have a wonderful time!! Looking forward to seeing your pictures!

    • Baby wipes…awesome idea! Adding that to my list. Yep, they have called in an Rx for the pills. I didn’t know they caused crazy dreams…not looking forward to that!

  18. Susan, your safari sounds like a dream! You’re my kind of gal who loves organization and planning. I have loved seeing all the items you’ve found. I even purchased a couple – the neck stash and the mosquito repellant. I provide the movable feast for all the mosquitoes in my part of the south! I can’t wait to see pictures and hear all about your adventure!

    • Martha, you and me both! Those things love me! I’m a bit worried about the tsetse fly…apparently even insect repellent doesn’t stop then. I’m going to try to stay covered up.

  19. Donna Tullis says

    Susan – I hope you have a wonderful time in Africa, we loved it for sure! What airlines are you taking over? We flew Emirates Business and it was WONDERFUL. It is an insanely long flight – we were flying for 22 hours and would never have been worth two nickels if we had not flown Emirates Business. And I totally agree, with the washing service you will only need 2-3 pair of pants at the most! Pack the lightest clothes possible, its amazing how heavy your bags will become when you are lugging them thru airports etc. We flew thru Dubai – honestly the most humongous airport ever, even with rolling luggage & totes it was tiresome. I honestly felt like my arms were dragging the ground! You will be so blown away by the bird life in Africa, I have never in my life seen so many vivid and colorful birds…I took over 2000 pictures and honestly cannot quit looking at them. Anywho, just pack extremely lite you will be happy you do and enjoy every moment!

  20. Wow Susan, an African Safari, that sounds amazing!!! I love the tartan Pendleton bag you are bringing. Thanks so much for the party, take care, Tara

  21. Omigosh, Susan!
    Africa?! Really? You are crazy, girl! (In a nice way, of course!) πŸ™‚
    To think that hubby thinks I am crazy because I love to travel to foreign countries though I am not sure I’d be that brave and plan an African safari! I fear the lions and the snakes! But don’t worry, it’s just me… I know people who travel every year to Kenya and they are still alive! lol Seriously, I’m so excited for you and glad you’re finally making your dreams come true!
    How long will you stay in Amsterdam? Or will you stay at the Schiphol, only? Amsterdam is just around the corner from me and I am often in the Netherlands, so if you’re going to stay a whole day or night, we could meet there and not in Naples! Send me an e-mail and let me know. I am still at the beach, although we’re having bad weather, but since I paid for this home I’ll stay until the last day of my lease and go walk on the beach with my umbrella! (Can you believe, hubby thinks that’s also crazy?! For him the beach is supposed to be visited armed with a sunshade, only, and not with a floral umbrella! Ha, what does he know? lol)
    ~Hugs to you~
    PS: Love that giraffe-print bag! πŸ™‚

  22. pam ~ crumpety cottage says

    Yes, I remember the ‘safari’ Banana Republic, lol. That’s why I loved it so much. πŸ˜€ And I love your safari bag. Very cute and perfect for your needs.

    Susan, you are so on top of things, it’s very impressive. You could do a blog with travel advice! Seriously. Good info. And what a great deal on those pants!

    I watched the videos. Yikes, indeed! If that young woman hadn’t reacted quickly and closed the door that lion opened, it could have been … well, I don’t even want to think about it. How about those cheetahs just jumping up there and hanging out? That guy with the big smile on his face though … I kept thinking of how many animals consider a show of teeth as a show of aggression. So please, keep you mouth closed when you’re near the animals!

    • I know…those videos are amazing!!! What stories they had to tell when they got back home! lol
      I miss the old Banana Republic. It was fun to go in there and dream. πŸ™‚

  23. I like Black Watch plaid anything!!!!

  24. Susan, you are so organized. Have you considered a pillow for the plane that you can blow up when in use and deflate and pack away when not in use? It would be more convenient and sanitary for you. Have a great trip. We’ve been on three safaris and loved each one. We’re going on another next January.

    • This one is so comfortable and I have 4 very long flights ahead. So you like the ones that inflate? Do they keep your head from tilting over to the side? This one has a really unique design that keeps your head upright.
      Janette, that is sooo cool! Where did you go for each of them?

  25. You’re so organized Susan! Thanks for all the links and travel info, I’ve been searching for a tote with a camera insert for travelling. Your D&B giraffe print bag is super fun and will certainly get you in the mood for your stay at Giraffe Manor πŸ™‚

  26. Lena Templin says

    How exciting, can’t wait to see pics. I hope u get to eat breakfast with the giraffe. Wear the vest, who cares about style when ur on a saraffi. Have a blast and be careful. Lena

  27. What a dream trip. Looking forward to living it all vicariously through your photos. Please, make sure you are current on your tetanus shot…and when my friend went to Kenya, she was advised rabies is fairly common, and to be very careful around the dogs running loose all over. I love your bags….one tip I got and use is to get one of the nylon duffle bags that fold into their own pocket and take it empty on the trip. It is small, but you can unzip it for room for souvenirs, or if one of your regular bags gets lost or stolen. Have fun, and thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

  28. Susan, somehow I missed your African post. I don’t know how that happened. I had to go back and read it. You will soon fill up your new traveled to map. πŸ™‚ I am looking into your travel/camera bag.

  29. You are so organized! I am so happy for you! Two big trips, that’s wonderful! Will you have to get any shots?

    • I just got back from getting three vaccines: Yellow Fever, Typhoid and Hepatitis A. They called in the Rx for Malaria. I need to pick it up and start taking it a few days before I leave. My arms are hurting like the dickens right now. They must give these shots in the muscle because I can barely lift my arms, they are so sore. Just took two Advil…that should help. I was hoping I could avoid taking Advil but, nope.

      • Hope you’re feeling better soon, Susan! I love hearing about all your preparations for Africa. You have in a very short period of time become a travel expert, no question. Thanks for sharing. :0)

  30. Susan,
    1. I love the camera bag and the BR vest.
    2. I would use my Travelon bag instead of the giraffe bag, for safety reasons.
    Zipped tops and side pockets are best when traveling and snoozing
    on a plane.
    3. You may have more room with a traditional duffel as they hold a lot of clothing, personal items, etc. I would leave the pretty bags at home, as someone just may decide they have to have them.
    4. You may want to think about some hiking boots to be safe from buggies and snakes!!!!
    You certainly are a brave girl.

  31. How exciting. I love all your bags. Thank goodness for the laundry service, I could never pack small enough. And I agree on the extra shoes in case one pair gets wet. But don’t forget to pack your own little pharmacy kit. Nothing worse then being under the weather and having to try and find familiar remedies in a foreign country.

  32. I specially love the Pendleton bag, although I have a couple of these bags you are sharing, but no Safari trip as of yet, lol!
    Great idea on extra shoes for this trip. I do use my bags on trips though. Yes, I take a medicine kit no matter how close I travel, never mind any country outside mine; I even take it to the USA.
    Thanks for hosting lovely lady and have a great week.

  33. You are quite the adventurer!!

  34. yes, take the vest, and no the giraffe’s won’t be offended-honored I think because it is faux giraffe, and so it shows you are recognizing them! They might even nibble at your bag…lol I might have missed something, but where are you packing your clothes? I saw places for all the tech stuff, and I’m sure you have a pouch or two leftover for clothes! The clock is ticking and we are all getting even more excited! (I don’t where you find the time to read all these posts!)

  35. Oh my goodness you will love your trip. We did Africa and multiple safaris last year for our vacation and it was amazing favorite vacation ever. We packed light only carried on and I am so glad we did, it made life super easy. While you will want to take pictures of everything try to take a break from the lens and really soak up being in Africa and seeing the animals. Have so much fun!

  36. Thanks for hosting Susan! The Africa trip sounds wonderful!

  37. It looks like you have everything you need Susan, you are so organized! I’m sure you will have a fabulous time. Can’t wait to see pictures of your adventure.

  38. It’s great to be so organized.
    I love that giraffe print bag. I have a similar print bag and luggage to match it!
    Can I come? LOL!

  39. Susan, you were reading my mind when you mentioned hiding the giraffe print bag while you’re at Giraffe Manor. You wouldn’t want to risk offending a possible guest at your table. I’m getting so excited for you. I almost feel like I’m going too.

  40. Susan, where have I been and how did I miss that you were taking a trip to Africa? I know you have the cruise planned and a trip to Italy, but Africa? So excited for you. I can’t wait to hear all the details. I know you will get some amazing photos to share. Looks like you have the packing and bags mastered. My husband has the zip off leg pants that he purchased for a rafting trip 15 years ago. He is still wearing them. I don’t think they wear out. Ha!

    Hope you are feeling better. I just read in today’s post that you are feeling poorly after getting your shots. Take care.

  41. Love, love, love your new laptop/camera bag!!
    I would say no on the giraffe handbag – conflict of interest, for lack of a better description.
    Hope you have a wonderful trip!! Take your meds, follow all the instructions for drinking water (or not).

    All the best!

  42. SuSan~

    Sounds like you have all your packing under control πŸ™‚ I would love to go to Italy, I kick myself for not going when we were staying in London it would have only been $59.00 grrrr darn me right !!??!! My friend has a niece that is a tour guide in Italy how neat is that!? My big trip this year is a girls weekend staying at the Biltmore Inn suite planned for October, my gosh we can’t wait!!

  43. YOU GO GIRL!!! EXCITEMENT!!! franki

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