Travel Advice Needed: Africa (Tanzania)

My wife is going to be traveling to Tanzania (from the US) on a business trip in a couple weeks and we could really use some advice. I’m checking around elsewhere, but folks here are so incredibly knowledgeable and helpful I thought I’d post here first. It’s the first time either of us has traveled to/in Africa, and while we’re excited we’re also getting a little nervous because we’re so ignorant.

Any advice or direction would be helpful, especially as related to…

[li]cellphones: should she rent one there?
[/li][li]iPhone/iPad: will she be able to use them or get online with them w/o breaking the bank?
[/li][li]cash: she got advice to bring $100 bills, specifically older year bills
[/li][li]credit cards: may not work?
[/li][li]power adapters/chargers: for her various electronics (Mac Air, curlers, iron)

Anything related to those and beyond them would be so appreciated, even if you only chip in ideas of other things I should be considering before I put her on the plane. I’m feeling a little flustered about this as the date approaches.

As always, thanks.


My co-worker is coming back tomorrow after spending 10 days in Tanzania.
He was backpacking around but I’ll ask him about how it was…

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My wife works periodically in Ghana, so I understand your flustered state. The information below may or may not apply to Tanzania, but it may be useful anyway.

One problem my wife ran into that was totally unexpected is ATMs and point of sale card readers that don’t take Visa, just MasterCard (or vice versa). It may be useful to find out if one brand or the other is dominant.

You can get adapters for all those electronics, but the challenge will be finding enough plugs in a hotel room. Get an adapter with a built-in surge suppressor, because there will be power surges. Buy a cell phone there–it’ll be unbelievably cheap.

Unless your wife is doing something really extreme, don’t worry too much about safety. She’ll probably spend the time in a strange bubble of non-Africans.

Large parts of Africa are socially conservative. Short skirts, shorts, and sleeveless shirts were inappropriate in Ghana. People in the big cities dress better than Americans–lots of coats and ties. Again, this may not apply in Tanzania, but it’s an important thing to find out.

That’s sort of a grab bag. I’ll post again if I think of anything else that might be useful.

Christien, I would ask my wife about this since she lived for several years in Africa and traveled among the various countries in the southern part of the continent quite a bit. Unfortunately she moved back to the states shortly after 9/11 so she wouldn’t be able to address your technology related questions very well. But I’ll ask her about the cash/credit card thing and any other advice she might have.

Get all your shots.

Be very, very sure how the climate changes throughout the day/night cycle and bring appropriate clothing. I was caught off guard in Namibia (southern Africa) how vastly the temperature could change. One of the best things I bought were pants that could convert into shorts.

Find out whether there is a malaria risk or not. Find out whether taking malaria medication outweighs that risk.

Everything in Africa is out to kill you. ESPECIALLY the plants. Everything has 3-inch thorns on them, so buy thick-soled boots.

The urban areas are surprisingly urban.

Keep all electronics covered and protected from microscopic sand particles at all times. My camera died within 3 days because sand got stuck in the…telescopic part.

Most people (in South Africa and Namibia) are very, very friendly.

I can’t answer your questions, but my sister has been to Tanzania several times, and, if I recall, she enjoyed hanging out at PizzArusha.

I have nothing helpful to add, but I wanted to tell you that I’m incredibly jealous.