HOW TO PACK EFFECTIVELY You can't bring it all with you!In Brief... Some common packing mistakes are to pack too heavy. Pack half the clothes you think you need. We have a washer, dryer and iron. Many people mistakenly use their luggage as a sort of “security blanket”. Not knowing what to pack, they over pack. This is not necessary. We will probably have or be able to acquire most of the things you think you might need. Don’t over-pack. In our experience, you will not need more than one suitcase weighing more than 50 pounds (22 kilos) for your personal clothes and all your other stuff, unless you are coming for a very extended stay. We suggest using a molded plastic footlocker available from the Wal-Mart website. It has minimum weight to provide maximum payload of stuff, provides maximum space, and are sturdy and relatively inexpensive. And it is lockable. Heavy suitcases are just inefficient. We will also ask to you consider using your remaining baggage allowance (of one or two pieces) to bring supplies for the mission. More Details... Checked Bags: You must check with your airlines for current baggage regulations. Almost all the international airlines have recently changed their regulations and have reduced the amount of baggage allowance from 70 pounds per piece to 50 pounds per piece. On the international legs of your trip you are normally allowed two checked pieces each weighing up to 50lbs and the sum of the three dimensions (height plus width plus length) cannot exceed 62 inches. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are flying British Air from the USA to Tanzania, you will be allowed an EXTRA 50 pound piece for humanitarian / religious work. You should make the arrangement for this extra free piece ahead of time with your travel agent. When planning your itinerary and when checking in at the airport, it is important to check the bags all the way through to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Europe system usually goes by total weight of your checked luggage instead of two pieces and usually the free amount of baggage is limited to 44 pounds total which is 20kg total, instead of allowing 2 pieces at 50 lbs each. Under the European system, excess baggage is EXTREMELY expensive. It can be VERY expensive to re-check by weight once you are in Europe if you are only allowed 44 pounds and you have 100 or 150 pounds to check. Checking it all the way through to your destination (Dar) avoids any of these potential problems. If you are planning on touring in Europe, check carefully with your airlines for the implications for your baggage. They often have a time limit before you must reclaim your baggage. You may want to consider doing your European touring on the way home. When it is possible, we ask each of our visitors to limit themselves to one checked piece (50 lbs.) for themselves and make their second checked piece of 50 lbs. available to transport supplies for Joy in the Harvest. This is a huge help and enables supplies to flow into the mission. Some visitors help us by doing the purchasing and packing the second piece for us. Here is a chance to start helping Africa even before you arrive! Put your name, address, and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. I usually make labels on the computer and use clear plastic tape to tape three labels on the outside of each piece. I once had a label tear off and my box was in Europe for over a year! I usually include my flight information on the label as well. Lost luggage is no fun. You might want to lock your luggage with the special TSA locks. See this link for more info on this subject: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/locks.shtm.Luggage Ideas: With airlines recently reducing checked luggage weight limits per piece (from 70 lbs to 50 lbs), it makes sense to use light weight luggage to maximize payload (pilot talk for getting to pack more stuff in the suitcase). We have been using a type of plastic "foot-locker style" trunk that is the right size (length x height x width) and is light. They are available on the Wal-Mart website and I have found them at K Mart, Wal-Mart and other stores, from time to time. The Wal-Mart model number is 1320BK-1 and it is made by a company called Contico. They call it a storage trunk. Most stores don't carry them year round but they are usually available before college kids going back to school. They are cheaper when you can find them at the store -- usually about $20 each. Off the internet they are about $35. plus shipping. The are accepted as ordinary luggage by the airlines, including Air Tanzania. Baggage Considerations on the Flight from Dar to Kigoma -- inside Tanzania. Once you get to Tanzania you will be flying from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma aboard a much smaller airline – Air Tanzania or Precision Air. The 44 seat or 72 seat airplane used by Air Tanzania or Precision Air causes them to limit their free luggage allowance to 20 kilograms (44 pounds or so). You can bring much more on their airplanes, but you have to pay overage. If the total of your checked luggage exceeds 44 pounds, the excess charges between Dar and Kigoma are quite reasonable at about $1 per pound. We find this is actually pretty reasonable. Often you can get some of the charges reduced or waived if you tell them it is “for missions in Kigoma”. Exceptionally huge boxes cannot be checked except as excess baggage for which they charge, even if they are the correct weight. We can arrange for extremely heavy and extremely large items to be shipped from Dar es Salaam by air with air cargo or on the train and they will arrive a number of days later. THE REALLY DIFFICULT AND EXPENSIVE THING IS FOR US TO GET THINGS FROM THE USA TO TANZANIA. So use every pound of your free allowance from the USA to Tanzania. It is good stewardship and saves money moving needed supplies. IF YOU HAVE EXCESS CHARGES IN DAR ES SALAAM FOR OUR GOODS, WE REIMBURSE IT FULLY. Put your name, address, and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage. I usually make labels on the computer and use clear plastic tape to tape three labels on the outside of each piece. I once had a label tear off and my box was in Europe for over a year! I usually include my flight information on the label as well. Lost luggage is no fun. You might want to lock your luggage with the special TSA locks. See this link for more info on this subject. http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/locks.shtm.Inventories. We usually print out copies of complete inventories of all the items in each piece of luggage. It can help you through customs more smoothly. If Tanzania customs wants to know what is inside a piece, you can hand them the inventory. It helps. If a piece turns up missing, an inventory will let you know what was in the missing piece.Hand Luggage: Your hand luggage regulations will be set by the airlines in conjunction with the security policies of various governments. The airlines vary widely concerning hand luggage. Try to get all your medicine into your hand luggage. If you are a diabetic using insulin and needles, carry a letter from your doctor stating you need insulin (for airport security).Clothing. Comfort is all important in the clothing you bring. It is great if the clothes you chose can be rinsed out and hung to dry. We have a washer and dryer and do clothes almost every day. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. You won’t need very fancy clothes. Safety begins when you pack. To avoid being a target, dress conservatively. A flashy wardrobe or one that is too casual can mark you as a tourist. As much as possible, avoid the appearance of affluence.
- Women: In public ladies are required by social custom to wear dresses or skirts that fall below the knee. NO SHORTS IN PUBLIC. Showing your knees in public would be equivalent to a women in the states walking around without a shirt on. Although blue jeans or pants are not acceptable for women in Tanzania (such clothing is often thought to be the dress of prostitutes), it is a good idea to bring one pair of pants for going out on the boat, or sitting outside at the missionary bible studies, but they are not appropriate to wear in public. When deciding what shirts to bring, keep in mind that they not be too tight or revealing. Shoulders are another part of the body that needs to be covered when going into public.
- Men: Men can wear either long pants, or jeans at any time. Wearing men’s shorts is sometimes viewed by the locals at comical, but not offensive. It is best not to wear shorts in public. Men’s clothing is really not an issue.
What to Bring & Leave Behind: Carry the minimum amount of valuables necessary for your trip and plan a place or places to conceal them. Your passport, cash and credit cards are most secure when locked in a hotel safe. When you have to carry them on your person, you may wish to conceal them in several places rather than putting them all in one wallet or pouch. Avoid hand bags, fanny packs, and outside pockets which are easy targets for thieves. Inside pockets and a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest are somewhat safer. One of the safest places to carry valuables is in a pouch or money belt worn under your clothing. If you wear glasses, consider packing an extra pair. Bring them and any medications you need (2 full prescriptions) in your carry on luggage. To avoid problems when passing through customs, keep medicines in their original, labeled containers. Bring a copy of your written prescriptions and the generic names for the drugs. If a medication is unusual or contains narcotics or are for a diabetic condition (needles and insulin), carry a letter from your doctor attesting to your need to take the drug. If you have any doubt about the legality of carrying a certain drug into a country, consult the embassy or consulate of that country first. Make two photocopies of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver’s license, international license, and the credit cards that you plan to bring with you. Leave one photocopy of this data with family or friends at home; pack the other in a place separate from where you carry your valuables but is also secure. Leave a copy of the serial numbers of your traveler’s checks (if you use them), with a friend or relative at home. Carry your copy with you in a separate place from your checks and, as you cash the checks, cross them off the list. Bring the receipt (advice of payment) for your Traveler’s checks with you. You will need the “advice of payment” to cash Traveler’s checks in Tanzania. This is the little paper which they give you when you buy them. Bring at least two copies of inventories of your check pieces.Leave at home:
- Don’t bring anything you would hate to lose
- Valuable or expensive-looking jewelry.
- Irreplaceable family objects.
- All unnecessary credit cards or other valuable documents you won’t need.
- Leave with friends the numbers of the credit card(s) you do bring so they can be cancelled if lost or stolen.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary and our contact information with family or friends at home in case they need to contact you in an emergency.
- Have your will updated, along with some specific recommendations and wishes if something should happen, heaven forbid, on this trip. Leave it with family or friends.