Holy Crap. This time tomorrow I will be on a flight to begin the first leg of my journey to Uganda and Rwanda! I should be packing right now, but I had to get a few things written down.
My normal packing strategy is to bring half as much as I think I need, and twice as much money. But that doesn’t necessarily work for Rwanda.
It is a landlocked country and most cargo arrives by either road or plane, which makes some of the things I need both rare and expensive. Memory cards, batteries, and other electronic accoutrements can be a pain in the butt to find once you’re there. WiFi signals are rare and often weak, so I bought a LAN cable today. And if I want to charge my laptop and my camera battery at the same time, I need two different plug adapters. Snacks are not really part of the food culture in Rwanda, so I was also advised to bring things I could eat on the road or in my room if meals are delayed or if we end up in a place in the countryside where there’s nowhere that sells food.
Another complication – Rwanda banned all plastic bags in 2008 in an effort to keep the country clean. You cannot buy them in-country, and they are not allowed to be brought in by visitors. Bags are subject to search at the airport, and if they find plastic bags, they will be confiscated and you can actually be fined. And I’ve been told that depending on how strict the officer searching your bag is, Ziploc bags may be confiscated, too. This sent me into a mild panic, because I could not imagine traveling without my beloved Ziplocs. Shoes, dirty underwear, wet bathing suits, toiletries, electronics – all nestled safely and hermetically sealed inside those miraculous zippered pouches. A miracle of science, really. I totally get not wanting to have non-biodegradable plastics littering the streets – but what could I use as a substitute?
So as a replacement I bought some dry compression bags – the kind you use on camping or canoe trips – in various sizes. All my first aid stuff, toiletries, and shoes are in those. And one pair of the compression bags came in a zippered, sturdy plastic envelope – and that’s what I’m using for some of my notebooks. Granola bars, powdered Gatorade packets, and dried fruit went into a Tupperware-type container.
I’ve tried to prepare for any possibility – so I will not be surprised if fate throws me a curveball for something that is not covered by any of the crap I’ve packed into my bags! 😉