How to Pack for 20 Days in East Africa

Packing for any trip can be a daunting task. How do I know Africa travel must-haves without ever being there? Most people overpack because they would rather be prepared for all potential scenarios, than be caught in another country or destination without what they need. I’ve personally always been a great (and light) packer. I almost always travel carry-on only. Even this summer I flew to my cottage with literally just an oversized purse. 

However, packing for more exotic vacations can be hard. I’m traveling to Uganda and Kenya at the end of this month and I’ve been going back and forth of what would Africa travel must-haves I need for this trip as there are a few things I need to keep in mind: 

  • Avoiding blue and black is suggested as these colours attract bugs 
  • Dressing conservatively
  • The weather can have high highs and low lows – dressing for both the heat, and the cold
  • Versatile pieces of clothing that’s suitable for camping for the majority of the trip

After reading a ton of other posts around Africa travel must-haves, and talking to some people who have visited these countries recently, here is what I came up with for my packing list. Note that I’ll be traveling for 20 days (including flights there and back). 

Curious on how much my trip to East Africa cost me? Check out my cost breakdown here.

An Africa travel must-have, my Eddie Bauer backpack.
My go-to backpack from Eddie Bauer


  • Pants x8
    • Grey & green lightweight Lululemon joggers 
    • Black leggings (always good to have on hand) 
    • Colourful genie-style pants
    • Athletic capris
    • Cozy sweatpants
    • Lightweight green gaucho capri pants 
    • Lightweight cargo pants that zip to capris 
  • Tops x11
    • T-shirts x5
    • Tanks (both athletic and just simple to wear under shirts) x3
    • Denim button down x1
    • Kimono x1
    • Merino wool long-sleeve x1
  • Sweatshirts
    • x1 lightweight and x1 heavier 
  • Underwear x18
  • Bras x2 (1 sports, 1 regular) 
  • Socks x18
  • Pajamas 
  • Shoes
    • Flipflops (for showering, etc.) 
    • Hiking boots 
    • Toms 
  • Swimsuit (just in case I need it for the showers)
Another Africa travel must-have is packing cubes to keep all your things organized.
Packing cubes are my biggest saviour when packing!

Africa Travel Must-Haves: Key Cosmetics 

  • Contact lenses (I wear daily lenses so I don’t need solution) & glasses 
  • Deodorant 
  • Moisturizer (face & body) 
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray (with deet!) & AfterBite 
  • Polysporin & bandaids
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste 
  • Shampoo & conditioner 
  • Soap/body wash
  • Razor
  • Eye drops

Tip: I’m packing a waterproof cosmetic case as I’ve been told things can get wet in the showers while camping and want to avoid single-use plastic bags. 


  • Malaria pills (don’t forget to start taking them before you leave) 
  • Antibiotics 
  • Advil
  • Gravol (both drowsy & non-drowsy)
  • Melatonin (to help adjust to time changes)
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Immodium (or anti-diarrhea meds)
  • Birth control pills
  • Allergy pills
  • Cold medication (both night & day)
  • Electrolyte packages (to mix in water)
  • Babywipes (who knows what the showers will be like)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toilet paper/Kleenex (you never know) 

Tip: Parts of Africa have banned the use of plastic bags. Don’t pack anything in plastic bags when traveling to those countries or you can be fined.

My must-have electronics for a trip through East Africa.


  • Camera (with a good zoom)
    • Extra batteries
    • Extra SD cards
    • Charger
  • GoPro
    • Extra batteries
    • Charger
    • Accessories (selfie stick, chest mount, etc.) 
  • iPhone
    • Kenyan SIM card (my friend had one to give to me, I’ll buy a Uganda one at the airport) 
    • Charger
    • Headphones
  • Flashlights (since we’ll be camping) 
    • Regular flashlight
    • Headlamp
  • Convertor/adaptor 
  • Portable charger (not sure how easy it will be to charge electronics) 
A travel must-have, Saje Arrive Revived, jet lag support.


  • Buff and headbands
  • Sleeping bag liner (we’re renting our sleeping bags through Intrepid) 
  • Pillow (they won’t be providing these for camping. I bought this one on Amazon) 
  • Garden gloves (for the Gorilla trek) 
  • Mini binoculars 
  • Towel 
  • Lock for locker (where our bags will be stored) 
  • Reusable water bottle (our tour vehicle provides filtered water to refill)
  • Waterproof/windproof jacket
  • Protein bars (you don’t want me hangry) 
  • Journal & pens 
  • Sleeping eye mask (I love the lavender one from Saje) 
  • Earplugs (who knows what kind of noises there will be while camping, definitely think this will be one of those Africa travel must-haves for sure) 
  • Sunglasses 
  • Hat 
  • Saje Wellness essential oils (I love the jet lag one, peppermint for headaches, and sleep one for travel) 
  • Waterproof bag for clothes in the shower (if there’s no place to put them so they stay dry) 
  • Scarf/pashmina 
  • USD currency (must be issued in 2006 or later or it won’t be accepted in some places)
  • Passport + yellow fever vaccination proof

Do you have any advice for what else I should pack for 20 days in Eastern Africa? What are those Africa travel must-haves I should have with me? Share below in the comments. 

Other Content to Read from my Trip to East Africa:

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  • Reply
    Tanis fink
    December 31, 2023 at 11:07 am

    Your list is amazing. I have been struggling with how much to bring. What suitcase do you use. We are travelling to Kenyan in late January. What purse and backpack did you take. Thank you for your help.

    • Reply
      January 6, 2024 at 11:07 am

      Hi Tanis,

      Glad this was helpful! So it entirely depends on what type of trip you are doing. I did an Overland Camping trip so it was very restrictive on the luggage I brought because it had to fit in a tent, and in a small locker on our bus so I brought like a 40L backpack, then a smaller day pack for a carry on/day bag.

      If you were going the more luxurious route, it may be more flexible on the type of luggage you can bring.

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