13 Things You Should Take on an Overland Truck Adventure in Africa

I returned in June from spending 40 days in 7 countries of Africa and camped 26 nights.  Before my trip, other travelers gave me tips on things to take that would come in handy and I did some research…so here is a list of some items that you should definitely take on an Overland Truck adventure!

1.  Peaceful Sleep Mosquito Repellent.  It doesn’t have the toxic “deet” chemical in it, is less expensive and works great!

2.  Duct Tape.  If you wrap some around a pen or pencil, you don’t have an entire bulky roll with you.  I used it a number of times and let others use it also for a variety of purposes.

3.  Audiobooks on I-Pod.  Many of the roads in Africa are bumpy and even if you have a cast iron stomach like me…reading from your Kindle or book does become a bit aggravating!

4.  Items to barter with, for playing with children, or to give away.  I took a couple of old t-shirts, 3 pairs of flip-flops from the dollar store, bubbles to blow for the children, and beach balls to play with on the overland truck and then give away to children.  If you’re worried about taking up precious suitcase room, you’ll then free up some space to bring home some African crafts…like their beautiful wood carvings.

5.  Headlamp (hands-free).  This should be number 1!  You’re arriving to your campsite, sometimes after dark, and putting up your tent is so much easier with a headlamp!

6.  Large plastic bag for clothes.  Many of the showers are very small and your clean clothes will get wet if you don’t have them in a plastic bag.  Actually, I had quite a few different size plastic bags…they come in handy!

7.  Rolling duffel bag with compartments.  Most of the people had a backpack and they would have to pull everything out of it to gain access to anything.  This rolling duffel that converts into a backpack worked great and I used my regular backpack for all of my electronic gear and other items.  I was able to roll it just about everywhere, rather than carrying!  If you’d like to know exactly what I packed, see this post.

8.  Sewing kit with needle.  A fellow passenger and I both used the needle for a splinter.

9.  Extra camera.  The camera of one of the guys on our trip malfunctioned because he used it at Victoria Falls!  When you’re traveling and camping through all types of terrain… sand, water, dirt, and having to keep track of all of your possessions, anything can happen!

10. Laundry soap & plug.  You can have someone do your laundry for you, but some places are rather expensive, so I do my own also.

11. Wet wipe sanitizer.  I also had regular liquid sanitizer, but the wet wipes were nice because it’s very dusty/dirty in the desert and just camping in general!

12. More $ than you thought you’d need.  I continually took money out of the ATM, even though I took $400 with me.  At one point I was a millionaire.  In Zambia, the Kwacha is 5,300 to $1 US dollar.  So, when I took out 1,000,000.00 it equaled $189.00.

13. Your sense of adventure and patience.  Being cooped up on a bumpy vehicle for 140 hours over the course of 20 driving days out of the 35 total tour days, with people of different age groups, nationalities and personalities, can be taxing.  I think our group did a great job of getting along together!  The rewards are definitely worth it!

On my trip, I broke my Kindle on one of the flights over to Africa, lost my expensive yoga towel (used as my super absorbent all-purpose towel), my Swiss army knife was confiscated at the Amsterdam airport on my way back (I forgot to pack it in my checked bag), I broke the wireless mouse for my laptop and forgot to take my camcorder charger.  I’m the type person that doesn’t let things like this bother me…because once its done…its done!

I hope this helped and have a great time on your Overland Truck Adventure in Africa!!

44 thoughts on “13 Things You Should Take on an Overland Truck Adventure in Africa

  1. So glad I found your blog! I’m doing Africa with G Adventures next month. Nairobi to Zanzibar, then Cape Town to Vic Falls. It’s been great reading your experiences and certainly gave me an idea of what to expect!


  2. So how does one fund all this travel? Are you just somoeone who wisely saved and invested and therefore can afford to do this, or is it possible to find a way to finance this? I would like to travel and write, but don’t sure how to go about doing this. Still need to work to eat.


    • You can travel cheaply…by couchsurfing, staying in hostels, working odd jobs as you travel or becoming a digital nomad. There are lots of blogs that give you all of the info you need to live that lifestyle. Here is a link that you’ll love…http://wandrlymagazine.com/blog/. I myself have worked my entire life and am tapping into monies that most would think I should keep for retirement…but I think its important to do this type of difficult travel while you still can!


  3. Great points. I’ve enjoyed your blog. I hope to do a similar trip next year. I’m wondering if there are items you took which you wish you hadn’t, things that took up a lot of space and you ended up not using much. Thanks for all your tips!


  4. From all the posts from your African adventure it seems like you had an amazing journey, Sherry! These are great tips too!

    However, don’t think I would ever want to cross a continent by an “overland truck” … it’s just not my cup of tea… I like freedom too much and treasure the moments in a local “Matatu” , dala dala’s, trains and buses, while sharing stories, food and laughs with locals… and of course the freedom of choice of getting lost whenever my heart desired…

    love & light



    • It was hard work! But to travel the way you’re talking about and see and do all of the things I did, it would take a lot longer and would actually be more uncomfortable than an overland. I know what you mean though as far as being able to mingle with the locals more!


      • totally agree about time and hard work.. I mean just look at that tent you had to put up / away every day!

        independent solo travel by no means is easy either…

        i don’t “mingle” with locals, but share a spiritual connection with another human being from a different culture… I leave “mingling” in Hollywood .. where it belongs..

        Also, know of a few scary stories from my friends who did “overland trucks” , where the whole crew got attacked with guns in Tanzania, demanding money…

        I’m glad you had a great time and that other travelers on your overland tour were such a great team.. but not everyone is as lucky as you…

        there are risks no matter how one chooses to travel – be it independently or with a pre-booked tour.


      • I’ve heard of people being attacked also…very scary! But, as you know we can’t live our lives in fear based on someone’s bad experience. As far as mingling with locals…sometimes it is just that and other times there is a more intimate connection. I think the same can be true of anywhere you are.

        I myself prefer to travel comfortably, but if it means I can see and do more by traveling uncomfortably…then that’s what I’ll do.

        Sending peace and love…



  5. Great list. I am getting ready to hike the Camino de Santiago – I see all these items in my bag! I would just add Ziplocks in with the different sized bags. Sometimes it is nice to be able to seal it up! Loved your adventures. Can’t what to start mine!


  6. Great advice… and boy, are you organized!! I love it, and find on my travels that the less clothing you take, the better (because I’m the queen of sink laundry) — and maybe if you’re going to Scandinavia next, I’ll come with! I’d definitely recommend Romania (I’ll be going to Armenia in September so I’ll report in on that) — and Turkey is one of my husband and my favorite countries!
    You really ARE a Travel Spirit!!


  7. Thanks for your recommendations. They are quite interesting to take these into account, not only in Africa but travel for all trips. A hug,


  8. I’m glad you made it back home safe and sound and full of great memories! I enjoyed your stories and pictures very much. Everyday, I checked your blog fore new updates. Thank you for letting me live vicariously through your camera 🙂 JW


  9. Good points!

    4. We spent a few months in SE Asia earlier this year and I took some big packets of balloons to blow up and give away to the children. Many of them were trying to sell me trinkets and were surprised when I gave them something instead. I got some lovely smiles and great photos!

    7. We bought new backpacks before our last trip and we did lots of research beforehand. One of the things that people mentioned was to get a zip-around pack rather than one you need to pull everything out of to get to anything. It proved very useful advice. 🙂

    I should think you need to also take a sense of humour with you, don´t you? 😉


  10. Unfortunately, I probably won’t make such a trip as yours, but fortunately I got to experience one vicariously! Thanks for all the stories and photos.


  11. There are lots of things that really come in handy when you travel. One thing I learnt from this trip: disposable underwear and I forget to clean them, dry them or suffer when they don`t dry and I don`t have enough to wear


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