Top 10 Things to Pack for Study Abroad in Ghana

Participants on the ThisWorldMusic/UMASS summer Study in Ghana program. Pack smart, stay happy!

With the ThisWorldMusic/UMASS summer 2012 Study in Ghana program on the horizon, I thought I’d share some packing tips we give trip participants. Although a standard packing list is easy to come by, these 10 lesser known items are must haves for anyone planning to study in Ghana:

  1. Spare duffel bag: You sometimes get two free checked bags when you fly to Ghana. Check only one, but be sure to stuff a spare duffel bag inside. Fill the duffel bag with souvenirs during the course of the trip, then check it as your second bag on the return flight home.
  2. Zip-off pants: Use these as shorts on hot days, then zip the pant legs back on at sunset to protect against mosquitos at night. Plus, they’re quick-drying and have lots of zipper and velcro pockets that are useful when traveling.
  3. Quick-dry towel: No one likes a mildewy towel and conventional bath towels are notoriously slow to dry in Ghana’s humid climate. Places like EMS and REI carry towels made with quick-dry material. Trust me, it’s worth it.
  4. Powdered Gatorade: Important for keeping your electrolytes replenished. Always mix with bottled water, as most running water in Ghana is not potable. Staying hydrated when you study in Ghana is essential.
  5. Hand sanitizer/antibacterial wipes: Bring copious amounts of both. It’s not always easy to find proper hand washing facilities when you study in Ghana, especially when you’re on the road or in rural areas. The wipes have the same antibacterial properties as liquid hand sanitizer products like Purell but are much better for getting off dirt.
  6. Sunscreen: Ghana is right near the equator, so don’t mess with the sun, son! Also, certain malaria prophylaxes (doxycycline in particular) can significantly increase sensitivity to sun exposure.
  7. Mosquito repellent: Aim for one that contains 25%-50% DEET, the active ingredient that keeps the mosquitos at bay. Lower than 25% won’t repel adequately, but DEET is strong stuff (read: mildly toxic) and not markedly more effective above 50%.
  8. UK adapter for electronics: To make sure you get exactly the right kind, take a look at electrical outlets in Ghana here.
  9. Credit card: Bringing a credit card when you study in Ghana won’t do you much good in terms of making purchases. Even if you’re willing to pay the exorbitant international transaction fees, credit cards are accepted in very few places. However, in order to check in for your flight, there is a good chance you will be asked to provide the credit card used to purchased the plane ticket. This is the physical card itself, not just the number. Find out from your airline prior to the day of travel.
  10. Visa branded ATM card: Mastercard branded debit cards will be rejected by most ATM machines in Ghana, so make sure yours features the Visa logo. If your ATM card is not on the Visa network, you have two options: i) go to your bank and request a Visa debit card; ii) purchase a Visa prepaid debit card. Also, as with most international travel, you’ll need to change your PIN to 4 digits in order for it to work on Ghanaian ATM machines.

Want more tips on how to study in Ghana like a pro? Check back here for more blog posts, and stay in the loop by signing up for our email newsletter at the top right of the page. Happy travels!

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