Safari luggage


May 9th, 2015, 04:16 PM
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Safari luggage

I have planned a three-week journey to Africa, including a week in Cape Town and a 10-day mobile safari in Botswana. (Bucket list #1). The safari flight dictates my luggage for the entire trip - soft sided, no wheels, 24" limit. I am interested in the eBags TLS Mother Lode weekender Convertible.. Any experience with this bag? feedback? Other ideas?
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May 9th, 2015, 09:13 PM
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It's not as hard as it seems. I do laundry (or have laundry done) every three days, so I take as little as possible. You can also take a carry-on. I take a small soft-sided cooler (for some meds that must stay cool) packed in a Sierra Club backpack. Gloves, earmuffs or hat and a fleece jacket are musts. I pick a color scheme and make sure everything can be worn together - I use gray for my base color and mix greens and grays. I don't like beige for me. If you are flying through JNB to/from Botswana you can leave a bag safely at the airport for any "Cape Town only" clothes. Or leave them in your Cape Town hotel room with a note that the staff is welcome to have them (in addition to your tip).

I just pack a duffle bag (the correct size) and squish this into it for getting around the airports easier:
I find I can fit more in a duffle and they are easy to carry over my shoulder rather than a suitcase.

Have a great time. Love to hear some details. You'll love Botswana.
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May 10th, 2015, 08:08 AM
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I have used an LL Bean cavas duffel bag for two SA trips. Please remember that you need very little for the Botswana portion of the trip. Jeans/shorts and a few t-shirts will be fine for day and night.

My post in this trip report, on Nov 8, covers packing, and what NOT to take.

Here is portion of that report, on packing and what to wear:

"Apart from all that, aimed for first-time safari-goers, I will also offer this thought: Most of the other guests at our two lodges were veterans, and many had been to a dozen or more camps in various regions of Africa. Almost NONE of these lovely people were kitted out in ensembles of khaki safari gear--zip-off pants, Buzz-Off insect proof shirts, etc etc. (I did see a few cameras whose long lenses were shrouded in camoflauge, though)

What did they wear? Most of them (almost all Europeans apart from a couple from Johannesburg who were at Londolozi for the wedding of one of the Varty daughters, and one couple--he originally from Zimbabwe; she of French/Phillipine heritage, both now living in Singapore--who shared our vehicle for two days of drives, also at Londolozi) sported jeans, t-shirts in sober colors, regular sneakers/trainers with socks, and headgear that included quite a few baseball-type brimmed caps.

There was one khaki-encased older woman, a travel agent from Florida, and one of the few Americans we encountered, who had obviously done a lot of hunting of Africana souvenirs--her sneakers dangled furry animals from the laces and her tote bag sported other furry mammals, porcupine quill earrings festooned her ears and beaded Masai and faux elephant hair bracelets her wrists. Her logo-stamped clothing attested to the other camps she had visited. She looked faintly ridiculous. To me.

Apart from observing my fellow, more experienced, guests, I asked rangers, camp staff, and assorted South Africans and the consensus was: “When we go on safari ourselves, we wear jeans, comfortable tops and, often, baseball caps.”
I will remember this for next time! Just make sure to leave the bright reds and chartreuses behind.

As for Cape Town, the city is casual with a capital “C.” I could probably count the number of men I saw in suits on one hand (these seemed to be business travelers staying at the Mt. Nelson; we certainly saw no one wearing a suit and tie in any of the excellent restaurants we visited.) I wore black jeans almost every night in Cape Town, and my partner wore cotton trousers in a neutral color. Blue jeans would have been fine as well, as long as the ensemble was well-fitting, neat and clean and paired with footwear other than beach shoes. The general style of dress was much more relaxed than in our home city, New York, and more akin, I suppose, to California."
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May 10th, 2015, 11:12 AM
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Just a quick word about jeans- these may be practical if staying in safari lodges with good electricity supplies where they probably have washing machines and, more importantly, dryers. But in Botswana, even many fixed camps still do laundry by hand and it's air dried, as they are running on a mixture of generator power and solar. Certainly on a mobile safari, laundry will be done by hand and air dried, and you will be moving on quite often so there will be limited time to leave laundry hanging around to dry. So jeans are not the most practical choice as they take so long to dry. Lightweight quick drying fabrics would be much better than denim.
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May 10th, 2015, 11:53 AM
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stokeygirl - guess you didn't hear that 'jeans do not have to be laundered. And this came from CNN's Anderson Cooper and the CEO of Levis. What to say? What to say? As I have no words for this one... ugh! Guess unless someone is rolling around in the mud, no reason to launder.

I actually do travel with jeans, but most are so thread=bare that if they had to be laundered they'd dry in no time. And generally my jeans look good, fit well, and somehow manage to stay clean.

I don't bother with shorts as prefer to have legs covered to avoid any critters considering a bite of some sort. And even though mid-day is warm, am never uncomfortable.
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May 10th, 2015, 01:34 PM
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Yes, I meant lightweight jeans in the light, washed-out denim. Due to the nature of most denim, they do not show dirt as easily as some solids and are quite light.

My main point really was that it is not necessary to invest in a lot of "safari" gear, unless you plan on wearing it after the trip. (Of course, I did buy stuff before my first trip, down to the Tilley hat (which I do like); next time I will be less concerned with the "safari" look and more concerned with packing light and taking the right clothes to stay warm in early mornings and at night.
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May 10th, 2015, 07:50 PM
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My favorite bag for safari is the Rick Steves Convertible Carry-On bag. It holds a lot and easily fits in the small planes used in Botswana.
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May 13th, 2015, 09:06 PM
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I don't take jeans on safari and prefer light cotton pants or capris that air dry quickly and they're usually in khaki green. In fact I saw very few others in jeans most likely for the same reason.

Did the op ask about clothing?
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May 14th, 2015, 04:27 PM
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I bought some BugsAway treated clothing and a hat for our Africa trip and it will be going on every future trip that includes insects. Great stuff.

RE the OP, we had wheeled duffles, not a problem on all the small planes. We were not told "no wheels," just no hardsided cases. If weight is a concern, check out this Osprey bag from REI. Featherweight and was fantastic on our 3-week trip (all safari).
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May 19th, 2015, 10:12 AM
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We also used the LL Bean Adventure travel duffels. Ours have been around the world and back more than once. They are inexpensive, light weight, sturdy, can be monogrammed with your name for easy ID, really hold a lot and are perfect for the small planes. We each have a backpack for camera equipment, too.
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Sep 13th, 2015, 05:59 AM
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My wonderful African trip is now a memory - and thought I would give an update since I got so much good advice here. I ended up with a Timbuk2 Medium BFD duffel, 24". It was on half-price sale a at large outdoor store. Plenty of packing space, I cinched it up after packing. It fit easily in the small plane luggage hold for the safari portion of my trip. Everyone in my group had duffles, no wheels or hard sided cases. Although I saw duffles that were larger than the maximum of 24". But I truly did not need anything bigger.

I organize with the lightweight Eagle Creek packing bags and good quality ziplock bags for all the little stuff: a first aid ziploc, an OTC meds ziploc, a manicure tools ziploc, a plugs and charger ziploc, etc. - very easy to find what I needed in the duffel. Also the packing bags provide another layer of dust protection on safari - a big issue on this trip!

I put a lock on the duffle and a bright colored luggage strap to cinch it tighter - but did not have it plastic wrapped. It arrived intact and on time everywhere - with 3 planes and two airlines. From the USA to South Africa to Botswana to Zambia. All good.

Yes, it is very awkward for me to carry a packed duffel - I also had a messenger bag as my personal item - but the African airports all had free luggage carts or porters. (As opposed to having to pay $6 in JFK for a cart!)

Thanks for all of your advice. I had the trip of a lifetime!
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Sep 20th, 2015, 03:54 AM
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That JFK gouge is an embarrassment to those of us who live here...ask the cab driver to help you if it is all that heavy.....
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Sep 21st, 2015, 08:51 AM
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Yes, eks, I agree, but this trip already was my $$$ trip ever and worth every penny. I frowned at the $6 charge and then carried on with happy memories...
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