Packing in a Carry On: Two Week Safari Adventure to South Africa, Bostwana, and Zambia

Packing in a Carry On: Two Week Safari Adventure to South Africa, Bostwana, and Zambia

October 2021

Packing in a Carry On: Two Week Safari Adventure to South Africa, Bostwana, and Zambia

There are rarely times when we travel that we are told you have to travel a certain way but for this one, our carry on packing skills were groomed perfectly for the safari challenge. Rules: light weight, earth tones, and no hard luggage bags- check, check, and check!

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Our trip was at the end of September into the beginning of October which means it is springtime in this part of the world – that being said, spring like conditions in the forecast were hard to find. In Cape Town, the weather was on the chiller side with mornings in the 50s and highs in the 60s. On the flip side, Botswana and Zambia were hitting 100 degrees in the middle of the day!

All this to mean layers were going to be key in packing light. Doing laundry was going to be a must on this two week trip. Another note for packing on safari is to avoid colors like black or blue to due attracting bugs and bright colors – name of the game here is to bled in with earth tons like khaki, green, brown. In looking at my clothing, I lean heavy in the black and blue category but have recently acquired olive clothes that would do just fine. I always find it difficult to justify purchasing one time use items for trips so what I had would have to do.

New gear for this trip

A “real” camera – Nikon Z50 Camera with two lens Kevin has been asking for awhile to make the investment in a “real” camera and a safari felt like a good excuse to finally learn how to use one. With the help of some photographer friends recommend the Nikon Z50 for a few reasons – it is small, it is light weight, it comes with two kit lenses, great for beginners but is simultaneously a good investment. Now I have always been happy with my cell phone camera so I was hopeful this would take our pictures to the next game.

For safari, we brought along a head lamp and binoculars. I also purchased a pair of quick dry active pants which ended up being the most important purchase I made.

Full packing list

The bag: EBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible

Packing cubes size small, medium and large

Small Packing Cube: Toiletry Bag

Quart Bag for 3 Ounce Liquids

  • Reusable bag (discovered plastic bags are illegal in Bostwana so ordered one of these after the photos were taken)
  • Tooth paste
  • Travel size body lotion
  • Travel size conditioner
  • Travel size face wash
  • Face moisturizer in repurposed container
  • Steroids/Aquaphor (for my terribly dry skin)
  • Insect repellent (going with a lotion is easier than a spray!)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen

Medium Packing Cube: Small Clothing Items

Large Packing Cube: Clothes

Main Compartment

Front Compartment

The Bag: Walker Family Goods Valley Pack

Electronics bag

Lower Compartment: Electronics

Top Compartment: COVID Gear

Back Compartment: Chromebook, travel documents


  • Travel documents – itinerary, confirmations, flight information
  • Arrival paperwork
  • COVID vaccine documentation
  • COVID test results
  • Passports
  • International driver’s license
  • Extra Passport Photos

Sling Bag

What I wore on the plane

Final weigh in! Limits with all the airlines were fairly strict but luckily when we had to weigh bags it was only our larger ebags backpack so stinking all the heavier camera gear in the “personal” item backpack was the right move. We were prepared to have to check the ebags backpack at certain points but never had to.

How did we do? Now that we are back, I can disclose even with this amount I way over packed. In Cape Town, it was so cold that I ended up wearing mostly to same warmest clothing items I brought. Flip that to safari were I was exclusively wearing the quick dry pants, a tank top, and the olive green button shirt. Thank goodness for laundry on every step of the trip!

Check out all my packing tips and tricks here!

To read all the details of our trip here!

To see our full itinerary here!

Read what to expect on safari here!

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