Mistakes I’m not going to repeat on this trip

besides falling off the top of a Land Rover in the Serengeti. Sometimes I think that’s the only part of my trip to Tanzania that any of my family or friends remember and it’s certainly the only part that they tell others about. I’ve been introduced to friends-of-friends only to hear them say “Oh! You’re the one who – !” Yes, I am that one; yes, I’m fine, but I have to tell you, it’s beginning to get old.)

  • Forgetting to bring a photo album. I’d been told to bring pictures of my family and friends and I did mean to – but I didn’t understand the significance and overlooked it. Not only did the family that hosted me in Dar es Salaam beg to see pictures of my family but every time I made a friend in Kikatiti I was invited to their house, served tea, shown The Photo Album, and expected to share mine.
  • Not buying travel insurance. I can hear what you’re thinking and yes, maybe I am insane. I’m not really sure how it could have helped – or if it would have been worth jumping the bureaucratic triplicate forms to reap the benefits – but I’m not taking the chance again.
  • Packing a full bag. I don’t think I over-packed for Tanzania, butI had a small backpack and I filled every nook, cranny, secret pocket and inside pouch of it before the trip and when it came time to pack up the things I bought…
  • Not making copies. I’d wager I’m far from the only traveler who, despite having been warned and knowing better, didn’t copy their passport. (I mean, come on. Do you have time to take every bit of abstract good advise you’re given?) That said, I’m making three copies this time and keeping them in different places. Along with my flight information.
  • Forgetting the sunblock. It should be noted that I’m (mostly) blond, (vaguely) blue-eyed, of Northern European descent, and after a field trip to the beach in sixth grade, had to go to the emergency room for second-degree burns. I’m still working on remembering to check my purse but, time after time, if I forget something – it’s the sunblock. (Well, usually socks, but those aren’t too hard to cope without.)
  • Neglecting to upload the playlist to the ipod. I went on a road trip to last week. I spent hours compiling a play-list the night before I left; it had to be versatile enough to handle a 7 hr drive up the 5 with a coworker I barely knew and be background music to a long weekend in the Berkeley and San Francisco. And then, tragedy, I hit the road without it. (The true musical tragedy of the trip, however, occurred when I jammed two CDs in the stereo. We had to sing the whole way home and it was not pretty.)
  • Crossing national borders without notifying my bank. There’s nothing quite like that sinking feeling you get after an ATM has spit out your card three times in a row and the cash you’ve got left wouldn’t get you a meal in your home country. Adventure is one thing but emergencies are another, and if I’m going to run out of cash it had better be because I’ve spent it all.

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