A Peek in My Suitcase: South Africa & Botswana

I leave in less than a week for another blissful safari vacation!  I am commonly asked what to pack for an African safari and you can find some tips in my previous blog post.

For this trip, we are doing a self-drive through Kruger National Park, then spending 4 nights at Arathusa Safari Lodge in Sabi Sands, 3 nights at Chobe Bakwena Lodge in Botswana, followed by a week in Cape Town and Franschhoek.  In total, I will be gone for a little over 3 weeks. It's always challenging to pack for safari trips due to luggage restrictions but thankfully we are flying all commercial this time so normal baggage requirements are suffice.  

That doesn't mean I plan on overpacking but actually plan on packing less than ever before to save plenty of room for South African wine in my bag. :)  

Here's what I'm taking with me:

My Non-Negotioables/Carry-On

I am taking my small travel purse and a backpack to house all of our camera equipment.  I'll have my makeup bag and phone charger in my backpack as well but it will mostly be the picture below.  Pro tip - ALWAYS pack a spare pair of undies and change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case your luggage goes missing.  My Lululemons and a black long sleeve shirt will keep the cameras cushioned.  

Gulick Camera Breakdown - including a light bean bag courtesy of mom

Gulick Camera Breakdown - including a light bean bag courtesy of mom

Inside My Suitcase

I scored an excellent deal at Burlington Coat Factory on this Bric's soft-sided rolling duffle last year and it held up very well in our past travel excursions.  It's going with me again this year!

Inside, I have shirts, pants, and a skirt that can be interchanged with almost every other piece.  I did this on purpose to keep my packing very light.  I am a big advocate of packing cubes too as they keep my undies and shoes separate & clean and help me stay organized.  

I love my packing cubes. I got these on Amazon.

I love my packing cubes. I got these on Amazon.


We're spending a solid week in Cape Town and Franschhoek so I wanted to include items that can be worn there too without looking like a mega-tourist.  

A full breakdown includes:

  • 2 pairs of khaki pants (one is green)

  • 2 pairs of jeans

  • 1 navy pleated skirt

  • 1 black casual dress

  • 6 t-shirt tops (2 green, 4 white/ivory)

  • 2 button down tops

  • 1 bell-sleeved sweater

  • 3 long sleeve shirts (black/blue)

  • 1 scarf

  • 1 pair of tennis shoes

  • 1 pair of sandals

  • 3 pairs of socks

  • 1.5 weeks worth of underwear

  • Spare contacts

  • Face wipes

  • Razor

  • Shout wipes

  • 1 small container of hand sanitizer

  • Dry shampoo

  • 2 10-packs of Cottonelle wipes

  • 1 hair brush

  • 1 bathing suit

  • Not pictured - 1 tan safari jacket purchased online - similar here

It still feels like a lot to me but it packs down really well and leaves plenty of room to bring home goodies.  

Here's a list of common travel items I'm NOT taking and why:

  • Toothbrush - comes in our amenity kit on the plane ride there

  • Lotion - comes in our amenity kit

  • Hair dryer/hair curler/hair straightener - hotels will always have a hair dryer and the animals don't care

  • Outfit "choices" - you should be packing for less days than you'll be gone - not the other way around

  • Evening clothes - Africa in general is very lax in regards to fashion so jeans and a top are more than appropriate for nice dinners out

  • Vitamins - I take a multi-vitamin at home but found that it was cumbersome to travel with these. I usually leave them behind and pick up my routine when I get back.

  • My laptop - we purchased a small, lightweight laptop for $150 last year and I use that to remote-desktop into my computer at home to avoid carrying my 7lb machine around. Safari camps usually have spotty wi-fi anyways so I work almost exclusively from my phone. I have carried it on other trips but for this one, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

  • Travel pillow/blanket/etc. - Because we're flying at least business the entire way, the travel accessories stay at home. Cathay provides blankets (and down comforters) and pillows for our comfort

That's it guys!  Like I said, I may still take out a few shirts that I feel are excessive (6 t-shirts is a lot to me) but that's all I'm taking with me.  My record to date for bottles of wine in my suitcase is currently sitting at 14 so I'm going to see if I can top this on this trip. :) 

For those interested, here's where we're staying:

Protea Kruger Gate, a Marriott property

Patio at the Kruger Gate Protea

Patio at the Kruger Gate Protea

Bush-facing Villa at Arathusa

Bush-facing Villa at Arathusa

Dinner time at Chobe Bakwena

Dinner time at Chobe Bakwena

How could we ever tire of this view in Cape Town?

How could we ever tire of this view in Cape Town?

Our cottage overlooking the vineyard

Our cottage overlooking the vineyard

*Don't forget to purchase Air BnB gift cards at Kroger to earn fuel points or online when they're 20% off! 

Can't wait to share it with all of you!  Be sure you Like us on Facebook to follow our adventures!