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On The Road Again - Pushing Past Pandemic Travel Concerns

Updated: Jan 17

2020 Was Supposed To Be...

This year was supposed to be the year where I traveled to 10+ African countries. After being featured in Travel Noire, Black Enterprise and numerous local, national and international media outlets, momentum was starting to build and THEN...

We all know what happened and how life came to a screeching halt for most of the world. Many of my friends in the travel industry suffered and are suffering major losses (especially in the cruise industry). Needless to say, life as we knew it drastically changed for the foreseeable future.

When the virus reared it’s ugly head, the world shut down and so did all of my Africa travel plans. Being a responsible global and local citizen, I stayed home, social distanced and did my part to stop the spread (as suggested). Most of us did not know much about the virus and I did not want to get sick or be the cause of someone else getting sick. I was devastated by this unexpected turn of events but I knew 2020 should not and would not be a bust.

How Did I Respond?

When the world went on lock down in March, I was preparing to visit Sierra Leone 🇸🇱 , Liberia 🇱🇷 , Ivory Coast 🇨🇮, Cameroon 🇨🇲 and a quick stop in Ghana 🇬🇭 in April. The tickets were purchased and I was ready to go. I also had Senegal 🇸🇳 , Angola 🇦🇴 and South Africa 🇿🇦 in the works.

Oftentimes an unexpected event opens the door to other opportunities. That is what happened in my case. Although I couldn’t visit these countries, I could still invest in them. That’s what it did. I bought a condo in Accra, Ghana so that when travel returned, I would have a place to stay in Ghana.

I realized that I could also write about my experiences while visiting the countries in Africa in an effort to change the negative narrative many of us are familiar with. Hopefully this would inspire our children to want to visit one day. Well, I did that too. While we were on lockdown, I wrote a seven book children’s series about traveling to different countries in Africa and other African Disapora destinations. Needless to say, I made the most of the time. The first two Adventures of Darren and Destiny are available on Amazon. Just search Darren and Destiny and the Ghana and the Safari books will come up.

Why did I decide to travel back to Africa now vs waiting until next year?

The pandemic has reportedly not affected most of the countries in Africa the same way the rest of the world has been affected. Many of the countries in Africa acted quickly to prevent the virus from entering their country. As a result, the virus was not able to spread the same way it did other places (according to reports). There has been some debate as to how some of these countries reported or simply didn’t report but their proactive responses appeared to have an impact in limiting the spread.

Why Now?

One of the main reasons why I feel more comfortable traveling to Africa now is because of the requirements to enter the respective countries. There is a level of screening that is required that could even serve as a deterrent for some who might not take this process seriously.

What Did I Do?

Planning for international travel

1. I researched the COVID 19 restrictions for each country I was interested in traveling to. I was not interested in traveling anywhere I could run the risk of a forced quarantine (at my expense).

2. I also made sure I researched the proper test that each country required for entry and the timeline prior to departure they would accept as a valid test.

3. I researched the locations and pricing of rapid PCR COVID tests. My research revealed that the timing of the test was important if I wanted to be compliant and avoid any issues.

4. After all of my research, I settled on a destination (Tanzania) for my first trip back to Africa since COVID. I made this decision for several reasons. The first reason was the fact that Tanzania had a relatively simple entry process compared to other countries. There was no risk of a quarantine and the E-Visa process was straightforward and simple.

The Process

* Again, I chose a destination that tied into my overall mission to promote travel to different countries in Africa while not being a COVID hotspot.

* I chose Tanzania because I was familiar with it due to my successful Mt. Kilimanjaro climb and safari trip in 2019.

* Once I decided to return to Tanzania, I booked my flight from Dulles to Kilimanjaro using the points I had accumulated.

* I chose an airline (Ethiopian) that offered flexible cancelation and change options in the event I needed to make any modifications.

* After securi