PASSPORTS & VISAS
Q. Do I need a passport to visit Africa?
A. YES. And yes, I have had people ask me that.
Q. My passport is going to expire before my trip ends. Is that okay?
A. NO. Your passport must be valid at least six months after the last day of your trip.
Q. Do I need a visa to visit an African country?
A. YES, with very few exceptions. African nations have yet to agree on a common visa scheme, so each country has its own requirements. One exception is the Seychelles, which requires only a valid passport.
Q. How do I obtain a visa?
A. IT DEPENDS. Each country has its own requirements — and its own fees. Find the Web site for the African country’s embassy in Washington DC — or its consulates in other US cities, one of which may be closer to where you live.
Q. I don’t feel comfortable applying for passports and visas on my own. Can anyone help me?
A. YES. Passport expediters not only will help you get a passport and/or a visa, but can get you the documents you need in less than the standard two weeks — sometimes in only a day. You have have to pay an additional fee for their service, along with the original passport or visa fee.
Q. I want to travel with my children. The youngest is less than 6 years old. Does he/she need a passport and visa, too?
A. YES. Even a newborn will need a passport. You also may be asked to produce an original copy of the child’s birth certificate.
Q. Help! I’ve lost my passport with my visa in it (or it was accidentally damaged or destroyed) — and my trip is less than four weeks away. Is there any way to save my trip?
A. YES. See the Passport Expediters mentioned above. But first, see if there is a US Passport Agency or Center near you. There are 26 of the across. Make an urgent appointment, bring ID and proof of your imminent overseas trip. They can hook you up with a replacement passport and visa in time to make your trip.
Q. Anything else I need to know about my passport?
A. YES. Keep it as pristine as you can. Authorities are suspicious of frayed, beat-up passports. And don’t get it wet. Since 2007, US passports are embedded with RFID chips for security screening. If immigration officers can’t scan your passport because it got soaked, you may have problems.
Q. Do I need to get vaccinations for travel to Africa?
A. YES, one in particular. Your doctor may recommend several inoculations for you. All should be seriously considered, but only one is required: Yellow Fever. It’s extremely contagious and can kill within days.
On your arrival, screening officers may ask to see your International Certificate of Inoculation and Prevention, aka the “Yellow Fever card” or yellow card,” signed and dated by person who vaccinated you. Without it, you may not be allowed out of the airport.
Q. I take a lot of prescription medications. Am I okay to bring them all with me?
A. YES. Just keep them in the bottles provided by the drug store or hospital — especially if you take prescription-strength painkillers. And always keep them with you, not in checked bags. Make sure you have enough for the entire trip, and ask your doctor for copies of your most important prescriptions to brig with you, just in case.
Q. Do I need to be vaccinated against diseases like malaria, the Zika virus or chikungunya?
A. NO. Vaccines against those illnesses aren’t yet available. For now, your only real defense is to protect yourself against mosquito bite
Q. Is travel insurance required?
A. IT DEPENDS. Travel insurance is always highly recommended. On some tours involving high-risk activities, travel insurance will be required. On other tours, it will be optional, but you be required to sign a waiver saying that you had been advised to get travel insurance and declined. The major element in travel insurance covers medical care in-country and medical evacuation back to your hometown.
Q. Do Medicare or Medicaid cover me when I travel?
NO, generally speaking. Exceptions exist but are extremely rare. They definitely will not cover a medical evacuation flight back to the United States, the cost of which can run in excess of $100,000 for one patient.
Q. Does Trips by Greg offer travel insurance?
A. YES. We make travel insurance coverage through Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection ad Allianz. Travelers are free to purchase their insurance through us or another company if they prefer.
If you have other questions that weren’t answered here, send me an email at email@example.com.