Frequently Asked Questions
PASSPORTS & VISAS
Q. Do I need a passport to visit African countries?
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. If you travel on an expiring or expired passport, you may not be allowed to enter your destination country — or return home. At the very least, you can expect a long and unpleasant visit with US immigration. Better to just renew your passport after nine years and not worry about it.
Q. Do I need a visa to visit an African country?
A. YES. Unlike the European Union, the nations of the African Union have yet to agree on a common visa scheme, which means that each African country you visit will require its own visa.
Q. How do I obtain a visa?
A. Each country has its own requirement — 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. You’ll find the information you need on how to get your visa, along with the application, which you can download or print directly from the site.
The requirements are usually pretty basic. The application, filled out and signed. At least two passport-sized photos of yourself. And your valid US passport (yes, you do have to send in your passport! Don’t worry; you’ll get it back.). And course, payment for the visa fee. Most embassies complete this process in two weeks or so, but you’re better off not waiting that long unless you have to.
Q. I don’t feel comfortable applying for passports and visas on my own. Can anyone help me?
A. YES. There are businesses called passport expediters that not only will help you get a passport and/or a visa, but can get you the documents you needing 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. But for speed as well as peace of mind, it could be worth it.
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. A passport expediter can help replace your lost docs. But check first to see if there is a US Passport Agency or Center near you. There are 26 of them across the country, are just as fast as the expediters and cheaper. Make an urgent appointment, bring ID and proof of your imminent overseas travel. In all the most extreme cases, they can hook you up.
Q. Anything else I need to know about my passport
A. YES. Keep it as pristine as you can. Frayed, beat-up passports will draw you some serious side-eye from US immigration. And don’t let it get wet. Since 2007, US passports are embedded with RFID chips for security screening. If that chip is killed because your passport got soaked, it could mean long delays getting home.
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.
Yellow Fever is extremely contagious and can kill within days. On your arrival, screening officers will want to see your International Certificate of Inoculation and Prevention, aka the “Yellow Fever card” or "yellow card.” Signed and dated by the person who vaccinated you against Yellow Fever. Without it, you may not get out of the airport.
Q. I take a lot of prescription medications. Will I get hassled if I bring them all with me?
A. NO. 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 luggage. It’s also a good idea to stock up before your trip. And to cover all your bases, aka your doctor to give you copies of your most important prescriptions, just in case you lose your meds.
Q. Do I need to be vaccinated against diseases like malaria or the Zika virus?
A. NO, but only because vaccines against those illnesses aren’t yet publicly available. For now, your only real defense is to protect yourself against mosquito bite.
Q. Is travel insurance required?
A. It depends. It is always highly recommended. On some adventure tours involving high-risk activities, travel insurance will be required. On other tours, it will be optional, but you will 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?
A. In only extremely limited circumstances or not at all. They definitely won't 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. Travelers are free to purchase their insurance through us or another company if they prefer.