Ghana Travel Blog: Traveling Tips & Lessons

Today I’ll be sharing some old and new tips and lessons from my stay in Ghana. By all means live the best life that serves you, but I think it would helpful to keep these in mind. 

  • Number 1: Get that hair braided.
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Me realizing my frontal was not holding up against the heat
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Me after getting braids/rocking my natural hair

If you like a low maintenance hair routine, or do not want to be worried about your hair from day to day, get your hair braided. I don’t know what it is about braids, but they can truly help withstand the heat. Maybe it’s because the hair doesn’t stick to your face and neck or maybe because you won’t spend time sweating trying to do it in the morning. You can just wake and go. So my best advice, unless you have some really nice lace glue or lots of patience, is to get braids or rock your natural hair. I wouldn’t recommend weave for a long stay. 

  • Number 2: Pack efficiently.

Wherever I travel, I want to interact with the locals, kind of embrace typical daily lives, and in some places that means walking around a lot. Additionally, I like exploring for long hours, so one thing I always travel with is a purse in a bigger size. Not a huge bag, but something big enough to fit everything I would like to carry, use throughout the day, and most importantly allow me to walk holding nothing in my hand. This is essential in particular for safety and to avoid misplacing anything. 

When I head out for the day, I usually have in my purse the following: a little pouch that contains my sunscreen, lip gloss, hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and a small deodorant (Uhm yes, re-apply that too, it’s hot out here and no one wants to smell that) and sometimes even a portable version of my perfume. In the rest of the bag I have an additional mask, a portable charger, my phone, my wallet, sunglasses, and sometimes a book when it’s a long drive.

  • Number 3: Be aware of “Respectability Politics” 

I’m a firm believer in doing whatever you want (that’s not harmful to others) to feel good about yourself, including your appearance. It utterly none of anyone’s business but yourself. (I will always be appalled by people’s audacity to wake up and comment on others people physical appearance- who asked you!) 

But one thing about some (older) Africans: they are going to state what’s on their mind. One friend told me “because of something (ie tattoos, piercings, length of your attire, anklets) people will feel like they can just approach you anyhow. What they don’t need to be saying, they will say.”

I think it’s important to also take into consideration the culture and environment you travel to, understand that there is a time and place for everything, and find a way to blend your personality with the culture if you can afford or care to.

For example, this stay was very family-oriented for me so certain things I would wear visiting my aunt’s hometown, would not be the same as something I would wear out with a girlfriend. Or if I’m going around town during the day (with someone who is not my mother) my outfit will be a little more conservative.

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My face
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His face

I remember being in this trotro (bus), and the man sitting next to me kept staring at my tattoo, then at my face. Then he would look at the tattoo again then at my face. The entire time he was riding. Whatever he was thinking, was not respectful.

  • Number 4: Pray not to be stuck in traffic. 

Traffic is on another level in Ghana and it’s definitely took some adjustment to get used to it. Coming to Accra in December, unless you can fly, you will get stuck in traffic at some point. Sometimes you spend more time in traffic than at your actual destination. 

I did not drive this time because it does take some skill to tackle the traffic in some Accra areas. Additionally, some roads are not the best and can be harmful to your car if not careful. So I just rather not drive.

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It really be like this sometimes.

However when there’s no traffic and you’re on a highway, driving seems fairly easy going. We have a long way to go and definitely need to improve the infrastructure in Ghana. It’s the inconsistency for me. Some areas are beautifully developed, while others you will cry for your car.

In addition to driving yourself, other forms of transportations include Uber or Bolt, local taxis and trotro (which would be a corresponding bus as public transportation). Ubers/bolt are cheaper than taxis, but if you can afford to support the locals, then take a taxis. Most Uber drivers have stated that they are underpaid, they are not even shown how much the ride is, or don’t get paid immediately. And also just do be aware that sometimes your destination may not have ubers there when ready for a return.

Like everywhere else, the trotros are the cheapest (but longest) options. Plus, I enjoy taking public transportation when I travel because I get to see a lot of places and interact with people. During the height of the pandemic in Ghana, they did place restrictions on how many can fit into one trotro to about 8 people per car, versus the usually about 15 people. Tip: sitting in front gives you a bit more room to move. Another form of transportation are the motorcycles but those are very dangerous so I’m not even going to discuss them. 

  • Number 5: Figure out what’s the best way to get access to your money.
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Honestly, y’all I was so mad at myself for forgetting something I use on a regular basis. I blame the change in environment.

Don’t be like me and forget your pin to your debit card while you are traveling. Don’t be like me and think Discover works everywhere (that international is more like western).

Apart from that they are ATMs around you can get money out of when needed. Pay attention to the rates and your own bank charges for international transactions. In addition, you can use your card in plenty of stores, as long as you remember your pin.

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Be like me and download sendwave. This is the best app I have come across so far. The rates are great, easy transfers, and no extra or transactions fees by your bank. However, you do need to transfer it to another person (who has a registered number), so choose someone you trust and go with them when they take out the money.

  • Number 6: Effort to learn the language goes a long way.
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Me laughing along and lowkey hurt they were laughing at my efforts

My parents refuse to speak anything but Twi to my siblings and I. No matter what country we found ourselves in, trust that my parents will allow speak Twi. At one point, my dad would not even respond if we didn’t speak Twi back. Well now I am very grateful for that because my Twi is still very good. But even with that I was still made fun of for the way I would say some words.

Nonetheless, many of my family were really proud that I still spoke Twi and it made my life much easier. It made it easier to connect with my family, less likely to be taken advantage of (sometimes) when buying something. I was kind of disappointed that I did not know the other dialects my family spoke. But knowing some everyday words like thank you, greetings, making an effort can go a long way.

Posts to Read: Check out & support my favorite travel blog by Ericka Lyn. She has been to so many places and has great “Tips & Tricks”

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