What NOT to pack
What you can and can’t pack in your hand luggage to Uganda – What NOT to pack from liquids to gadgets
Whether you’re on a student trip to Uganda, a medical elective placement, a volunteer trip, a family safari and need to know how to pack light (fast!) we have checklist with top tips on what NOT to pack and what to leave for your Uganda tour
Airlines have very strict rules regarding what you can keep with you on a plane, and what has to go in the hold in your suitcase.
What can you pack in your hand luggage?
It’s fine to take items such as liquids, food, electronics and medicine in your hand luggage – but there are certain rules around these which you will need to adhere to.
Don’t Bring Liquids or Gels Larger Than 3.4 Ounces (100 Millilitres)
Let’s start with the basics of how to pack a carry-on:
- If you’re travelling with a full-size bottle of shampoo or sunscreen, it must go in your checked bag, not your carry-on. The world’s airports restrict liquid/gel items in your hand luggage to bottles no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 millilitres); they all must fit within a single quart-size (or litre-size) zip-top plastic bag.
- Cosmetics including creams, oils, lotions, perfumes and make-up such as mascara and lip gloss count as a liquid and are fine to bring.
- Toiletries, such as hairspray, shaving foam, toothpaste, shower gel and contact lens solution, are also allowed.
- E-cigarettes and vapes also fall into this category, and these must be taken in hand luggage – it is not permitted to put these items in hold.
There are, however, certain rules you need to adhere to:
- Containers must hold no more than 100ml
- Containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm
- You must be able to fit the contents comfortably inside the bag and seal it
- The bag must be sealed, not tied or knotted at the top
- Only one plastic bag per person
- The bag must be shown at the airport security point
Baby food and milk – there is no limit to how much you can take, although you should check with your airline to see what their requirements are.
- You can take breast milk on board in containers of up to 2,000 ml – even if you’re not travelling with a baby. However, you can’t take frozen breast milk in your hand luggage.
Duty-free items – if you have bought anything larger than 100ml in the airport you can take it on board with you, as long as the items are sealed inside a security bag when you buy them, and the receipt is sealed in the bag and visible.
There are only certain electronic devices you can take in your hand luggage, which are as follows:
- Mobile phone
- MP3 player
- Tablet devices
- Travel iron
- Electric shaver
- Hair dryer/straighteners
- Cameras (although some specialist equipment may not be allowed in hand luggage)
You should make sure your devices are charged before you travel as if it does not switch on when requested you will not be allowed to take it on board.
There are many items that are NOT allowed in your carry-on luggage, generally including weapons or work tools.
Prohibited items include the following:
- Oxidisers and organic peroxides, including bleach and car body repair kits
- Acids and alkalis (for example spill able ‘wet’ batteries)
- Corrosives or bleaching agents (including mercury and chlorine)
- Vehicle batteries and fuel systems
- Self-defence or disabling sprays (for example mace, pepper spray)
- Radioactive materials (including medicinal or commercial isotopes)
- Poisons or toxic substances (for example rat poison)
- Biological hazards (for example infected blood, bacteria, viruses)
- Materials that could spontaneously combust (burst into flames)
- Fire extinguishers
You also cannot take guns or firearms in hand luggage, although you may be able to take them in your hold luggage – once again check with your airline about this.
This includes the following:
- Blasting caps
- Detonators and fuses
- Imitation explosive devices (including replica or model guns)
- Mines, grenades, and other explosive military stores
- Fireworks and pyrotechnics
- Smoke canisters
- Smoke cartridges
- Plastic explosives (including black powder and percussion caps)
- Hand grenades
- Gun cigarette lighters
Fireworks, flares, and knives or scissors with blades longer than 6cm are also not permitted in the cabin.
Sharp Objects or Blades
Another category to talk about in regard to what is allowed in cabin baggage and what isn’t is sharp objects.
Almost any sharp object you can imagine will not be allowed on board a plane in your hand luggage. This includes obvious items like knives, saws, swords, and machetes, but also small items with blades like pairs of scissors that are 4″ or longer in size.
This is one that sometimes catches people out. You may not be aware that the TSA has rules in place to restrict travel with certain food items, including fruits, vegetables, meats, and more.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t travel with any food in your hand luggage, but there are strict rules to adhere to. For example, fruits and veggies need to be in solid form (not in liquids or gels) for domestic flights around the continental US.
Last but not least, we have sporting and outdoor equipment. This is quite a broad category, and it’s important to note that there are some sporting and outdoor items you can bring onto a plane, but there are also many items that are forbidden.
These include Baseball bats, ski poles, hockey sticks, golf clubs, and hiking poles. Bowling pins are also banned, as well as rollerblades, javelins, windsurfing boards, canoes, paddles, and darts.
Along with the likes of knives and guns, it’s also forbidden to take other weapons on board as part of your hand luggage. This includes things like batons, nightsticks, clubs, and brass knuckles, as well as self-defence weapons like pepper spray and mace.
Don’t Bury Your Liquids and Gels Deep in Your Bag
Save time in the security line by making sure your plastic bag of liquids and gels is right at the top of your carry-on or in an easily accessible pocket—that way you’re not digging around for it while the passengers behind you tap their toes in irritation. The same goes for a laptop computer, you’ll have to take this out at the security checkpoint for screening.
Don’t Assume Your Carry-on Won’t Be Gate-Checked
Even if your bag is perfectly within your airline’s weight and size limits, you might still have to check it at the gate if the plane is very full or it’s a smaller aircraft than expected. Just in case this happens to you, make sure everything truly vital—travel documents, pricey gadgets, medicine—is stowed in the personal item you keep with you, not in the carry-on you gate-check.
Don’t Forget Your In-Flight Essentials
Especially for longer flights, you’ll want to stock your carry-on bag with must-haves such as earbuds/headphones (some airlines charge for these), antibacterial hand sanitizer (to help you avoid in-flight germs), an eye mask, a travel pillow, and plenty of reading material.
Things you don’t need to carry for trips to Uganda:
Jewellery and Valuables
These are unnecessary items to be carrying and which you’ll probably use once or twice on your Uganda trip. Not only is it unnecessary but you also carry the risk of losing them.
Heavy Zoom Lenses for Your Camera
Unless you are a professional photographer, most of the time you will use your mobile, point-and-shoot camera, or your regular DSLR lens/camera (18-55mm, 24-70mm, or similar); simply for convenience and speed.
Pack just the bare essentials and buy as you go. You won’t be away from civilization for an extended period of time, you don’t necessarily need to pack any other over-the-counter medicines or toiletries as they are all available wherever you are going.
Too Many Cotton Clothes
When you picture cotton what do you see? Fluffy stuff takes more space, plus they take longer to dry when wet.
More Than two Pair of Jeans
Following the previous point… Jeans take up a lot of space, are heavy, and they take forever to dry.
Those Nice Shoes
Maybe you want to carry a nice pair of shoes for when you go out to a restaurant or want to look nice, but it’s not wise to carry your nicest pair of shoes just for that occasion.
Unless you are hiking on a mountain Gorilla safari or on one of our walking tours or on rugged terrain for days or doing the Inca Trail or something similar, those heavy hiking boots play no part on your Uganda packing list.
More Than One Heavy Jacket
Don’t pack that heavy jacket; instead, play with layers. Even hot parts of Uganda get chilly at night, so it’s always good to have one or two light jackets you can layer on.
Fluffy towels are very convenient, but just at home. Carrying a full towel to Uganda just doesn’t make much sense since it really takes a lot of space in your backpack and it takes forever to dry.
Books are heavy. Why carry a full guidebook when you only need a single chapter or just a few pages? Instead, copy those pages and carry only the information you know you’ll need.
More Than One Book
Reading is priceless to kill those long van hours or just to have some “me” time. Sure, pack a book, but just one. When you’re done with it, exchange it with other travellers or donate it to local Ugandans who will be more than happy to trade it.
I have personally carried my small travel pillow to many places and ended up not using it (or just once). Even though they are not heavy, they tend to take up a lot of space.
Unless you need to use them while on the road for work or other essentials (like me, a travel blogger), I recommend leaving behind all unnecessary electronics.
If You Think “What if…” or “For this one occasion” When Packing This One Item
If you’re packing something using the words “what if…” it’s probably that it is absolutely not necessary, you will never use it and will end up carrying it all the way.
Things You Can Buy in Uganda
Even when you go to extremely remote places on our community and cultural tours, it’s pretty sure you’re going to find shaving soap, reusable water bottles, extra toiletries, and pretty much everything or a reasonable facsimile.
It’s okay to bring a snack for the plane, but there’s no reason to stash excessive amounts of food in your luggage.
The wrong adapter
Uganda’s associated plug type is G, which is the plug that has three rectangular pins in a triangular pattern. Uganda operates on a 240V supply voltage and 50Hz.
A final thought… Pack Uganda-destination specific, but don’t pack anything you’re not sure you’ll use. Also, this list is not absolute as we all have our packing priorities. We hope this What NOT to pack list was helpful.
Have a look at other: Uganda Packing tips
When in Uganda: Safari day packing tips