Kelli Wong, graduated from Colgate University and received her medical degree from Tulane. Now in her residency in pediatrics, Kelly spent a month in Malawi providing medical care to HIV positive children. Kelly received a $1500 scholarship from Sara’s Wish Foundation.
Here are Kelli’s travel safety tips:
- Always let someone know where you are going, how you are traveling, when you are leaving and when you should be expected to return. Also give your phone number to a trusted person if you have a mobile phone. I always told my lodge my travel plans, and it was nice to have someone check in with me to make sure I am safe.
- It is always nice to be social when in public places (e.g. restaurants, bars, hotels), but be wary of the information you tell others about yourself and be cautious that others may be listening. Because of the fuel crisis in Malawi, I was frequently trying to meet people (other international visitors) who may want to travel with me on the weekends. While at a restaurant, I was arranging a meeting point and told a friend where I was staying. Apparently a local overheard my conversation, mentioned to me where I was staying, and this made me feel very uncomfortable. As a consequence, I changed rooms within the lodge.
- When you travel abroad, always bring both a mastercard and visa with you. Some countries’ or cities’ banks may only accept one to get out money. For Malawi, most ATMs take visa only.
- When taking a taxi, always set your price and drop off point outside the car before you trip. Whenever possible try to share a cab with others going to remotely the same area. If you get a taxi driver you trust/like or even a car with functioning seatbelts, ask for the drivers mobile number and use him/her whenever possible.
- Know what time it gets dark at night, and never walk alone at night. Your lodge watchman may be willing to come pick you up and walk you back to the lodge, if you are not too far from your place of stay.
- Carry a headlamp on you at all times. Especially in Africa, because you never know where you will be when the power goes out.