What to pack for Afghanistan? Afghanistan is an amazing destination, but what should you bring? All of that and more in our guide.
People are genuinely concerned about what they’ll need for Afghanistan. I suppose it’s part of stepping in to one of the world’s last unknowns. As a traveller you want to feel like you’re preparing yourself, so a lot of people contact me before trips genuinely concerned that they are taking the right things. Don’t worry though, it’s probably not as daunting as you’re expecting. Here’s the definitive guide.
What to pack for Afghanistan – Clothing
Afghanistan has such a varying climate that it really depends where you’re going and when you’re going there. You can expect anything from minus temperatures and snow to +40 degrees Celsius and harsh unforgiving sun.
You’ll need to check on the specific temperatures for when you’re travelling but when it’s hot, make sure your clothes are lights but still very conservative and respectful. Long sleeves for men and always trousers. Long dresses/skirts covering everything for women and a light scarf to cover your head.
In winter make sure you’ve got warm socks and a really warm jacket.
For around the hotels
For our guests to Afghanistan, there are really two sets of rules for what you can wear in Afghanistan. What you’ll be wearing when we’re out and about, seeing the sights and experiencing the culture, and what you’ll be wearing when we’re in the safety and comfort of our accommodation. This is especially relevant to any females who have had to wear very conservative and often quite hot clothes with their heads covered all day.
Once again it depends on the climate, however everywhere we stay it is acceptable for men and women alike to wear shorts, t-shirts, etc. around the hotel. Obviously one still wouldn’t parade around in a bikini, but it’s a very relaxed atmosphere and definitely a space where women can take their headscarves off and relax.
There will be lots of different surfaces and possible conditions you’ll be walking in, whether exploring some abandoned Buddhist caves, kicking a football with some local kids, riding a motorbike or riding a horse. Sensible sturdy good walking shoes are generally recommended. It really won’t be a fashion contest given the rest of the clothes you’ll be wearing anyway. Also make sure your shoes are easy to take off and put back on. You’ll be doing that quite a lot!
Any suitcases/bags are fine. Any sensible traveller to Afghanistan is travelling via private transport and thus having a suitcase or any other type of luggage makes no difference to your experience. Whichever places you’re based in you’ll also be based at the same hotel for several nights.
As far as a day pack/backpack goes, it’s best to move around as lightly and inconspicuously as possible and therefore a backpack or large handbag isn’t probably the best idea. All you really need is your camera/phone and some cash when you’re exploring the markets, going to museums or visiting a mosque. Once again you’ll of course have a car and guide with you to travel around and thus anything else can be left in the vehicle.
Very few countries are going to have you reaching for your camera quicker than Afghanistan. Bring the biggest best camera that you have! Also bring a good phone or small point and shoot camera. There will be times such as the small winding alleys of the markets where you need to be able to take a photo quickly and keep moving without drawing attention. There will also be those other times that you can take your time setting up your tripod to get the next National Geographic front cover.
Drones are best left at home unless you’re travelling to really rural areas and away from any people.
What to pack for Afghanistan – Medicine
Afghanistan doesn’t have the most amazing access to medicine and it is a serious issue for the local people, however any regular issues you’re likely to have are easily resolved. The pharmacies will still have all the basics you’ll need whether its pain killers, anti-inflamatories, something to help block you up or something to unblock you. However if you have some serious conditions that require medicine make sure you bring extras and the relevant scripts as well.
What you don’t need but can still bring anyway
A lot of people brings lots of books, music, games etc, thinking there will be lots of opportunities to use them, whether it be long drives or early nights. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s unlikely you’ll want to take your eyes off your surroundings for a moment longer than you have to. Of course still bring the things you love doing, but it’s unlikely you’ll get that many opportunities.
Torch: The power often goes out at hotels and while it might only be for 10 minutes, sometimes it can be a couple of hours, so a torch usually comes in handy if you don’t have a phone. Of course, everyone has a phone so you probably don’t need a torch, but those with torches are usually well admired for their resourcefulness.
Suncreen: If you’re travelling in summer, sunscreen will stop you turning in to a tomato. That Afghan sun can sure be harsh.
And that is our guide to what to pack for Afghanistan. If you have further questions, simply get in touch.
For up t date advisories on the safety of travel to Afghanistan check out the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office website.