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16 Mar 2019

Travel tips with expert Karren E. Henderson, addresses rapper Akon’s comments on vaccinations

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March 16, 2019 Category: Local, Travel Posted by:

Travel expert Karren E. Henderson shares tips ranging from the cost effectiveness of packing light, traveling alone and of course dispelling myths about not needing vaccinations when traveling.

By Monica Peters

Travel is fun. You can never get enough advice. 

Recently rapper and philanthropist Akon unintentionally put the spotlight on travel during a recent interview proclaiming that “Black people don’t need shots to go to Africa. Only White people need shots to go to Africa.”   He said that dying from malaria in Africa–“none of that stuff is true.”

While we love Akon, we must shed some light. Any person, regardless of race, can become ill when traveling to the continent. And, yes, malaria outbreaks in Africa are a real thing that even claims the lives of persons that live there.

We checked in with local travel expert Karren E. Henderson for tips ranging from the cost effectiveness of packing light, traveling alone and of course dispelling myths about not needing vaccinations when traveling.

SUN: In light of Akon’s recent comments about Black persons not needing vaccinations before going to Africa, briefly share with us vaccinations that are needed.

KH: When going on a safari, to South Africa [for example] and that region of the world, it is important to remember that the Center for Disease Control and World Health Organization recommend the following vaccinations: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.  It is important to plan your schedule accordingly so that your shots and vaccinations are administered as suggested. Please note that yellow fever is a required vaccination and you must show proof if you are traveling through a yellow fever endemic country..

Visit to obtain information on vaccines needed to travel to a particular country in Africa.

SUN: What are some common mistakes when preparing to travel?

KH: One of the greatest mistakes is packing too much! The experienced traveler knows that they are not going to pack more than what a carry-on bag can hold.  Dressing in layers and taking items that can be worn 2-3 times is ideal. An important thing to remember is that no one will be “checking out” what you are wearing. Also, if your luggage weighs over the allotted 50 lbs., the airline will charge you $100 for an overweight fee.  If you are unable to transfer some items from your checked luggage to your carry-on bag, you will incur the unexpected cost.  This can be an unnecessary bite out of your budget. Also, tugging heavy luggage around during your travels will leave you exhausted.

SUN: In your opinion, what is the most affordable getaway for a person on a budget?

KH: In my opinion, the most affordable getaway is to travel somewhere nearby to eliminate the cost of a plane ride.  If there is a beach that is a drive away, rent a condo. You can bring food and prepare meals in your beachfront kitchen. For an out of town getaway, all-inclusive resorts, especially during the off season, offer packages where the price includes all food. Many of these inexpensive options can be found for Caribbean destinations or cruise trips.  All it takes is some research.  If you have points/rewards on your credit card, with hotels or other rewards, these can be used to put towards funding your getaway.

SUN: What advice would you give to potential travelers who may feel awkward traveling alone?

KH: Many people travel alone today and have found it is easier to do when they travel with a group. There are many groups to choose from and they offer varying itineraries i.e., an education trip to Ireland with a guide, a safari, or [meetup groups that offer trips].  People are usually friendly on these trips and will even invite you to join them at meal time when they see that you are alone.  You can make life-long friends when you travel alone.

More Travel Tips:

  • Prepaying for activities and excursions will save you money.
  • If you are traveling out of the country, check the currency rate to see if it makes sense to exchange enough currency before you leave. Don’t exchange at the airports as they usually have the highest exchange rates. 
  • Carry an extra credit card and make sure you contact your credit card company and inform them that you are traveling and give the dates.  This will allow you to have some sense of security in the event of an emergency, i.e., loss of luggage etc.

Karren E. Henderson is a Lifestyle Consultant, Travel and Health & Wellness expert. You can visit Karren at or follow her on Facebook Karren.e.henderson.33 and   Instagram @karren_e_henderson

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