What to Pack for South Africa in the Summer

I‘ve finally recovered from my intense jet lag, and ready to dive into photo editing and sharing all the things I did and learned while traveling through South Africa for a month. While I already have post on packing for hot weather inspired by my trip last February to Vietnam, I thought I’d start making more specific ones for each new country I go to. Below is a little guide on what to pack for South Africa in the summer, from clothes to electronics.

While I fit everything into a regular suitcase and weekender bag, you can easily cut a lot of what I packed out. This was a working holiday for me, so I brought a lot of things I would normally just leave at home.

Clothes 

South Africa is hot in the summer. January had a few brutal days, and apparently, February is consistently brutal. The Western Cape tends to be drier while the Eastern and Northern areas tend to be more humid. Cape Town is apparently notorious for its wind, enough that my Airbnb didn’t have fans or AC, and I was only uncomfortable one day. You want to pack your summer attire with maybe one or two extra layers.

Dresses

I mostly wore loose dresses the whole time. Unless I make plans with a friend to go out, I don’t party while I travel, so all my dresses are more daytime casual. You can wear maxi, midi, or mini dresses– I saw all styles. I prefer dresses that cut above the knee as maxi and midi tend to overwhelm my frame.

Bottoms

I wore a pair of Old Navy leggings on the plane and brought mostly loose, cotton shorts and one pair of cropped jeggings from UNIQLO. I also had one longer skirt, a pair of lounge pants, and a shorter floral skirt that’s forever my go-to. To be honest, you could probably cut most of this out and narrow it down to leggings, cotton shorts, and a skirt.

Tops

I suggest loose, long-sleeved shirts to protect your shoulders! Almost all my shirts were long sleeved (paired with shorts), and I may wear an embarrassing amount of white… I also wore a green cargo jacket on the airplane.

Other

I wasn’t sure how active I’d be, so I brought along some workout pants, tanks, and sports bras just in case. Plus, sports bras are just incredibly comfortable now that I’ve figured out my proper size… High waisted crop pants are the best, and anything with an open back is my favorite for a workout tank. As far as underwear and bras go, I packed 4 bras in total, but mostly wore two flesh colored ones (washing them in between) since my green + white ones showed up too much under my shirts.

*Note I didn’t pack anything special for the game drives I went on. I’m not sure about full out safaris, but regular game drives don’t require special outfits. When we went to Addo, I just wore a dress and sandals as we stayed in the car 99% of the time.

Shoes

I packed three pairs of shoes and got an extra pair of sandals while I was here. I really only needed two. I don’t know why, in my head, I insisted on wearing my white Converses. I only wore them on my layover, but I easily could have just worn my black Asics. I got a pair of gold strappy sandals on sale at Kohls and picked up a tan pair from Lynsey who got them at Mr. Price, a local SA franchise.

You really only need two pairs of shoes when traveling in the summer– a neutral pair of sandals and a sturdy pair of sneakers. Even if you plan on going out, most clubs aren’t looking at your feet anyway.

Accessories

I brought along two hats (buying a straw one on the way), a pair of sunglasses (which broke….), and a watch. I’m a bit of a watch fanatic, more than any other jewelry which I brought none of, so I never travel without one. Since I was planning on doing some shots for a collaboration with the Fifth Watches, I brought along their Upper East watch as it has a gray and black strap. I wore a scarf on the plane for warmth.

In terms of bags, I had one regular suitcase, a carry-on weekender bag, and two cross body purses (the black one I had made in Vietnam and a smaller Michael Kors one in case I was just running out to dinner). Guys, I know I’ve been talking about the Sole Society weekender bag on social + in my gift guide, but actually using it has cemented my love even more. It’s super easy to carry (it does get heavy if you try to stuff it), and it even made the perfect pillow while I napped on my layover. I also used it when Lynsey and I made a small overnight trip to Langebaan instead of having to bring my suitcase.

Electronics

Since this wasn’t a vacation, I did bring along my laptop (an older Macbook Pro) to do work. However, if you’re just traveling and don’t need to work, ditch it at home! South Africa internet isn’t the best, so it’s not worth the headache unless you have to.

I also brought along my Sony A6000 + two lenses. I’m super pleased with the quality and how much less it weighs than my DSLR. My iPhone is unlocked, so I brought that along as well and got a Vodacom SIM card in the Johannesburg airport.

Oh, and if you’re worried about your steps, I did bring my Fitbit too, but I didn’t wear it half the time.

You may also want to look into buying a pocket wi-fi. I meant to in the airport but was a little sidetracked by losing my passport *cough*. My AirBnB had a pocket wifi in Cape Town, which I used to save on my data plan.

Also, South Africa uses this three prong plug mostly, though some outlets I saw had the same as Europe and Asia. You can grab a converter in the airport or bring a general converter you already have.

Extra

Extras you may need… Well, your passport, a nondescript wallet, any toiletries you think you may need, and tons of sunscreen.

And there you have it– what to pack for South Africa in the summer! If you ever to forget anything, it’s super easy to replace. Check out Woolworths, a local supermarket, Pick n Pay, or Mr. Price for anything you may have forgotten.

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