Travel tips to Ghana are all over the internet. Here’s my two cents’ worth.
One of the best sources of up-to-date travel information on Ghana is the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree message board. The Ghana branch isn’t as heavily posted to as some of the other boards, but the people who post answers there are usually recent travelers. Although it’s a good place for information, be wary of posting a general question without first having done a Google search. People there have little patience with those who want to be spoonfed and haven’t made any effort to do any preliminary research.
I pay little attention to hotel or restaurant recommendations in any travel guide, which between the time they are written and the time the book is published can be out of date. But there were a few hotels or beach resorts which I discovered on the internet then checked out in the book, and the book’s recommendation to stay there or avoid the place was helpful.
There was a great deal of very useful information on what to see and what was overhyped, which helped narrow down my “to see” list. There’s also a Bradt Guide to Ghana website where travelers can post updates. I posted several updates there after my trip.
I did get a series of vaccinations before going to Ghana. Total cost was around $550. That may seem like a lot, but compare that to contracting a serious or deadly illness and the medical bills you’d incur as a result.
There are vaccinations for several airborne diseases, which is a consideration when traveling in a less developed country. Even if you don’t risk eating street food and eat only in restaurants, there’s no way of knowing if someone in the kitchen is incubating an illness that could be transmitted during food preparation.
Yellow fever is required, and meningitis is endemic in this area. The list of recommended vaccinations for Ghana can easily be found with a Google search. I also took mefloquine. You really don’t want to die of malaria on your vacation.
I didn’t take any significant amount of cash with me and would never even consider traveler’s checks. Traveler’s checks these days are more hassle than they’re worth. ATMs are widely available in Ghana’s larger cities, regional capitals and even some smaller towns.
When you first arrive, there’s an ATM in the Kotoka Airport arrivals hall. It’s near the luggage pickup carousel and right across from the Forex bureau. If you arrive late-ish in the evening, it’s a convenient place to pick up some cash. The Forex window was open around 8:00 pm when I arrived, but I used the ATM machine without any problem.
With the exception of the airport ATM, I only used ATMs when the bank was open, in case my card didn’t come out. That happened once, but since the bank was open, I got my card back with a minimal amount of stress.
As Ghana is a poor country, it’s still mostly a cash-only country. You’ll rarely have an opportunity where using a credit card is even an option. But I’d still bring one, because if you have a layover in Europe, you could still use it. VISA is more likely to be accepted than Mastercard.
“Travel Only” Accounts
To safeguard against my everyday ATM and credit card being stolen or lost on vacation, I long ago opened a “travel only” savings account and credit card. These accounts are never used except when I’m on vacation, and they’re the only cards I take with me on a trip. Before I leave, I transfer the amount of cash I think I’ll need for incidentals to the travel savings account, and that’s what I use for cash withdrawals on the trip. If there’s anything substantial left when I get back, I leave a minimum deposit to keep the account open and transfer the rest elsewhere.
If the travel ATM card or credit card falls into the wrong hands, it’s not going to impact my main bank account back home where I have a number of bills auto-debited on a regular basis. And it won’t affect my main credit card with which I do all my internet shopping. These travel accounts aren’t even in the same bank where my paycheck gets auto deposited.
If the travel cards were lost or stolen, all anyone could get is whatever amount I’ve transferred to the travel account for purposes of the vacation. Both accounts could be easily and quickly closed without throwing a major monkey wrench into my financial life. Having a separate travel ATM card and credit card makes my vacation that much more stress free.