Step 1: US Passport
- The Passport Renewal fee is $60. (More information is found on the US State Department's "Passport by Mail" webpage).
- If it is your first passport the fee is roughly $150. (It has been awhile since I got mine but I found some Passport Fees on the US DOS site).
- Passport photos are approximately $20. (I got mine at Walgreen's photo center for about $17 if I remember right).
- I believe you will also need to send in your birth certificate and Social Security card (or a copy of it I can't remember) along with the required form to get your passport, but again it has been awhile since I did this. If you don't already have those documents you'll need to get those first.
- You will also incur some postage fees when you send in your documents which I wouldn't think should be over $15 - $20.
Step 2: Tickets/Ins.
Along with your ticket I recommend getting traveler's insurance. You usually get your travel insurance at the same time you purchase your tickets. The insurance would cover things like flying your body back in case of death and/or getting you to the nearest hospital (not too many options in Liberia for this so you would possibly be taken to another ECOWAS nation or to Europe) for your sickness or injury. It would also cover your medical care while there.
|Me and my mom heading to Liberia in 2011|
in cramped Delta seats
|A rainy day at Robertsfield International Airport in Liberia|
Your ticket to Liberia will cost you approximately $2000 - $2300 in fees, broke down as follows:
- Round Trip ticket (economy class app. $2000)
- Travel Insurance (roughly 5 - 6% of ticket cost)
- Luggage fees (depending on airline but $50 for one extra bag might be worth it if you're taking a lot of supplies for whatever aide work you might be doing)
Step 3: Accommodations
You will want to arrange your accommodations in Liberia before heading over there. The range in price depends on whether you are a guest of someone or if you are spending several hundred dollars per night at beautiful looking places like Kendeja Resort & Villas or the Libassa Ecolodge. I've been to neither place but they both look nice and expensive. (There is also a Hotel Listing for the Monrovia area online from the Liberia 101 site.)
|I stayed one night at Club Piso in Robertsport in 2011. |
Unfortunately there were still mice (or rats as Liberians call them),
however I'm not sure if there are many places in Liberia without them.
Step 4: Medical Prep
|My "Yellow Book". Required to enter Liberia.|
Your total cost for vaccinations and medications for Liberia is going to cost anywhere from $350 - $800 depending on your consultation fees and types of medications you and your health consultant choose to purchase. However, after getting some of these vaccines you won't need to get them every time you go over to Liberia but rather every 5 - 10 years or in some cases never again. My cost for going over this time around would only be about $8 + my physician's consultation fee.
|Yellow Fever Vaccine Sticker|
in my "Yellow Book"
Hep A & B. I highly recommend getting these vaccinations as well. Most health workers already have them and their company paid for it, but if you aren't vaccinated you really need to be. This is a bit more complex as there are several different ways to administer the vaccine. I got TwinRex which included both A & B in the same vaccine. There is also a schedule of vaccinations to follow here as you'll get one vaccine on one day and have to wait a period before your next and then get your last one some 6 months later. I got my last one after returning from Liberia so I do know you don't have to run through the whole gauntlet of Hepatitis vaccinations before arriving in Liberia. You'll need to consult with a health professional for how this actually works but as far as costs go it was roughly $25 - $40 a dose for each type of Hepatitis. The whole regimen is roughly $140 - $300.
Typhoid - This comes in shot or oral dosage form and is also highly recommended for a visit to Liberia as there have been reported breakouts of typhoid there. Because I'm a chicken I got the oral dose, but actually the oral dose is better in my opinion also because it lasts longer (5 years) while the shot only lasts for 2. The price is roughly $75 for this vaccine.
A Malarial Prophylaxis - This is just a fancy way of saying "a medicine that helps to prevent you from getting malaria." The CDC has a great chart on the various different kinds of drugs you can take to help prevent malaria on their "Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria" webpage. When we lived there in the 70's and 80's we used to take Chloroquine, however now the malaria in Liberia has become chloroquine resistant. On our more recent trips we have had people taking both Malarone & Doxycycline with mostly positive results. Lariam has too many side effects in my opinion & I've not heard much about Primaquine. All of these meds have side effects and this is one of those things where you have to choose whether the side effects of the medicine are worse than the side effects of contracting malaria. I've had malaria several times and survived, but it can cause permanent organ damage and even death. I take a prophylaxis on shorter trips. For those staying long term you have to weigh the risks of long term use of the prophylaxis against the risks of getting malaria. Malarone was at one time $9/pill and it is taken once a day and continued for one week after getting out of the "malaria zone". Doxycycline is much cheaper and is also taken daily. Cost can range from $0.25 - $9/day for a malarial prophylaxis.
|A mural in Zondobli, Grand Bassa. Diarrhea can be fatal if not treated.|
Diarrhea treatment - We have typically taken Cipro (ciprofloxacin) in order to treat diarrhea if we get it while in Liberia. Cipro is relatively inexpensive and is one of the $4 Walmart prescription drugs. You'll have to tell either your doctor or your world travel consultant (see Yellow Fever above) in order to get the prescription, but after that fee the cost is not prohibitive. You might also want to bring an electrolyte supplement and/or an over the counter diarrhea medication to re-hydrate and stop the dehydration process respectively.
Other Meds - You will also need to make sure you are up to date on your tetanus shot and definitely make sure and bring any meds with you that you would normally take in the States. You will also want to take some extra aspirin, ibuprofen, sunburn medicine, allergy meds & a small first aid kit. You might also want to bring some supplements like vitamins or probiotics or whatever else gets you going like Via instant coffee packs :-) Also, I've heard that taking Vitamin B-1 will help to reduce the amount of mosquito bites you'll get. I took it last time I went over and think it might of sort of worked somewhat perhaps? I also used eucalyptus soap to keep them away. All in all it seemed I had relatively few bites especially for rainy season.
Step 5: Liberian Visa
You'll need a visa to enter Liberia. There are many different types of visas. I'm discussing here the 1 - 3 month stay visa which is typical of a short term visit by a US Citizen. There is quite a bit of prerequisite tasks to complete and paperwork to organize in order to get your visa. For example, you need to have already gotten your passport (see above), yellow fever shot (see above), & flight itinerary (see above) before sending off for your visa.
|You'll need more passport size photos|
for your Liberian visa
- You will need to send along a copy of your yellow fever shot record (again see above)
- You will need 2 passport photos (app $20)
- You will also need to send along your passport. (Yes, you must send your actual, physical passport to the Embassy of Liberia in order to get your Visa. I've never had problems getting my back and neither has anyone on any of our teams that have gone over to Liberia for the past 7 years.)
- You will also place a self-addressed prepaid USPS/FEDEX/UPS envelope with tracking number in the envelope for return of your passport. (I also got a tracking number on my envelope to the Embassy and the total for both envelopes with postage paid was around $12).
- Optional: Same Day Processing ($75) / Next Day ($50). (I didn't get either one, but rather mailed my information out about 5 weeks before departure. I have heard of people not getting their visa because they didn't get their paperwork into the Embassy in time even though they mailed it a couple weeks before departure, however it was around Christmas time and that probably contributed to the delay. We've always gotten our visa on time and have usually sent in our paperwork 5 - 6 weeks before departure).
- All fees are to be paid in US Dollars via money order, cashier cheque or bank draft payable to the Embassy of Liberia. (I purchased a Postal Money Order for $131.00 while at the Post Office and there was a $1.20 fee attached to that. You simply fill out the money order like you do a check and make it out to the Embassy of Liberia. Also put your name and address on it in case their is a need for a refund. Then you tear off the upper Customer Receipt section for your records).
Step 6: Living Expenses
You will want to gather together the necessary funds to cover your living expenses while in Liberia.
Food/Drink in Liberia
|The large fruit on the left is called a "Soursop"|
I am very out of touch with the Liberian food market prices. I feel fairly confident saying though that it will be cheaper to eat there than here if you eat local food. $10/day should more than cover your expenses. However, if you go to a "kwi" place to eat be prepared to pay perhaps even more than you do in the States for the food. I would just be sure to sample some of the famous Liberian gravies or soups that they pour over rice; especially palm butter. I would also highly recommend red oil fried grouper or smoked boney. Actually the list could keep going... Liberian food is great!
|I drank Aqualife bottled water while in|
Liberia to no ill effect
|A typical "Hold it - Hold it" or money bus taxi driving down Somalia Drive in Paynesville|
If you are going to be traveling a lot in Liberia this can really add up. Fuel is rather expensive but taxi fares are not that bad. If you will be reaching far I would budget $50/day and if you are staying put then perhaps a $5/day for going to market or wherever else you need to go nearby.
|The nightly ritual of charging cellphones on a |
surge protector plugged into a generator
|"Christ Still Cares Charging Spot" in Buchanan, Liberia|
for all your cellphone needs.
Step 7: Personal Items
You will want to purchase some personal items to make your stay in Liberia more enjoyable. There is no limit to the amount of money that one could potentially spend on equipment and nick knacks for taking to Liberia. However, if you are like me there is a definite limit whenever I check my bank account! Here are some practical items that you might consider purchasing for your trip to Liberia:
|You'll want to cover your head and ears from the sun from time to time|
|These Obama "Slippers" I saw in Liberia surely have |
a great politician flip flop joke in 'em somewhere
Backpack/Luggage - You'll need to conform to your airline's regulations on size and weight when bringing your luggage. You should consider this before purchasing new luggage. Also, the luggage will most likely see some wear and tear so make it rugged. You might want to invest in a travel vest, back pack, money belt, and a duffle bag (to fold up and pack on the way in and fill up on the way out if the logistics work in your favor to do so).
|If you travel much around Liberia your luggage will get some wear and tear|
Hygiene - I would pack a small portable mirror, your normal stuff in travel sizes, talcum powder, and some Boudreaux's Butt Paste (for chaffing). You'll also need some mosquito repellent I've got an earlier post written on what self hygiene might look like for you in Liberia here.
|The beauty of Liberia awaits!|
Your total trip costs for a 2 week trip to Liberia will set you back anywhere between $3000 - $5500 depending on what you need to purchase beforehand and what you purchase in Liberia. Hope you've found this information beneficial. Blessings to you all and God bless Liberia!
|And the tree waves good-bye for now...|