Traveling is always nerve wrecking especially when you're visiting a country for the first time and with not much first hand advice from your immediate friends and family circle.
For most of my friends, I'm the only Ghanaian that they know and hence I'm always a resource for first hand knowledge of the country. So, if you’re visiting Ghana for the first time, I hope these pointers can guide you on what to expect while you're in Ghana.
The roads are horrible but likewise, if you're staying relatively central in Accra, then the major roads are fine but just heavily filled with traffic on high peak times. If you're traveling further out from the city then it's likely that you'll experience the roads that are made from Ghanaian's natural red clay soil which are bumpy, unpaved and quite uncomfortable for long haul driving.
You'll Miss The Things You Took For Granted
Whenever I travel to Ghana, I usually stay at a private residence with family or with friends. If you seek to stay at a residential accommodation, you'll quickly realize that electricity goes off often (but never for long but certainly can seem inconvenient if you're not accustomed) and no electricity means no WIFI!
Water can also be an issue if you rely on personal reserves. If there is no electricity then there is no way to pump the water from your reserve hence you'll find that most Ghanaian homes always have a bucket in each bathroom!
Be sure to keep all electronic devices changed, including flash lights and a portable charger. It will also be helpful to have a MIFI device which comes in handy when there is no electricity as it uses a battery.
Alternatively, if you're staying at a respectably hotel, these are issues that you certainly would not have to deal with!
Credit Cards Are Great But Walk With Cash
While credit cards are widely accepted throughout Ghana especially at large hotels and restaurants, smaller establishments will not accept cards so be sure to still walk with some cash when you are venturing out.
Do not assume that everyone will have a card machine because you have gotten used to cashless transactions.
Know When To Use Your Bartering Skills
While bartering is perfectly acceptably in the marketplace or the arts and craft centre, larger shops have a fixed price. Also, bartering is a skill, take some time to observe and find out where the base line prices lie. This will help you to make an educated barter and not be offensive.
One thing is for sure, if you go to low and the vendor lets you walk away, it's safe to say that you've made a barter that was too low and insulted the vendor.
Remember Cultural Differences
Cultural practices is something you should always research as it will differ from country to country and Ghana is no different.
Piercings and tattoos aren't something you'll find frequently, funerals are just as important as weddings, sexuality isn't something that discussed, women are modest (even the modern woman) and so much more.
You'll certainly learn about our culture and how different (or similar) it may be to your culture!
Friendly or Overly Friendly?
Ghanaians are very friendly and hospitable people - but they also know when you're a tourist (truthfully tourists stick out like sore thumbs). Be aware of the hustlers that great you with kindness and sweet words to sweeten you into making purchases. It's really okay to say "no thank you" and walk away if you're really not interested.
Also, continue to use common sense (like you would when traveling to any new country) as those who are friendly might not always have the purest of intentions!