When we’re looking at how much a safari will cost, we often list the big-ticket items — airfare, transfers, lodge, game drives, tips and souvenirs — add them altogether and decide if we can afford it. But don’t forget other, smaller, costs which can build up if you’re not careful. To avoid spending more than you have to, have a look at these 5 money mistakes that you can avoid while traveling.
Look up bank and ATM fees. Each time you withdraw cash you will likely incur a fee of some kind when you are overseas. These can vary a lot depending on whether the ATM is run by a large bank or not or if the bank is on your card’s network. Simply check it out. And don’t forget to let your bank know you’re travelling, or they may shut your card down as soon as you try to use it in a foreign country.
2. Make a plan for getting to your first night accommodation from the airport, if this isn’t included in your safari. It is best to organise this before your trip; when you arrive, you are tired, often without much cash and carrying a lot of luggage. You may not know how far it is, what it should cost or even if there is a free shuttle. You will be most financially vulnerable for the first few hours in a new country.
3. Add an international roaming plan to your phone. How much could a few texts, emails and social media updates cost? Masses! Buy an international roaming plan that will cover you while you’re away or get a local sim card with data on it. Some lodges use a dongle with pre-paid minutes for wi-fi, and its worth making sure you’re only using it for ‘essentials’.
4. Don’t bring traveller’s checks. Hardly anyone uses them anymore and they are time consuming as well. Often its only banks who will accept them and going to a foreign bank can be an experience, and that’s only if you can find one in the bush!
5. Find out how much to tip. Tipping customs vary immensely from place to place, and not having knowledge of these can be both awkward and expensive. Read more about this here.
Cash cards are excellent – you have a limited amount on the card, it is already in the foreign currency of your choice (without the bank charges) and it can be used wherever cards are taken. Better than taking a bulk of cash and more affordable than using your own bank card for each transaction.
Jenny Bowen owns and runs Sense Africa, tailor-made safaris and African holidays.