Africa & Beyond – A cash course from one couple’s RTW trip to date!

Today’s guest post from Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz, Editors of Getting Stamped, provides invaluable insights into the costs of traveling to New Zealand and the Philippines. Plus, they talk about their upcoming trip to Africa which is extremely high on our must see list of places. Great information.

While there’s no such thing as a perfect plan in travel, staying ahead of the game is essential. We’re about to head to Africa as part of our RTW trip, and even before we touch down in Nairobi we’ve already made some necessary measures to make the most of our hard earned cash.

Spitzkoppe, Namibia (Acacia Africa).jpg

Our Acacia Africa overland expedition includes a tour and local payment. The latter is paid at the start of the tour and includes all our camping, most meals and the main highlights for example, game drives in the Mara, a bushman village walk in Botswana, the Zanzibar ferry and accommodation and much more. Outside of that we’ll be paying for optional activities separately including a possible flight over the Victoria Falls. We like this kind of flexibility and with long days of travelling ahead of us we can decide once we’re there, but at least get acquainted with the options and rough costs before we go as they are listed in the brochure.

It’s worth asking about specifics before you start the trip. Tour operator’s will have a handle on the ground arrangements and you can budget in advance. One example would be the flight over the Okavango Delta, the cost coming down when a larger group take the trip.

Money in Africa is something we’ve had to work on as we’re departing from Thailand and flying into Kenya. Local payments are usually taken in USD, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for those coming from the USA, Europe or Australia, but it might not be so simple if you’re coming from elsewhere. Our safari company is giving us the option to pay our local payment in advance via credit card. There are fee’s involved with this, but we think it will be the safest and the easiest way for us.

When it comes to paying for add on activities, we’ll most likely use our ATM. Our bank refunds all our ATM fees and has no international transaction fees and we don’t like losing money to money changers. Our credit cards are also an option, but those extra costs are never ideal. ATMs are available in most of the major tourist spots like Livingstone and the bigger cities, and we’ll have a guide to give us their advice along the way – another cost saving benefit on an organised tour.

For more tips on travelling across the continent, follow April’s #Africhat, the Twitter event held on the third Wednesday of every month at 4pm GMT. We’ll be co-hosting the tweet up and letting everyone know our tips before you go as this month’s topic is planning for Africa.

In total we’ve covered over 20 countries which is a great learning experience including, New Zealand and the Philippines. Both countries offer a sharp contrast in terms of sticking to plan and there have been some surprises in store for us on both counts.

New Zealand and budget are two things that don’t necessarily go together. However, after our two-week road trip across New Zealand’s South Island we have learned a trick or two. I advise everyone to visit New Zealand at least once in their lifetime – it’s an absolutely stunning country, and our New Zealand photos don’t lie. Our route had us circling the South Island, and I would do the same route again EXCEPT I would give myself six weeks to do it. Two weeks was way too fast, and we are already planning our return, but for at least two months, as we missed the entire North Island last time.

We chose to rent a camper van and self-drive ourselves literally around the entire South Island, 3,000+km. I was shocked at how easy it was to drive on the “wrong side” of the road, but after a day it was cake. However, I was dumbfounded by the price of gas, over $8USD a gallon, that’s twice the price of the USA!

The highs and lows of camper-vanning New Zealand

Highs: We were extremely glad we chose to drive ourselves as opposed to the hop on-hop off buses. We couldn’t go more than 15 minutes without pulling over and taking photos, as I swear ever turn was more gorgeous than the last. We had complete freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted. Driving ourselves allowed us to get to places that you just won’t see on a bus trip.

Lows: We spent on average 12-18 hours a day in the van (including sleeping), which was frustrating at times. Every day we had to take apart & setup the bed portion, and we could never find anything.

We were in sticker shock at the grocery store, $4 for a Coke and $12 for a Big Mac meal is just crazy. In order to keep New Zealand as close to budget as possible we ate most meals in the van. Thankfully most holiday parks (campsites) have kitchens, which we took full advantage of. Most days we ate breakfast and lunch on the go, PB&J sandwiches/granola bars/boiled eggs/etc. For dinner we tried to pick up easy, quick dinners. We made spaghetti, sausages, lamb chops, etc. We did however have McDonald’s ice cream cones whenever possible, they were only 50 cents and oh so tasty. Make sure to have a bottle of ketchup in your cooler, as it is not common to get it free with the purchase of French fries at chip shops.