There are as many ways to travel across Africa as there are people, and that means there are as many budgets. Travel is often written off as too expensive, but it’s only as expensive as you make it. The more you know before your trip through Africa, the better prepared you will be to save yourself some money and make your money last. Stretching your money will also help you build more memories, and that’s what this is all about, right?
Prepare to travel through Africa and build the memories of a lifetime!
Travel in the Off Season
This is usually the biggest thing you can do to affect the cost of your travel. Most places have a peak tourist season, where the weather is the best and everyone wants to be there. Traveling when the weather is less pleasant can save you 25-50% on accommodation and flight costs.
Research your specific destinations to see when their peak seasons are. Generally, African countries have wet seasons and dry seasons. The dry season is usually the peak season in Africa. The rains rarely last the full day, so you can usually work with them. If you’re traveling for a safari, it can make the animals hide out more, so that’s something to keep in mind.
- You may also like: How to Climb Kilimanjaro Without the Crowds
Learn Numbers in the Local Language
Learning numbers and phrases like “how much?” will give you a lot of edge for haggling. Even if you think you won’t be buying many souvenirs, this is helpful when you need to find a new hotel for the night and every time you get in a taxi.
Always Agree on a Price Before Hand
Never get into a taxi without having a price clearly spelled out beforehand. This applies to other situations, like tours, as well. People will sometimes try to rush you along and say it’s fine, but you need to be firm on this or they can say any number they would like later.
Haggle, Even If It Makes You Uncomfortable
Everyone haggles in Africa. If you don’t get in on haggling, you will spend more money. Everything is negotiable.
Be Flexible With Your Flight Dates
There’s a good chance that flying a few days earlier or later will save you hundreds of dollars (sometimes even thousands). If you can, it’s also a good idea to be flexible with your destination. It can be cheaper to fly to a nearby city and take a local bus, or possibly take a short flight on the continent.
Fly on Local Airlines
There are many airlines in Africa that are more local to the area they’re in. Air Peace, for example, flies around Nigeria and to a few neighboring destinations. These airlines will offer more flexibility and affordability in your travels.
Get a Local SIM Card
These are typically cheap. The WIFI at your accommodation for the night may or may not work well, but if you have a SIM card, you’ll be able to stay in touch either way. This also lets you save money because you’ll be able to easily book accommodations, tours, and transportation.
Find the Local Taxi Apps
Uber is always a reliable one and available in some cities, but there is often a local alternative. These apps will save you a lot of heartache and money. Want a break from haggling? Use Uber.
Know the Cost of Your Visa
You can find these online via your government’s foreign office. You should know ahead of time that visas aren’t always cheap in Africa. You will want to budget for these ahead of time. You also want to know this information so you can avoid being scammed at the border. If you hand over the exact amount of money when you get there it will decrease your chances of being ripped off.
Shop Local For Everything
Whether it’s the place you’re staying for the night, a bus ride, or a bottle of water, shopping locally will always save you money. Avoid the malls. Instead of supermarkets, shop at the local markets. You’re in Africa, have the full experience, and save money at the same time.
Stay In One Place for Longer
By staying at one hotel for more than three nights you can haggle down the price. As a bonus, this gives you a home base to travel from which is a nice break from all the long journeys.
Take Tuk Tuks
For short distance journeys, this is an easy and cheap way to get around. Skip the taxi and take a tuk tuk! It’s a little bumpy, but it’s part of the Africa experience.
Find Friends For a Group Safari
Safaris are a big-ticket item. Buying as a group will get you a discount and give you haggling power. How do you find your group? If you stay at hostels, you can talk to people there and see if a group can be put together. Often the people who run the hostel can help with this. You can also consult backpacker Facebook groups and find enough people that way to put together a team. As a bonus, this is a fun way to make friends while you’re traveling.