american dollars

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Jun 14th, 2004, 05:40 PM
  #1
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american dollars

My husband and I are due to leave for our finally awaited trip to Kenya and Mombassa. Although we leave in 8 days and haven't even started to gather or buy anything, our big question is, How much American dollars and what dominations should we bring along. Thanks I am getting anixious!
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Jun 14th, 2004, 06:40 PM
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sandi
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I can't tell you how much money to bring but we used USD for tips mainly, whether our guide/driver, camp staff, city porters, hotel maids, etc. For most other expenditures (souvenir purchases) we used local currency. And credit cards are accepted easily in Nairobi, though out at lodges and camps for small amounts, you might be charged a fee to use your cards.

You can convert USD to Ksh at the Currency Exchange at the airport while waiting for your luggage. There are some ATMs in NBO and currency exchange bureaus here also. Your hotel is not likely to offer a favorable rate.

Be sure to check one of the currency exchange websites before leaving for your trip so you have an idea of the current rate of exchange, which I believe is in the range of 80-85Ksh - USD$1.

So figure out what your tip expenditures will be and break it out into small denominations of $1s, $5s, $10s, $20s. The larger bills to go towards guide tips, the smaller to others. Lots of $1s and $5s served us very well. I'm certain credit cards will be more readily accepted in Mombasa.

Remember that when leaving Kenya there is a departure fee, which I believe is USD$20 (though it might have increased) so be sure to keep an extra $100 available between the two of you for possible last minute outlays.

Happy travels and don't forget we'll be waiting for your trip report on your return.
 
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Jun 15th, 2004, 12:40 PM
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Personally, I wouldn't tip in any currency other than the local one. A tip in dollars means a trip to the bank for the recipient before he can use it, and an exchange fee, so he isn't getting the full value. I just think it's better etiquette to tip in local currency.

(Just my opinion.)
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Jun 15th, 2004, 12:43 PM
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Oops! I pressed the "post" button too soon!

We usually take no more than a couple hundred American dollars when we go abroad, and come home with all of it, minus whatever we spent in an American airport during a layover. Credit cards take care of most emergencies better than dollars would, so you really don't need them.
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Jun 15th, 2004, 03:21 PM
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Celia - your points are well taken, but not necessarily for Kenya or Tanzania. Use of credit cards in places other than Nairobi or Mombasa or Dar or Zanzibar often incur additional fees. It isn't all that often that a sourvenir shop along the way has a phone line even for a credit card machine and if they do, they pay dearly for it, so the client gets charged. And this is much the same with many of the camps and lodges.

As far as using USD or GBP, often the recipients ask for these as they have more value then their local currency. Those individuals who work in the tourism industry have no problem going to the bank in Urban cities, nor do camp/lodge staff have a problem having hard currencies exchanged for them. Even the Masai out in the middle of nowhere often ask to be paid in USD or GBP or Euro.

I certainly wouldn't consider tipping someone in Western Europe with USD versus Euro of whatever currency in which a particular country does business.

Of course, expenses incurred at lodges/camps can and should be paid in local currency as well as souvenir purchases wherever possible, and there is no problem ever tipping in local currency, but we've found in some countries it's hard currency the recipients prefer - Kenya & Tanzania are such countries.

 
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Jun 21st, 2004, 07:38 PM
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We paid for EVERYTHING in USD. Never had any problems. We took many denominations. We found we needed 10s the most. We gave a lot of 10 tips. Hope this helps.
The only time we got local currency was when we paid for an item in USD and received local currancy in change - at the drug store.
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Jun 22nd, 2004, 02:16 AM
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Celia: If you were an experienced traveller you would know that your reasoning is all wrong.In many places(Not All) the $ is preferred to local currency.The locals don't have to convert it they spend it.
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Jun 24th, 2004, 05:13 AM
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Having just returned from Botswana and Zambia I can report that the locals definitely prefered USD to local currency. A tip in local currency, based on official exchange rates, is worth less in those countries than a tip in USD. The unofficial exchange rate is much better and the locals are in a position to capitalize on this difference.

I've seen this in South America and Eastern Europe as well. Always ask someone who knows - don't assume that local currency is the best.
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