How much money to bring?

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Jul 27th, 2005, 02:26 PM
  #1
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How much money to bring?

I've read all the threads on tipping etc. but lost as to how much money we should actually bring with us. Staying 1 night in Johannisburg (paid for except for food, drinks etc.) and 10 nights in Zambia (thanks Rocco!) Luangwa River Lodge, Chongwe River, Stanley Safari Lodge. All activities are included except at Stanley which can be paid for with credit card. All places prefer U.S. dollars, not travelers checks or credit cards. So per person, how much cash should I bring? Also do you tip the bush pilots? Thanks for your replies...83 more days!
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Jul 27th, 2005, 02:46 PM
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The safari consultant with whom you booked should be able to give you general guidelines as to what the standard gratuities are for guides, camp staff, etc. If not, perhaps the places you're staying have websites with that info. You can then take those guidelines and figure out how much you need, what size bills, etc. For instance, if they suggest $5 per day for camp staffs and you're at each camp 2 days, have several $10 bills along. If there are 2 of you, leave a $20. Small bills are useful for other gratuities such as porters and the like, payment of drinks, laundry, etc. Always use a moneybelt!

I've not ever tipped a bush pilot...anyone?
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Jul 27th, 2005, 08:17 PM
  #3
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so at least $25-$30 pp each day in tips should cover it? $5 for tracker, $5 for guide, $5 for staff, $5 for the maid and $10 extra just in case? then of course souvenir money. just don't want to be cheap at the lodges...they deserve it and may go back again!
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Jul 29th, 2005, 02:18 AM
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I am going nuts (or possibly I already am nuts!) but I am trying to figure out how much money to bring to Africa as well. Besides a booked tour, I have arranged many excursions on my own in various places. Most want cash payament at the time of the event. Costs for most of these range from $100 - $250. Do I carry enough $50's and $100's to cover them or should I try to do an ATM withdrawal in the country I am in, and use local currency? Also, since I will be doing a border crossing on land between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, how and where could I get Tanzanian currency? Does it make sense to get some currency for any of countries ahead of time in the US assuming I can do that?
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Jul 29th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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Wanderlust123: carry as many small bills as you can, mostly singles and fives. Make sure they are not torn, or marked, or overly wrinkled. Otherwise, they may not be accepted by some places. I'm not kidding; Afrioa plays by different "rules." After our first time there, I actually ironed American bills before putting them into envelopes to carry them around Africa. Very strange odor when you put a hot iron on currency. But I've had the experience of having perfectly good money rejected because it had folded corners!

Carry nothing larger than a $10.

Get any local currency locally. You won't find any ATMS; use town banks. It may be very dirty and dog-eared, so be careful after handling it. Don't put your fingers into your mouth or eyes.

I figure on about $20 a day as a rule of thumb, depending on how much time is spent in cities. If it's mostly cities, I may go to $30.
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Jul 29th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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You might want to enquire if you can put the lodge gratuities on a credit card -- some lodges offer this service, which makes travelling with a wad of cash unnecessary.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jul 29th, 2005, 06:54 AM
  #7
bwanamitch
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Credit card may be good for staff tipping, but IMO it's a very impersonal way to thank your guide/driver/tracker.

Mitch
 
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Jul 29th, 2005, 08:00 AM
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Hi Mitch,

Can't say that anyone has ever complained...I like to tip according to the quality of experience I've had, which makes it a bit hard to budget in advance. And like a lot of people, I'm not very comfortable carrying large amounts of cash.

IMHO, I think a face-to-face 'thank you' to your guide expressing your appreciation for their hard work is more meaningful on a personal level than any tip.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jul 29th, 2005, 08:18 AM
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I plan on $25-$30 per day then add another $300 or so for a 2-3 week trip, just in case. I spend about $20 on souvenirs/gifts so don't plan much for that.

In addition I always take at least an extra $500 in travelers checks that I plan to never spend. That's for an emergency that has never occurred and I hope never does.

If credit card tipping becomes accepted, it could actually lead to better guide tips. Then guides aren't dependent on how much cash may be left in guests' wallets or if they have the right change.

To personalize a credit card guide tip, a small token of thanks from your city/state could be added. I often take a small package of dried cranberries, a major export of Wisconsin.

Once I gave a bag of these cranberries to a Masai I was visiting. He said, "that's nice but we don't eat that. Did you bring any meat or blood?" I had to respond I had not.

But I returned the next year and brought him some beef jerky. He told me, "Ah, you remembered what I told you last year."
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Jul 29th, 2005, 08:33 AM
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Atravelynn,

I agree with you about credit card tipping being better for the guides -- there have been a few times when I wanted to give more at a cash-only place but was caught short.

Your story about the Masai guide made me laugh. I'm not sure what I could bring to personalise my tips -- the major product of Oxford is students, who don't fit very well into a carry-on.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jul 29th, 2005, 11:27 AM
  #11
bwanamitch
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Julian,

I thought more on the privacy aspect.

I don't know how you would feel if a personal gift (which even allows some quality measuring) goes over the "public" booking system of your company.

Mitch
 
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Jul 29th, 2005, 11:31 AM
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Hi Mitch,

That's a good point -- I assume you're speaking from a guide's point of view?

Are there any guides lurking around here who might be willing to comment?

Cheers,
Julian
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Jul 29th, 2005, 11:44 AM
  #13
bwanamitch
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Julian,

you don't have to be a guide to see it this way. It's just a question of respect.

Mitch
 
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Jul 29th, 2005, 11:55 AM
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Mitch,

In most cases, the company you work for knows exactly how much you get paid, because they write the cheque. Tips are sort of a grey area, though...I suppose it depends on whether one views tips as part of the salary, or (which seems more appropriate) as a performance-related bonus.

Admittedly, I've never worked in a job where tips played a role. But in theory, I don't think it would bother me if the company knew how much I was being tipped, so long as it didn't have a negative impact on my other compensation.

Cheers,
Julian
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Jul 29th, 2005, 12:19 PM
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wanderlust123 -

Your comment: >>Also, since I will be doing a border crossing on land between the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, how and where could I get Tanzanian currency?<<

Where exactly are you crossing between the Mara and Serengeti? You might have a land crossing, but I doubt it will be direct between these two. With whom are you traveling?

As to currency, in Tanzania there really is no need for local currency, even for camp/lodge staff tips. All prefer USD and they have no problem having this converted to local currency - it they don't just bank the USD. In Kenya, both are accepted, but unless you need Kenyan Shillings for entrance fees in Nairobi, USD will work just fine.

Tips by credit card - not a very good idea. Even here in the States, one wonders whether the wait staff actually get the tips marked on the credit card slips. Besides, the guides, staff and others deserve whatever tips are being proffered at the time, not when the camp/lodge are paid by the credit card company. Also, many guides are not associated with a particular lodge/camp... rather from a tour outfitter. I think CASH is a very good system and it works.

 
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Jul 29th, 2005, 03:43 PM
  #16
 
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Wow! Thanks for all the feedback. I was finally able to get ahold of the company I am booked with and discussed tipping at lengh with them today and your advice is spot on with they recommended. So, I have gone to the bank and obtained "tip books" which contain 50 uncirculated $1 bills each, in a tablet fashion so they can be torn out as needed. I also called ahead at the bank and asked them to hold out their best $5 and $10 bills for me, which they gladly did, and now have bout $800 in small US paper currency. Now I am trying to decide how much larger stuff I need and how many traveler's checks to take for possible emergency. I was joking with someone at work about how to keep all that cash secure and indicated that I use an under the clothes waist pouch as well as an under the pants leg pouch and try to keep the money and credit cards divided up to reduce risk. Then I said at the rate I am collecting cash, I may have to resort to putting it in plastic bags and using duct tape to secure it to my body each day!
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Jul 29th, 2005, 04:03 PM
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wanderlust123 -

"Tip books" - that's a new one. Tear-out $1 bills! Interesting. Wonder how Kenyan or Tanzanian guides/staff/porters will feel about the torn edge! Or anyone for that matter! Suggest you get two (2) Tip Books... those $1 go real fast.

Better yet, just get a stack of 100 $1s. I'd hate for one of those tear-out bills to be torn as you pulled them out of the book.

I gather from your email address that you're in Hawaii... still the USA - don't tell me that your bank doesn't have fresh/relatively new currency regardless the denomination on a daily basis? And don't forget, the $20s should be the tri-color ones!
 
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Jul 29th, 2005, 04:18 PM
  #18
sandi
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wanderlust123 - sorry, I was looking at matnikstym's email address which is "hawaii"

Still, I'm sure you're bank, wherever you are located, will have fresh currency whenever you need it... no special order required.
 
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Jul 30th, 2005, 03:06 AM
  #19
 
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I have used the "tip" books before for travels elsewhere and never had a torn edge -- and you can tear them out ahead of time so they are just a stack. Never had one refused anywhere. I get them because they are new. No bent edges, no marks, etc.

The reason I ask the bank to sort out the nicer bills ahead of time is so that I don't get a line of people behind me while the teller goes through the money. They do not have fresh $5 or $10 on a daily (or any) basis where I live (a VERY small town). Sometimes they get in new money, but you never know when. I am just trying to be considerate of others by asking ahead. Also, I did get 2 tip books and still adding $1's to my collection. Even so, it still probably won't be enough. Still working on the aspect of duct taping the money to my body. LOL.
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Jul 30th, 2005, 06:56 AM
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Hi matnicsym,

I have also used the books you are talking about (alas not for travel). My Credit union has them at the holiday season, and calls them gift books, with 25 new one dollar bills in them. I attempted to pick some up in the last few months, however they aren't available. Would you be so kind to tell me what bank you obtained them at?? They would be perfect for my upcoming trip also!! Thanks Suzic
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