Travel Money

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Aug 10th, 2005, 09:49 AM
  #1
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Travel Money

I'm going to Kenya for 12 days & would like to know approx. how much money to take. Excluding souvenirs & most of my meals are included what would be a close estimate to take. I'm referring to Tips & whatever else I have to pay for. The Safari itself is all paid for through Smartours. Would $500.00 be enough or should I take more. Any suggestions would be appreciated as I have never been to Africa before.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 10:35 AM
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If you didn't get your visas in advance, you'll need $50pp for these at the airport. Did Smartours provide you with any recommended tipping guidelines? I would say budget at least $15pp/day for tips to your driver/guide and lodge/camp staff. You should be able to pay for your lodge/camp incidentals with a credit card (this would include drinks, laundry, any optional activities). You can also use credit cards for larger purchases but will need cash for smaller purchases and other small expenses. You can withdraw shillings from ATM's in Nairobi and other larger towns. We took about $500 and returned home with a few hundred left over, but that's because we withdrew shillings and used that to pay for most of our tips and smaller expenses. Otherwise I would have taken more.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 10:47 AM
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Thanks Patty for the information. I already got my passport so going by your estimates I think I will take $750.00. I don't want to use my credit cards other than an emergency.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 11:58 AM
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sandi
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regg11 -

Remember to take your currency in small denominations - lots and lots of USD$1s, $5s and a bit less in $10s. Save the $20s for the guide tips. Except for the $1s, the others should be with the new larger faces and the $20s, preferrably the tri-color.

Be sure your currency is relatively new. They don't have to be freshly minted, but not folded, wrinkled, torn or inadvertently washed in your jeans. Also try to see that the bills are no more then 2-yrs old... in other words not early then 2002 or 2003.

You should be able to get local Kenyan Shillings at the ATM at the airport on arrival; there are other machines around NBO. Get what you need while in NBO as there aren't that many ATMs once you hit the road. Figure your withdrawals on the current exchange at about USD$1 = 75Ksh. But you'll probably get larger bills from the ATM and have to break them into smaller amounts depending on how you choose to use these.

Both USD and Ksh are accepted as tips for camp staff (porters, waiters, housekeeping) which are put in a Tip Box found at the Reception desk, whereas, your guide/drivers prefer USD.

As Patty mentions, USD$15/pperson/day is a good number to work with. If you stop at souvenir stands along the road, remember to bargain. When in NBO and if the tour operator takes you to the Collector's Den (which has excellent prices and lots of items for sourvenirs) their prices are in USD and they will charge your credit card in USD.

Have a wonderful trip and on your return, don't forget that we'll be waiting for pictures and a trip report. Happy travels.
 
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Aug 10th, 2005, 12:31 PM
  #5
mot
 
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Talking about tips when you mention usd 15/guide/driver is it a custom to pay same amount for both (i.e., usd 15 for the guide and usd 15 for the driver). Should we pay at the end of each safari day? Also other than lodge staff, guide and driver are any other tips advisable? Thanks.
Going to Tanzania in the end of August
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Aug 10th, 2005, 01:23 PM
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sandi
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Depending on where you're staying, if traveling in East Africa you usually only have a guide/driver - one and the same person.

If your itinerary has you at some of the high-end camps, you may have a tracker and in that case, there would be a separate tip for the tracker. Assuming a couple or any two people - $10-$20/day (per person) for the guide/$5-$10/day for the tracker.

Tips are given at the completion of your stay - whether a single day, or 5-days or 14-days. Not knowing your itinerary or the accommodations where you will be staying it's difficult to provide specifics.
 
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Aug 10th, 2005, 03:17 PM
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mot,
In Kenya, we had one person who served as both driver and guide and that's usually the case in East Africa except at some high end destinations as sandi pointed out. So when I mentioned driver/guide, I was referring to a single person.

sandi,
Do you know why the guides prefer USD? We tipped ours in USD but that was more or less because that's what we had left at the end of our trip. I didn't specifically inquire as to his preference.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 04:12 PM
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sandi-if the tips are given at the end of the stay, why do you need so many small bills? are the guides tipped daily and the staff tipped at the end? Thanks!
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Aug 10th, 2005, 08:34 PM
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Small bills (whether USD or local currency) come in handy for the occasional porter or anyone else who you might want to tip when a service is rendered, and also for small purchases from road side vendors. We tipped our driver/guide at the conclusion of our safari as he was with us throughout, but did have camp guides for activities such as a camel ride and night game drive and we tipped those guides at the end of our ride/drive. We left a pooled gratuity for the camp staff at the end of our stay at each location. Generally there was a box near reception for this. We also tipped a few of the camp staff individually where we felt it was warranted.
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Aug 10th, 2005, 08:48 PM
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Thanks Patty! You are always a help!
Dennis
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Aug 11th, 2005, 03:16 AM
  #11
sandi
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mat & patty -

Small bills - as Patty states, because there are always little things to be taken care of - porters in/out of hotels (not lodge/camps as these included in staff tips), sourvenirs, someone who has done something special deserving of a little extra, or when you just need a token to say thanks; easier to get at then fiddling thru your $5s or $10s.

Why Guide/Drivers (or others) prefer USD - it retains its value. The same reason worn, torn, wrinkled or old bills are not wanted. In many of these countries the local currencies loose value regularly, whereas the USD doesn't (except, as we know, against the Euro and the pound... these last few years the SARand). It's also easy enough for drivers to get convert to local currency, if they wish, or to just deposit into their own bank accounts as USD. Nowadays, even camp staff have no problems with USD as they can have these exchanged to local currency with no problem (usually by the lodge/camp); they get home to bank these funds on a regular basis to deposit to their personal accounts or use for family purposes.

I've yet to see USD turned down in any, so-called, third-world country.
 
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Aug 11th, 2005, 07:50 AM
  #12
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I just want to thank everyone for all there advice that I asked for. I can't get over the amount of help you can get on this thread. Thanks again & I will surely post my experiences when I get back.
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