There’s a lot of speculation about how people that enjoy travel afford to do so. I follow many travel bloggers on instagram, some whose levels of travel are the stuff of dreams. A hashtag that I recently came across #tagyoursponsor, asking some girls to explain who funds their exotic trips, left me in stitches. While there are definitely people that choose that route (and we’re happy for them because it’s a free world), most of us have to squeeze the little we have to feed this hobby.
I would get a little ticked off to be honest, initially , when people asked ‘who’ funded my travels. The question implies that I am incapable of enjoying something that I love without a man in the background. While in Uganda last year, a good Ugandan friend of mine commented, and insert Ugandan accent here, ‘But you Gacheri, there must be a muzungu (white man) behind all this.’ I wasn’t sure what was more laughable between the fact that he was so sure somebody was funding my trips or that he thought it was a white person.
Here’s how I do it;
- I cut off expenses on everything else. I turn down expensive dates with my girlfriends; some got tired of asking. I still drink up before the rave. My lunches when working cost me between 60 to 100 shillings (half a dollar to a dollar), and that’s when I don’t carry food from home; and guess what, I eat in those ‘vibandas’ and I eat well! I’ll admit that clothes, shoes and make-up do take a big percentage of my finances but those evils are just as necessary as food and travel. Think I’m being too hard on myself? Please look at my travel posts and the breathtaking views I save up for.
- Get hosted. This cannot be overstated. Not only do you end up saving, you also get free and exciting lessons about people’s culture, in addition to insights on places to visit. Some of these places will never feature online. I have been hosted in 3 countries so far, South Africa, Rwanda last year and the States a while back. This is in addition to some places locally. Because I’m naturally social, I take advantage every time I meet people from other countries, especially those I plan to visit. I show them around Nairobi, invite them home for a meal etc. There’re also online platforms you can use, couchsurfers and airbnb where you can get hosted by people that just enjoy hosting. I’ll post soon on the art of being hosted. It’s one that needs optimism and a little courage, especially for sole female travellers.
- Book your ticket early and do proper research on what airline/bus is best affordable. For airline tickets, do not go through an agent, try get your own ticket online. This, however, needs some wisdom. You don’t want to end up on an airline with so many bad reviews. I cut costs on my bus trip from Dar-es-Salaam to Nairobi and another time from Kampala to Nairobi and the things that happened to me require an entire blog post. The Dar one was particularly overwhelming and took a flood of tears to get me out of a situation. Such, however is the beauty of trying and learning.
- Plan your budget early. You need to know how much you’re saving for a trip. Before departure, break it down to bits eg X shillings for this country/town, Y for another and so on. I travel to sight-see so it’s never that definite as I don’t know what new sights will come up, but it helps.
- Learn how to visit exotic places without necessarily spending too much. All it takes to hang out at an expensive resort is buying one or two drinks/more. This could afford you the luxury of good views all day, then you can head back to your hotel/host.
- This is unconventional but talk about your upcoming trip. You never know who has friends/relatives where you’re going. You end up getting contacts for people who are willing to show you around, and perhaps take you to places you would otherwise not have known/afforded-cue in a very fancy dinner in Kigali, movies etc.
Any tips you may have or questions, share below or to my email.
Until next time (two Fridays from now) bye!