How Much Money Should I Bring?
It’s difficult to suggest an exact amount to bring with you as so much depends upon personal spending on items such as souvenirs, drinks, internet, laundry etc, but the following key points should help when planning a budget for your trip:
You’ll need to obtain some visas in advance before you arrive in West Africa, and others we can get en route as a group.
In most cases visas obtained en route will need to be paid for in Euros or US Dollars. If a crew member has to stay behind to wait for visas whilst the trip goes ahead, the extra costs incurred will be split evenly between the whole group and the crew (costs for accommodation, transport to and from embassies, and transport to catch the trip up). All costs will be receipted where possible so the process remains transparent.
One or two visas obtained en route must be paid for via a government website. Please ensure you bring a bank debit or credit card with you to process the online payment.
Please visit our Visas page to get an approximate idea of how much each visa will cost.
Hover over the ‘TRIPS’ tab at the top of this page and click through to your particular trip. Above the map for each trip you will see a ‘Kitty & Accommodation’ button (red).
The kitty has to be paid for in cash. The kitty price is listed in Euros, but can be paid for in US Dollars. To get the US Dollars figure we will work out the Euros to Dollars exchange rate on day 1 of the trip.
Hover over ‘THE TRIPS’ tab at the top of this page and click through to your particular trip. Above the map for each trip you will see a ‘What’s The Kitty?’ button (red).
This will also detail costs for optional activities not included in the kitty price.
It’s difficult to gauge how much to recommend for personal spending – so much depends upon how much you drink, how many souvenirs you buy, if you smoke, how well you eat when we’re not camping, how much you use the internet etc.
Based upon previous passengers feedback, €10 – €20 Euros a day for personal spending is quite sufficient. There will be times when we are staying in the larger cities that you may well spend more than that per day, but then we will have 3 or 4 days where there is virtually nothing to spend your money on, so it usually balances out.
This is entirely at your discretion, but any local guides we use along the way appreciate a tip in recognition of their service if you feel it is deserving.
Things don’t always go according to plan on the road, so you should have access to extra funds in case of an emergency. Remember that if you fall ill, you will often have to pay for medical costs upfront and your insurance company will reimburse you later.
In addition, in the event of major political upheaval and/or serious security concerns, or severe natural disaster, and it is deemed too risky to pass through a country, and the only way to progress is by flying over a country, all costs for the flights will have to be paid for by the passengers. This is referred to as an ‘act of God’ or a ‘force majeur’.
What Type Of Money Should I Bring?
For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, but in West Africa travellers cheques have become very difficult to change (though not impossible), so for that reason we recommend a mix of cash and ATM cards.
Euros and US Dollars are the currency of choice for most countries in West Africa. Some countries prefer Euros and others prefer US Dollars. You will find that trying to exchange anything other than Euros or US Dollars is often time consuming and problematic. Exchange rates for currencies other than Euros or US Dollars are often unattractive. Having said that, you will find it possible to exchange British Pounds Sterling in major cities in Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana.
We therefore advise you to bring cash split 50% Euros – 50% US Dollars.
In terms of local money it’s not worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their local currency you are allowed to import. If you are found with currency in excess of the permitted amounts it may well be confiscated.
Please note that most ATMs only take Visa debit/credit cards. You will find Cirrus, Maestro, Mastercard, and American Express cards almost impossible to use. It is worth noting that asking for a cash advance with your credit card over the counter in West African banks can be very expensive.
You certainly DO NOT want to rely upon ATM machines as your primary source of cash for the trip. You will only find ATMs in the bigger towns and cities, and they often run out of cash or are out of order. Remember that the commissions charged to use your card abroad soon add up. It is worth notifying your bank in advance that you will be using your card in West Africa as otherwise they might block it when you attempt to use it! We advise the usual security precautions when using ATMs in West Africa: cover the machine with your hand when typing in your pin, look out for suspicious signs that the machine has been tamepred with, and pay attention to who is around you when making a withdrawl.
At the start of each trip we will give you a rough idea of how much local currency you will need for each country so you can plan accordingly.
With cash you should take a mixture of denomination of notes. Banks and money changers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running from the top to the bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2005 or later. You should not bring any torn, faded, or damaged notes, or any that have writing on them. If you do they will only be exchanged at a very poor rate. 100 and 50 Euro/Dollar notes attract by far the best rates, but also be sure to bring some lower denomination notes for smaller transactions. Locals will sometimes take foreign currency as payment, particularly in souvenir shops, and may offer you a better price for payment in Euros/Dollars.
From experience some passengers feel uncomfortable carrying large amounts of cash with them. Aminah has two safes on her for your valuables. Anything you place inside the truck safes is entirely at your own risk, and Overlanding West Africa takes no responsibility for any loss to your items. However, only the crew have the key to the safes so rest assured your valuables will be secure.