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,

Having said that the following key points should help when planning a budget for your trip:


Visas

You’ll need to obtain some visas in advance before you arrive in West Africa, whilst 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 cash. If a crew member has to stay behind to wait for visas whilst the trip goes on 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 VISA 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.


The Kitty

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) which if you click on it will download a PDF.

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.


Optional Activities

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) which if you click on it will download a PDF.

This will also detail costs for optional activities not included in the kitty price.

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Personal Spending

It’s difficult to gauge how much to recommend for personal spending, as 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 at all, so it usually balances out.


Tipping

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.


Contingency Fund

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 all of the countries in West Africa. You will find that trying to exchange anything other than Euros and US Dollars is often time consuming and problematic. Exchange rates for currencies other than Euros and US Dollars are often unattractive. Having said that, it’s usually possible to exchange British Pounds Sterling in Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Ghana – and in Dakar (Senegal) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).

** We therefore advise you to bring cash split 50% Euros – 50% US Dollars **

In terms of local currency it’s not worth trying to buy any before you travel, as many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their local currency you are allowed to export/import. If you are found with currency in excess of the permitted amounts, it may well be confiscated.

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, but in West Africa travellers cheques have become almost impossible to exchange, so for that reason we recommend a mix of cash and ATM cards.

Please note that most ATMs only take Visa cards. You will find Cirrus, Maestro, MasterCard and American Express cards almost impossible to use. Please note 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 usually only find ATMs in the larger 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’s 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! 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 please note the following:

  • Banks and money changers in most countries will now only accept notes which are dated from 2009 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.
  • You should bring a mixture of denomination of notes with you. 100 and 50 Euro/US Dollar notes attract by far the best rates, but also be sure to bring some lower denomination notes for smaller transactions (10’s and 20’s only).
  • Local people will sometimes take foreign currency as payment, particularly in souvenir shops, and may possibly offer you a better price for payment in Euros or US Dollars.
  • Foreign exchange offices are often unwilling to exchange €200 Euro and €500 Euro notes due to the prevalence of forgeries, so you should avoid bringing such large notes with you.

From experience some passengers feel uncomfortable carrying large amounts of cash with them. Aminah has two safes on her for your valuables. One is easily accessible inside the truck body, and we suggest you only keep a minimal amount of money in this safe along with your passport. There is another well-hidden safe on Aminah, and we suggest you keep the bulk of your money and valuables in here. Priority storage is for cash and bank cards. If there is space left, you can put insurance documents, flight tickets and jewellery in there also. Please note we like to minimise how often this hidden safe is opened as it’s hidden away and takes a bit of time to gain access!

Anything you place inside the truck safe/s is entirely at your own risk, and Overlanding West Africa takes no responsibility for any loss to your items. However, please note that only the crew have the key to the safes so nobody else will have ready access.