Tips to Travel Africa on A Budget
If you spend time on social media, you’ve likely come across one of those viral TikTok videos. You know the ones – a group of friends who have been planning a trip for weeks, months, or even years finally get to embark on their adventure and capture every moment on camera.
As you watch these videos, you can’t help but feel a twinge of envy and wish that you were the one experiencing all the fun.
Well, the good news is – that could be you!
With careful planning and budgeting, you too can embark on the trip of a lifetime without breaking the bank. Whether you’re dreaming of a relaxing beach vacation or an action-packed adventure, there are plenty of ways to make your travel dreams a reality.
And if your travel destination happens to be “Somewhere in Africa”, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide explores actionable tips to travel Africa on a budget. Let’s get to it.
1. Use Budget-Friendly Airlines
Touring Africa doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg – quite the opposite. Going for budget-friendly airlines can be one of the most effective ways to keep your expenses within limit.
Discount carriers and budget airlines offer much lower ticket prices as compared to their full-service counterparts. Sure, you may not get the luxury services, but you’ll definitely reach your destination, and that too at a fraction of the cost. Look out for potluck deals, last-minute fares, and off-peak bookings.
However, it’s not just about finding the lowest ticket price. You have to consider other factors such as baggage allowances and in-flight amenities. Here’s where packing light becomes an essential skill – more on that later.
You’ll find several budget airlines operating in various parts of Africa, including Fastjet, Kulula, Fly540, and Mango, to name just a few. Some of these airlines offer amazingly cheap flights within countries or between neighboring countries. For example, you can fly from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania for as low as $50 if you book well in advance!
Furthermore, do look for promotional fares and early-bird discounts, which can make your travel cheaper. Also, try to be flexible with your dates and times. Sometimes, flying in the middle of the week or at odd hours can yield cheaper tickets due to lower demand.
A word of caution though: As with any other budget service, you’ll want to scrutinize the fine print. Some budget airlines can charge hefty fees for things like checked luggage, choosing a specific seat, or even printing your boarding pass at the airport. This is where packing light and being well-prepared can save you from any hidden charges.
So, in a nutshell, save that extra cash for some exciting African experiences by flying budget. Trust me, your wallet will thank you.
2. Travel Outside Peak Seasons
A little secret to having the best African travel experience on a budget is to avoid traveling during the peak seasons.
And here’s why.
During this period, lots of tourists are flying here and there, causing the demand for flights, hotels, and other services to go higher, and as a result, the prices go up too. But here’s the workaround; travel outside the usual tourist-packed periods.
In off-peak times, not only are the prices significantly lower, but you also get to enjoy a more intimate, less crowded experience with the beautiful African landscapes, culture, and wildlife. Africa is a large continent with very diverse climates, so an ‘off-peak’ period in one country might be peak in another. It’s always a good idea to research your specific destination before making plans.
Take South Africa as an example. Their off-peak winter season is from May to September. During this period, you can enjoy reduced rates at game lodges and national parks.
Bottom line, there’s every incentive to dodge Africa’s peak tourism periods and harness the golden opportunities that the off-peak seasons offer.
However, do keep in mind the climate and seasonal activities you want to participate in. You don’t want to land in Namibia for the wildlife migration only to find out it’s the wrong period.
Therefore, tailoring your itinerary with the off-peak season in mind can make your travel more economical and pleasurable.
3. Pack Light to Avoid Checked Luggage Fees
Now, who doesn’t love to pack it all, yes?
We all like to carry a slice of home with us wherever we travel. But when it comes to budget travel, say hello to packing light. Trust me, it might seem like a hard. You’ve planned out your outift and poses for the vacay, and can’t wait to post them on the gram. But packing light not only makes your journey hassle-free but also helps you avoid those nasty checked luggage fees.
Packing light doesn’t mean sacrificing your necessities, though. It’s simply about packing smarter. Here are some quick tips:
- Layer Clothes Instead of Bulky Items: Pack more lightweight clothes—preferably those you can layer. Opt for versatile pieces of clothing that you can mix and match.
- Invest in Miniature Toiletries: Rather than carrying full-sized items, opt for travel-sized toiletries or consider buying them at your destination.
- Limit the Shoes: We all know that beautiful shoes take us to pleasant places, but not today. Shoes take up a lot of space, and there’s little or no hack around that. So, carry a pair that is comfortable for walking and suitable for most occasions.
Remember, every pound counts when you’re trying to avoid checked luggage fees. This doesn’t mean you’ve to travel like a hermit. You just need to be more selective and smart about what you take with you.
By keeping your items to a minimum, you’re eliminating excess weight; meaning less cost, less waiting around at baggage claims, and less risk of losing your belongings. Now, who wouldn’t love that?
4. Spend Like The Locals
So, you’ve landed at your travel destination and you’re ready to explore. But wait! Before you start spending those dollars, euros, or indigenious currency directly, hold on a sec.
One of the best budget travel tips is to Spend Like The Locals.
This means exchanging your currency to the local currency for cash purchases.
Why? Because often prices when converted into foreign currencies might be rounded off to higher amounts. Not to forget, some small local vendors might not accept foreign currencies at all.
If you’re doing a lot of online shopping, consider using a multicurrency wallet. These wallets allow you to hold and manage multiple types of currencies in a single account.
If you’re unsure of which multicurrency wallet to use, we recommend Yogupay.
Yogupay offers a userfriendly multicurrency wallet to help you send, receive, hold and save money indiverse currencies. this includes Ghana Cedi, Nigerian Naira, Kenyan Shilling, ZAR, CAD, and UK pounds. And the best part is, you can make payments and transfersin minutes and at competitive rates.
This way, you can skim off unnecessary exchange rate charges and avoid the hassle of carrying too much cash around. So, when in Africa, do as Africans do—spend in the local currency and save big.
5. Stay in Hostels or Guesthouses
Who doesn’t like princess treatment on their vacay? I bet we all do. However, as a budget traveler, lodging in a 5-star hotel might dig a hole in your pocket. So your best bet is to stay in a hostel or guesthouse.
We usually want to feel at home wherever we are, and there’s no doubt that guesthouses offer a home away from home. They’re cheaper than most hotels and often provide a more intimate and authentic experience. Surrounding yourself with locals and fellow travelers widens your perspective, exposes you to new cultures, and deepens your travel experience.
Hostels, on the other hand, will almost certainly do the trick if you’re on an even tighter budget. These accommodations are prevalent throughout Africa, and they offer a great chance to meet other travelers. Plus, hostels often organize social events or tours, which can also help cut down on expenses.
However, remember to book in advance. These places tend to fill up quickly, especially during the holiday seasons. Consider using booking sites like Tripadvisor, Airbnb, etc to compare prices for hostels and guesthouses. This way, you’ll find the one that perfectly matches both, your budget and your needs.
- Choose shared dormitory-style rooms for a cheaper stay.
- Always read reviews before booking to avoid unpleasant surprises.
- Take advantage of the kitchen facilities often provided to save on food costs.
- Engage with the hostel/guesthouse community for tips and discovery of low-cost activities nearby.
Now, you’re all set to have an affordable and fabulous stay.
6. Cook Your Meals or Eat Street Food
I know you want to have a taste of all the foreign cuisines and delicacies you’ve been watching on TV and YouTube. But we’re trying to save some cash, right?.
Alright, let’s get down to business.
Those high-end restaurants or fancy cafes can be pretty pricy, especially when you add in the tips and taxes. Instead, try preparing your own meals if possible. This will not only save you money but also give you a chance to visit local markets and get a slice of the local life. This can be a fantastic experience in itself.
If you’re not much of a cook or if your accommodation doesn’t provide the facilities, don’t sweat. Africa is known for its vibrant outdoor food culture. You can always eat at local eateries or try the delicious street food. In many places, the street food is just as good, if not better than, the food at expensive restaurants.
You’ll find delicious goodies being sold at the roadside from dawn till dusk. You might come across stuff like Jollof rice in Nigeria, Bunny Chow in South Africa, or Suya in West Africa.
- Make sure to check the restaurant or street stall’s hygiene standard before ordering.
- Avoid drinking tap water and always go for bottled water. Your tummy will thank you for it.
Just make sure to only patronize clean stalls where food is freshly prepared. Hygiene is king.
7. Find Free Tourist Attractions and Activities
Africa is a treasure chest filled with free attractions and activities. Beautiful landscapes, bustling markets, enchanting beaches, and historical sites can often be enjoyed without shelling out a penny.
Take a hike up Table Mountain in Cape Town or chill on Camps Bay beach for some vitamin sea, both absolutely free of charge. Africa offers plenty of natural attractions that don’t require any admission fee.
Remember, though, always to respect the natural environment and follow any local rules to keep these places pristine for future visitors.
If you happen to be vacationing in the cities, there’s usually a wealth of things that can be done without parting with your cash. Markets are a great way to see local life in action, and you don’t have to buy anything to enjoy the buzz and energy.
Take a stroll around Lagos’s Balogun Market, Accra’s Makola Market or Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square; the vibrant colors, bustling atmosphere and smells of local spices make it an adventure in itself.
Many museums and historical sites also offer free entry, or at least, reduced prices on certain days. It’s worth checking ahead so you can plan your visit accordingly. For example, the South African National Museum and Planetarium in Cape Town is free on certain public holidays.
Let’s not forget local festivities and open-air events. Often, local communities organize festivals, music, and dance performances that tourists are welcome to join. Not only is this a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the local culture, but these activities are also usually free.
In conclusion, it may take a bit of research and creative thinking, but there are definitely ways to enjoy the wonders of Africa without spending a fortune.
8. Volunteer for Exchange of Food and Accommodation
There are many organizations and projects across Africa that provide food and accommodation in exchange for a few hours of your work. This could be in community development projects, wildlife conservation efforts, teaching English, etc.
Not only will you save on your budget, but you’ll also gain a unique, rewarding experience and contribute positively to the community you visit.
Take Note: While there are many opportunities to volunteer, it’s important to conduct due diligence before joining any project. Some organizations might require you to commit for a certain duration or might require certain skills. It’s also a good idea to check reviews and speak to previous volunteers to get a clearer picture of what to expect. However, when you find the right fit, it can significantly cut your costs and also give you a sense of achievement.
In this exchange program, meals are generally simple and homely, which means you’ll eat what the locals eat. Thus, this not only allows you to save money on food and accommodation but also offers you an authentic glimpse into local life. And who knows, you might pick up some cool recipes to try when you get back home.
In terms of accommodation, don’t expect a lavish hotel room. Remember, the idea here is to save money. So, you might end up sharing a room with other volunteers or staying in a basic guest room. But, that’s part of the adventure and charm, isn’t it? Imagine ending your day with friendly banter and shared experiences with other like-minded volunteers. Total win-win.
if you’re wondering whether it’s safe or not to volunteer, responsible organizations take their volunteers’ safety and well-being very seriously. They usually arrange safe accommodation and also provide local support. However, it’s never a bad idea to stay cautious and informed.
9. Cut Down on Souvenirs
Now, we totally get it – you’re in Africa, the land of diverse cultures and enchanting wildlife and you’re tempted to take a piece of this unique experience back home with you. However, this may not work when you are on a tight budget.
The truth is souvenirs can really add up and eat a huge chunk of your budget. Also, they take plenty of space in your luggage, increasing the chances of you being charged for extra weight. Not cool, right?
Here’s a pro tip – instead of buying that pricey wooden giraffe statue, why not take a photograph next to a real one? Now that’s a cool and free souvenir.
But we understand, sometimes you just have to buy that little something. When you do, try local markets or street vendors instead of designated tourist shops. You’re likely to find much cheaper and more authentic items there. Plus, you’re supporting local businesses which is a win-win situation.
So, if you decide to buy a souvenir or two, remember one thing, bargaining is key. Most traders expect a good-natured haggle, it’s a significant part of shopping in Africa.
Here’s a savvy tip: Start by offering half the price they initially asked for, and then build it up slowly until you reach a compromise both you and the seller are happy with. But remember, always keep it friendly and respectful.
10. Travel In Groups
Sharing costs with your travel buddies can significantly reduce the per-person expenses. Whether it’s splitting the cost of a multi-bedroom Airbnb or booking a group rate for a safari tour, there’s no doubt that more people can mean more savings.
Sure, trekking with a group isn’t for everyone. It may mean less flexibility and more compromise. But if you’re down for the experience (and the savings), it’s worth considering. It can also make your journey more fun, and diverse and you’ll have more people to share and remember those incredible experiences with.
Of course, always choose your travel buddies wisely. Remember that you’ll be spending a lot of time together. You’ll want to ensure that everyone gets along and is on the same page about the budget and itinerary.
Enjoy your budget-friendly travel and the companionship you’ll share along the way. It’s all part of the awesome African travel experience.
11. Save Money on Communication by Using Local SIM Cards or Wi-Fi Hotspots
Staying connected when traveling is essential, but international roaming charges can create a big hole in your pocket. That’s why, to save cash, consider picking up a local SIM card or exploiting the Wi-Fi hotspots whenever you can.
Local SIM cards are available in most African cities and towns, and they offer cheap internet and call rates. You can buy one upon landing at international airports. Usually, you’d need your passport for registration. It’s quite a straightforward process.
While free Wi-Fi may not be readily available everywhere in Africa, many hostels, guesthouses, and restaurants offer it to their customers. There are also internet cafes where you can pay a small fee to access the internet.
Remember, whichever method you use to stay connected in Africa; mobile data or Wi-Fi, make sure you are cautious while using open networks. Avoid sharing sensitive information like bank details or passwords, as these networks could be insecure.
FAQs on How To Travel Africa on A Budget
Planning a pocket-friendly trip to Africa? These tips will help you create a realistic budget for your travel.
- Is Travelling To Africa Expensive?
The cost of traveling to Africa depends on your plan and budget. It can be cheap or expensive depending on what you want and how you want it. However, if you are planning a budget-friendly trip to Africa, we have tips below to help you get started.
- How Much Does a Trip to Africa Cost?
The cost of a trip to an African country can vary between $10 and $2000 per night, which includes food and accommodation expenses. However, this cost does not cover flight fares and may also vary depending on the country’s cost of living and the exchange rate of the dollar.
- How Much is an All-inclusive Trip to Africa?
A 7-day all-inclusive trip covering airfare, food, accommodation, and tours can cost anywhere between $1000 to $3500 for solo travelers. The final cost largely depends on the type of travel package you choose, the destination you want to visit, and your budget. While some packages may offer more luxurious stays and premium services at an additional cost, others may be more budget-friendly. Therefore, it is always advisable to research thoroughly and compare different packages to find one that suits your preferences and budget.
- How Can I travel to Africa for Free?
Signing up with volunteer organizations in Africa is a great way to travel to the continent either for free or at a very low cost. You can volunteer to teach English in remote villages, help with community development, work on farms, and more. These organizations cover your expenses for flights, accommodation, and food.
- Do I need a Visa to Travel to Africa?
While some African countries allow visitors from America and most parts of Europe to tour the country without a visa for a maximum of 90 days, others may require you to apply for a visa before traveling or get a visa upon arrival. To avoid any inconvenience, it’s advisable to research the visa policy of your destination ahead of time.
- How much is a Visa to Africa?
Depending on your duration, tourist visas to Africa cost between $30-45. Business visas of over 90 days cost between $100 – $130.
The special thing about traveling isn’t always about doing extravagant things; it’s about the experience, the sights, the sounds, and the people you meet. Embrace the local culture, make new friends, experience things beyond the tourist traps, and save money while you’re at it.
If you follow these tips, you’ll start seeing travel as less of a luxury and more of an affordable reality. Happy budget travels!