Going on a long journey obviously requires a financial effort. But in Africa, travelling by bike is not so expensive! I have a budget of 10 euros per day, 300 euros per month maximum! Not to mention the round-trip airfare and visa fees, which are necessary for many countries.
How to finance your trip and make your savings last?
1. Limit costs in your home country: obviously I do not have a house, so no rent to pay nor loan. I keep my belongings in a storage room that I rent by the month. When I come back, I stay with Friends or family the time I find a new flat or before I go back to work abroad.
2. Save money when I work: I work 4 to 6 months a year as a tour guide. My accommodation costs and meals are paid when I am with my clients, ie most of the time! So I can save a lot of my salary.
3. Live a simple life: I can save because I do not need much to live. I certainly do not have the most modern phone and my pairs of shoes can be counted on the fingers of one hand! I like to live without luxury. And that’s also how I was educated.
4. Free or almost free transport: I travel by bike, so no transportation costs! Only the plane ticket if you do not leave from your place of residence. I would have liked to leave from Barcelona but I was running out of time! And then I also had to pay the taxi the day of my arrival in Cairo, it was already dark so dangerous to ride. In addition, my bike was half dismantled in its box. So I took a taxi with the bike on the roof to my hostel. The same thing on the day of my departure. I prefered to pack my bike before leaving for the airport or the day before rather than riding and pack it at the airport.
Otherwise, I do everything by bike, even in cities! I still had to take the bus in Kenya to cross an area where armed bandits regularly steal vehicles violently, and in Tanzania to cross the Saadani National Park. I also took some boat trips, to cross the border between Egypt and Sudan and to cross the Nile sometimes by narrow boat in Sudan.
5. Camping or sleeping with the locals: I take a tent, a mattress and a sleeping bag with me. I sleep in people’s house when I feel comfortable and sometimes I’m also invited before I even ask. I camp as much as possible to limit costs, even better if it’s free: in the wild, in schools, in local people’s house, in gas stations, restaurants, at churches or at police stations! In general, it is easy to find a place to sleep, even in desert or remote areas.
I also camp in established camps or hotel gardens more or less luxurious: prices often reduced after negotiating: a few euros to use the bathroom. Sometimes it’s not possible or confortable to camp, especially during the rainy season in some areas, where I’m soaked and woods are flooded. Almost everywhere there are cheap hotels or hostels, which are used especially for truck drivers, traders, travelers, etc. Some establishments are also used by the locals as “love hotels”… You have to get used to it.
6. Eat local food: I find local restaurants almost everywhere, and really cheap. For 1 or 2 euros per meal. Sometimes less. If I cross a desertic area then I plan to carry food in my panniers: cans, bread, biscuits, cereals, fruits, and I eat everything cold! I’m not difficult and I eat everything. I can also eat the same thing for several days without tiring myself, like “ful” in Sudan, “ugali” in East Africa, or the “baked beans” in Namibia … Sometimes I compensate with a better meal in a more touristy place or a big city. I’m also lucky to be invited for lunch or dinner by local people quite often!
7. Limit paying tours and excursions: otherwise, the money goes fast. I choose according to the countries. I visited many temples in Egypt, but it was ridiculously cheap. In Sudan, almost all touristic sites are free. I also know some national parks already from previous trips to Africa and therefore I decided not to return. I do some excursions in Botswana and visit some national parks in Namibia and South Africa, a bit more expensive for my budget but it was worth it.
8. Buy on the market: things like personal hygiene products and second-hand clothes are at good prices in local markets. I also had a broken spoke repaired in a small shop in the Livingstone market in Zambia, a country where the bike is used everywhere and repair shops easy to find!
9. Avoid tourist places and big cities, in general, the cost of living and hotels are higher and there’re also more temptations (Western food, bars, etc.).
10. Know prices and exchange rates to avoid scams and to be able to negotiate.
Some people have encouraged me to become a “digital nomad” ie working on a blog and earning income thanks to its content, articles or videos, but the rudimentary conditions (lack of internet connection and sometimes electricity), tiredness after a day cycling and the time I would have to spend compaired to the money earned deterred me! I also want to take full advantage of the experience and be FREE !!!