Money Woes in Addis Ababa

A Birr

I made too many assumptions, I guess, and I am in a bit of a tight spot for it. For all of Addis Ababa’s contemporary feel and apparent wealth, it has been hard for me to access my money. When a traveler has no money, things become a bit desperate (though some would disagree), and one must exercise some cunning. Continue reading

Kampala on Less than Two Dollars per Day

The view from my place in Bunga

Since I began working in Kampala, I have had to consider my personal budget and make a few changes. Before I was hired at the bar, my boss informed me that he’d be paying me a “Ugandan salary,” normal for a workaday Ugandan, but a significantly lower rate than I’d grown used to. The work I am doing is in no way intellectual or particularly tasking, so my salary is 200,000 Uganda shillings (about $80) per month. Included in this would be a place to stay, a free beer and free meals each day from the restaurant. I took the job, figuring I could survive handsomely with the situation, and maybe even save a small sum. Continue reading

On Fund Raising

The system works!

I hate asking people for things, normally. I’d rather sleep out in the cold than knock on a stranger’s door, unless I was seriously concerned about my survival. My diet, when I’m in a financial bind, consists of what’s both cheapest and most nutritionally wholesome: fruit, seeds, nuts. And the very last thing I’d ever ask anyone for is money; I feel I ought to be able to earn what I need. Maybe I’m proud, maybe I’m stubborn, but I only wish to sustain myself in contentedness.

Recently I’ve had to change this mentality somewhat. Working with this community-based organization, PMK Save the Future Generation – Uganda, I’ve learned that one must ask for help in order to receive it. By trying to raise money for my circumnavigation of Lake Victoria, and the subsequent funding of a new community banking program for the organization, I’ve achieved a new level of humility by sending emails to friends, companies, organizations, and family asking for contributions. Continue reading

Travel For Nothing

Perhaps the most valuable note

People often dream of what life would be like without money. People would trade things, give things. Generosity might rule, even as technology and development took back seats. Since we all have grown up in a society where money is really the driving force behind everything, it is very difficult to remove ourselves from the allure, the prestige, and the convenience which money offers. Maybe it’s not possible to live without it.

Travelers often have to worry about money. Immigration officials may want to see that you have enough money to support yourself before you are allowed entry. Lodging and transportation can cost a bundle, and even food and water may not be cheap. We bring cash, we bring checks, we bring debit cards. We exchange our own currency for the local paper at terrible rates. We stash our money cleverly in hidden pockets and money belts. We are scammed, we are robbed, and we call home and ask our parents to send us money afterward. Surely it is impossible to travel internationally without money! Continue reading

Travel Skills: How to Barter

This fellow got these new kicks for about $14. Down from $34.

For a foreigner in another country, the idea of bargaining for decent prices for everything from food and basic needs to transportation may not be easy one to swallow. We are used to clearly labeled, fixed prices on all of our products and services, and so westerners often have little skill in negotiating prices with street vendors. Additionally, locals are savvy to this and have an eye for easy prey. It is often impossible to hide one’s foreign origins in places like Africa, south east Asia, and South America, and shop owners, taxi drivers, guides, and money changers are only too happy to help serve a foreigner since it often leads to an extra buck or two. With persistence and practice, a traveler can become learned in the ways of petty dealings. Below is some simple advice to help travelers in their bargaining adventures. Continue reading

Trip Finance for the Frugal Migrant

Allocation of funds, see?

People ask me all the time how I afford to travel like I do. So I’ll tell you. It’s pretty simple:

I don’t spend money or time on much else, and when I do travel, I am as thrifty as I can be.

Everybody has their things that they like to do, and so those things end up being the sappers of money and time. This is totally fine. Better than fine! This is great. If you spend your money and time on things you like, then you are doing well, I’d say. It’s spending your money on things you don’t like which is absurd, but that’s a whole different story. Continue reading