South Africa is one of the easiest places in Africa to travel in terms of finances.  Banks are everywhere and accept just about all types of cards.  However, that doesn’t mean you can leave on a trip to South Africa without taking any sort of financial precautions.  In fact, no matter where you travel, you should be planning out your finances.  These are my 5 financial tips for any trip to South Africa, but they could really be translated to just about any location on the planet.

Cape Town Dining

1. Have Multiple Accounts

At home, it might not make much sense to have more than one bank, but on the road it does for a number of reasons.  The obvious reason is that you may get a card stolen, or lost one, or have one eaten by an unruly bank machine.  If you have another account with another bank, then you’ll have a back up.  The less obvious reason is that internationally, some debit cards do funny things in bank machines.  For one, some machines don’t let you access your savings account.  Make sure you check your savings account is cleared and your cash in your checking account before you go.  Of course, you can usually do this online once you get there.

2. Carry Multiple Cards in Multiple Places

Again, it comes down to theft or robbery.  Even if you have multiple cards, it wont do you any good if you have them all in the same bag and you lose that bag.  Make sure you have more than one card, from more than one account, in various different places just in case.

3. Set Daily Limits

Before you leave for South Africa, make sure you set a daily limit that is both high enough for you to get by each day, but low enough that if your card gets stolen they wont be able to draw very much cash from it.  It’s not that you’re likely to get robbed here, it’s just a measure of precaution.

4. Advise your Bank of your Travels

For some, it may seem the obvious thing to do.  However, I can’t believe how many people have had their banks block their card due to suspicious activity while they travel because they didn’t inform them.  In fact, even after I did do it, I was blocked once in South Africa.  Be crystal clear with them where you’re going an how long you will be away.  You don’t want to get stranded without cash or cards because this happened.

5. Leave some Wiggle Room in your Budget

The first trip I ever did I basically just took all the money I had and divided it by the days I’d be travelling to come up with my budget.  Of course, I ended up having to dip into my credit later because of unforseen expenses.  When you travel, there are all sorts of minor fees that add up.  If you don’t leave any wiggle room in your budget, these can break your trip.  A good backpacker’s budget for South Africa is about $45 USD a day, so save for 50.  A good mid-range budget is about $75USD a day, so budget for $85.

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