Saturday, 18 June 2016

Backpacker budgeting: South Africa

Two of the most frequently asked questions I've received from people at home, people who read this blog (big love to you, you little diamonds) and people who I've met so far whilst travelling is, 'how are you affording to travel for a year?' and 'how are you budgeting for the different countries you're going too?'


I like to think, I'm pretty good with money and when I was first asked about budgets, I didn't really know what to reply because I just...made one? (So helpful...) But apparently, according to my BFF who I'm travelling with, the budget I've worked out for each country is perhaps not something that everyone does. 

It's probably a tad more...specific. And what I mean by specific is that I pretty much know down to the exact penny what I have spent, and what I have left to spend. Some people may not particularly like that way of doing it, or may not see the need too, but for me, I want to get the most out of my experience whilst ensuring there are no nasty surprises waiting for me upon logging into my bank account to check my remaining balance. 

So! With that, I've decided to do a series of posts called 'backpacker budgeting', whereby I'll break down my budget for each country I travel too, how I've created it, how I ensure I stick to it as well as the types of pricing you can expect for tourist attractions, restaurants, bars etc. 

The first country in this series, will be South Africa. If you haven't read my itinerary post (and if you haven't, you really are a naughty little sausage), I'm spending two months in South Africa, including six weeks in Cape Town, 8 days travelling along the Garden Route and 4 days in Johannesburg.


It goes without saying that it's pretty impossible to budget for anything, not just travel, when you have nothing to budget with, and due to the unfortunate fact that money does not grow on trees, (pesky, damn things) the ability to travel for a year requires saving. And a lot of it, at that. 

From what I've read and heard, it is possible to travel around South East Asia with a budget of £1,000 a month, and this monthly amount is also suitable for backpacking around South Africa too. 

The South African currency is the rand and, fortunately for those of us lucky enough to be travelling from England, the pound to rand exchange rate is extremely strong, making the country a very affordable place to spend time and travel in. At the time of writing this post, £1 is the equivalent of 22 rand and to put that into some kind of perspective, the average price for a glass of wine in a normal bar or restaurant is around 30 rand. 

Mmmmhhmmm.

Less than £1.50 for a glass of wine. RIP me.


Anyway. 

Budgeting. 

So, I went old school to write out my budget with pen and paper, with £1000 to be spent for the first month between 18th May (the day we arrived in Cape Town) to the 18th June. 

Whilst it's a lot less interesting than drinking in bars, swimming with sharks and chilling out on beaches, accommodation is the most important thing to book and organise first (FYI, I'm not including the international flight from England to South Africa in this £1,000 budget). 

We decided to start out in a 3 bed female dorm, at The Backpacker, which is leaning towards the more expensive end in regards to other hostels in Cape Town however we wanted to know we were going to somewhere safe and secure and with a good reputation where we would be able to settle in to the travelling life. On arrival, we needed to pay £268 for our two week stay from 18 June - 1 June, including breakfast.

// Now, as I'm harping on about how good I am with money, I do need to admit that my friend and I made the painfully stupid mistake of checking out a day early from our first hostel, and only realised our error once we'd arrived at our next hostel. Painful. Don't do that. Always double check your bookings. //

Our next hostel, is much more affordable, although we are in an 8 bed dorm this time which is, at times...somewhat intense. From 1 June - 18 June, Atlantic Point Backpackers cost £175 (also including breakfast!) which is pretty crazy really, particularly as this place won 'best hostel in Africa 2015'. 

In total, for a month, accommodation cost £443, leaving a total of £557 to spend. Now, some may leave it as that, and have that amount to spend for those four weeks or you can break it down further, which I did.

Rounding up to £560, because I'm utterly wild, leaves you £140 a week, and £20 a day, which in South Africa, is 100% doable.

For example, this is what £20 can get you in Cape Town:

 - Ride on the Cape Town Red Bus (which takes you all over the city/coast with a full day pass, valid on all 3 routes - equivalent of £8.75
- Lunch at Shift coffee consisting of a drink and baguette - equivalent of £3.75
- Tea at Hudson's restaurant consisting of main meal and alcoholic drink (v popular in CT) - equivalent of £5.30 

Of course there will be days where you spend more, particularly with activities such as wine tasting in Stellenbosch, paragliding and swimming with sharks however there will also be days where you barely spend £10. It's all about balance.


'But I want to drink every night and it will cost me way more than £20?'

Will it though?

Because you can get a glass of (good quality) wine for around R25, basically £1.10, beer/cider for between R20-30 and even cocktails are around R50-60. Whilst I've been here and possibly sampled a few beverages on a night or too (...), I've never spent more than R200 and that includes both the cheaper and more upmarket areas so if you are partial to a drink or five, there aren't many places more affordable than South Africa at the moment.

After a month here, I can absolutely confirm that a budget of £1000 for a month here in Cape Town is extremely doable, and if anything, I think you could do it for even less. Even though food and wine are the absolute lights of my life, and we've packed a lot in to our first month here, I have actually underspent by £100 although what my bank account has gained in pounds, so too has my body... But really, do calories even count when you're overseas? I don't think it's scientifically proven that they do is it...

Wow, so this was an absolute monster of a post, and I hope that someone, somewhere, finds it slightly useful. I'm aware I've been quite general here, but if you do have any questions about specific costs of certain activities, areas etc, feel free to comment down below or message me on social media.

p.s I haven't included anything about the Garden Route as this will have it's very own post all to it's self very soon :)

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