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Watch your expenditure on vacation

By John Kariuki | December 17th 2014

This year’s Christmas season starts in a week’s time and like last year, some people are bound to exceed their budgets and eat into their savings. Even the most conscientious cost cutters are sometimes guilty of throwing away money needlessly on vacation.

Frequently, we get carried away by the holiday mood and forget to watch the shillings and cents.

But while a daily audit of your money may rob you of holiday fun, a little caution is necessary. The idea is to aim at having a great vacation that is friendly to your wallet, without having to bother your relatives and co-workers to send you money or cutting short your holiday short on account of running out of money.

In extreme cases, some travellers have even pawned their wrist watches, digital cameras and necklaces for fare back home, courtesy of poor holiday planning. Guard against getting duped by the advertising blitz on all fronts about destinations to the extent that you forget to read the fine print of the actual cost. Travel experts suggest that unless you will be spending most of your time indoors, say on a honeymoon, chances are that you will only use such fabulously advertised and expensively priced hotel rooms for only a few hours when sleeping and bathing.

Indeed, your choice of holiday hotel should be an economical place close to the attractions that you want to see and not an exorbitantly priced establishment fit for kings.

Jeremy Sang, a tour driver, says that travelling around while holidaying wastes money. “Some people often hire cars which they may not require in a town full of cheap public transportation like matatus, motorcycles and tuk tuk taxis,” says Sang.

He wonders what happened to good old fashioned walking while sightseeing. Sang advises people to consider cheaper modes of travel like a bus, which can be more fun.

“It beats reason why someone is on holiday in the first place if all his or her travel is by chartered planes and in swanky taxis, whereas a ride on a donkey or a camel caravan would be cheaper and more memorable,” says Sang.

Dennis Wanjohi, a tour guide, has seen many domestic tourists get into the craze of buying too many souvenirs and draining their resources. “In trying to remember their holidays, many people buy tee-shirts they will never wear; spears and shields they will never use and just about anything else so long as it is exotic,” says Wanjohi.

But some curio dealers have gotten so sophisticated that they are always at hand to effect the transactions even with credit card and mobile phone money transfer services, passing on the administration fees to the buyers.

Wanjohi advises people who will be holidaying in busy local destinations, to have a plan of all the places and things they want to do. “Otherwise without a plan, you risk getting shut out of the important things that you want to do and you may end up paying more for everything,” he says.

Wanjohi says food is another big drain on people’s pockets when on annual vacation.

Guard against wasting while on holiday by continually running to the ATM to withdraw cash. You will  incur an inter-bank charge of Sh200 per withdrawal when you go to other ATMs instead of your bank’s. The best thing is to carry enough cash. If you must withdraw cash, then get enough of it in one transaction to cover your expenditure. This is less wasteful than hitting an off-network ATM every other day.


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