EXPENSES: October 2017, Zambia and Malawi ($667)


During the 31 days of October, we spent 318 USD on food, 91 USD on accommodations, and 258 USD on everything else. In total, we spent 667 USD, at an average of 22 USD per day (11 USD, per person).

We slept 11 nights free camping (camping somewhere with permission), 8 nights with hosts, 5 nights in a guesthouse (4 of which we were treated to), 3 nights in a campground, 2 nights on a ferry, 1 night wild camping, and 1 night in a hostel.



Here are our day-to-day expenses (and where we stayed), in ZMW (through the 10th) and MWK (beginning the 11th). (As of October 2017, 1 US Dollar [USD] = 9.69 Zambian Kwacha [ZMW] and 1 US Dollar [USD] = 718 Malawian Kwacha [MWK]. Because we're dealing with multiple exchange rates, the day-to-day expenses are listed in their respective currencies, but the monthly totals are calculated in USD.)

  1. Guesthouse in Lusaka (kindly paid for by our hosts).
  2. 189 food; 20 malaria self-test kit. Free camping (mechanic's garage) en route to Rufunsa.
  3. 8 food; 1 toilet use fee. Free camping (village) en route to Rufunsa.
  4. 22 food. Free camping (charcoal field) en route to Rufunsa. 
  5. 36 food; 2 toilet use fee. Wild camping en route to Kacholola. 
  6. 87 food; 200 accommodations. Guesthouse in Nyimba. 
  7. 52 food. Free camping (village) en route to Sindha.
  8. 54 food. Hosted in Sindha. 
  9. 27 food. Free camping (farmhouse) en route to Chipata.
  10. 267 food, 120 accommodations, 30 money change fee. Campground in Chipata. 
  11. ENTERED MALAWI (all following expenses in MWK). 600 food; 108000 visas. Free camping (village) en route to Lilongwe.
  12. 4770 food. Hosted in Lilongwe.
  13. 27869 food, 5400 schistosomiasis medicine. Hosted in Lilongwe. 
  14. Hosted in Lilongwe. 
  15. 10800 food. Hosted in Lilongwe. 
  16. 5648 food. Free camping (police station) en route to Salima. 
  17. 9650 food, 7300 accommodations. Campground in Senga.
  18. 1700 food, 12900 ferry tickets. Free camping (ferry terminal security booth) in Monkey Bay.
  19. 1000 food, 6000 accommodations. Campground in Monkey Bay. 
  20. 750 food. Hosted in Mangochi.
  21. Hosted in Mangochi. 
  22. 10000 food, 13500 (contribution toward) accommodations. Hosted in Mangochi. 
  23. 12000 food; 7200 accommodations (discounted rate). Guesthouse in Cape Maclear.
  24. 15600 food. Guesthouse in Cape Maclear (not charged). 
  25. 17100 food, 3000 internet allotment. Guesthouse in Cape Maclear (not charged). 
  26. 2880 food. Free camping (ferry terminal waiting area) in Monkey Bay. 
  27. 1950 food, 42900 ferry tickets. Slept on ferry. 
  28. 3300 food. Slept on ferry. 
  29. 6700 food, 7160 accommodations. Hostel in Nkhata Bay. 
  30. 4500 food. Free camping (auto shop) in Mzuzu. 
  31. 35935 food, 8498 money change fee and medical supplies. Free camping (village) en route to Livingstonia.


We knew Malawi visas would be expensive (at $75 each, they ate up 25% of our monthly budget), so we started the month trying for a pretty austere $13 per day. Though eastern Zambia and Malawi were cheap (indeed, most of our purchases the first week were just tomatoes and onions), and though we were the recipients of some really wonderful generosity (in Lusaka, in Lilongwe, in Mangochi, and elsewhere), some incidental expenses drove our spending just a little higher than we would have liked. Specifically, we took a few (relatively) pricey(ish) ferry rides to escape Malawi's intense heat, and to get some rest as I recovered from malaria (we also made a pretty big grocery purchase on the last day of the month; it was the last supermarket we'd see until Tanzania).

At about $408 of actual food-and-shelter expenses, there were definitely periods of discomfort and very relative deprivation (mostly on Zambia's Great East Road, where there just wasn't much to buy), but we also ate well in Malawi and enjoyed some really lovely lodging. We had much higher than usual incidental expenses in October (mainly visa costs), so we'll be drawing $67 from our $2,000-per-year incidentals account to cover the remainder.

We're planning on splurging a little in November. Tanzania visas will set us back $200, but rather than try to scrape by on $400 for everything else (like we almost did in October), we're just going to draw the full $200 from our incidentals account and spend the $600 of our monthly budget on food, shelter, and fun. 

Oh, and this month we paid $16 for our Google Music family plan subscription (which gives us offline access to all our music), and about $30 in Google Fi cell service. Those numbers are not included above.

As always, one final thank you to those who showed us such a fantastic time in Zambia and Malawi this month.