EXPENSES: September 2017, Botswana and Zambia ($791)


We have a budget: six hundred dollars per month. It's not a very big budget, and doesn't leave a whole lot of room for purchases outside of our day-to-day food and shelter. September involved a number of irregular expenses (visas, medical costs, new gear, excursions, a birthday) and we ended the month a little over our spending goal (though thanks to some really generous donations and an incidentals set-aside, we're still in good shape). More on that below, but first, an overview of our costs through Botswana and Zambia.


(As of October 2017, 1 US Dollar [USD] = 10.21 Botswanan Pula [BWP] and 1 US Dollar [USD] = 9.69 Zambian Kwacha [ZMW]. 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.)

During the 30 days of September, we spent 361 USD on food, 111 USD on accommodations, and 329 USD on everything else. In total, we spent 791 USD, at an average of 26 USD per day (13 USD, per person). 

We slept 9 nights free camping (camping somewhere with permission), 9 nights with hosts, 4 nights in a guesthouse (all paid for by our amazing hosts in Lusaka), 4 nights in a campground (two of those nights comped by a really wonderful campground owner), and 4 nights in a hostel. We bought a lot of groceries (and even ate at a few restaurants!), and a number of our meals were generously provided or paid for by people we stayed with along the way.


Here are our day-to-day expenses (and where we stayed), in BWP (through the 18th) and ZMW (beginning the 19th):

  1. 504 food. Hosted in Maun.
  2. 192 food. Hosted in Maun.
  3. 47 food. Hosted in Maun.
  4. 101 food, 190 gear (bike parts). Hosted in Maun.
  5. 296 food. Hosted in Maun.
  6. 130 food. Hosted in Maun.
  7. Hosted in Maun.
  8. 278 food. Hosted in Maun.
  9. Free camping (police checkpoint) en route to Gweta.
  10. Free camping (national park entrance gate) en route to Gweta.
  11. 51 food, 160 accommodations. Campground in Gweta.
  12. 49 food, 160 accommodations. Campground in Gweta.
  13. Hosted in Nata.
  14. 218 food. Campground at Elephant Sands (not charged).
  15. Campground at Elephant Sands (not charged).
  16. Free camp (cell phone tower) en route to Kazungula).
  17. 53 food. Free camp (gas station) en route to Kazungula.
  18. 106 food. Free camp (police station) in Kazungula.
  19. ENTERED ZAMBIA; REMAINING EXPENSES IN ZMW. 187 food, 194 accommodations, 968 Zambian visas. Hostel in Livingstone.
  20. 452 food, 194 accommodations. Hostel in Livingstone.
  21. 194 accommodations, 1016 admission to Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls national parks (including Zimbabwe visa for Lauren). Hostel in Livingstone.
  22. 248 food, 194 accommodations. Hostel in Livingstone.
  23. 24 food. Free camp (boarding school) in Zimba.
  24. 42 food. Free camp (police station) in Choma. 
  25. 58 food. Free camp (police station) in Monze.
  26. 73 food. Free camp (primary school) en route to Kafue.
  27. 221 food. Guesthouse in Lusaka (covered by hosts).
  28. 122 food, 362 medical expenses. Guesthouse in Lusaka (covered by hosts).
  29. 127 food, 488 gear (cooking pan, headphones, etc.). Guesthouse in Lusaka (covered by hosts).
  30. 25 food, 85 gear (clothing). Guesthouse in Lusaka (covered by hosts).


On a day-to-day sense (and certainly thanks to the whole group of wonderful people who sheltered us and fed us for a majority of the month), we came out under-budget. But visas to Zambia cost us $50 each. Lauren took a day trip to see Mosi-oa-Tunya from Zimbabwe, while I visited from the Zambian side ($80 and $20, respectively). Lauren had a small medical issue that cost about $35. Some of our gear needed replacing or upgrading. To cover the $191 deficit for September, we pulled some money from donations that have come in (which we really, really, really appreciate) and also from our incidentals account, a $2,000-per-year set-aside for things like visas, medical expenses, and gear replacement that our monthly budget can't cover.

And, as usual, there are a few recurring charges. Our Google Play Music plan runs 16 USD each month. Google Fi cell service would ordinarily cost about 30 USD, but service was paused just about the entire month, and a credit covered the rest (so this time, around 0 USD). Those numbers aren't included above.

One final thank you to those who showed us such a fantastic time in Botswana and Zambia this month, and to the friends, family, and followers who sent donations our way to keep us traveling.