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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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Old 1 Oct 2005
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Carrying money in West Africa

Hi all,

I'm planning a backpacking trip from Mor-Maur-Sen-Mali-Burkino-Ghana beginning January. This will be my first African adventure and I'm wondering if anyone has tips about carrying money. I don't want to bring too much with me for fear of losing it, but I also know I can't count on withdrawing at ATMS's every time I feel like it...

So I'm wondering how much of my total trip cost should I carry with me, what a good ratio is for cash/travellers cheques, tips for keeping my money safe while travelling, and any other related info. Thanks a lot!

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Old 4 Oct 2005
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In all the countries, apart from Mauritania, you can use your ATM card (Mali has only one ATM though), so you should always carry maximum on you what you need for one country... ATM's have always been pretty reliable when I was there, so no real need to worry.

Other alternative is to use Western Union to send money ahead where you are going, downside of this is that you have less flexibility.

Good luck with your travels...

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Old 4 Oct 2005
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make sure your credit card company knows you're away so they don't cancel your card. I'd been away for 6 months when they cancelled both of mine at the same time as the bank decided to re-issue my connect card - leaving me with USD travelers cheques for which the exchange rate is useless.
take euros, not dollars!
think about splitting your stash and, even, having a spoof wallet with daily cash and keeping your other cash elsewhere. the thing about this is that the spoof wallet must be credible to a thief and yet affordable for you. I had an out of date credit card and other "goodies" in my spoof wallet. I never handed it over - cos I'm stubborn! - but thieves did target my spoof wallet not realising how little they'd have really got.
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Old 4 Oct 2005
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Try to take Visa rather than MasterCard. We found that it was more readily accepted. Also take Euros rather than US dollars and have some smaller denominations for emergencies. We carried a combination of Credit Cards, travelers Cheques and Cash. Travellers Cheques actually have quite limited use though as they can prove quite difficult to change. But they are a safe way to carry some of your money for just in case.
I carried about 600 euros with me at all times. In a combination of $ and euro and travelers cheques but just take euro for west Africa. I would say take about 150 euro in travelers cheques and 300 to 400 in euros cash.
Split it all up into 2 or 3 different locations and only use it when you need to. Draw from ATM machines whenever you are near one and don’t rely on the one in the next capital city working. I guess it’s down to personal preference and experience at the end of the day but hopefully that’s some help to you!

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