Travelling to Zimbabwe? This is how to save on your Zimbabwe vacation
Zimbabwe has the highest cost of living among all the countries I have traveled to. The country has so much fun to offer tourists but one wouldn’t be able to do much if funds are not spent with caution.
Zimbabwe uses three currencies; Zimbabwean Dollars, US Dollars (USD), and South African Rands (ZAR). The US Dollars is the preferred currency and almost everything is priced in USD. Fuel pumps display prices in USD.
After spending 10 days in Zimbabwe, there are a few things I noticed that can help tourists make some good savings on their expenditures.
Don’t change your USD
Tourists try to get some of the local currency of a country the moment they arrive at the airport to ease with purchases and paying for taxis. Have Zimbabwe as an exception. You don’t need the Zimbabwean Dollars as the people themselves don’t need them. Keep your USD as the Zimbabwean Dollars losses value by the hour.
Everyone taking payments in Zimbabwean Dollars considers the fact that it will depreciate a few hours after receiving it and as such inflates the price of the item.
Carry some cash, and in USD
Tourists rely mostly on credit and debit cards instead of carrying cash. When traveling to Zimbabwe, have your funds in cash as most businesses do not have means of accepting card payments in USD except in tourist hotspots like Victoria Falls.
At places where card payments in USD aren’t available, the amount to be paid is converted to Zimbabwean Dollars with a ridiculous exchange rate that might result in paying over twice the amount in USD.
At Flame Lilly Lodge in Bulawayo, I was asked to pay $88 Zimbabwean Dollars equivalent when I wanted to pay $40 with a card. So have enough USD in cash to avoid paying more in Zimbabwean Dollars.
Never ever pay with a card when billed in Zimbabwean Dollars. Always crosscheck on the POS terminal to make sure you are paying in USD.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk is a smart way of cutting costs in Zimbabwe. Everything is priced in USD and small denominations are very scarce. Shops are forced to round up prices of items to their favor since there is no change available. Sometimes items are priced in more than one currency to be able to buy one. Where you don’t have both USD and ZAR, you are forced to buy 2 or 3.
The airtime scam
Citizens themselves fall victim to this airtime fraud. The airtime comes in Zimbabwean Dollars but is sold in USD. So there is always confusion as to which exchange rate to be used. These guys come up with weird rates and until you are aware of their tactics, you will only realize long after the transaction. I paid $10 and got less than $1 worth of airtime. I consoled myself after one Zimbabwean paid $2 and didn’t get any airtime lol. The seller insisted that it was on its way and never came until our bus left.
Taxi drivers try to make you believe that fares are fixed. Most taxis insist on $5 as the minimum fare for any short distance and you could be charged up to $30 for a 10-minute drive. Thanks to Google Map and Google Search. You can check the distance to your destination and this should influence how much you also offer to pay the taxi drivers. Bargain and insist on how much you want to pay. I tried it several times and it worked.