Kennedy Uduny explains how to travel through Kenya on a budget

(Posted 09th January 2022)

How to Travel Magical Kenya on a Budget

You do not need to be rich to travel!

You do not need to be rich to travel!

You still assume that travel is elitist and expensive; we have a few facts to prove that the reality is decidedly different. Kenyans can be a patriotic lot but may need some nudging when it comes to enjoying the vast beauty of their country. There is the common misnomer that one has to break the bank to enjoy the varied repertoire of natural sights that Kenya has to offer. “Tourism is for foreigners”, many say.

Here’s how to move around on the cheap:

Live like the locals: My top tip for travelling on a budget is to ask locals for advice. They should be able to direct you to moderately priced accommodation and authentic restaurants. Rather than going to tourist-filled restaurants that serve up mediocre Western food, go to local spots for a taste of authentic meals. The restaurants will be busier and the food fresher not to mention cheaper. Locals are also best placed to send you to off-the-beaten-track attractions.

Travel during the off-season: Not only will you stay away from the crowds but you will also minimize travel expenses. If, for instance, the crowds are heading to the Mara, think Tsavo home of Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and if they head to the beach, head to the mountains.

Book smart: Timing is everything so learn to book everything in advance. Where you can, avoid the weekend and bag a better deal during the week. Early booker offers you up to 40% discount when booking 15, 30 or 90 days in advance. Be smart.

Travel cheap: Public transportation options can save you a lot of money over taking taxis. We also recommend taking a road or train trip. Whether you drive your own car, rent a vehicle or carpool with friends, hitting the open road may be cheaper than flying. The train is also an affordable hassle-free option.

Group travel: It is wiser to travel with a small group of friends or family as you can split the costs of hotels and rental cars when you travel. So do not be shy about squeezing into a small motel room or renting an entire home on Airbnb if it is less expensive per person.

Cook your own meals: The best way to save money on the road is to cook your own meals. You do not have to cook every meal because it is important to enjoy local delicacies, but cooking even one meal a day can save you a lot of cash. If you stay in a hostel or an apartment, you get access to a kitchen where you can cook your own meals.

Volunteer while you travel: Boutique hotels and family-run establishments can use a hand. Volunteer when the opportunity arises to save money on your living costs.

Roof differently: Budget travellers can save money on lodging in various ways. Couch Surfing is the cheapest way. It loosely refers to staying with hosts while you travel. Unlike Airbnb, couch surfing travellers do not pay to stay in someone’s home. Good couch surfers “repay” their hosts with fun interactions and potential friendship. So successful is the concept that it has morphed into a global homestay and social networking service accessible via a website and mobile app. If you do not mind welcoming strangers into your home, a house swap guarantees you a free place to stay. For those not fussy about sharing, then hostel accommodation is an option. You can also find good accommodation in the city centre allowing you easy access to the main attractions on foot.

Lastly, consider the covid-19 measures in place on each of these options before considering your Magical Kenya experience.