Money, money, money

As with all international travel, one of the big questions trip participants have had is how to pay for things while in Rwanda and Tanzania. The answer is simple and yet complicated.

The simple part is that some places take American Visa or MasterCard transactions. The complicated part is that often places that take credit cards will forget to do the currency exchange rate, meaning that occasionally a card can be charged too much. Prices might be higher for being on a card than they might be using the local currency. Additionally, the option to pay via credit card is usually an option only available at larger cities, businesses, and organizations.

Traveler’s checks are another form of international currency that is quite safe. Their difficulty lies in the fact that you have to visit a bank to exchange the check into cash – as the checks are unable to be written or given directly for payment of a meal, lodging, souvenir, and so on.

For this trip, bringing a credit card makes sense for airports and back-up purchases or withdrawal of money, but having the local currency makes the most sense. Some trip participants have money already for both the Rwandan franc and Tanzanian shilling. Airports, while occasionally complained about in regards to exchange rates, often are the best option to exchange currency – especially when on a tight schedule. We will be in Rwanda for five days and Tanzania for four. By exchanging currency that is needed at an airport for the time in Rwanda and then having money to exchange once arriving in Tanzania, trip participants will be able to easily purchase items such as a wall hanging for $10, a stone animal for $20, or a drum for $75 (USD equivalent amounts listed).

The current exchange rate for the Rwanda franc is$1 USD to RwF 603, while the Tanzanian exchange rate is $1 USD to 1,593 shillings.

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