Finances 2015 to 2017

This article is valid for our trip from 2015 to 2017 in southern Africa

From a financial point of view, raising money abroad is an issue. The Swiss banks and credit card institutions charge high fees for this. Swiss Post-Finance does not charge any fees either, but only if there is at least CHF 25,000 in the account, which we did not want.

After researching on the Internet, we came across two German banks that offer free cash withdrawals abroad with VISA credit cards. DKB – Deutsche Kredit Bank AG was out of the question for us because DKB does not offer prepaid Visa cards. We therefore opted for and have never regretted this decision. We have been customers of since December 2015 and have a current account and two prepaid Visa card accounts there.

The application procedure is relatively complex – in particular, it is not sufficient to prove your identity via a Swiss notary’s office. We were also unable to establish our identity at German post offices. All that remains is the video-based “Video-Ident procedure” and this worked to our complete satisfaction. To do this, you need a phone and a notebook with a built-in webcam or – like us – a tablet with a webcam. The procedure is described in detail on the website (Google search: comdirect videoident).

Certain documents must be sent to by post. Sending documents by post is always very tedious and takes an eternity until the receipt is registered at and the next steps can be initiated. However, this is only a problem when applying for the account, after that everything runs electronically. The email support, on the other hand, is first class. Questions are answered patiently, quickly and professionally.


In terms of finances, as a contact person and for paying bills, we were able to win over a friend who we have known for many years and who is more than knowledgeable in finance. He was also provided with a notarized general power of attorney. Of course, this also requires full confidence that we will not suddenly be faced with empty accounts – and that he is in the Bahamas or somewhere else (no, he wouldn’t get that far with the mite).

About every four months, our deputy at home transfers a large sum to our current account at When we log in to our accounts at comdirect, we have a clear overview of the current account and the two prepaid Visa accounts. We now transfer an amount from the current account to each prepaid visa account that allows us to withdraw ZAR 10,000 per account = 2x ZAR 10,000, which is a reasonable amount of money. As soon as we have withdrawn this amount from the ATM, the same amount is transferred again to the two VISA cards, etc…

With this procedure, we a) prevent our account from being emptied if our VISA cards or card data were to be stolen and b) in the event of a robbery (which we do not expect), we could hand over the VISA cards with a clear conscience …. There is therefore no direct link between our bank accounts and our cards.

Although we still carry full credit cards for emergencies, we do not generally use them. We prefer to pay with cash. This helps us to keep an overview.


How much does a trip like this cost? This question is on the minds of everyone who wants to plan a trip. However, the question is wrong, because we have to consider not only the travel costs, but also the fixed costs incurred at home (if you keep your place of residence). We dealt with this question intensively and tried to record all costs incurred in advance – using Excel tables, of course. We have succeeded to some extent, but there are always surprises as to what still needs to be paid.

A very important point is that many costs are incurred before you are even on the trip. For example, the deposit for the Carnet des Passages (in our case Euro 20,000) must be paid, flight tickets, vehicle shipping, any reservations etc. must be paid in advance.

We have budgeted the travel costs on a “gut feeling” basis. Based on hypothetical calculations, but ultimately not knowing for sure how expensive it will be.

You often hear about travelers with their own vehicle who claim to make ends meet with 1000 to 1500 euros per month. If this is true, the question arises as to whether all costs have really been calculated or only the costs actually incurred on the trip.

You can definitely save money if you stay free, i.e. avoid campsites as much as possible. You can also save money if, for example, you hardly visit any national parks in southern Africa or only visit them very briefly. But is that what we want? No – we don’t want to. We don’t travel to save money, but to see something. That’s why more expensive camps, e.g. in Botswana’s national parks, are also on our program, which of course increases our costs somewhat compared to the savers and cost avoiders. In addition, we still feel more comfortable (at the moment) staying on campsites here in southern Africa. This not only provides a feeling of security, but also contacts.

Cost estimate

The following cost estimate does not claim to be exhaustive. In particular, you need to work out your own fixed costs incurred during the trip.

Cost summary


We consider ourselves fortunate that we were able to take out fully comprehensive insurance with a renowned Swiss insurance company – Die Mobiliar – which is valid worldwide. This insurance also covers ship passages. This saved us the shipping insurance, which roughly corresponds to the surcharge of the fully comprehensive insurance valid throughout Europe to the premium valid worldwide. However, we were told that Die Mobiliar would only grant this insurance to long-standing and good customers.

In South Africa, you are covered by liability insurance when you fill up with fuel. However, this was not enough for us, which is why we searched intensively in South Africa for vehicle liability insurance (third party liability) that would also be valid for the other countries in southern Africa. Unfortunately, we were unable to find insurance, even with the help of friends. As a rule, we received no reply at all and in the end we were told laconically that they were only interested in an insurance package (household contents + vehicle +).

We therefore took out the relatively expensive variant from TourInsure in Germany (Axa subsidiary). TourInsure’s offer was slightly cheaper than the insurance agency Assurantiekontor Alessie in the Netherlands.

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