From high school, I have always wanted to become a flight attendant. However, I couldn’t afford flying out for interviews and they rarely came to Uganda. So I used to make specific research about countries to help me travel there on a budget for interviews. But I never found what I wanted because Google, too, thought I was crazy.
They came in 2019 and I failed the interview. Covid-19 was right in the corner. In 2020, I got fired from work for no reason and was diagnosed with TB. For the six months I was on my medication, I got this idea of hosting virtual Airbnb experiences where travelers would ask me questions about traveling to Uganda on a budget. Unfortunately, this never worked out so I decided to do it myself without any limitations hence my Instagram and YouTube. I had it in me that if I am this specific about budget travel (if only Google can tell you what I was researching for as regards to this, you would call me crazy), then there are certainly more people just like me.
In this article, I am going to give you Uganda budget tips and information on how you can experience life as a local (as a Ugandan). But first, there are a few interesting FACTS about Uganda that you should know…
5 Interesting Facts about Uganda
1. Uganda is known as the pearl of Africa due to its breathtaking beauty.
2. English is our official language though we have 41 local languages widely used.
3. The internet says English, Swahili, and Luganda are the commonest languages used here. To me, Swahili shouldn’t be on this list.
4. Uganda is among the only three countries in the world with Gorillas (we have the biggest number)
5. To conclude this, my country is home to the source of the River Nile.
Ok! Enough of the bragging, let’s get to the budget tips and how you can experience life as a local.
Uganda Budget Tips (And How to Experience Life as a Local)
Avoid Purchasing Items in a Uganda Airport
It is no secret that airport things are expensive. That’s why I strongly advise you to buy from malls not far from the airport. Something like Imperial mall, Victoria mall, and quality supermarket.
Keep Your Passport With You
As long as you have your passport, you can buy a sim card from all authorized agents in the country for less than $5 [above this and you are being cheated]
Try Uganda Public Transport to Save Money
If you are trying to find the best way to save, try using our public transport. Is it safe for you as a foreigner? Yes, it is because I have seen a lot of foreign travelers use it throughout their stay in Uganda. Before you can board any of them, first bargain and agree on the fares. Otherwise the conductor or driver won’t be nice to you if you pay the wrong amount.
If you are to stay within Kampala and Entebbe region, I strongly advise you to consider using safe boda [has an app] especially if you don’t know exactly where you’re going.
Learn Some of the Local Uganda Language
Earlier, I told you that English and Luganda are the commonest languages used. Having a unique accent (foreign accent) will make product and service providers want to profit off you. They do this by increasing prices. If you can speak some Luganda, this will intimidate them into thinking you know a thing or two about what you are buying.
For example, you want to board a taxi to Entebbe. You say, “Hello sir, I am heading to Entebbe but I have 3k.” Instead you could say, “Jebaleko sebo, I am heading to Entebbe but I have enkumi satu.” Mix Luganda with English to sound more like a local.
The conductor or driver will perfectly understand you, so they will tell you if it is ok or you can top up more.
How sure are you that they are telling you the right price? Always ask your local friends or receptionists how much you may be charged to your destination. Then you can bargain around that amount
Be Mindful of Scams
Kampala is the trickiest region of Uganda. To me, it is home to most scams that happen in my country. So my greatest advice to you is always carry your bag or purse in the front rather than the back or sides. Consider using waist bags to avoid bag snatchers and pickpockets.
Don’t Trust Any Stranger with Your Phone
Avoid giving your phone to just anyone to take your photos. Many can be thieves and just run away with it. As a Ugandan, when I want someone to take a photo of me somewhere, I look for any person in police uniform nearby. That, or I buy something from a nearby shop. Afterwards, I kindly request the owner to take a picture of me.
Don’t Engage in Conversation with Just Anyone in Uganda
➢ Avoid talking to everyone who comes to your face asking for something. I have fallen victim of such. So whether you want to help or you want help, you should keep in mind that not everyone is good. I therefore advise you to always know that you are a foreigner here so you don’t know everything or even anything. Best to be careful.
For example, let’s say I come to you asking for directions or something. If you don’t know what I want, just tell me that you don’t know and then walk away; don’t wait for me to ask you another thing. If you know what I want, direct me BUT don’t volunteer taking me there in case I have not understood you well. It is safe to help a person from that spot, but never go anywhere with them. If still they insist that you go with them, please just walk away because you are not the only one in the area who can help.
Thank You for Reading!
Ok! Honestly I have a lot to write about regarding the topic but I don’t want to overwhelm you with lots of words… especially if you aren’t yet sure of when you will be traveling to Uganda.
If you are interested, I have a complete guide giving you more details about Uganda travel. I explain what to pack, documents you need from arrival to departure, and more. I am happy that Alyssa gave me this opportunity to share a bit of my country with you. You can also check out some of my Youtube videos for more information about Uganda!
Thank you for reading this article to the end. If you are confused or have any questions about visiting Uganda, comment them down below! I will be so happy to help and answer them.