On some organized tour operator's sites, I see tour prices listed with a +amount labelled as "kitty" or "trip kitty" like this one. Trip Kitty in addition to tour price?

What is a "trip kitty"?


From the FAQ of that tour operator:

What trips may have a kitty and what is it?

On some of our Overland and Basix trips we operate a 'kitty' system for our travellers. The kitty is a cash contribution to a central fund and overseen by the travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals or activities for the entire group. Contribution to the kitty is compulsory on some trips while voluntary on others - please refer to the specific Trip Notes for details. Kitty amounts published in the brochure may change. Current kitty amounts can be found on our website so please check for the up to date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.

Sounds like a way to lie about true costs in the price lists and advertising.

  • duh! Of course, I should have checked there. Thanks.
    – nmc
    Jun 15 '12 at 13:50
  • 1
    It isn't just a case of lying about the true cost of the package. There are other reasons, including the possibility of not paying tax on the kitty, and probably most importantly of getting foreign currency into places where companies sometimes have difficulty doing it. Jun 21 '12 at 0:05
  • "not paying tax on the kitty" is a lie on top of a lie, since the kitty is supposed to be used entirely to cover expenses, yet taxes are only paid on profits. Any moving currency? So the company is offloading organization problems on the customers. Why are we paying them again? Jun 21 '12 at 7:39
  • @MichaelBorgwardt I meant sales tax, not company tax. Jun 27 '12 at 13:41
  • @DJClayworth: I guess that might be valid in some weird jurisdictions, but most kinds of sales tax would not apply either. Jun 27 '12 at 14:43

GAP Adventures and Tucan Travel had a similar charge known as the "local payment," although both abolished it within the last few years.

Whether you call it a "kitty," "local payment," or some other term, the charge contributes to a petty cash fund for the staff, allowing them to make arrangements for tour expenses like accommodations or local transport. By paying this amount in cash directly to the local staff, instead of to the head office, the tour organization would save on costs such as wire transfer and currency exchange fees, and possibly ameliorate exchange rate volatility. By having a dollar or euro cache on hand (no pun intended), the local staff has greater flexibility.

As transactional costs decline, and as headquarters wants tighter control and reporting on how funds are spent, the necessity of such a fund seems to have declined. GAP and Tucan, two of Intrepid's biggest competitors, now add the local payment directly to the cost of the tour.


It sounds like an amount to cover fixed costs, and your individual contribution might vary, depending on how many people are part of the activity. For example, if a bus is needed, the cost is fixed and divided equally between all of the participants. If more people participate, the individual's cost should go down (until they have to hire a bigger bus). If a guide is planned, then the guide's fee can be paid from the kitty in the same way.

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