With a few weeks back in the states to “relax” a bit before continuing to Africa we’ve had a bit of time to take stock of how we’ve done and, almost as importantly, how our budget has done.
A reminder of how all this works. Every dollar amount represents how much the two of us, combined, spent on the average day in a given country. Airfare to and from the continent is included in transportation in the totals line and aren’t applied to any specific continent. Even with the airfare this is less than we used to spend living in the US. For more information visit our spending page.
Colombia: Coming out of Central America, this beautiful and friendly country was a breath of fresh air. Modern yet still off the tourist track it was overall very friendly to our budget. That being said, we skipped on most of the country (fewer buses means less $$$) because of its proximity to the USA.
Ecuador: From our budget’s standpoint Ecuador was very similar to Colombia, both economical and close to the USA so we saved our time and money for later excursions. High season (summer on the US academic calendar) meant that last minute rates on the Galapagos Islands were no special price so we decided to skip.
Peru: We spent a lot of time in Peru, partly because there was a lot to do and partly because we had a comfy place to stay to stay in Lima. Staying put helped to keep both our transportation and lodging costs down despite traveling through most of the country. The big money we spent here were for the big ticket items like Machu Picchu and trekking in Huaraz, experiences we were more than happy to fork over a few bucks for when the incredible food was so cheap to begin with.
Bolivia: This is the cheapest country we visited in South America, despite the expensive visa. The reason it cost us so much money is that we had a multi-day tour of the Amazon, another multi-day tour of the salt flats, and then we topped that with a bike ride down the death road and a rural airplane ride from the jungle to La Paz. Activities did our budget in, and that’s more than OK with us. Food didn’t cost so much because it came free with the activities and other than the airplane the buses were cheap because they were missing windshields…and road-safe roads as well.
Brazil: This was our most expensive country by far. The pricey visa and the exchange rate didn’t do us any favors (to the nickel a subway ride within Rio was the same as a subway ride in Washington, DC) and the huge distances had us paying top dollar for an internal flight. The amazing part is that between wonderful couch surfing friends and winning a free tour of the Pantanal we only had to pay for lodging for 3 nights.
Argentina: For the “typical” traveler, Argentina represents the best value in our opinion; a fully first world country with a favorable exchange rate and just tons to do. While in Argentina we biked, hiked, toured, couchsurfed, whale-watched, penguin hunted , enjoyed 30 of 32 consecutive hours in a bus, and who can forget wine touring. Couchsurfing and spending a week with the Tobias padres helped to offset the expenses of Patagonia and treating ourselves nicely for our 3 year wedding anniversary in the southernmost city of the world. Patagonia was expensive and if we did Argentina again, we’d probably skip it. The Lake district was supposed to be very expensive but we managed to find incredible value doing our own thing and touring the north in the care of others was a pleasant change of pace.
Chile: This is not a cheap country to travel in and unfortunately we left most of it for next time., partly on account of price and partly because we’d hit the seasons wrong. We had a good time kayaking where we could and couchsurfing in Santiago. Torres del Paine was also a big attraction that we didn’t skip despite the hefty prices just to go camping.