Even if you do not want to think about money when you are traveling, most of the times you have to. It is important to keep money and a budget in mind when you are traveling. This does not sound fun to do and it is not, but it does not have to be as bad as it sounds. Working out a budget before the travel starts can make this task a little better and can make it easier when you are on the road. This post is about what I spent in South America so you can anticipate some of the costs and how much you should expect to pay for what you need to visit South America. Before my trip to South America I spent a lot of time searching and learning about how much different things cost in hopes to make a reasonable budget for my travels. As I traveled I kept track of what I spent. Here is what I spent on a variety of different things.
A note before I get started: All prices in this post are in USD. Also, I was on a lower budget and lived off an average of $200 a week. That price included everything, besides air fare. Also, countries within South America can be very different from each other when talking about price; in this post are prices for Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.
Air fare – This can be a very pricey part of any travel. If you are from the United States and a few other parts of North America you can look at Spirit Airlines. This is a budget airline that goes around the USA and some parts of Central and South America. In South America they go to Lima, Peru and a few places in Columbia. My round trip ticket to Lima including the extra fees for luggage (you have to pay for just about anything) was $650.
Lodging – I only stayed in hostels with dorm rooms because they are the cheapest and that is what would fit into my budget. I spent anywhere from $5 to $14 per night, with an average of about $9 a night.
Food – In Peru it is very easy to find places with a “set meal” for lunch and dinner. The meal comes with soup, a main dish and a drink costing about $2-$5. In Chile, Argentina and Uruguay I did not eat out much, because most hostels have kitchens you can use. I went to the stores and fixed my food for as little as $2 per meal. Some cities have places to get street food. These places are cheaper than a restaurant and can be the same, if not cheaper, than cooking your own food.
Transportation – I did all my traveling within South America by bus. It is very easy to find buses that are going to where you want to go, but be prepared to spend countless hours sitting on buses going from one spot to another. Bus prices range a lot and they add up. Bus fare was the thing I spent the most money on. Tickets can range from $1 to $4 per hour (the cheapest buses for me were in Peru). That might not sound like a lot, but if it is a twenty hour bus ride it adds up fast.
One last note: When making a budget you have to take into consideration bigger activities, such as going to Machu Picchu or Iguazu Falls. Attractions like these cost a lot and have to be factored into your weekly budget. I was able to keep my $200 a week budget including these activities.