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> Budgeting and Costs
jinsour
post Mar 15 2007, 10:25 AM
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My girlfriend and I are embarking on a one year trip through Central America and part of South America. In September 2007, we will fly into Cancun, Mexico and then work our way south through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Our plan is to make it to Bogota, Colombia by Christmas time to meet up with family who live there. We just want some ideas of how much people saved prior to leaving on long trips, how much they budgeted (per week, per month, per country, etc.), some tips on spending, and any other helpful thoughts that can assist us while planning.

Thanks!
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croixfamily
post Mar 15 2007, 11:42 AM
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This is a really tricky question. I used Rough Guide's First Time Around the World and it gives you a general idea of what you'll pay in different regions based on how comfortably you want to travel.

We spent 6 months and mostly stayed within budget overall, but only because we were able to spend much less than expected in some places which helped with the places where there is no way to go cheap. Costa Rica is pricey compared to most of C and S America from what I understand.

The only big tip I have is avoid eating on the Plaza de Armas or Parque Central, unless you want a splurge. Usually those places are good to get a beer and watch the world go by, but not for your main meals. The main square's are always the place to get oriented but really expensive. Every place we were had really cheap eats in a commercial center, usually a reasonable walk from the main square. In Cuzco, Peru we could spend $5-$10 each on a meal in the Plaza or walk 15 minutes to the Centro Commercial and spend $2 for 3 of us.

Of course if you eat at local places your food options are more limited and you have to go into it with an open mind about the ambience, in Cuzco it is a mall with food stands that have 3 or four plates and you have to wait your turn. It also helps if you speak the language, since if you're in someplace that really is cheap no one will speak English. If they do speak English, take credit cards, or have menus in English (or menus at all) you could be paying less somewhere else. This was probably the area where we had the most control over spending and where you have the chance to save the most in the long run. In Istanbul it took us nearly a week to find a truly local place and then we kicked ourselves for all the money we'd wasted.

As for lodging, just look around. You can actually find reasonably priced places near the center of town but you have to look a bit. Also don't forget that everything is negotiable. In Peru it took us a while to realize that even the prices on the menus are negotiable in most places. Just smile, shrug, apologize and say it's a bit too pricey and start to leave. They'll usually stop you and ask what you want and then give you a special deal. Of course you have to be prepared to really leave if this doesn't happen. Obviously if you're there in the offseason you have a better chance of getting a discount. Also stating the obvious, don't do this if you've already found a cheap local place. This is only appropriate in a more touristy establishment when you know they're bumping up the prices on you.

Have Fun, and thanks for reminding me. Nora


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Jessica_CDN
post Mar 17 2007, 05:36 PM
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Hey...

When I was in Mexico, I think I generally averaged around 20$ per day. Guatemala was SIGNIFICANLTY cheaper - closer to 10$ per day, while El Salvador was closer to 30$ per day.

Of course, the more touristy your town, the higher the prices, and big cities are also a bit more pricey, although deals are to be had, particularly in Mexico city!


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jeffsadventures
post Mar 17 2007, 06:24 PM
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QUOTE(jinsour @ Mar 15 2007, 10:25 AM) *

My girlfriend and I are embarking on a one year trip through Central America and part of South America. In September 2007, we will fly into Cancun, Mexico and then work our way south through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Our plan is to make it to Bogota, Colombia by Christmas time to meet up with family who live there. We just want some ideas of how much people saved prior to leaving on long trips, how much they budgeted (per week, per month, per country, etc.), some tips on spending, and any other helpful thoughts that can assist us while planning.

Thanks!


I averaged $23 per day over 12 months. I started in Cancun and also went trhu Colombia to Bogota. I lived like a king. That was in 2004 and into 2005
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Jessica_CDN
post Mar 24 2007, 02:45 PM
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I stayed at that hostel as well! what a dump, eh? And not a great neighbourhood...not much to do!

tongue.gif Sorry I don't have any recommendations for you - I got out of the city muy rapido!


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rbisset
post Mar 24 2007, 04:43 PM
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me too! Lasted 1 day in San Salvador.


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Jessica_CDN
post Apr 2 2007, 12:57 PM
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I found El Salvador expensive...in comparison to Guatemala! haha. Maybe that's why it gets such a bad rap??

Anyway, you're right, it's not expensive, although a little bit more so than other countries.

I dunno if it was dangerous or not really - hard to say unless you have a problem. But there were a LOT of guns around when I was there a few months ago - in stores, on buses etc. Crazy!


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