Backpacking south america budget

Loads of people have arrive lately to the page searching for THE budget. Also, lately I’ve been listening some of my friends and their excuses to don’t do what they really want: “We want to travel but we are still saving some money, it’s a lot of money”

Well, let me tell you: NO
You don’t need a lot of money to travel, you need intention, decision and organization skills but on top of everything, determination.

So a lot of people have the next question in their minds….

How much money do I need to travel Southamerica?

I’m such a numbers fan, love to keep them clear. I record absolutely anything that costs money, from a shower or a cigarette to a huge dinner. Thanks to that obsession I’m always sure of what I spend and how much can I keep on spending (traveling). Sometimes we even push too much and save more than we need, and finally we realize that.. eh, we can afford that hostel night or that lovely dinner!.

This post is THICK and has a lot of information, I will try to make as clear as possible. Any question regarding the budget please, don’t hesitate to ask, it took me 3 days to finish the table and probably there are some mistakes so, if you find one just let me know. Please keep in mind prices are from 2013, some exchange rates may have change since then.

Let me introduce you…. The monster!


  • This sheet is a summary of every single expense, all divided in 6 categories.
  • The prices on the first column are shown on the local currency, the exchange rate to Euros and Dollars is from then (January to July 2013)
  • The Budget also includes the plane tickets from London (return) = 1180 Euros for both
  • The Argentinian exchange is show as = 6.  But, as we had some troubles (link in spanish) we made an average, in any case the argentinian peso has been falling and falling incredibly till today when a dollar is = at least 14 pesos.
  • If you miss any information regarding how to prepare a backpacking trip, all the posts are there 🙂


Yes, as you can see the amount of money expended in accommodation is, by far, NOT the biggest one. It’s important to point we wild camp as much as we could in Chile and Argentina. Colombia was easier since we had some friends and family there and we used Couchsurfing for the capital cities.

If we give a look to the whole picture we paid only 3,8€ daily for BOTH! thats less than 2€ per person per night. We sleep in different random and amazing places (and had loads of fun) from wild areas to campings, to hotels to hosterias.

La paz Bolivia


Here we can count anything we swallow, drink or smoke. We decided to calculate how much money did Jesper spent on cigarettes, the amount is quite high, don’t want to mark it as a single category as don’t want to hurt his feelings >.<.  When he felt guilty about it he bought me a bottle of Coca-Cola and then we both spent some money in our own addictions.

Usually we cooked he cooked our own food in our portable kitchen, if not we ate street food or in the markets. We had some awesome dinners that weren’t specially cheap. We used to drink water with tang (I hate water itself) and somedays when we were hitchhiking we had no time to cook so we basically ate bread with marmalade during the whole day.

We lost around 5-7 kilograms each and even then, food took the biggest amount of money, in any case eating is something important so please, don`t save money on this.

Salar de uyuni


If you followed our trip you will know a lot of kilometers were done Hitchhiking (mostly the south) without this we could spent more than 3 times that amount. Transport is expensive in Argentina and Colombia and really Cheap in Bolivia, Perú, Chile and Ecuador are a point in the middle but it’s possible to get real bargains.

So what’s on this list? There are a couple of ling distance buses we used to cover huge areas (16h and 21h bus rides), small pick ups and shared taxis between small towns, a couple of planes we used in Colombia -cheaper and shorter that a bus- and finallt some ferries. The “taxes” they charge you at Bolivian bus stations are also included, basically anything that involves moving 😉

Transporte en bolivia



We are not big fans of tours and holiday packages, we don’t like super crowded places and tourists routes, we may could spent a little bit more on this category but  well, that’s on everyones choice. We don’t regret about anything, everything we did not visit was our own choice.


This category was mainly curiosity, I end up realizing was not too much. It’s funny because usually the places we slept are not full of luxury but one thing was never missing (or just a few times) and that was WiFI.

We made sure they all had a kitchen and a simple Wifi to be able to connect with the rest of the world.  In Uyuni is totally worthless to try to connect, so don’t bother, it took us about 40 minutes only trying to open an email.


Here we put some of the unnecessary stuff we bought, like gifts or souvenirs, postcards, gas for the kitchen (not so unnecessary) cables and electricity adaptors and some public toilets. 🙂

Backpacker south america


In summary, as you can see, is not a huge amount of money, is truth we did not expend much in luxury and being 100% comfortable but we enjoyed like kids every single day of the trip (even the hardest ones) and I will definitely do it away, if I do, I will take more time to do it slower, rush was a problem at some point.

So… What are you waiting for?

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He llegado desde muy lejos con mis trucos, mis complejos, Una maleta llena de trastos y un cuaderno lleno de cuentos. Soy la mitad de este viaje.

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