Most people are too polite to ask, but everyone wants to know: How much does it really cost to travel around the world? We think we have a pretty good idea, but just to keep us on track and to help you in planning your own trip, we are going to give you a monthly report of our spending as well as the ways we are making our dollars stretch.
We spent all of October in Ecuador, which uses the US dollar, so no conversions were necessary.
Tracking was done through Budget Your Trip, a great online resource for planning a trip or staying on track once you leave. (The only thing I haven’t yet figured out is how to get a daily average of all the days on the trip, not just the days with expenses. We might be the only people who travel with no-spending days!)
|Health Care ($3.00)|
|Tips and Handouts ($201.00)|
|Intercity Transportation ($60.00)|
|All Inclusive Tour ($20.00)|
|Local Transportation ($37.75)|
|Living Expenses ($31.00)|
Total Expenses: $704.36
Daily Average: $22.72
How we saved money
As you know, our trip budget is $100/day. By coming in at $22.72, we are well below projections and have a little padding for days when we might want to splurge or to extend the trip. But how did we get it so low?
- Housing is a big expense, and we are staying for free at the home of our very good friends Jim and Mimi. We could not have asked for a better way to start the trip, both from a cost and an experience perspective. The home is located at an eco-lodge in the Andes Mountains and has a full kitchen, friendly dogs, and hammocks out front. We are eternally grateful for their generosity. (We did stay one night in a hostel in Quito for $30.)
- We buy most of our own food and cook our own meals at home, only eating out for breakfast each day as a way to practice our Spanish with native speakers.
- Warren has been busy recruiting new clients for his website business, and the lodge we are at is his latest client. He bartered for services in exchange for the work, so we have been able to take some tours, eat some delicious meals in the dining room, and have some of our laundry done. This saved us almost $1000 in October. He’s recruited a tour company as well, so I can see this becoming more of a strategy as we travel.
- Tips are a high percentage this month due to the fact we are staying in a lodge. Just because the rent is free and services are bartered doesn’t mean you can skimp on tips for the staff.
- We have been laying fairly low this first month due to adjusting to this new lifestyle and battling some illness, so we do expect our spending to increase as we become more active this month.
All in all, not a bad way to start the trip. There is no doubt we will spend more in November as we take a big road trip around Ecuador, but we are committed to staying within $100/day on average.
A few lessons we’ve learned:
- If the cab is not metered, ask in advance how much it will cost and agree to a price before you leave.
- Eating 2 substantial meals a day – one at midmorning and one in the late afternoon – keeps both the weight and the budget down.
- Rethink the round trip. For example, instead of getting a cab to go into Otavalo, we take a leisurely 45-minute walk downhill, do our shopping, and then take a cab back uphill. We save money and get a little exercise.
Stay tuned for November’s report as we manage our budget while on a road trip around Ecuador and into the jungle.