Cost of South America Travel: April and May 2015

Travel Expense Summary for April and May 2015

Having just spent 16 days in Portugal I realize what a bargain we had in South America. No more $50 days; it’s usually double that, and then some! Expenses are going to be higher some months than others. We are housesitting now and hoping to be spending less to average out our expenses, just as sandwiching expensive European destinations between bargain locations – like Southeast Asia and South America.

Ideally, we are hopeful to find a comfortable $50 a day location. How did I come up with that amount? By reading reports by International Living (interestingly the expats we met in Ecuador called it “International Lying,” Viva Tropical, Live and Invest Overseas, and others about places where a couple can live on a monthly budget of $1500 (or less).

I read How To Travel the World On $50 a Day by Matt Kepnes ( – but that’s for a single so it has to cost more for a couple unless one of us isn’t going to eat – and it isn’t going to be me!
Remember that in March 2015 we averaged $50 a day living in Ecuador and you can read that April 7, 2015 post, Is It Cheaper to Travel Than to Stay Home?

Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska


April 2015  – $2046.74 – $68.22/day
22 nights in Ecuador, and 8 nights in Colombia

Accommodation: $856.80 – $28.56/day
Food: $660.53 – $22.02/day

Transport: $219.30 – $7.31/day

Entertainment: $154.39 (includes $92 for 2 massages each and $8.99 Netflix subscription) – $5.15/day

Misc: $134.81 (includes cell phone, life insurance premium, laundry, pay to use the w/c, and other miscellaneous purchases) – $4.49/day

Giving: $20.91 (includes alms and tipping for maid service) – .70/day


Cali, Colombia

May 2015 – $2429.91 – $78.38/day (based on 31 days)

18 nights in Colombia, 3 nights in Vancouver, BC, 3 nights free accommodation at my daughter and son-in-law’s house and a week on a cruise.

The only portion of the Alaskan cruise included in this summary is the balance on our shipboard account, $31.01 (a shipboard credit covered most of our daily gratuities) and any purchases made in port. The cruise was booked before we knew we were quitting jobs and starting the vagabond life so I didn’t include the cost .  Let’s pretend that we were enjoying a free stay at my daughter’s house. The monthly expense is divided by 31 nights

Accommodation: $953.39 (applied a $64 airport tax refund towards our splurge in Cartagena) – $30.75/day

Food: $611.47 – $19.72/day

Transportation: $499.29 (includes $230.80 for flights from Medellin to Cartagena, and from Cartagena to Bogota and $88 for train travel from Seattle to Portland) – $16.11

Entertainment: $178.36 (includes $48.69 for bike rental in Vancouver) – $5.75/day

Misc: $140.56 (includes cell phone, life insurance premium, laundry, pay to use the w/c, and other miscellaneous purchases) – $4.53/day

Giving: $46.85 (includes alms and tipping for maid service, although a shipboard credit covered most of our cruise gratuities) – $1.51/day


Flavor of the Week: Mango, at Tutti Freddo in Cuenca, Ecuador


The Presidential Palace Balcony overlooking the Plaza Central in Quito, Ecuador

Separating the expenses by country gives a truer picture, and doesn’t include any overhead expenses (cell phone, life insurance).

Ecuador came to $50.25 a day

Accommodation: $25.94/day

Food: $16.30/day

Transport: $3.80/day

Colombia came to $84.05 a day 

Accommodation: $37.20/day

Food: $23.26/day

Transport: $17.40/day

This data surprises me as I thought Colombia was as cheap as Ecuador plus the U.S. dollar was strong. But the cost of transportation was greater (taxis, buses and planes) and we traveled more quickly through Colombia in 18 days vs over several months in Ecuador.  We had additional travel and food costs due to entertaining friends, and finally splurging in the hot expensive city of Cartagena.  Staying a month in one place would cost less.

A taxi ride for 4 or 5 is cheaper than a bus ride


List of Our April and May Accommodations

Cuenca: AirBnB Apt, $24.50, 4 nights of a monthly rental

Vilcabamba: Hosteria Izhcayluma, $36, 4 nights

Zamora: Hotel Torres, $20, 2 nights

Macas: Manzana Real, $20, 1 night

Baños: Timara Hostal, $20, 3 nights

Cotacachi: La Cuadra, $32, 6 nights

Ipiales: Hotel El Nogal, $28, included breakfast, 1 night

Popayán: El Colonial Hotel, $28, included breakfast, 6 nights

Cali: Hostal San Fernando, $34, 5 nights

Salento: Hostal Shambala, $34, included breakfast, 3 nights

Medellin: Black Sheep Hostal, $34, 3 nights

Cartagena: Hostal El Pedregal, $43, 1 night
Cartagena: Hotel Corales de Indias, $97, included breakfast, 3 nights

Bogotá: Explora Hostal, $28, 3 nights

Vancouver, BC: AirBnB, $230, 3 nights 

We splurged for a resort hotel in Cartagena – and loved it! Its about choices: pay less in one place so you can pay more in another.


3 responses to “Cost of South America Travel: April and May 2015

  1. Pingback: Travel Expense Report: Scotland and England – July 2015 | Meet You In The Morning·

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