Who would’ve thought that the cost of travelling in Peru – not the Caribbean or the USA – would end up being one of our most expensive months of travel?
Originally I’d set our budget at US$2,000 for the month, but we weren’t even half way through March and we’d already blown this, so I decided to revise it up to US$3,000 for the month.
Even then, we still went nearly US$500 over that.
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Our biggest expensive this month was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This cost us around US$700 (when you added in the meals around the hike) for the two of us which was a big chunk of our budget spent in just four days.
It was definately worth it though. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we always knew it was going to cost us more than we anticipated and we had a wonderful time hiking the trail with a great bunch of people.
At the beginning of the month, we also decided to go on a trip to Colca Canyon and decided on a tour that was rather swanky. We stayed in a top notch hotel for the night, which had sweeping vistas over the canyon, and ate delicious food.
The tour didn’t go into the canyon though – instead this eco tour was more about learning about the environment and its wildlife. We were taken to the national park that surrounds the canyon and told about the rock formations and plants.
Then it was my favourite part – we learnt a lot about the condors – the biggest flying animals on earth and saw them in their natural environment.
So even though this tour set us back US$280 for two days, we though it was worth it. We also spent around US$100 for three day hikes around Huaraz in northern Peru.
This was certainly money well spent, as we got to visit stunning lakes and glaciers which were unlike any natural beauty we’d ever seen before.
Everyone always raves about the Inca Trail but there are so many other spectcular places to hike in Peru that you shouldn’t get hung up on the Inca Trail otherwise you’ll miss the other parts!
Last of all, we spent US$100 eating out for our two year wedding anniversary. But hey, it only comes round once a year and the feast we ate at Paladar 1900 was delicious and I don’t regret it for a moment.
Launching our business
One of the reasons why I don’t think we were too careful about our spending in March was because we launched our new business, Red Platypus, and it’s going really well.
We’ve already got steady clients and the money is coming in, so we don’t feel as though we have to be as strict with our spending as we have been when we were just living off our savings.
However, I think we need to change our attitude though because we still want to have savings and if we’re careful we can continue to grow this fund rather than deplete it.
We spent a whopping US$437 on accommodation this month, which sounds like a lot but was about a quarter of our monthly rent when we lived in London… which puts things into perspective. It also works out at about US$14 a night which is extremely reasonable. We splurged a little, like when we spent US$26 a night for a beautiful hotel in Trujillo, but mostly we stayed in budget backpackers.
What we have realised is that March, although fun, has been a very tiring month, and we’re looking forward to the three months we’ll be spending in Ecuador because for one of those months we’re renting an apartment in Quito and for the other two we’re house sitting in Cuenca. Moving about every three days – like we have for the past six weeks – is extremely exhausting and we’re excited about ‘setting up home’ in Ecuador for awhile.
Previously I wasn’t really keeping to close a count on the bank fees but this month I decided to be more vigilant and was shocked to realise we spent more than US$70 withdrawing cash.
To be honest, this just makes me pissed off at the banks because they seem to leech you at every turn. I looked up our travel money card online and wasn’t surprised to see it has disgruntled reviews from its users. We use the Commonwealth Travel Money card.
Each time we load the card via BPAY it charges us around US$12 – US$15 depending on how much we load, and then when we withdraw cash it’s a US$2.50 fee each time.
Unfortunately in Peru, the maximum you can withdraw is 500 soles which is only around US$175 so we ended up withdrawing cash multiple times. If you pay with card there aren’t any fees but hardly anywhere takes cards in South America – including hostels – so you end up having to pay with cash.
For the first time I decided to include how much we spent on getting our laundry done, because it kept adding up. There aren’t any laundry facilities where you can do it yourself like in the USA, so we have to pay a couple of dollars a kilo to get it done each week – and this quickly adds up.
I’m considering revising our budget for April up to US$3,000 as well because we’re going to the Galapagos for 13 days and everyone knows it’s an expensive place. Luckily, for four of those days we’re doing a luxury tour in return for coverage which is saving us a big chunk of money.
However, now that we’re obsessed with diving after getting our PADI certification on Dominica, we could hardly go to the Galpagos and not dive. It comes at a cost though – two days worth of diving is going to cost us US$640.
Thankfully we’re renting an apartment once we get back to Quito (as I mentioned above) and I think this should save us quite a bit of money because we’ll be able to get a lot of work done and cook at ‘home’.
Any other tips for how we could save money in April?
Breakdown of our expenses for our budget in March:
|Public transport (buses and taxis) and parking||350.15|