Over travel budget in January – because we were having too much fun

I’m starting to feel a little like Britney Spears when I write these posts, in that I find myself saying “Oops, I did it again…”

Yep, over travel budget once again in January.

In our last post I mentioned that we were revising our travel budget down to US$2,000 a month because we figured that travelling through South America would be a lot cheaper than the Caribbean and North America – where we’ve been travelling for the last eight months.

But, it seems old habits die hard because we still managed to spend nearly US$3,000 in January – we were exactly US$924.67 over our newly revised travel budget.

Carmen and Dave Double-Barrelled Travel

Us at my birthday dinner at a lovely Indian restaurant in La Paz – sometimes splurging is certainly worth it!

Expensive Guadeloupe

We’d anticipated Guadeloupe would be expensive but we weren’t ready for just how expensive it was to be. I think we only ate out twice and yet we managed to spend US$168 in the restaurants.

After complaining how expensive Dominica was, it ended up looking like a poor child next to the more glamourous and over-priced Guadeloupe.

Yes, you could finally get French Brie in the supermarket (Dave and I were so excited to see proper cheese we bought five different types in one go) but you were paying Paris prices for it.

Thankfully, because of our newly-found love for couchsurfing, we didn’t end up spending a cent on accommodation in Guadeloupe. Which was just as well because I doubt you could even find Airbnb accommodation for under US$80 a night.

Don’t get me wrong, Guadeloupe was absolutely amazing. We loved it. It was like being back in France and yet we were on a tropical island. I can’t think of a more perfect combination. Yet we paid for the privilege of its beauty.

Guadeloupe Double-Barrelled Travel

With views like this, Guadeloupe was worth the expense

Having too much fun

One of the main reasons we went over our travel budget last month is because we were doing too many fun things. During our last couple of weeks in Dominica we visited hot springs, hiked to waterfalls and went diving one last time.

When we got to Guadeloupe, we spent about US$200 on a day trip going to a neighbouring island called Petite Terre. It sounds like a ludicrous amount to spend on one day, especially with our measly travel budget, but it was totally worth it.

Stay tuned for the blog post on this adventure and you’ll see why…

Carmen and Dave Petite Terre Guadeloupe Double-Barrelled Travel

This island is Petite Terre – see why it was worth the money?

We didn’t really slow down once we got to Bolivia – where we are now – either. We visited a couple of museums in La Paz, including the stunning modern art gallery. These hardly cost more than US$4 a pop though – so it was totally worth it in my eyes.

We went on a biking tour of the most dangerous road in the world – Bolivia’s Death Road – which was extremely enjoyable even if I nearly did fall off the side of the mountain. (True story, caught it on video too, so yet another blog post to hang out for!)

And then, possibly our most enjoyable time in Bolivia so far has been our three day trip to the Uyuni salt flats and surrounding areas. Bolivia is a breathtakingly beautiful country with mountains, volcanoes, pink lagoons, geysers and hot springs. And exploring all this over three days for just US$91 each was a bargain in my eyes.

Expensive transport costs

One thing that annoyed me about Guadeloupe was that there was no public transport to the airport. What a scam! So we were forced to catch a taxi to catch our flight to Bolivia, costing us about US$50.

In Bolivia it’s a different story though. Both of us can get a 12 hour bus for around US$20 each which is a bargain when you compare it to the 30 minute taxi trip in Guadeloupe.

We’ve found it convenient to catch these long bus rides overnight, saving us a night’s accommodation in the process. It can certainly be a pain in the butt (literally) sitting on a bus for this long as you try to sleep in the cold with a baby crying on your shoulder but we’re getting used to it. Backpacking lifestyles indeed!

Carmen and Dave Salt flats Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Playing around on the Salt Flats in Uyuni, Bolivia

Other expenses

Carelessness cost us a little in January too. We replaced the crystal bowl we broke during our house sitting assignment, albeit with a glass bowl because we couldn’t find any crystal on the island.

I also left my camera’s SD card behind in an apartment we stayed in so we forked out for a new one.

And even though we just transited through the US for a couple of hours on our way to Bolivia we had to spend money getting some ESTA visas. (The USA must make so MUCH cash this way!)

Getting to Bolivia we were a little shocked to discover it’s quite cold and so we went shopping to buy some warmer clothing. Four alpaca woolen jumpers, two beanies, two pairs of gloves and two scarves later cost us just US$75 – bargain!

Llamas in Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

Llamas wool make good jumpers too!

Cheap Bolivia (hurrah!)

After costly Guadeloupe, it was a relief to come to Bolivia where you can have a four course lunch for about US$3.50.

Accommodation is extremely cheap too – we stayed in a hostel that was around US$10 for both of us for a double room and at the moment we’re staying in a basic two bedroom apartment around 20 minutes outside of La Paz that’s costing us US$9 a night.

It’s well known that Bolivia is one of the cheapest countries in South America – and we plan to take full advantage of this while we’re here.

Travelling slowly = travelling cheaply

We certainly realised in January, even more so than before, that when we travel slowly – by staying in one place for two weeks or more – we drastically reduce the amount we spend for the month.

And thankfully we will have some respite this month because we are staying in this Bolivian apartment for 10 days or more, spending roughly US$20 a day at the most and hopefully clawing back some of the cash we spent in January.

I’ll be having my hawk-like eyes on the wallet in February, that’s for sure.

Carmen and Dave pink lagoon Bolivia Double-Barrelled Travel

At the pink lagoon during our Salt Flats tour

 Breakdown of our travel budget in January

US dollars
Gas $77.36
Car hire $268
Public transport (buses and taxis) and parking $161.59
Accommodation $124.05
Eating out $516.98
Groceries $579.92
Alcohol $156.58
Attractions $642.14
Other $398.05
Total $2,924.67


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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

2 comments on “Over travel budget in January – because we were having too much fun”

  1. Tamara (@Turtlestravel) Reply

    Those overnight buses are great for saving a night’s lodging expense! And you’re absolutely right that traveling slowly = traveling less expensively! We look forward to hearing more about your adventures in Bolivia. In our South American travels, Bolivia had to get cut out due to a lack of space in our passports, believe it or not. There was no time to get the extra pages added. It’s on our definitely must visit for next time. Safe travels to you!

    • Carmen Allan-Petale Reply

      Thanks Tamara! That’s a shame about your passport. Dave’s is getting very full too (I have two so I don’t have a problem) and he might need to get a new one soon as well.
      That’s a shame you couldn’t make it to Bolivia. It’s a beautiful country. Although I’ve heard the buses here are the worst in South America (and I can kind of believe it…!)

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