Tag Archives: budgeting

How much?! Costing travel in Peru

Peru has thus far proved to be a little more pricy to travel in than Ecuador, especially the bus travel, but then it’s taking me a little time to adjust to using the Nuevo Sol rather than the US Dollar. Dealing with such big numbers can mean that you get through what feels like a scarily huge amount of money in no time at all. But it does seem to get used up all too quickly. Why?

At the time of writing, S/.1000 is equal to UK£234.63. In Peru, hostels cost on average S/.25 (£5.87) for a dorm room, often not including breakfast.

Fresh juice seems to come in at roughly S /.6 (£1.28) and a cheap meal somewhere between S/.10 (£2.34) and S/.20 (£4.68). Eating street food or at the markets is considerably cheaper. I cooked up an English breakfast and the ingredients, minus sausages, cost S/.30 (£7.03). Not cheap.

Bus journeys are EXPENSIVE in comparison to Ecuador (granted, it’s nothing compared to the cost of public transport in the UK) coming in at between S/.5-S/.15 per hour. That’s between £1.17 and £3.52 per hour. And with typical gringo trail towns a good ten hours or more apart, the overall costs soon stack up.

So what is good value? Clothing seems to be inexpensive, for example at the market you can buy a set of woollen gloves or a hat for S/.6 (£1.40) or a hand knitted jumper for S/.30 (£7.03). In Trujillo I needed to stock up on some tops to replace ones lost along the way and was able to find a store offering two for S/.10 (£2.34), so deals aren’t impossible to find.

This discussion is of course only measuring cost relative to travelling for a longer amount of time. When your money’s got  to last, a S/. here and there is worth haggling over and saving. If I was still in full time employment and holidaying here in South America, my concept of cost would be very different. 

But where I am, here and now, I am feeling a bit confused as I’m watching my money disappear. It’s not like I’m lavish. So what’s going on? And how are all these other travellers managing to eat at posh places and not worry? I’m still trying to figure this all out, but I’m not buying into the hype that it’s the cheapest place to travel in South America. No way.

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Cost of backpacking Ecuador

Ecuador is not known for being the cheapest Latin American country to travel in, but compared to European prices you can still travel comfortably on a budget. If anything, the flight over to Ecuador is the most expensive part. 

I found some things to be very good value, like the public transport (although bus travel down south crept up in price) whilst trips to the Galapagos and food  in more touristy areas like La Mariscal in Quito could feel steep. Some  hostels and hotels charged prices similar to back home in the UK but cheaper options are easy  to find if you do just a little searching. Here’s an idea of some costs from autumn 2011:

  US$ UK £
Water (1.5 litre bottle) $0.60 £0.38
Hostel dorm bed (often B&B) $7-$12 £4.39- £7.53
Meal: almuerzo (inc. Drink) $2.50-$4 £1.57-£2.51
Meal: menu dishes $6-$15 £3.77-£9.42
Taxi across town $2-$4 £1.26-£2.51
Taxi to bus terminals $8-$12 £5.02-£7.53
Bus about town (i.e. Trolle bus in Quito) $0.25 £0.16
Bus travel  (per hour) $1 £0.63

Travelling solo ends up costing considerably more, not so much for accommodation (so long as you’re happy sleeping in dorms) but more in terms of getting taxis to bus terminals. In Quito this is especially the case where the majority of buses leave from Terminal Quitumbe (south) and Terminal Carcelén/Terminal Terrestre (north), both a good half hour drive away from the main hostel areas ($10 or thereabouts). 

I’ve found checking into a hostel with a kitchen, doing a supermarket shop and then cooking for myself is a good way to stick to a budget in more expensive areas.

*prices and conversions correct as of 10/11/2011 using a conversion rate of £1.00 = $1.59/ $1.00 = £0.63 from XE.com. Ecuador have used the US dollar as their official currency since 2000.

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Filed under costs/money, ecuador, solo travel, south america, travel