what we spent: month nine

budget: £30 GBP / $45 USD per day 

total budget: £900 / $1361

total spent: £852 / $1,289

avg. daily spend : £28.4 / $43

all costs are for two people

days on budget: 10%

days under budget: 60%

   days over budget: 30%

We spent this month chilling out in Granada - our favourite city in Nicaragua - enjoying the awesome surf and scenery in Playa Gigante and spending way too much money travelling between Costa Rica and Panama. If that sounds like a bit of cross-country-quick schedule to you in comparison to our usual go slow style, then you're 100% right. It happened for two main reasons.

Firstly, we had decided long ago that we couldn't afford to spend any decent amount of time in Costa Rica. On our budget we just wouldn't have been able to enjoy it.

Second, Emily's family were meeting us in Panama for the festive season so, for the first time on this trip, we actually had a deadline to be somewhere. 

And although we were under budget again, it turned out to be a close run thing - and it shows how just a few days against your travel philosophy can stack up.  We adored Playa Gigante but it was the most expensive place in Nicaragua for us, so even living cheaply meant we were running close to £30 most days. In Granada we could have lived a little less extravagantly, but it was lovely to give ourselves a week of home-cooked food we wanted rather than the same old budget fare again. And, even though we spent only five nights in the country this month, our financial concerns about Costa Rica were proven right in that short time. 

Throw in unavoidable exit fees for two countries and a fancy overnight bus to Panama which we usually wouldn't take (and where we were actually very lucky to be allowed into the country - more on that in another post!) and you can understand where the costs mounted up. 

However, month nine was still an awful lot cheaper than it used to cost for both us to just rent an apartment in London for the same period of time!

Total: £315 / $476

Average cost for double room per night: £12.6 / $19

We got a great deal in Granada for £7 a night, but a week in surprisingly expensive Playa Gigante and then just a few days in Costa Rica really pushed up the average. 

accommodation: 37%

Total: £114 / $173

Due to family visiting us in Panama, we had to cover a lot of ground quickly, so an overnight Ticabus from Costa Rica to Panama was an expensive but necessary option. 

We probably also took more taxis this month than the previous nine!

transport: 13.4%

Total: £80 / $120

We had a kitchen for most of the month however, we did have a huge soft spot for our favourite breakfast place in Granada, which we visited way too many times! Fried cheese, gallo pinto, fried eggs, HEINZ KETCHUP and unlimited coffee - how could we refuse?

Most expensive: £15.2 / $23

Andrew was ill in Costa Rica and when you're ill, you're allowed to spend little more on comfort food!

eating out: 9.3%


Total: £66 / $100

Before we crossed the border, Andrew saddled himself down with two litres of Nicaragua's finest Flor de Cana (which costs 4x the price in Costa Rica). 

We also treated ourselves to our first bottle of wine in six months!

alcohol: 8%

Total: £153 / $232

We didn't hold back on making the most of a decent kitchen and supermarket in Granada and made some decadent feasts. However, in Gigante we had to take a bus for a four hour round-trip just so we could buy affordable groceries for the week - the shops at the beach are a rip-off. 

groceries: 18% 

Total: £39 / $59

Andrew discovered his new favourite type of lollipop, Emily her new favourite biscuit - nuff said! 

sweets & treats: 4.6%

Total: £9 / $7

We did all our washing by hand this month and so saved a lot of money. Stocking up on toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner before the more expensive Costa Rica and Panama were the main costs. 

toiletries: 1%

Total: £58.5  / $88.5

Most expensive £26.4/ $36 (Canal)

When in Panama, one has to visit the Panama Canal; this may not last long however if they keep raising the price for foreigners. Otherwise, we did a lot of surfing this month and visited the beautiful Laguna Apoyo. 

activities: 7%

Total: £6 / $8.5

All Andrew's shorts were broken, so we made a visit to the second-hand shop in Nicaragua, as well as purchasing essential Santa hats!

clothes: 1%

Total: £15 / $22.5

Costa Rica introduced an exit charge in 2014 and Nicaragua also charges an exit fee - meh!

crossing borders: 2%

Want to travel on a budget in Latin America? Find our experience and advice here