what we spent: month nineteen

budget: £30 GBP / $46.5 USD per day 

total budget: £900 / $1395

total spent: £1443/ $2162

avg. daily spend : £48.1 / $72

all costs are for two people in $USD and £GBP, respectively converted from local currencies at the rate at time of travel.




where were we? 

Pucón, Puerto Montt, Patagonian Fjords, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine (Chile) | El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier, Puerto Madryn, Punta Tombo, Buenos Aires (Argentina) | Colonia del Sacramento, Montevideo, Punta del Este (Uruguay)

Yeah, we could hardly believe it either. 

We knew this month was going to be a challenge. Our last-minute decision to change our route and travel south by ferry to Patagonia was made in full awareness that it wasn't going to be a cheap choice. Further, with our route falling exclusively within three of the most expensive countries in South America, and with some great distances to cover, we were prepared for an over-budget month.

But being over by 60%? That we weren't prepared for.

So what went wrong? In a word, Argentina. We've ranted and raved elsewhere but, in short, we were screwed the minute we crossed into the country in the middle of a snow storm and spent $400 in our first two days - nine days of the daily budget up in smoke! And that was after seeing Perito Mereno Glacier in the cheapest way possible, taking the cheapest long-distance bus available, sleeping in an 8-person dorm and limiting ourselves to one meal a day.

That was a sign of things to come in Argentina, necessitating us to, again, scrap our route and make a hasty bee-line for Uruguay. There, our costs settled down a little and were able to recoup some of the outgoings from the previous weeks, but it's still not a cheap place for budget backpackers.

Of course, to purely view this month on the basis of whether we came under or over budget would be a fallacy. We had some unforgettable experiences and spent a week in Patagonia, a place we never expected to visit on this trip (unsurprisingly because we thought it would cost too much!). We got close to thousands of wild penguins, whales and elephants seals; we spent an afternoon watching a glacier; we took in breathtaking landscapes in the wilderness of Torres del Paine; we lived like locals in Buenos Aires; we hiked in the snow; we made it to Uruguay, a country we couldn't wait to discover. The overspend is going to cause us some issues later on in the trip, but at least most of it was spent on experiences we'll treasure.

It's also important to note that we worked with a few hostels and companies this month; without this and our frugal day-to-day existence, we could easily have spent double our monthly budget.

What we spent - month 19

£309 / $586

From a camper van and our own private ferry cabin in Chile to dorms beds in Argentina. The best decision we made was to rent an apartment for a week in Buenos Aires, which was the perfect base for exploring the city and helping us save some money too.

*through working with hostels, we received seven nights free accommodation.


£440 / $656

We stupidly thought that the biggest monthly expense would be the cost of our three-night ferry through the Patagonian Fjords. However, it was the two awful long-distance buses we had in Argentina which really hurt; the cheapest seats available on two separate 24-hour journeys cost us $352.

And remember, we were only using the USD we brought into the country, so it was a big hit to our funds.


£89 / $134

In Buenos Aires, we let ourselves enjoy the delicious empanadas and pizzas for which the city is famous but that was all done within budget. The sole reason this figure is so high is because on the Patagonian Ferry, all meals were included in the fare and there was no other option but to eat what was provided on board.


£126 / $190

We think that this is the lowest percentage we have spent on groceries since we started this trip. Did we eat out loads? Absolutely not. 

What we did do however was eat cheap - and eat a lot of carbs! By the time we made it to Buenos Aires, we were craving vegetables like nobody's business.


£39 / $59

Looking at this figure, you must be thinking, that we really didn't drink that much this month, huh? However, one thing that is cheap in all three countries is wine, and we drank plenty!



£319 / $478

Most months, our activity percentage is surprisingly low. That's because a lot of the things we do to experience a country cost us nothing or very little. 

That approach just wasn't possible this month. High national park entry fees throughout Patagonia, tour buses being the only available transport option and, us including a percentage or our ferry fare under this category, quickly mounted up to hundreds of pounds. 

Due to this, we actually chose to miss out on a number of hikes and activities because the costs were spiralling out of control. Thankfully, we were able to enjoy Montevideo and Buenos Aires without spending very much at all.


£24 / $37


£1.6 / $2.4

Thankfully, the restocking in Santiago was still going strong this month.


£12 / $18

San Telmo market, held every Sunday in Buenos Aires, was excellent and, if we were on short-term trip, we could have spent lots and lots there. Alas, without much money left and no space in our backpacks, we limited ourselves to buying a beautiful necklace for Emily.

And for Andrew? A thrift store in Pucon with amazingly cheap clothes provided a few much needed replacement t-shirts and shirts.


medical109 (1).png

£6.9 / $10.6

After our house sit, hauling around a massive backpack set off an underlying back twinge for Emily for which, despite our bulging medical kit, we did not have the pain meds for. 

Our encounter with the Chilean pharmaceutical company caused a little confusion, but we got there in the end.


£0 / $0

We sometimes take our British passport for granted but it really is a blessing. Unlike travellers from the U.S, Canada, Australia, we didn't have to pay any entry or visa fees for Argentina.


find out why argentina is so tough for budget travel

read more about this month's expensive adventures