budget: £30 GBP per day
total budget: £930
total spent: £1059
avg. daily spend : £34.17
**Normally when we do these breakdowns we include US Dollars, however, due to four currencies, and Argentina's fluctuating black market, for this month only, we have simply converted from local into British Pounds.**
DAYS ON BUDGET: 0%
DAYS UNDER BUDGET: 52%
DAYS OVER BUDGET: 48%
where were we?
Florianopolis (Brazil) | Puerto Iguazu, Tafi del Valle, Cafayate, Salta, Tilcara (Argentina) | Encarnacion (Paraguay) | Tupiza, Uyuni (Bolivia)
Four countries in four weeks. Quite a busy month for a pair of self-confessed slow-travellers and a sure fire way to add a few extra pounds to the transport budget - especially when one of those countries is Argentina! In fact, two long-distance buses cost us around £200, or a whopping 19% of our monthly spend. No wonder we went over.
However, add in Christmas, two big ticket items (Iguazu Falls and the Salt Flats) and our overspend could actually have been a lot worse.
Thankfully, the rain that plagued our Brazil trip did mean that we had a number of cheap work days to help balance out the budget and our decision to DIY our own activities in Bolivia and Argentina prevented excessive spending.
We never like going over-budget, especially if we feel that it wasn't warranted or we didn't squeeze out every drop of experience from those extra pennies spent, however, this month that's exactly what we did. We hiked through red rock and lush greenery, along canyons and up mountains, cycled to vineyards and waterfalls, visited the amazing Salt Flats and felt the true force of the mighty Iguazu falls. We drank wine by the carafe from famous vineyards and ice-cold beer with sand between our toes. We ate out for fun, not just necessity and experienced not just one but four amazing countries. This was a good month.
Before we started this trip, we thought that hitting 30% on accommodation per month would be the ideal.
December saw us in an AirBnB apartment in Brazil (£14 per night), dorms in Paraguay (£15) and most of Argentina as that was all we could afford, whilst we could get a private double in Bolivia for around £8-10.
We did also treat ourselves to a private during the Christmas period in Argentina.
Those bloody Argentine buses! One story encapsulates our experiences with them - we exchanged our last $185 for a decent 'blue market' rate before leaving for Paraguay. In our first hour back in Argentina, we spent every single penny of that on the cheapest bus available to take us from Posadas to Tucuman. And it was a crap bus.
Thankfully, transport in Bolivia is very very cheap. One memorable 6-hour journey from Tupiza to Uyuni (no road exists between the two) only cost us £5 each.
This is much more than usual. Firstly, we joined an English and Colombian couple to treat ourselves at a Japanese restaurant in Paraguay - our first fancy meal out in months.
Secondly, the hostel at Christmas had no kitchen and was in the middle of nowhere, so very meal had to be eaten at their restaurant. And in Uyuni, Bolivia, we couldn't find a hostel with a kitchen so ate two meals out a day.
EATING OUT: 11.3%
For the reasons listed above, this is much less than usual.
Bolivia gave us a welcome return to buying fruit and veg from local markets (and getting overcharged every bloody time)! We also pledged to return to some healthier meals in 2016, after December saw us in a bit of a junk food rut.
'Twas the season to be jolly, so yea, we spent a bit on some Christmas booze. However, enjoying the fruits of Argentinian wine country in bloom also made a dent.
Should wine flavoured ice cream be included here or under 'sweets and treats'? Answers on a post card please.
We made some incredible memories this month. The north of Argentina meant Iguazu Falls, hiking and cycling through vineyards and along dusty roads, the south of Bolivia meant walking in red rock valleys and visiting the awe-inspiring Salt Flats.
We saved some cash by opting to just do a one-day tour of the Flats, rather than the 3 or 4 night option which neither of us fancied.
Well, it was Christmas...
SWEETS & TREATS: 3.3%
The only downside of discovering hot weather again? Having to buy more hideously over-priced sun cream.
Another month, many more holes and stains but no new clothes for us.
Woohoo, no life threatening illnesses this month!
MEDICAL EXPENSES: 0%
A new category. Very rarely on this trip have we paid substantial fees, but Argentina charged us about £5 each withdrawal, while Paraguay charged around £3.
WITHDRAWAL FEES 1.4%
Astonishingly, crossing in and out of four countries this month costs us absolutely nothing. Travelling in South America on a British passport is awesome! If you were Australian or American, this month would have cost you quite a bit more.