For the past four months I’ve been traveling through the South American country of Peru… and along the way I’ve been recording every cent that I spend during my travels and sharing these expenses with you at the end of each month. Months 1-3 can be viewed by visiting the links below:
This month I spent a ton of time in Cuzco, Peru… I traveled to Machu Picchu… took a trip into the jungle and saw a ton of awesome wildlife… and traveled via bus to the remote cities of Ayacucho and Huancayo. The follow is a detailed account of my spending this month. The expenses here have been listed from largest to smallest.
Jungle Lodge Excursion: 702.61 PEN ($250.00 USD)
My biggest expense this month was the $250 USD that I shelled out for a 4 day – 3 night adventure in the jungles just outside of Puerto Maldonado, Peru. I had traveled to Puerto Maldonado hoping that I could explore the jungles on my own (without having to pay for an expensive tour guide), but that simply wasn’t the case. The tour, however, was worth every cent… and I had a great time exploring the jungles of Peru with my guide Carlos and my two Estonian travel companions.
Lodging: 605 PEN ($215.28 USD)
The second biggest expense this month was lodging, which should come as no surprise. I’m paying about 25 Peruvian Soles per night. That said, my cheapest night of lodging this month was in Puerto Maldonado (15 Soles) and my most expensive night was also in Puerto Maldonado (at a different hostel) (30 Soles).
Food & Drinks: 596.23 PEN ($211.08)
I ate out a lot this month. I probably ate at a restaurant of some kind at least once every single day. And on top of that, I’m stilling buying all of my water in bottles. So it’s no surprise that my cost for food and drinks this month exceeded the $200 mark. I ate well for the most part and I’m starting to learn what Peruvian foods I really like… and which ones I don’t.
External Hard Drive: 260 PEN ($92.51 USD)
This month I had something horrible happen to me. The external hard drive that I’ve been carrying to store all my travel photos and business documents died on me. When I got to the city of Huancayo, the drive suddenly stopped working. I tried having some of the businesses in Huancayo help me restore the drive, but they were unable to assist me in any way. So now I’ve purchased a new hard drive and mailed the old drive home in hopes that I can find someone in the USA who will be able to restore the data for me. My fingers are majorly crossed. Lesson learned: Backup your important data and store it in at least 2 or more different places!
Machu Picchu Train Ticket: 196.73 ($70.00 USD)
When I told my dad that I was going to be traveling to Machu Picchu this month, he made the last minute decision to take some time off of work and fly down to Peru and meet me. So, on the 2nd of March, my dad and I traveled to Machu Picchu and explored the famous ruins there for ourselves. But before we got there, we had to pay for our round-trip tickets to and from the ruins. The train wasn’t running all the way from Cuzco like it normally does, so we saved a little money and took the train to Aguas Calientes from the city of Ollantaytambo instead. The tickets cost $35 USD per direction.
Buses: 186.10 PEN ($66.22 USD)
I sat on a lot of buses this month. I took an 18 hour bus ride from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado. Then I had a 12 hour bus ride back from Puerto Maldonado to the city of Cuzco. About a week later I traveled from Cuzco to Ayacucho (a 22 hour adventure). And there were several more buses that took me to Huancayo and beyond.
Machu Picchu Entrance Ticket: 126 PEN ($44.83 USD)
The cost of getting into most Peruvian museums and ruin sites range from totally free to 15 PEN. Machu Picchu, however, cost a mind-boggling 126 PEN. Was it worth it? You’ll have to go to Machu Picchu and see for yourself.
Postage: 53.60 PEN ($19.07 USD)
When my hard drive crashed this month, I knew that I wanted to mail the thing back to the United States and have it looked after by a professional. So I mailed the hard drive home from the city of Huancayo and it set me back 53.60 PEN. I just hope the hard drive makes it home in one piece.
Combi Rides: 33.80 PEN ($12.03 USD)
If you spend any time traveling in Peru, you are bound to travel by combi at some point in time. These small vans are filled to the max with passengers and their belongings and are usually run short distances between major and non-major points. Because they are jam packed with so many other people, they are an extremely cheap way of traveling… and that’s why I spent hours in combis this month and only paid 33.80 PEN.
Books: 33 PEN ($11.74 USD)
Four moths into my travels and I have long ago run out of reading material. So this month I spent a couple dollars and bought myself some English and Spanish reading books. I’m still trying to learn Spanish, so I bought myself a short book written entirely in Spanish… and also bought myself a Spanish-English dictionary, so I can translate the Spanish book into English.
DVDs: 29 PEN ($10.32 USD)
Four months is a long time to travel… and because I have my laptop with me and I’m spending a lot of time on my own, I purchased a number of DVDs this month to entertain me when I have nothing else to do. Many of the DVDs here in Peru come in English (or in Spanish with English subtitles), so for just a couple bucks I am able to purchase some cheap entertainment for myself that makes me feel like I am back home.
Taxis: 24 PEN ($8.54 USD)
Buses, combis and taxis. They are the three most common ways of getting about in Peru. Taxis, of course, are the most expensive, so I generally try and avoid them when I can. But sometimes there is no getting around it. This month I spent less than $10 USD on taxis.
Headphones: 20 PEN ($7.12 USD)
I had a set of Apple headphones at the start of this trip, but they started to make all sorts of strange noises, so I spent $7 USD and bought a pair of top-of-the-line headphones from a street vendor in Cuzco, Peru.
Butterfly Farm: 20 PEN ($7.12 USD)
In Puerto Maldonado I took a combi to the city’s small butterfly farm and paid 20 Soles for entrance to the small resort. The lodge where the butterflies are kept is quite beautiful, but 20 Soles is way too much money to pay for this small attraction.
Toiletries: 19 PEN ($6.76 USD)
Toilet paper, soap, mosquito spray, and other such items. Not much to say about this.
Music CDs: 14.5 PEN ($5.16 USD)
I’m listening to a lot of music on this trip… and the locals I sit next to on the buses tend to give me a lot of recommendations on the music I should be listening to. So I spent just over $5.00 USD this month and got myself more than 14 new music CDs. In the United States it would be difficult to purchase even a single CD for that little money!
Umbrella: 10 PEN ($3.56 USD)
It’s rainy season here in Peru… and it’s been raining a lot. Unfortunately, all this rain we’ve been getting has put my rain jacket to a major test. And what I learned this month is that my rain jacket isn’t at all rainproof. When it rains, my jacket gets wet and doesn’t wick away the rainwater at all. I considered purchasing a new rain jacket in Cuzco and spending $100 or more dollars on the thing, but in the end, I decided to purchase an inexpensive umbrella and cross my fingers that it will last me through the rest of my trip.
Motorcycle Rental: 5 PEN ($1.78 USD)
If you ever get the chance to travel to Puerto Maldonado, Peru, you will discover that the city is covered in motorcycles. Almost everyone in the city drives a motorcycle or motortaxi. And because the city has so many motorcycles, it comes as no surprise that there are a number of businesses renting out motorbikes (to locals and tourists alike). I rented one of these small motorbikes (for just an hour) and rode it around the crazy streets of Puerto Mal. It was fun, scary, and inexpensive.
Boat: 3 PEN ($1.07 USD)
About two-thirds of the way through my bus trip from Cuzco to Ayacucho, everyone was ushered out of the bus and told that we were going to have to jump in a small boat and float across a river to the other side where another bus was waiting for us. Only in Peru! The boats were made of wood and literally sinking as we all jumped in, but they got us to the other side of the river… and the short trip cost a measly 3 PEN.
Puerto Maldonado Tower Access: 2 PEN ($0.71 USD)
In Puerto Maldonado I paid 2 Soles to climb to the top of the tall obelisk that stands in the center of the city. From the top of the tower I could see the city below and the jungles in the distance. Definitely worth the price of entrance!
Internet: 2 PEN ($0.71 USD)
I’m carrying my own laptop computer and USB Internet stick, so most of the time I don’t have to use an Internet cafe in order to access the Web. But sometimes, when I am just walking around town or in an extreme rush, I’ll dish out a Sole or two to check my email and do some quick research on the Net.
Toilet: 0.50 PEN ($0.18 USD)
Finally, I paid half a Sole this month in order to go to the bathroom. I hate paying money just to use a dirty toilet, but that’s the way it works in many parts of the world – including Peru. I was able to avoid the public toilets for the most part this month, but I did have to make one quick pit stop… and it set me back $0.18 cents.
TOTAL: 2942.07 PEN ($1,046.83 USD)
In the end, this was my second most expensive month in Peru. Machu Picchu, the jungle tour, and a new external hard drive certainly contributed to my high spending this month. But despite the fact that this month was my 2nd most expensive month in Peru, it should be noted that what I spent this month is still far less than what it takes for me to live at home in the United States.
Four months in Peru and I’m averaging $908 USD per month. Not bad, if I do say so myself!