International travel is cheap!
I proved it in 2009 when I traveled through Europe on my bicycle for 9 months and came home from that trip with 70% more money in my bank account than when I left.
And I’m proving it again this year, as I’ve been traveling for the past three months through the South American country of Peru and living off an amount far less than what it takes for me to sit on my ass back home and do absolutely nothing.
But guess what? I’m not just sitting on my ass and doing nothing here in Peru. In fact, I’m doing a whole lot of amazing stuff… and it’s costing me a boatload less than what it costs for me to simply exist back at home in the United States.
With that said, it’s that time when I sum up exactly what I’ve been doing for the past month in regards to my travels… and I share with you just how much my travel adventures have cost me.
My hope in sharing this information with you is that you’ll learn how much it costs to travel through these places that I’m currently traveling through. But more importantly, I hope that this summary of my travel expenses proves to you that you can travel the world… and that it can be done for a relatively small amount of money.
So, without further ado, here are my travel expenses for the month of February 2011:
Lodging: 630 PEN – $227.48 USD
My biggest expense this month was lodging. I spent the first part of the month in a hostel in Puno, I spent a few nights camping (which was free), and I spend the latter half of the month in Cuzco, Peru. I’m paying about 25 Soles (or PEN) per night for my lodging accommodations (about $9 USD), so while lodging was my largest expense this month, it is still only a fraction of what I pay for my lodging back home.
USB Internet Stick: 529 PEN – $191.01 USD
The Internet here in Peru is terrible. In fact, I’ve been having a really hard time finding hostels in Peru that have fast, reliable Internet. I got so fed up with the Internet situation after arriving in Cusco a few weeks back that I decided to spend a small boatload of money and purchase a USB Internet stick for my computer. The thing cost nearly $200 and comes with a 6-month contract, so it’s probably something I should have bought at the beginning of my trip instead of half-way through, but I bought the thing in hopes of being able to actually get some work done during my remaining three months in the country. Unfortunately, the Internet stick DOES work, but it is terribly slow and runs at only a fraction of the speed the company promised me it would run. I did the math on the speed of the Internet here in Peru compared to the Internet connection I have back at home… and my Internet connection back home is more than 1,000 times faster than what I’m working off of here in Peru. To say that the Internet here is slow would be an severe understatement…. and having a fast Internet connection is one of the top things I’m looking forward to once I return home.
Food & Drinks: 519.6 PEN – $187.62 USD
I spent a lot of money on food this month. But you know what? I ate out… A LOT. I probably ate out at restaurants at least 1 time each day this month… and that added a few extra Soles to my overall spending. But even eating out so frequently, I was still able to keep my food and drink expenses under $200 USD.
Tricycle: 250 PEN – $90.27 USD
Another major expense for me this month was the tricycle taxi cab I purchased in Puno, Peru. I bought the tricycle after seeing all the locals riding them around… and when I left Puno earlier this month… I left on the three-wheeled tricycle you see above. I rode the thing for two-days straight with plans of riding it all the way to Cuzco. But when I woke up on day 3, the tricycle was broken and I was unable to repair it. So I abandoned the tricycle and took a bus to Cusco from here. I may have wasted $90 on the tricycle, but the two-day experience of riding it through Southern Peru was more than worth the money spent.
Cusco Tourist Ticket: 130 PEN – $46.94 USD
Once in Cusco, I purchased the Boleto Turistico, which is an overpriced tourist ticket that gets you into 16 different sites in and around Cusco, Peru. The ticket is good for a number of museums and things inside the Cusco city center, but it’s also good for entrance to a number of Inca ruins that lie outside of Cusco itself. I visited many of these sites with my father (who flew down from California this past week to accompany me here in Peru), but I was unable to get to all of the sites included in the ticket… and therefore, it probably wasn’t worth the money that I spent.
Tricycle Parts & Repairs: 86 PEN – $31.05 USD
Jumping back a bit (I’ve listed the expenses here from greatest to smallest), when I purchased the tricycle taxi cab in Puno, I knew that before I took off on the thing I would need to make some repairs to it. Luckily, there was a place in Puno that was willing to help me get the trike all fixed up. Three hours and thirty-one dollars later, I had a new bottom bracket, a new front axle, a raised up seat post, new pedals, and a tricycle taxi cab that was still a complete piece of junk.
Souvenirs: 77 PEN – $27.80 USD
It’s difficult to travel through Peru and not be tempted to at least consider purchasing some of the Peruvian souvenirs. The stuff is everywhere… and it’s super, super cheap (especially if you know how to haggle). This month I purchased a couple souvenir items in Puno… and a few more items in Cusco.
Socks & Belt: 34.9 PEN – $12.60 USD
Besides the souvenirs that I purchased, I also purchased a few items for me to actually wear. I bought a belt (because I’ve lost a lot of weight and my pants no longer stay above my hips without some assistance) and I bought a couple new pairs of socks (because the ones I had were rock hard, dirty, and disgusting).
Bicycle Pump, Lock, and Tools: 32 PEN – $11.55 USD
Back to my tricycle taxi cab. When I was preparing the trike for it’s long haul across the Peruvian Altiplano, I not only made some repairs to the thing, but I also purchased a lock for the trike, a pump, some spare tubes, and a wrench in case of an accident out there on the road. Unfortunately, I never used a single one of these items, because by the time the tricycle broke down, these items were no longer needed. In the end, I abandoned these items along with the trike. Nearly $12 wasted.
Puno Parade: 30 PEN – $10.83 USD
While in Puno there was a huge festival that took place to celebrate the Virgin of the Candelaria. This festival lasted several days, but the big event was a massive parade with more than 30,000 people from all over the area participating. In order to watch the parade, I had to pay 30 Soles for a bleacher seat… and that small expense was added to my total for the month.
DVDs: 28 PEN – $10.11 USD
Now, I’m not traveling all the time. In fact, I’m spending a lot of time indoors, by myself, with nothing to do. And because of this, I spent a few dollars this month on DVDs to watch on my laptop. I watched “The Black Swan,” “The Social Network,” and “Buried” (all of which I highly recommend). Back home, DVD’s cost about $10 – $20 USD to buy… and as little as $1.06 to rent from my local Red Box. But here in Peru, you can get Black Market DVD’s for as little as $0.72 each.
Bus Ride: 21 PEN – $7.58 USD
I only took one bus this month, but it was a long and interesting ride. I traveled from Juliaca in the south (near Puno) to Cusco in the north. The ride lasted about 8.5 hours, but it only cost me $7.58 (and that included the bus terminal tax). I dare you to find me an 8.5 hour bus ride anywhere in North America that costs less than $8 dollars.
Uros Floating Islands Boat: 20 PEN – $7.22 USD
One of the fun things I did this month is that I took a ride out to the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. These floating islands, made of reeds, are the homes of several thousand native Peruvian people. While the reed islands today are largely inauthentic tourist attractions, there are still parts of the islands where native people live in peace and go about their days just as their ancestors did several hundred years ago.
Taxi Rides: 20 PEN – $7.22 USD
I normally avoid taxis like the plague, but with my father visiting me in Cusco, Peru for a week, we took a few taxi cabs together… and I totaled on the cost for those short rides to my total expenses for the month. Note how narrow the streets are in Cusco. That’s my dad on the right and a taxi cab squeezing past him on the left.
Toiletries: 16.5 PEN – $5.96 USD
Yup! I had to buy toilet paper this month… and shampoo… and soap… and a few other personal items. That’s what happens when you travel for months on end. The toiletries you have on hand eventually run out and you have to resupply. Fortunately, the toiletry expenses I did rack up this month were far from substantial. I ended up paying less than six US Dollars for everything I needed.
Combi Rides: 14 PEN – $5.06 USD
February was the month of the Combi. As I mentioned in last month’s expense report, a “combi” is a shared van that picks people up and drops them off at various locations at super cheap prices. I probably took about 20 different combi buses this month, but the things are so cheap that the rides only cost me a tad bit more than $5 US Dollars.
Inca Museum: 10 PEN – $3.61 USD
In Cusco my father and I were told that we had to see the Inca Museum. So we paid 10 Soles to get into the place, but I wasn’t at all impressed with what I saw there. It was just another boring museum with bone fragments, clay pots, arrowheads, etc. I’ve been to way too many museums on my travels.
Sillustani Entrance Fee: 6 PEN – $2.17 USD
While the Inca Museum was somewhat of a bust, one place that I went this month that was totally worth the money (only $2.17 USD) was the Sillustani ruins – just outside of Puno. After ditching my tricycle, I backtracked on foot to these ruins and spent the night camped out on the tiny peninsula where the ruins are located. I had the entire place to myself and the views from my campsite over the nearby lake were absolutely spectacular.
Motor Taxi: 2 PEN – $0.72 USD
My last and smallest expense for the month was a single ride in a motor taxi through the streets of Juliaca. After taking one combi into the city, I jumped in the first motor taxi to come my way and asked that I be driven to the bus terminal. The ride only lasted a few minutes, but it cost me seventy-two cents… and I was on my way!
TOTAL: 2,456 PEN – $886.81 USD
In the end, this month cost me 2,456 Peruvian Soles (or $886.81 USD). It’s a bit more that the $480 some odd dollars I spent last month, but there were a few reasons for this:
1. I purchased a tricycle taxi cab this month and there were some additional expenses that went along with my short “tricycle touring” adventure.
2. I purchased a USB Internet stick for my computer.
3. I didn’t get a free place to stay this month like I did last month when I was in Arequipa.
All in all, February was one hell of a month. I did a lot, I spent a little, and I created some memories I’ll surely remember for the rest of my life.