On December 8th, 2010, I flew from my home near Salt Lake City, Utah and after a long series of flight, landed almost one day later in the city of Lima, Peru. Since then, I’ve rented an apartment in the city of Lima for two whole weeks, traveled to the small desert town of Nazca Peru and flown over the mysterious Nazca Lines, and now I’m in the city of Arequipa, where we just rang in the New Year with a massive fireworks celebration.
When I traveled through Europe in 2009, I kept track of every single penny I spent… and I chronicled my spending habits with you here on Bicycle Touring Pro. When my travels in Europe were over, I was surprised that I had spent so little (an average of $1,247 USD per month). But more than that, I realized that traveling in Europe for 9 months actually cost me less that what it costs me to simply sit at home back in the United Stats and doing nothing! In other words, I found out that it was cheaper and more fun for me to travel than it was for me to simply stay at home and pinch pennies.
With this amazing discovery in hand, I thought it would be both fun an informative if I kept track of my expenses once again as I travel through the South American country of Peru on a 6-month backpacking and “bicycle touring” adventure.
So, here it is: These are all of my expenses during my first month in Peru.
Airfare: 923 SOL ($350.10 USD)
Before I even left home I had to spend a significant amount of money in order to even get to Peru. That’s right! I had to purchase my round-trip airline ticket. After hunting around for a while, the cheapest ticket I could find was $700.20 USD, so I ordered it and I’ve split the cost of that ticket in half for this first month of travel as I’ve really only used half of the ticket price at this point in time. When I fly home around the end of May, 2011, I’ll tack on another $350.10 USD to my final travel expenses.
Lodging: 1,414 SOL ($503.83 USD)
This is where things get interesting. This is also where my travel expenses might not match the travel expenses of a typical backpacker or bicycle tourist. You see, I’m not just traveling in Peru for 6 months. I’m working here as well. Part of the work I do is running this website here at Bicycle Touring Pro, but I also run a small marketing business and operate a number of other Internet properties which are either currently being built or need to be maintained on a regular basis. So I’m traveling for 6 months, but I’m also working at the same time… and this means that instead of jumping from one location to the next for months on end, I’m staying put in certain places for long periods of time and working while I’m there. Then, after a while, I pack up my belongings and move on to the next location.
And this is exactly what I’ve done during my first month in Peru. Upon arriving in Lima, Peru, I rented an apartment for 2 whole weeks and that set me back $450 USD. Then I took a bus to the city of Nazca and stayed in a small hostel there for 4 nights. That cost me $35 USD. And finally, I traveled to the city of Arequipa, where I stayed in a hostel for one night (total cost: $8.90 USD) and then found an apartment to stay in for the next three weeks at no cost whatsoever (I’ll explain how I found this free lodging in another post).
For now, it should be noted that this will probably be my most expensive month as far as lodging is concerned. I suspect that in month two of my travels, my cost for lodging will be drastically less. And still, this amount ($503.83 USD) for lodging is less than half of what I normally pay for the mortgage on my condo back at home in the United States.
Taxis: 38 SOL ($13.54 USD)
I’ve only taken three taxis in Peru thus far. I took one that dropped me off at my apartment when I first arrived at the airport in Lima… one that drove me from my apartment in Lima into the center of town… and another when I was leaving Lima and traveling to the bus station in the middle of the city.
Museums & Archeological Sites: 54 SOL ($19.24 USD)
I’ve done a lot of traveling in the past where I failed to visit the museums and historical sites in the area. I did this largely to save money, but since most museum and archeological site entrance fees here in Peru are around $3-$5 USD I’ve been going to practically very museum and ancient site I can find. I’ve probably visited at least a dozen different museums and/or archeological sites since first entering Peru and my cost for these entrance fees has been less than $20 USD.
Food & Drink: 322 SOL ($114. 73 USD)
When I first started planning my trip to Peru, I had a feeling that food and drinks were going to by one of my largest expenses. I’ve found that many of the food items are (to no surprise) less expensive than similar items back home. But in some places, the food and drinks actually cost a whole lot more. For example, while in Lima I paid more than $3 USD for a small package of cream cheese. Back home, I might have paid $1 – $1.50 for that same item. A small jar of spaghettti sauce here in Peru might cost $5 USD. But back home that same jar would cost no more than $1.5 – $3.00 USD. (Just a note: cheaper spaghetti sauce is available here in Peru, but it comes in a bag – not in a jar). The other major expense that I’m paying for here in Peru that I don’t have to pay for back home is clean drinking water. Every single day I’m purchasing about 5 liters or more of bottled water… and over time this certainly adds up.
Nazca Lines Flight: 245 SOL ($87.13 USD )
While in the city of Nazca I dished out $80 USD to take a 30 minute flight over the Nazca Lines and was forced to pay a 20 SOL fee just to use the services there at the Nazca airport.
Nazca Cemetery Tour: 35 SOL ($12.47 USD)
While in Nazca I also went on a short tour of the Chauchilla Cemetery where a dozen or more mummified bodies can be found. This tour was a couple hours in length and included a ride from my hostel in Nazca 30 kms south to the cemetery site out in the middle of the desert and a tour guide who took us through the various mummy pits and explained what it was that we were seeing.
4×4 Sandboarding Tour: 85 SOL ($30 USD)
My other big splurge in Nazca was the 4×4 sandboarding tour I went on during my last day in the city. This was a 4-hour tour where I rode along in an 8-person dune buggy and traveled into the deserts west of Nazca. Traveling on bumpy dirt roads we made stops at the aqueducts of Ocongalla, the Ruins of Cahuachi (shown below), and a pre-Inca cemetery where the bones of hundreds of people lay scattered in the sand. After visiting these various tourist sites we headed into the sand dunes and spent an hour coasting down the dunes on wooden snowboard shaped planks.
Internet: 1.1 SOL ($0.39 USD)
It wasn’t until I arrived in Arequipa on the 27th of December that I needed to use an Internet cafe. Until then, I had had Internet access in all of my lodging locations.
Entertainment: 75.5 SOL ($26.90 USD)
While in Lima I spent some money at the local casinos, bought a few Peruvian CDs, and rented a bicycle so I could cycle to the nearby Pachacamac Ruins.
Bus: 167 SOL ($59.50 USD)
Finally, I took two different long-distance buses this month. The first bus took me from Lima to Nazca (an 8-hour ride that cost me 67 SOL ($23.87 USD) and a second bus from Nazca to Arequipa, which took 10 hours and cost me 100 SOL (35.63 USD). It should be noted that these bus rides were taken with a company called Cruz Del Sur (not pictured above), which is the most top-of-the-line bus service in Peru. If I had taken a cheaper bus, my costs here would have been a whole lot less.
TOTAL COST THIS MONTH: $1,217.80 USD (3,359.6 SOL)
In the end, my total cost for 24 days of travel in the country of Peru set me back $1,217.80 USD.
Honestly, this is a bit more than I expected to have spent during my first month, but when you factor in the airfare to get to Peru and the $450 I paid for my apartment in Lima, I can understand how my costs quickly became so high.
Still, it should be noted that this amount ($1217) is less than what it costs me to live back at home in the United States. So traveling in Peru, even though I spent over one-thousand US dollars, is still saving me money compared to my life back in the States.