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South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
3 posts
5 reviews
South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

I'm a 26 year old Irish female looking into the following rough solo itinerary for October 2013 onwards -

October: Mexico - Mexico City, 2 weeks intensive Spanish lessons.

Fly to Cuba - 1 week

Return to Mexico for 1 week, taking in what I can of Teotihuacan, Puebla, Tula, Tlaxcala

November: Ecuador ( a week in Galapagos would be truly amazing but I'm assuming my budget doesn't cover it)

December: Peru - Cuzco, Machu Picchu, a homestay in the Amazon. I want to see capybaras and historical sites.

January: Bolivia - still deciding where I want to go.

February: Argentina - the plan is to somehow work my way towards Buenos Aires. Then, since I work as a TEFL teacher, I'm looking to find teaching work in Mendoza or Rosario or another smaller city to live on until June - World Cup in Rio.

So I have about $10,000. Is this do-able? I have no real idea. I'll stay in hostels and the like.

Any words of advice or recommendation?

Thanks for reading!

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
3 posts
5 reviews
1. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

Perhaps with this budget I should skip Argentina altogether and come home after Peru.

London, England
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
9,874 posts
25 reviews
2. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

Welcome to the Solo Travel Forum!

If you are interested in animals at all, the Galapagos is an unforgettable destination.

In your place I would trade a bit of the length of my trip for a visit to the Galapagos.

Have a look at GAdventures for what, at least when I looked into it a few years ago, was the least expensive good option. I took the trip and had a fantastic time.

Because the birds and animals are not afraid of people (at least on the uninhabited islands) I got the most wonderful photographs of my life.

But everyone is different and travelling solo is a chance to play to those difference. (Although I'm with you about capybaras)

It is hard to give you a definitive answer about your budget because the big unknown is how much money you can earn. Make certain that you have good travel/medical insurance and keep aside enough to get yourself home if you run out of money; then see how far you can get.(maybe leave some with a family member to keep it secure?) Do lots of reading, guide books and others. It might also be worth looking at some of the books about planning a Gap Year as that, essentially is what you are doing.

A KIndle may be a worth while investment. It can carry heavy guide books and a years worth of reading in English and Spanish and as it is in black and white and only really good for reading, it is far less likely to go walk about than an ipad.

The other unknown is inflation in some of the South American countries.

That may sound a bit irresponsible, but you sound like a sensible woman and one with a marketable skill, so taking a bit of a chance doesn't seem unreasonable. I think it looks like a grand adventure.

You might also want to post in some of the South American forums, especially the ones you want to teach in.


PS. Do you mean $ as in US dollars or Euros (which obviously would be worth more than $10,000?

Edited: 24 March 2013, 19:54
Destination Expert
for Kent, Solo Travel
Level Contributor
12,501 posts
133 reviews
3. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

The distances you want to cover are vast, and you may need to take several internal flights. Although not all flight prices are available for your 2014 dates, it may be worth using a site like skyscanner to give you an idea of who the local carriers are, with current prices and routes. You may be able to set up alerts from local air carriers to email you when they have sales.

Travel insurance..... the usual tourist insurance is designed for trips of 30 days, so you may need quotes for extended cover. Trailblazers in the UK may be able to give you a quote, otherwise you may need to find a specialist travel insurance broker.

Working abroad... TEFL is an excellent way to supplement your income, but suggest you check that you can legally work. It may be worth trying to locate the English language schools now, and checking pay rates/work permit requirements, and if they need documentation to prove your TEFL qualifications.

As Leagle has already pointed out.... inflation may be a problem. You might want to contact currency brokers and see if you can adance or spot buy local currencies. They watch currency movements and may be able to advise when or if you should buy currencies before you go. You should definately speak to your own bank about money transfers/exchange rate fee's/fraud protection.

It sounds like a wonderful trip... a friends daughter went to Chile for 1 years work experience..but has now settled there... so, phone home regularly!

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,232 posts
21 reviews
4. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

I am sure you have read Motorcycle Diaries, several times but travelling overland in Latin America is somewhat dangerous, hence would advise you to read us as much as you can. I would suggest you invest in purchasing an Airpass, not available to buy once in South America, which offers you a cheap option of travelling around the region. It works out at anything between $100 - $200 for each a leg you fly, I used one in Brazil, myself great value when you consider that from Sao Paulo to Manaus costs $750 alone and something like only 15% of Brazilian have actually visited the Amazonas regions. You also mix and match these to stretch your budget. Travel - have a short break then ready for your next trip; and travel again. I would suggest you base yourself in Brazil and visit the other countries from there as it’s easier on you rather than doing many long flights over Brazil.

I have a Dutch Friend, who did manage to travel around parts of South America by bus and was proud of the fact that she was only robbed twice, when the intercity buses were held up. And she is a travel savvy person, considering all the other things that could have happened to her.

It’s great you are learning Spanish, but also bear in mind that Brazilians speak Portuguese. The other way to stretch your budget is stay with people along the way. I know there is some part in Ireland that has a large Brazilian community it worth considering networking to make useful contacts. On currencies that are useful in Latin America, the US Dollar is still king, but don't travel around with large amounts of cash. On lessons learnt from my time if I could do that whole journey again would be to have more time travelling between each city, as I found I spent far too much time getting clothes washed and packing & unpacking etc.

One minor point the World Cup is being held in Brazil, it is the Olympics that are taking place in Rio. Games are being held all over Brazil including my favourite city Fortaleza, in the state of Cera.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
3 posts
5 reviews
5. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

Thanks for all your helpful and considered responses. My plans are tentative at this point. I haven't even read The Motorcycle Diaries once as you snidely assumed! I'm mostly interested in historical sites and wildlife photography so will consider cutting back on travel time, as the first poster suggested, and visiting Galapagos. Looks like an unforgettable trip. Thanks for the tour recommendation.

London, United...
Level Contributor
1,232 posts
21 reviews
6. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

“I haven't even read The Motorcycle Diaries once as you snidely assumed!”

I am not sure why you would assumed I am making a snidely comments, rather a general statement. The desire to travel is inspired in us by many different factors around. I know many people who would like to travel across South America overland, including myself (but maybe not on a motorbike).

Las Vegas, Nevada
Level Contributor
1,386 posts
104 reviews
7. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

You want to photograph wildlife in South America? You might want to consider adding the Brazilian Pantanal to your itinerary.

Level Contributor
199 posts
20 reviews
8. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

Unless you just want to learn Spanish, skip the two weeks in Mexico city taking lessons. You can learn the few words you need quickly online. Then if you wish just use an online translate (on your cell) or even a pocket translator if you want. My Spanish is about the same as a 3 year old child, I know key words, but can't put a sentence together, and have never had any problem communicating.

Plan a week at most for seeing Mexico City. You have now saved enough to help pay for Galapagos.

Cuzco is one of the more expensive places to stay in Peru, but a must see. Deals can be found online, I stayed at the Novotel for about $150 USD. The train system has 3 classes, who you can save some money there too.

It will take some work, but there is a lodge at MP and they do run sales. It's all inclusive and $$$ but well worth the money. The gates to MP open well before the first van arrives, and is open for another hour or so after the last van has left. So the people in the lodge have MP all to themselves for several hours a day. If you can do it, book 2 nights there.

You may also want to plan a week in Lima. There are several day trips you can take from there that are well worth the time. Did you know they have penguins in Peru? Also you have to see the nascar lines.

I've only been to the southern tip of Argentina, so can't offer any suggestions. However if you want more details on the west coast of South America, feel free to send me a message.

9. Re: South America & co. - Budget opinion, please.

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