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Expenses Revealed: How Much It Cost Me to Go to South America

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How much does a trip to South America cost? In April 2014, I took a three-week trip to Peru and Argentina, and I’ll share all my expenses below!

Peruvian soles, Argentine pesos, Uruguayan pesos, American dollars
I’m currently carrying four different currencies in my wallet!

Here is a breakdown of everything I paid before leaving for South America

Trip Item


Flightfox.com service to help me find the cheapest flight tickets$69
Flights from Florida -> Lima -> Cusco -> Buenos Aires -> Lima -> Florida$1573.33
Airbnb: Double bedroom in a shared house in Cusco for 10 nights$126
Airbnb: 1 bedroom apartment in Downtown Buenos Aires for 10 nights$384
Travel insurance, Classic Plan from TravelSafe$154
Argentina reciprocity fee (U.S. citizens must pay this to enter the country. Valid for 10 years)$160

Total Cost =


Holy Crap! That’s a Lot of Money!

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    I know. Try being the one having to spend it! But let’s put things into perspective here: I planned on staying in South America for three months. To stay put in the San Francisco Bay Area for three months would have cost me $3,600 in RENT ALONE. It was actually cheaper to travel. 

    Headed to Machu Picchu? Check out these tours!

    Special Things to Note

    1. These are the prepaid expenses I made before actually traveling. There, of course, were and are more costs every day of my trip, including taxis, trains, subways, food, tickets to attractions, etc. I will detail these later.
    2. I didn’t end up taking the flight home to Florida, so I “lost out” on that. However, booking the flight home to Florida at the start was CHEAPER than booking a one-way ticket to South America. It makes NO sense, right? But it’s true. Try booking an international flight one-way and then try round-trip. Round-trip is almost always cheaper. I’m not sure why.
    3. You can get travel insurance for lower prices, but I’m a worrywart so I opted for a VERY comprehensive travel insurance policy, one that included emergency evacuation in case of civil war or political upheaval and allowed for pre-existing medical conditions.
    4. Obviously the biggest expense was flights. Flights to South America are just more expensive than other places. One reason could be that South America isn’t as popular a tourist destination as, say, Europe.

    Do Not Be Discouraged. Travel Can Be Much Cheaper!

    Traveling cheaply was not my number one goal, so there are many ways my costs could’ve been less. Don’t be discouraged if you see this price tag, and it’s way out of your budget. As I mentioned before, getting to South America can be relatively expensive because flights to the continent tend to cost more. Living in South America, however, is much cheaper than the U.S.

    Stay tuned! I’ll share more money saving tips plus my spending logs on this trip.

    Next posts in this series:

    1. How Much It Costs to Live in Cusco, Peru (With a Real-Time Daily Spending Log)
    2. How I Can Afford to Travel


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