How Much Should You Save and Budget for South America?

Expanding on my first blog on How to Budget for Backpacking and Long-term Travel, I thought it would be good to provide some more detail on how much we budgeted for our trip in South America….

Loosely we used the £1000/$1600 a month rule as a basis

With an outward flight booked just before the start of March, we at least wanted to last until Christmas, 10 months later. So using the rule above,  £10,000* each sounded like a good total to save.

*It took 2 years of scrimping but we got there!

In more detail…

Once we browsed a bookstore we used the following prices as daily spends (all in US dollars, correct as of Sept 2013). We used these as a further basis for our budget…we took the comfortable (upper) daily budgets then we planned for a month in each country …


  Total for 30 days
Argentina $50 (Basic) $80 (comfortable) $2,400
Bolivia $15 $28 $840
Brazil $55 $85 $2,550
Chile $40 $60 $1,800
Colombia $50 $90 $2,700
Ecuador $25 $40 $1,200
The Guianas $65 $90 n/a*
Paraguay $30 $50 $1,500
Peru $25 $35 $1,050
Uruguay $30 $50 $1,500
Venezuela $60 $70 $2,100
Grand Total $16,140/£9,595


*Not on our itinerary.

So here the £1,000 a month rule works out pretty well…

However given that we hope to stay for longer and also get to Central America we will be trying to stick to the basic budget when actually travelling. For the last two months this basic budget has been going pretty well….Brazil during Carnival was a real test…but we are just about sticking to it.

Not saved as much as you’ve hoped/or want to stay longer?

Seems simple but spend less time in the more expensive countries and like us stay longer in Peru and Bolivia! In the end we settled for 2 weeks in Brazil as opposed to 1 month – this saved us an awful lot of money but meant we had to be super organised and keep our plans concise.

Hope this table is helpful to start planning your trip!

12 thoughts on “How Much Should You Save and Budget for South America?”

      1. Hey Lauren, thanks for this – its soo helpful!! Myself and a friend are hoping to go traveling around SA for around 5 months (budget permitting) on around £4,600 and were wondering if your budgeting includes daily activities, excursions and intercity travel?

      2. Hi Olivia! Yes our budget accounts for all those things, however for the bigger more expensive tours we have an extra budget. I.e an extra £400 for the Inca Trail etc. But we haven’t had any problem doing any day trips within the original budget – sometimes it just means cooking a meal rather than eating out for a few days but that’s all part of the fun of backpacking! Intercity travel is also within that budget. Hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions!? Happy to help!

  1. This is so useful – hoping to do 5 months from February next year, so trying to work out how many extra jobs I need to take on before that. Thank you!

  2. Great stuff, just the kind of information I was looking for. My girlfriend and I are looking to do somewhere in the range of 3 to 4 months backpacking South America. Our goal is to do Columbia to Brazil “the U” hitting the popular spots all along the way as well as the hidden little gems not to many people visit. This will be my first true back packing experience but living aboard for years I have picked up a lot, my GF has back packed a lot of the world already so her experience will definitely come in handy. I was wondering in your opinion how much roughly this will cost per person. We are by no means picky and need to stay in the best hostels but of course a little bit of luxury will be nice along the way. we are definitely looking to make this a experience of a lifetime! any information you can pass along will be so helpful.Thank you for your time and again great article.

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