No matter what kind of traveler you are, you will always want to save money during your trips. This is a no-brainer. So keep reading these tips on how to travel Latin America on a budget to discover these fascinating lands saving quite some cash.
1. Embrace Slow Traveling
I know when we travel we want to get as many places as we can. That’s a fair option for sure, but slow traveling is also a really nice opportunity for immersing in the local scenery, traditions and getting to know locals as if they were your friends. This way, not moving so much from one place to another, you don’t have to pay for that much transportation and hostels, which will save you hundreds. If you want my recommendation, pick one country (better in Central America surfaces are not that large) and explore it as deeply as you can!
2. Avoid the Most Expensive Countries
I know, I know. Argentina and Brazil are beautiful, exotic and charming. But.. They are expensive! Long distances in both countries are a bummer and will increase the prices of transportation so much. Go for places like Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala or Ecuador for cheap “everything”.
3. Markets and street stalls for your meals!
Markets are not only great for buying fresh and cheap ingredients for your meals, but for spotting the local customs and behaviours. This is something I always highlight! Go to the local market filled with stalls and buy you some tortillas or sandwiches to spend the day with your stomach loaded and only spend a few dollars. You will be delighted by the flavours!
4. Make of Lunch Your Heavy Meal
Eating outside is faster and more comfortable, but of course, it gets more expensive, especially if you do it on an everyday basis. So pick wisely the spots where you’ll eat and do it at lunchtime. This way, you’ll be full of energy (and delicious food), so you won’t need that much refill for the rest of the day. You can take some snack or something very light for dinner and call it a day.
5. Don’t Book in Advance
I know this might seem risky, but you have to be wise when booking. Of course you’ll have to book the first night before you arrive, but stop there! When you use pretty much any tour operator, they usually charge you a lot when paying with your credit card. That’s just how it goes, so if you can book everything directly, no charges added, the cost will reduce a lot.
6. Leverage the Knowledge of Local Guides
As I always say, they are the ones who know the best secrets and hidden spots of each place you visit. It’s their passion and work, so trust them to make of your trip a more local and authentic experience. Plus, local prices are usually lower than the ones you pay in bigger agencies, since you have intermediaries.
7. Stick to the “chicken buses” or “colectivos”
These types of buses will probably be the most “Latin American” thing you’ll see during your trip. And they are the cheapest option for traveling (not that long distances). I agree they are not the most comfortable means of transportation, but they will make it for getting you wherever you want and you’ll be able to meet insiders naturally and enjoy the local experience. That is a big pro!
8. Compare Prices When Doing Local Activities
There are many similar activities you can do two different countries. For instance, in Mexico and Guatemala you can visit Mayan ruins and learn about their archeological history. But you will around 60$ in Mexico (Chichen Itza ruins) for the tour and only 30$ in Guatemala (Tikal) – both equally interesting. Research in advance and you will save a lot!
9. Learn Some Basic Spanish
This is a useful tip wherever you travel actually, but you have to consider that Latin America is not like Europe or Southeast Asia, where you easily get by with a few English words, especially if you head to smaller villages. Knowing how to say the basics will make your journey way less frustrating and you’ll stay away from scammers. The language is the fastest way to take advantage of tourists who don’t know the country and the culture.
I’m positive that these tips will help you have a more authentic trip wherever you go in Latin America. And they’ll even make your journey more sustainable, since most of the tips give embrace the local culture and economy! Go for it when you travel, the best thing you can do is to support the community that is welcoming you so warmly, by leaving a positive print there!
And if you have some useful tips to share with the rest of us, please share them in the comment section!