As this is our first budget breakdown, let us explain a little bit about how we’re calculating our budget, since there are a few different ways of doing it. We're including everything. From planes to pineapples, beach chair rentals to expensive tours, its all in there.
For Peru, we originally planned for $40 per day, per person. The original estimate was for 31 days, which would have given us a budget of $2,480 total. How did we do?
|Days in Country:||32|
|Daily Per Person:||$38.93|
We spent just barely over our original budgeted total, but with an extra day in country, we were able to stay within our goal. Here's how our spending breaks down:
|Money Spent||% of Budget|
Most of the categories are self-explanatory. Miscellaneous is anything we couldn't fit in another group and includes laundry, new socks for Tyler after he lost a pair, and bus terminal fees.
To us, the breakdown isn't that surprising. We did two big tours - the Amazon and Salkantay/Machu Picchu - which we expected to dominate our budget, and they did at 40%. The other 60% isn't surprising either, considering our spending habits in Peru. We stayed in private rooms (double or twins) for all but one night, so it makes sense Accommodation was our second biggest expense. We also moved around a lot, visiting 8 cities in 32 days, so that explains the transport costs.
I would have expected Eating Out to be higher, but I guess that's a testament to how cheap restaurants can be in Peru. We ate out usually two meals a day, cooking dinner in our hostel only 3 or 4 times total. We made very good use of the set menus for lunch that are prevalent all over South America and generally ate as we pleased for dinner (with keen eyes for a good deal, of course). Neither of us can be remember having a bad meal, either, so don't start thinking we were just eating at the cheapest place possible. We did spend $30 just on one ceviche lunch, after all. Also, we didn't take advantage of cheap lunches at the central markets until we reached Cusco, so we might have been able to spend even less if we had wanted/needed to.
As you can see, we didn't spend a whole lot of money going out to bars or clubs. We had often heard that alcohol was a real budget buster, so we focused on not letting our drinking get out of control. As such, most of our drinking coincided with a tasty meal.
Being our first country and month on the road, we were pretty happy with how we did with our cash. We weren't needlessly frugal, nor were we overly exorbitant. We had our daily spend in mind, and we knew some days we would go over it and others we would be way below, so we were able to keep a good handle on it.
Peru in Retrospect
We are very pleased with how our time in the country unfolded. Our experiences in the Amazon and climbing to and visiting Machu Picchu will forever be some of the best of our lives. It was also a great introduction to South America as the country is pretty easy to move around and most Peruvians were willing to lend some help if we needed it.
We left a few options on the table, such as most of the north of the country, the Santa Cruz Trek in Huaraz and Arequipa, but if we had tried to fit all of it in we would have had to cut our time shorter in other countries or we would have been moving even faster than we were, neither of which were desirable. Plus, this gives us a reason to return someday, as if ceviche and pisco sours weren’t enough of an excuse…