Expense Report – Central and South America

I know that everyone wants to know, how we are able to afford this trip and how much it costs. When planning for the world tour, i needed this information for myself. So before we left we decided to record our spending.

We tracked every single purchase that we made on our trip through Central and South America. At first we used just a journal and a pen, but recently switched to AndroMoney app.

We recorded the purchase in the local currency and use the average exchange rate from the times that we withdrew money from the ATM’s. We rarely use credit and debit cards for security reason.

Here is the table of all the expenses that we have incurred on the trip so far…i mean ALL of them. For clarity we separate daily expenses from major car shipping and flight ticket purchases. The expenses are from our trip from San Diego, California to San Paulo, Brazil. We left on October 26th, 2015 and finished our South America tour on March 31st, 2016, or 158 days. These are expenses for 2 people, so if you are trying to make a per person estimate, then some categories could be divided by 2, i.e. food.

Daily Expenses13437.28
Panama-Colombia Shipping1043.94
Uruguay-South Korea Shipping2064.07
Flights to South East Asia1976.27
Fligth Montevideo - Sao Paulo650.80

We also received some donations from people around the world to a total of $340. We appreciate all the help and thank you sincerely!
The car shipping from South America to South Korea is not final, there will be some port fees in Korea. This will be updated once we know.

Now lets look at the total money spent in each country. Peru, Chile, Mexico and Argentina come in as the top spenders, this is due to the number of days spent in each country and not necessarily due to cost of living.

If we take into account daily expenses per each day in the country, then it balances out a little bit more. Our budget is $100 a day, not including car shipping and major flights. It seems like we are pretty close to it, with an average of $85. And with car shipping and flights the daily average is $121.

We can see that Argentina, Chile and Peru are still the highest. However, Peru comes in the top 4, mostly since we visited Nazca lines and Machu Picchu.

Okay, so we now should look at what exactly we spent the money on. So here is the description of the expense categories and what they inlcude. Car/Motor – Gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, tolls
Clothing/Beauty – clothes and accessories, laundry, shower
Entertainment – Museum, national parks, tours, sports
Fees – postal import fee, visa fees, border crossing fees
Food – breakfast, lunch, dinner, groceries, snacks, wine, beer, water
Living – Camping, hostel, AirBnB
Medical – doctor fees, drugs
Personal – cell phone
Publications – copies, postcards, stamps, stickers
Social – gifts
Transportation – boat, bus, ferry, car fumigation, rail, car import fee, subway, taxi

Pie chart is good, but we need to see the total amounts a bit better.


We drive a 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser that gets about 10-12 mpg when fully loaded. So take all the gas spending in consideration. We drove a total of 17,500 miles. Unfortunately we did not keep track of mileage for each day, sorry. We will do that once we get the car back in Korea.

We spent a total of $3975.16 on gasoline, here is the breakdown.

That works out to be, on average, 4.40 miles per dollar…shit thats a bit expensive. Maybe we should really look into a diesel.


If you think that you can spend less money then us, here is where you can actually make a difference, besides driving a different car.
You can save a bit of dough by cooking your own food, so lets look at food expenses of eating out vs. cooking.

If we assume that eating out is twice as expensive as cooking yourself, then we could have saved around $1200. Take that we a grain of salt, since you cannot cook yourself everywhere.


Another way we could save money is by free camping. Well, not all places feel secure enough to do that, plus we need to shower and use the toilet once in a while. First we will look at where we ended up sleeping.

To make it easier for accounting reasons, everything that is not camping is considered hostels. Trust me, we dont stay in fancy 5 star hotels.
Surprisingly, almost every country has a some nights in hostels. Most of those times is from visiting the major city where car camping is complicated.

The chart above shows the total expenses in each category by country. Not surprisingly staying in a hostel is more expensive than camping…duh.

Map of average daily expenses by country

We split it up into two maps for clarity.
Central America

South America

That’s it folks. If you want to know something else, please write and i will provide the data. I’m here to share this info and will gladly respond.

15 Comment

  1. Justin says:

    Wow, great work. Super informative. Thanks

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      Thank you, glad you enjoyed it.

  2. How many days does this budget cover?

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      158 days

  3. Amy says:

    Great post! I’m curious about health insurance, since your medical expenses were so low. Were you insured at all? Thanks!

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      Yes…we have travelers insurance…that I totally forgot about…thnaks for reminding me…I will update the info. For the year for 2 people it was around 1k..so 5 months would be around $430.

  4. Bo says:

    This gave a lot of new insight…. better choises for future planning?
    Thank you both so much!

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      Thanks it was very interesting for us as well!

  5. Iona says:

    Good work on the records! Can you tell me the company you used for shipping Panama to Colombia please? Or do you have any more info about this process? We plan to go the other direction 🙂

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      We used boris Jaramillo…look at our Panama posting for more info

    2. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      Dug up his email: boris_jaramillo@hotmail.com

  6. Jenya says:

    Wow, Ivan, it’s amazing! You did a great job, counting all the data. I will definitely use it for trip, that I started to plan for next year.

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      Thank you…you know me…it was hard to be this consistent 🙂 Hyein definitely was the one keep us on track!

  7. Rafal says:

    Questions regarding your vehicle:
    1. Was the choice of vehicle the right one considering its mpg numbers?
    2. Any mechanical problems you guys had difficulty fixing?
    3. Vehicle wise – what would you do different if you had the opportunity to sort of go back in time and do it again? Different car?

    1. irazinkov@gmail.com says:

      1. I think the best would be a diesel version of the same truck. Unfortunately, US doesnt have any stock diesel Land Cruisers and doing a conversion would cost more than the difference in gasoline cost savings.
      2. We had a small breakdown that i was able to fix myself – read more here: http://nomadicyear.com2015/11/the-couple-that-poops-together-stays-together/
      In Peru right on the border with Bolivia we had our first and only flat so far, but the sucker was BIG – more here: http://nomadicyear.com2016/02/salar-de-uyuni-bolivia/
      Oh, just remembered that our rear brake pads wore out really quickly, mostly due to a lot of mountain driving – more here: http://nomadicyear.com2016/02/machu-picchu-peru/
      3. That is a very good question and i will write a full post on this soon. Come back and check it out.

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