Stuffed up with Leitao, cheese and wine travelproofcouple was unstoppable at least for half an hour until the sun started to burn our skins down. After all with some luck and a lot of walking we made it to one gas station with lots of traffic which brought back our optimism that we gonna reach Spain before night falls.
We had 120 EURO and 10 days to travel overland from Portugal to Spain and see a football game of Deportivo de La Coruna. Now most of our friends in Portugal do not know about our adventure there so please don’t be mad at us for not telling you, but we had our reasons not to. Only one person knew about our visit and soon we were together in the car, going to the place where we spent 3 fantastic days. Now it is time to say thanks again for the beautiful time we had together – thank you Mapalo. We spent 2 days in Lisbon just hanging around doing sightseeing and drinking Boca.
I should have written this article long ago, but various reasons forced me not to do it. However today I’m going to reveal to you how travelproofcouple traveled for 6 months throughout South America with very little money. If I don’t get too frustrated when memories come back I’ll tell you also some advises on how to travel cheaper. I won’t waste your time with empty talks so let me take you straight to the point and remember you don’t need a lot of money to wander around the world.
- Change your credit/debit card limits. Normally you can withdraw up to 200 USD equivalent in local currency especially in South America. When you withdraw abroad your bank will charge you every time at least 3 USD for whatever transaction + some percentage of the amount you have withdrawn, if you’re lucky the foreign bank won’t charge you, but if you’re not like Plamena, you could be charged up to 10 USD. My bank charge me 3 USD +1.5% of the whole amount. Therefore for 200 USD I have to pay 4.5 USD in fees. By changing your limits you could be able to withdraw up to 400 or more USD avoiding to pay this 3 USD twice. I hope you got it. I didn’t bother to change my limits and ask me how much have I lost from bank fees.
- Bring cash with you. If you know where to keep your cash you’d be fine. We had almost 1000 USD and never felt uncomfortable carrying such an amount of money. You can easily install secret pocket inside your trousers to ensure maximum security for your money. We had such pockets in all of our trousers/shorts, moreover there you can hide one of your debit/credit cards as well.
- Make your research. We knew all banks in South America, which do not charge any fees for using them. Once we ran out of money and such a bank wasn’t around we had to pay ridiculous fees as I mentioned above. When you already know your destinations spend some time in researching and save money.
- Spend wisely. If you know you’re on a budget and I bet all travelers you gonna meet our there will tell you „I’m on a budget travel“ well I bet you’re, but we met people on a budget spending 100 USD each day. As an example sometimes we could survive one full week with this money or even more depending on our location. Myself I do not consider 100 bucks a day budget traveling.
- Limit alcohol to minimum, because you’ll find yourself withdrawing money more often than you should. I understand in Bolivia it might be cheaper compare to where you come from, but compare to everything else in Bolivia will be super expensive. I’ll stop here, because I don’t like telling you how you should spend the money you’ve worked for so hard.
- Don’t do organized tours. Use the tour agencies to „steal“ information about the place. We often found ourselves inside a tour agency asking numerous questions related to the place where we wanna go. Can I go by foot? If not why? Is there lots of traffic? If yes this mean you can go there by hitch-hiking. Do you know if we can camp somewhere? Believe me you’ll be told all you want to know. Most of the employees in the tour agencies often forget about travelers like us who do not do tours and consider your questions as one step closer to „close the deal“.
- Don’t give up your accommodation budget easily. Sometimes we were looking for hours to find a cheap accommodation that suits our needs. Most of the people agree with ridiculous prices to have what we also have for 5 times less. In Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador we slept in a room with Wi-Fi, Hot Water and TV for less than 10 dollars in total. Most of the tourists go to hostels and hotels which can be found in travel guides or tripadvisor – avoid these places they’re 5 times more expensive.
- Negotiate. Don’t be shy. One of the most beautiful parts of one travel is when you start doing it. As a foreigner you’ll be given higher prices, by negotiating you can pay the real price or even less. We were negotiating for transport, accommodation and hitch-hiking as well. This saved us a lot of money really! I loved it.
- Ask the locals for the price. Let’s say you have just arrived in Bolivia and you haven’t got any idea how much does an accommodation costs? Simply ask passer by „Excuse me do you know how much does it cost an accommodation in a cheap hostel?“ The same rule applies for food, transport etc.,.
- Thumbs up! for people like us with less than 100 bucks a day 🙂 this is necessary. We hitch-hiked in Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador and we met some incredible people along the way. Those people made our journey colorful and memorable. I hate traveling with bus, for me this is the most boring way of traveling. Even if I had 1000 dollars a day I still would prefer to hitch-hike. Also when you hitch-hike you can drop off wherever you want and change your plans as you go.
- The almighty tent. Make sure you have one. If you like trekking this will give you mobility you can sleep in the nature or at special camp sites. We often asked hostels to sleep in our tent for half price or less and most of them were more than happy to help us. Sometimes we even asked small restaurants if we can eat there few times and sleep for free in their garden and guess what they agreed. Be creative and don’t be shy to ask even if it sounds ridiculous.
- Bring gas stove. You can cook whatever, whenever you want and save money it doesn’t take a lot of space in your backpack and gas tankers usually are available everywhere.
- Don’t go to fancy restaurants for tourist. Instead eat in the local ones where for about 2-3 USD you can get salad, rice with chicken/pork, natural juice and if you’re lucky even a dessert. This is also a nice way to see what the locals eat and how, occasionally you will have to share one table with them and if interacting with strangers appeals to you go for it!
- Ask locals to sleep in their house. This might sound strange to you, but it is a very nice way to learn the local language, customs, traditions etc., We improved our Spanish significantly just by sleeping in people houses. Bolivia was the best country for that. Remember do this only in small villages where people are nice and relaxed. Thank you Nelsi and Semido.
- Use a night bus. When you have to cover huge distances the best way to do it is by using a night bus. This way you don’t have to pay for accommodation. Hang around the city throughout the day and travel during the night. The downside of it is that you’ll miss some spectacular views.
- If you prefer traveling by bus walk outside the city and wave down the bus there. You are one step ahead and negotiating is 10 times easier. When we had to travel by bus we were doing this and sometimes two of us traveled for the price of one. I have to say that we became quite good at negotiating.
- Don’t use a taxi. Take that walk. I know you are with a heavy backpack, your body is exhausted and hurts all over, but walk! Walking is the best way to see the city and its infrastructure.
- Take water filter/purification pills. It pays off really. In some countries water is more expensive than coca-cola. Unfortunately we didn’t have and ended up paying a lot for H20.
- Use couchsurfing. Although we used it only in Chile this online platform allows you to travel and stay for free anywhere around the world. You can hang out with your host, meet locals and learn about the culture. The negative side of couchsurfing is that you’d need to specify the dates you would like to be hosted and stick to them. We wanted to be completely independent and flexible that’s why we didn’t use it.
Put your backpack hit the road and set yourself free!