Breaking the bank in January

· by dusty

Playing Rummy on Peru Rail's Andean Explorer


We didn’t play much Rummy in the beginning of January, but we finished strong towards the end. Dusty is still winning the race to 100,000 points and has increased the lead a little bit. Still a long way to go.

Wendy: 15460
Dusty: 16185


Well, we thought that December was a bust because we went Over Budget by about $240 (with our new improved budget). However, that new and improved budget got its butt kicked in January. We traveled a lot in January and spent about 2/3 in Peru and the last 1/3 in Bolivia.

Here is the breakdown of what we spent:

Category Budget Actual Difference Notes
Transportation 300 1055 (755) buses and taxis
Rent 800 769 31 hostels and a xmas present
Misc 225 588 (363) healthcare, clothes and gadgets
Activities 200 391 (191) lots of fun
Food 560 682 (122) food and dining
Allowance 160 160 0 coffee and beer
TOTAL 2245 3645 (1400)

Over budget by $1400!! OUCH!

Seared Alpaca Appetizer on Peru Rail's Andean Explorer

Food and Rent

Well, we did pretty good on Rent and OK on Food. Since this is a monthly budget, things are going to be off a little on months with more days. For example, we typically try to spend about $20/day on food. The budget is based on 4 weeks, which is 28 days. If the month has 31 days, then we will be over by about $60. That is expected. A little over on Food and a little under on Rent. Not bad.

Sign to Montaña Machu Picchu


The Activities category was over by about $200. But, we actually saved up money for activities into a separate savings account. We just guessed at $200/month which gave us till the end of the trip to spend it all. Machu Picchu was about $90 and the Highway of Death was about $140. With a few other small tours in there such as the Titicaca tour, that put us over. We are OK with going over in activities though as we saved for it and are buying memories. :)

Wendy figuring stuff out while it's raining in La Paz, Bolivia


Next up is the Misc category. This is the generic category for things we just don’t plan for. This one was over by about $350. One thing that we should have planned for, but didn’t, are the Bolivian Visas we needed to enter the country. That was $270 that we could have known about that and planned for it, but overlooked and ended up in Misc.

In addition, IT IS COLD IN THE MOUNTAINS. We planned for the beach (especially Dusty) and needed warm clothes. Anyway, we bought some socks, a jacket, some long-sleeve shirts, gloves, a pocket knife, ear plugs, an extra battery for our camera, etc.. That all added up to a little bit over.

Wendy Hitches A Ride on Peru Rail's Andean Explorer


Finally, the Transportation category. This one was over by $750! Well, this was easy to explain. First, we decided to Fly to Cusco. We kept hearing about the dangers of Buses on that route (actually saw a news flash about a bus accident on that same route) and didn’t want to take another bus through mountains. So we figured it was better over-budget than over-the-edge and bought plane tickets. It wasn’t that bad actually, at about $175 for two first-class tickets (free upgrade!). Next up was Machu Picchu, with a train ride to and back, was about $200. There isn’t another option for that, its the only way to get there even if you want to Do it Yourself.

But, the biggest budget killer was the Andean Explorer train to Puno. This train was awesome! We could have easily written that off as Activities, but we still have to account for that cost anyway. It was $220 each, but well worth it. We also like to justify that cost as “Safety” :)

Next Month

February is going to be about 1 week in Bolivia and then the rest in Chile and Argentina. We are a little worried about the budget in the coming months because we hear that Chile and Argentina are considerably more expensive than Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. But, we also hear the bus system in Argentina is fantastic, so we might not have any expensive trains or flights. I guess we will find out soon.

You can see our progress on the Cost link on the top of the page.

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