A Digital Nomad Budget: 3 Months in Bolivia & Peru

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We have now been digital nomads for nine months. We previously shared how much we spent in our six months in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay budget, and now we look at how much three months in Bolivia and Peru cost.

We have set ourselves a monthly budget of £1000 ($1550) for two people, so our daily budget is £33 ($50). We also have an extra few thousand set aside for big expenses like tours, major activities and flights.

Here’s what we spent travelling around Bolivia and Peru for three months. Costs are for two people.

(If you’re viewing this in a feed reader, click through to get the breakdown in both GBP and USD).
Summary
CountryTotal SpentDays in countryCost per day
Bolivia£1068.7344£24.29
Peru£1648.9748£34.35
TOTALS:£2,717.7092£29.54
Breakdown
CountryAccommodationFoodTransportEntertainmentOtherTotal Per Day
Bolivia£10.38£8.61£1.95£2.41£0.93£24.29
Peru£15.52£10.71£6.83£0.54£0.76£34.35
Summary
CountryTotal SpentDays in countryCost per day
Bolivia$1,656.5344$37.65
Peru$2,555.9048$53.25
TOTALS:$4,212.4492$45.79
Breakdown
CountryAccommodationFoodTransportEntertainmentOtherTotal Per Day
Bolivia$16.09$13.34$3.03$3.74$1.45$37.65
Peru$24.05$16.60$10.59$0.83$1.18$53.25

This is the breakdown of how much this works out on an average daily basis.

We ended up slightly underbudget for our daily expenses, which is due to how inexpensive Bolivia is. We did spend a lot on activities and flights though – see below.

Notes on Our Expenses

Bolivia

  • Bolivia is definitely the cheapest country we have visited so far, and we were able to get decent private en-suite rooms for £10 ($16) a night.
  • You could spend less by staying in more basic rooms and eating local food. As we are vegetarian we had to eat in more expensive tourist restaurants most of the time. We only cooked for ourselves a couple of times.
  • Although our daily expenses were under budget we spent a lot on tours (salt flats and jungle) and flights to and from the Amazon region. If you include all these big expenses it takes our daily budget to £46 ($71) a day for two people. See breakdown of extra expenses below.

Peru

  • Peru felt really expensive after Bolivia, although we did only visit the major tourist destinations of Cusco, Arequipa, Lima and Huaraz.
  • We particularly felt this in accommodation prices. In Bolivia we could get a comfortable room for $16, butin Peru what we got for $25wasn’t great. We really wanted a comfortable bed, hot shower and desk to work at so we ended up paying $40-$45 most nights for the first 3.5 weeks. We went a bit “ignore our budget” crazy.
  • As in Bolivia we also ate out twice a day at tourist restaurants which are much more expensive than the un-veggie friendly local places. In addition we had two amazing but super expensive ($40-45) meals at an excellentvegetarian restaurant in Lima. So worth it!
  • Most buses are overnight and distances are long so we went for cama class with the best bus companies (Cruz del Sur & Movil Tours). You could get much cheaper, less comfortable buses.
  • Luckily we were able to make up our major overspend by volunteering at a mountain lodge, where we got free food and accommodation for nearly three weeks.
  • We got stuck in Huaraz for two days because of protesters blocking the roads. We ended up paying a lot to hire a minibus with other travellers to take us an alternative route to Lima. We missed our first flight to Colombia and had to pay to change it (see extra expenses).
  • Although we ended up almost on budget with our daily expenses, if you include our extra expenses of visiting Machu Picchu, replacing the Macbook´s hard drive and buying flights to Colombia, our daily budget goes up to £51 ($79) a day for two people. See breakdown of extra expenses below.

Extra Expenses

We keep a separate budget for big expenses like tours and flights. We spent a lot of this in the last three months as we took advantage of tours in Bolivia, visited expensive Machu Picchu and bought internal flights in Bolivia, and from Peru to Colombia.

These costs are for two people.

Extra Expenses Bolivia
Flights to/from Amazon £320.43
Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) tour £222.22
Spanish lessons (10 hours private) £36.11
Pampas tour £101.85
Jungle lodge £275.55
Total £956.16
Extra Expenses Peru
Machu Picchu (train, bus and entrance) £197.53
Replacement hard drive £70.96
Flights Lima – Medellin, Colombia £470.10
Changing flight date £73.83
Total £812.42

Income

Web design/development £3417.85
Blogging £256.71
Total £3674.56

Notes

  • Our target income for the first year of Simon’s Line In web design and development business is £1000 a month, which was exceeded in the last three months. Jobs have included complete website design and builds; converting designs to WordPress and creating custom WordPress plugins and features (an advanced hotel booking system that integrates a calendar with Paypal).
  • Blogging income is from advertising on Kerala India Travel and affiliate commissions on Never Ending Voyage from promoting the Language Hacking Guide. We are not actively trying to monetise either of those sites at the moment, but take advantage of a few opportunities when they come along.

All in all we are happy with the state of our finances at the moment, especially considering we haven’t tried that hard to keep to our budget. We originally saved enough to live off for a year while we built up the business, and nine months after leaving the UK we only have £2000 less in our bank accounts than when we started. The Line In business is constantly growing and we are set to continue our travels beyond February 2011 (our one year annniversary) and hopefully afford our expensive summer plans.

Note on the tables: Simon created a WordPress plugin that calculates your average daily expenses and displays them in a table in multiple currencies (see top two tables above). He’ll be releasing it early next year so stay tuned.

Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas? See our 47 Useful Gift Ideas for Carry-On Travellers. They are ideal for travel lovers who want to pack light and include something for every budget.

Leave a comment and let us know your budget for Bolivia and Peru.

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42 Comments (3 pingbacks)

  1. Great budget advice, thanks a lot! I was really pleased to see what you said about making up for your overspend by volunteering. I am planning a three month trip to colombia & peru and have been thinking about volunteering during the way also to cut down on spending. Could you recommend the name/website of the mountain lodge you volunteered in? I find searching for volunteer placements overwhelming at times!
    Thanks

    Reply

  2. Very useful reading for someone planning to be around these two countries in the next months. I am also a programmer, working on the road as I travel. I noticed you mentioned you replace your hard drive while in Peru, did it had anything to do with altitude of the city you were? I keep reading hard drive aren’t meant to work over 3,000 meters above sea level, wondering if others have experience with this.

    Reply

    • No, we replaced it because Simon dropped his laptop down some stairs and was worried it was failing. I have heard people having issues with altitude but we didn’t.

      Reply

  3. Going to spend some time going through your blog, thanks for the info!

    My question is…

    Where do you find this cheap accommodation? Do you Google it? If so what are you searching for? Or do you find a hotel and then once you get to the area look for something cheaper locally?

    Thank you

    Reply

    • A mix of TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, other blogs and friend’s recommendations, and booking.com. The cheapest places often aren’t online so just walking around when you get there also works.

      Reply

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