Reader Questions: Tips for Cheap Travel in South America
This week continues to get increasingly more stressful as I prepare for my five month European voyage. Stress is something I go to great lengths to avoid, as I prefer a lifestyle that is easy going, where I can let me mind wander, be creative and continually grow in my educational pursuits. It seems however, unavoidable that in the week before a long trip, the tying up of loose ends can be a difficult and frustrating undertaking. This afternoon I'll funnel this frustration into positive energy by doing something I enjoy, in answering reader questions.
My puppy was rather anxious during the packing process
Before that, lets go over the past two weeks for those who may have been experiencing a similar stressful period and may have missed some vital information. In the ongoing "Knowledgeable Nomads" series we have covered the basics in getting moving. We started by providing Five Tips For Quitting Your Job & Traveling the World While Making Money. This provided a good primer for the coming posts How to Live Anywhere in the World For Free and How To Find The Cheapest Flights, where we discussed budget travel in getting you to your destination cheaply and showing you how you can achieve room and board for free in exchange for work on a variety of projects.
We then concluded part one of the "Knowledgeable nomads" series and prepared you for part two this week with How to Make Money While Traveling, where we outlined the broad strokes of this topic while promising more in depth analysis to come.
In Part Two of this series which will be coming shortly, I will be writing to you while on the road, passing along helpful tips I learn in the process and answering your questions each week that come in from the comments, form contact, or via Facebook. It is my hope to help educate you on how you can become free of the burdens of everyday life and learn how you to can join me on the road.
Today I'll be answering questions that readers have brought up throughout the first part of this series and attempting to properly frame my response to the individual who is needing more information.
First up today, Tiffany writes, "I am planning a trip with friends to South America in early November. I was wondering if you had any expertise on how to get there, what to do, what to see, etc...all on a budget. We would love to go to Brazil (where we may have free accommodations), Columbia and Peru. We have Machu Picchu on the list where we found a guided tour but that's about it! We are wondering what the best way would be to get from country to country or any valuable info you can give us?"
Sure thing! First off since you are coming from the US, you should consider flying on a cheap domestic flight into either LA or Ft. Lauderdale. This is because these are ports for Spirit Airlines, who offers by far the cheapest flights to South America. These are also fun places to spend a day or two if you are interested in seeing these cities as an added bonus. You can then catch a flight to either Lima, Peru, or Bogota, Medellin or Cartagena in Colombia for extremely low prices, often times under $150 each way.
Once you are in South America, bus travel is by far the best way to go. While it may take longer, and long bus rides may not seem appealing, the bus companies serving South America are top notch. Many offer deluxe busses with comfy spacious seats that recline up to 180 degrees. My favorite companies were El Rapido and Cata, but there are a handful of great choices
As far as accommodation goes, hostels that offer private suites are perfect for small groups of travelers. While the dorm style setup of many hostels is unappealing, these private suites are usually very nice options in most hostels, offering the privacy and comfort you seek at very low rates. Dorm beds will cost you $8 and up while suites for three can be as low as $45 per night, making traveling in a small group ideal.
These steps should save you quite a bit of cash! As far as where to go, what to see. Machu Picchu should be amazing. I was here during the flooding when people were being evacuated, so sadly I didn't get to go, but I have heard nothing but good things.
The Vineyards of Mendoza
Must see spots I would recommend are Buenos Aires, gorgeous city, The north coast of Chile, great weather and pristine beaches and Mendoza, Argentina. I mention Mendoza as it had the laid back pace, beautiful city with fun plazas to hang out and meet new friends all set in wine country. Try Mr. Hugo's bikes and wine tour and tell him Rick sent you!
My view from a beach in Arica, Chile, where desert meets sea
Next, Enrique writes,”I am planning on going to Italy next month, as I have the urge to getaway. I do not have the cash for travel in Europe, just enough for the ticket and some meals. Can you help guide me in the right direction to find a place where I can work in exchange for a place to sleep and some meals? I would like to be traveling for a long time.”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news Enrique, but I advise you stay at home for the moment and get things in order so that when you do hit the road, you will not be forced to cut your travels short just when they are starting to get interesting.
I am not saying that there aren’t great opportunities like the ones you mention available; however it is essential to have an income stream before hitting the road. While you may find places to sleep and food to eat, we seem to forget about the huge costs associated with transportation, visa requirements, difficulty in finding work in another country, etc.
This is not to say that you should not have this plan in mind and begin putting it in motion. Creating a mobile muse is a topic I will be focusing on in Part Two of the “Knowledgeable Nomads” series, where I will show you step by step, how I made over $2,000 in one week.
Travel is an amazing endeavor and it can be extremely cheap, however making sure you have at least some sort of income stream when hitting the road is step #1. Hopefully in the coming weeks, I can help you do just that!