Expenses in Chile and Argentina (148 days of travel in a van)

We travelled in Chile and Argentina from the 21th of November 2017 to the 17th of April 2018 (in total 148 days). This is the first budget traveling in a van, and does not include the 22 days we spend on selling our two motorcycles, buying the van (paying for the paperwork) and the repairs and improvements we did during those days. By not including the expenses during this time period, where we sold the motorcycles and bought the van, the budget gives a more realistic view of how much money we have spend living a life on the road in Chile and Argentina. We have decided to make one budget for Chile and Argentina (not two separate budget), since we kept crossing the borders between the two countries, and buying cheaper food in Chile to consume in Argentina. In total we spend 148 days travelling from Santiago, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina then traveling north in Argentina until reaching Uruguay, about 15,000 km. All our expenses are included in the overview in this post except from the 314.44 USD, that we spend on Christmas gifts to family and friends in Denmark. Every penny we have spend together or for personal use are included. We are aware that we might have forgotten to add few expenses during our travel – nobody is perfect. Our budget is 66 USD per day including everything.In total we spend 10,536.53 USD in Chile and Argentina, which calculates into 71.19 per day. This means that we overspend with 5.19 USD per day, so in total we exceeded our budget with 768.12 USD during the 148 days that we traveled in Chile and Argentina. We use an app called TOSHL FINANCE (https://toshl.com), which we could customize to our travel expenses. We decided to buy TOSHL PRO for 19.99 USD (https://toshl.com/pricing/) which gives us access to an online account where all the pictures are from.

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To save money we have tried to follow these basic rules (5. edition for Chile and Argentina)

  1. Wild (free) camp as much as possible. This is one of the most efficient ways of saving money, when you don’t have to pay for camping, hostels or hotels. Using www.ioverlander.com to find places, where we could camp for free. This time we used Airbnb.com when visiting Buenos Aires, because we don’t like to wild camp in a big city. We rented an apartment with two bedrooms including separate bathrooms, and shared the place with our friends Ryan and Camille, that way we split the expenses for the apartment. A lot of places on Airbnb have discounts if you stay 7 nights or more, so remember to check that out.
  2. Stay with other people for free. We have also made friends during our trip, and have been invited to stay at their place for free. In Los Angeles de Chile, we now have a new Chilean family, and in Ushuaia we now have a new Argentinian family. We love our new extra families, and it have given us so much getting us the opportunity to live with them. When we stay with other people for free, they sometimes offer, that we can do some laundry for free, we really appreciate this. This is also possible by using www.couchsurfing.com, which we didn’t done in Chile and Argentina, mostly because couch-surfers are located in the bigger cities, which we didn’t visit.
  3. Cook our own food. It is way cheaper to cook your own food in Chile and Argentina. Also groceries a cheaper in Chile compared to Argentina, so usually we would buy extra groceries in Chile and bring it to Argentina. Just remember that you are not allowed to bring any fresh procure etc. across the border between Chile and Argentina. We would bring extra of fx instant coffee, pasta, rise, soy protein milk powder, pesto, wine etc.  Don’t buy imported groceries they are expensive, Nutella is a very good example. Canned food are still more expensive, than fresh food, so whenever you can cook you own meals from fresh produce, you can save money. In the van we have a 12 volt cooler, which we use to keep fresh produce, meat, cheese, milk etc. this makes it so much easier to cook our own fresh food. The cheapest place the go and buy fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese and eggs is at the local markets (Mercado) or at the small road stalls, and it is cheaper than buying it in the supermarkets. We go for the cheaper cuts of meat or chicken, depending of what we feel like. Meat is very cheap in Argentina, so we ate more meat. When you buy a snack, just buy one and share (do you really need one each?), you never know if it is good, and you can always buy another one after the first one.
  4. Activities: pick the ones which are the most important for you. We try to explore areas by hiking, which doesn’t cost anything. The entry fee to the national parks in Chile and Argentina are very different, but we love the national parks. We would especially recommend Los Glaciares National Park in El Chaltén, Argentina the entrance is free, good visitor center and amazing hiking trails. Explore the towns and cities by walking around, and don’t spend money on expensive tours fx segway tours.

Categories for the expenses

Overview of how we have spend the 10,536.53 USD in Chile and Argentina (71.19 USD per day). We have used the same categories for Chile and Argentina traveling in our van, as we used when traveling on the motorcycle. We have made one change, we added a new category called “Van” and don’t use the category “Motorcycle” anymore. Our expenses have been allocated into 12 categories. What springs to my mind is that we used 1,740.56 USD on the van (that is a lot of money), because we decided to buy an old van, we have had more repairs: 163.56 USD new battery for the van and 230.53 UDS new break pads and disc’ to for the van, in total 394.09 USD. We didn’t have to spend that kind of money when traveling on the motorcycle, because they were almost new, and we didn’t have extra space for additional things. We Spend 21.7 USD on food per day, in general food and drinks is more expensive in Chile and Argentina compared to countries like Columbia and Ecuador. After 1 year on the road I ran out of medicine, and buying medicine is expensive. Also we had to invest in a new pair of hiking boots and a little bit of clothes since some clothes are now very worn. So after traveling for 1 year we started to get some extra expenses, that we didn’t have in the beginning of our trip (we had brought it with us from home). Additional expenses adds up like this: 391.08 USD new bicycle for Camilla, 41.91 USD bicycle short for Camilla, 348.40 USD new hiking boots for Camilla, 297.87 USD asthma and allergy medication (Camilla) = In total 1079.26 USD. So these items (additional expenses) where the one that clearly stuck out of our budget in Chile and Argentina. You will probably not have the same, but maybe you will have some different additional expenses. The point is, that you make choices and both additional and unexpected expenses adds up. We overspend with 768.12 USD, but going looking at some of the additional expenses (without the new battery and break pads and disc’) it more than covers the amount of money, that we overspend with: 10536.530-1079.26 = 9457.27 USD which calculates into 63.9 USD per day.

Overview of expenses in categories, when traveling 148 days in Chile and Argentina, in average we used 71.19 per day

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All the categories have subcategories (called Tags), which makes it possible for us to get a more detailed overview of the expenses within the different categories. In the top each picture you have the total amount of expenses in the category, and underneath you have the amount of expenses allocated into the subcategories.

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In total we are satisfied of how we spend our money in Chile and Argentina. Yes, we have overspend with 768.12 USD during the 148 days, but we have also had extra expenses, that we didn’t have in the beginning of the trip. We do spend quite a lot of money on postcards to family and friends at home, but we think it is worth the money. Also driving an old van does cost more money, than driving a new. It is all about keeping track for your expenses so you don’t overspend and spend money on the things that are important to you. If you have any question about our budget, please feel free to ask.

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