After about 4 months of planning, 6 months of saving and 2 weeks in South America, I’m back! And what an epic 2 weeks!
For my birthday, my husband and I traveled to Peru for 2 weeks with an 18-hour layover in Colombia and let me just say, it was a crazy experience! The people were incredibly welcoming, I gained a new sense of spirituality with Mother Earth and I challenged myself in new ways I never knew I was capable of. It was incredible to say the least.
In regards to our finances, I’m sure you’re wondering if we saved enough. How much did we save? Was it enough? Would we do anything differently?
I’m here to tell you that we learned quite a lot on this trip to South America. To get a little more understanding about what we saved and what we needed, here’s a visual of what we planned to spend and what we actually spent:
Where Our Budget Differed
It’s important for me to note that as a travel writer and blogger, I was able to save a lot more than the average traveler. Due to my budgeting knowledge, press discounts, media trips and complimentary experiences, I was able to save money in exchange for taking plenty of photographs and writing about my experience. (While some may call these “perks,” it’s really just the nature of the job. Some of you may have to pay more, but that means you get to relax while I have to work. Nothing wrong with either style, just different.)
The following items were categories that went above our budget:
- Ground transportation
But the big one was really ground transportation (like taxis and Ubers). Luckily, certain areas where we thought we’d spend more (like gratuity and certain excursions) didn’t end up as expensive as we thought, so we still managed to save.
Financial Spending We Didn’t See Coming
Sometimes you have to weigh the reputation of an airline against the cost savings and make a choice. And despite my unlucky track record with accidents abroad and the countless reviews telling me not to book the cheaper flights, I did it anyway. Mostly because I was on a budget (but also because I overestimated my luck). THAT was a huge mistake.
First of all, our flight to Cusco was a disaster. Our 5:30 am flight from Lima to Cusco was supposed to be less than an hour and very simple. In fact, check in went smoothly and we went off the ground without a hitch.
But then the bizarre occurred: We arrived to Cusco, flew over the airport, only to turn around in the air and head back to Lima with no reason whatsoever.
We landed on the ground, waited on the tarmac for 45 minutes and went to baggage claim. Here learned that not only would we not be flying to Cusco, but that we wouldn’t get our money back and there wouldn’t be any flights there for another 4 days due to “bad weather” (which hurt all of our reservations, plans and my birthday).
Language was increasingly becoming a barrier, and we needed to figure out how to resolve the issue. We immediately called our travel insurance and learned that we could buy new flights and be reimbursed. We spent about $1000 for new round-trip flights to Cusco, which were originally $291.90 total.
Later on during our trip, I was charged twice for a round-trip flight to Iquitos. I called my bank and luckily cancelled the transaction, but that took a few days.
We didn’t financially prepare for any accidents to occur, so we put all of these incidents on our credit cards. It hurt our moods for part of the trip, but lucky for us, we had the credit cards for the emergencies and it didn’t force us to end the trip early. If I learned anything from our spending in Peru, it was that travel insurance is the most valuable thing you can buy (especially if you’re notoriously unlucky or clumsy like me)! Never, ever travel without it! I’ve listed some websites below for you to check out for insurance.
This is the last post of my savings journey and I want to say thank you very much for following along! If you want to continue following along my journey around the world, check me out on Instagram @theclumsytraveler and Twitter @clumsytraveler as I’m always sharing travel budgeting tips. And make sure to continue following Mint on all platforms for savings in all exciting facets of life.
Sebrin Elms is a twenty-something newlywed with two kitties and a serious obsession with travel. She started her blog, The Clumsy Traveler, in anticipation of a 3-month long honeymoon around the world. When she came back, she wasn’t ready to stop writing and traveling! You can learn more about her story on her blog or follow her on Instagram @theclumsytraveler.