I started my 8-month backpacking trip in Antigua, Guatemala. Almost immediately, the “how do you afford to travel” question flooded my inbox. So, I decided to share my travel budget for Antigua, Guatemala and exactly how much things cost here to show how traveling can actually be cheaper than living in the states!
First let’s go over my expenses in Chicago.
My Expenses in Chicago
Let me first start by sharing all my expenses in Chicago that I’ve gotten rid of by backpacking Guatemala.
- Car gas: $100/month
- Car insurance: $100/month – I sold my car.
- Phone bill: $75/month – I canceled my phone plan.
- Student loans: $250/month – I deferred my loans for a year, which you can do or reduce the payment.
- Clothes: $300/month – I worked in Woodfield mall, one of the largest malls in the country. I love H&M and new clothes. I can’t fit more clothes in my pack, therefore I can’t buy more clothes.
- Food: $400/month – food is WAY more expensive in the states.
- Rent: $0 – I was fortunate enough to live with family in the US! Of course I would rather of had my own apartment in the city with a cat and cute Ikea furniture next to an organic juice bar, but I didn’t.
- Pointless stuff: $$$ – bottled water at the gas station, things at Target, things I don’t need at Vitamin Shoppe, Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts almond milk iced lattes, etc.
*picture below: the day I sold my car*
My Travel Budget for 8 Months
My budget was $500-$600/month or $6,000 total for approx. 8-9 months. My plan is to travel from Guatemala to Panama and do work exchanges along the way. (I spent about $800 my first month, still a work in progress!)
(Update: I traveled Guatemala and Mexico for 8 months total and spent around $6,000 total.)
How did I save $6,000? I worked as a server at the Cheesecake Factory for a little over one year. Serving is a perfect job to save up for traveling. It’s very flexible and you can make a lot of money serving in Chicago.
More info on how I save for travel, click here!
Expenses in Antigua, Guatemala
I am doing a work exchange for 1.5 months in Antigua. My job is to take care of an elderly woman in exchange for food and housing.
- Taxi from Guatemala City to Antigua = 200Q/$26
- In Antigua = free (I can walk everywhere)
- Free (check out Work Away for work exchange opportunities all over the world)
- Free (Sunday-Thursday)
- Around $10-15/day on my free days
- Coffee at my favorite cafe = $1.30
- Lunch at my favorite restaurant, Toko Baru = 36Q/$5 for Middle Eastern-inspired food
- My most expensive meal in Antigua = 100Q/$13.33 (an entree, juice, coffee, and generous tip)
- Day trip to the beach, Monterrico = 140Q/$19 for a shuttle bus round-trip (I was fortunate enough to meet a friend who offered to pay for my meal at the beach, THANK YOU AGAIN!!!)
- Hiking Pacaya Volcano = 130Q/$17 for the shuttle bus and entry (I brought my own water/snacks)
- Day at the farmer’s market = 10Q/$1.30 for shuttle, 80Q/$10.50 for lunch
- Hiking to Earth Lodge = 40Q/$5.30 for a shuttle bus, approx. 50Q/$6.50 for lunch
- Hike Acatenango = $33
- Spanish Lessons:
- Private Spanish lessons = 50Q/$6.50 per hour x 4 days = Q200/$26.50 per week (My teacher comes to my house! She’s wonderful!!)
- Salsa Lessons:
- Private salsa lessons = 950Q/$126 for 15 classes (about $8.50 per class.)
- Gym Membership:
- Month gym membership at Antigua’s Gym = 245Q/$32.50
- Sunglasses that I forgot to bring = 25Q/$3.30
Related article: BEST Vegan Spots in Antigua
Free Activities in Antigua
- Wandering around town and people watching!
- Volunteering 2 hours at Caoba Farms. A morning of picking weeds and listening to my favorite podcast! Volunteers receive a bag of free fruits and vegetables!
- Sitting in a Jacuzzi for 2 hours at a bar talking to strangers and friends, followed by playing giant Jenga at another bar = free. (Bars are free when you aren’t drinking.)
- Dancing for 3 hours at a salsa club. Salsa clubs are free entry and usually include a free basic salsa lesson!
- Volunteer bartender at Oktoberfest Farmer’s Market. Included meeting a bunch of new people, Spanish practice, and free food/drinks!
- Attending a “Zumba fiesta”! 2 hours of Zumba with 3 different instructors. SO FUN! (Free with my gym membership!)
- Riding on the back of a motorbike all morning/afternoon. My favorite free activity so far!!
Okay, so how much should I save?
If you are a budget traveler like me, I would plan for $50/day (food + accommodation + everything) or about $1,000/month.
Let me end with one of my favorite quotes:
“Tap into your passion without worrying about money, just follow your dreams.”
Corny, I know. But this is how I am living my life. I trust the Universe. I trust myself. Money does not confine me. And it should not confine you either.
Any other questions about my budget, ask! I am an open book. Anyone else have any tips for budgeting? How did you save up for traveling? What’s YOUR budget? Comment below!
Save for later: