Daily Backpacking Costs by Country

This table will be updated throughout our travels with each new country we visit.
The daily averages are not an accurate representation of how expensive each country is, but more how expensive it was to travel the way we did. There is a detailed explanation of each country below the table. Hopefully this useful to anyone planning a similar trip. Any questions, please just ask!

A couple of things to note:
1. We have not included our miscellaneous costs (presents etc) to the daily average.
2. International flights were not included, but are noted in the full trip breakdowns.
3. These prices are for TWO people, sharing food, accommodation etc. Obviously solo travel is a little bit more than half of these costs.

Rank Country Daily Costs Total Accom Transport Food Alcohol Activities
1 Nicaragua £53.31 £24.57 £6.79 £18.51 £3.28 £0.17
2 Mexico £53.83 £18.75 £7.92 £11.36 £2.26 £13.55
3 Guatemala £54.88 £16.02 £14.20 £14.98 £2.41 £7.27
4 El Salvador £58.24 £16.13 £22.30 £15.83 £3.98 £0.00
5 Costa Rica £61.44 £22.30 £8.68 £16.58 £1.70 £12.17
6 Brazil £69.77 £23.10 £21.84 £17.80 £2.77 £4.26
7 Norway £70.81 £46.00 £12.86 £11.95 £0.00 £0.00
8 Uruguay £71.83 £24.15 £24.48 £18.70 £4.49 £0.00
9 Belize £73.69 £26.33 £9.19 £18.09 £3.69 £16.39
10 Cuba £83.61 £23.70 £22.00 £30.47 £6.55 £0.90
11 USA £121.21 £20.00 £27.82 £39.78 £15.32 £18.28


Country Notes
Nicaragua In terms of value, we would rank Mexico and Guatemala above Nicaragua. Local food is almost as a cheap as Mexico, but not as good, while Western food is expensive (which we indulged in quite a bit here). Accommodation is slightly more and of a bit lower standard, while local transport is rough but very cheap. The main reason this was an inexpensive stay was due to lack of activities while here.
Mexico Probably the cheapest place we have been in real terms. Street food, supermarket shopping, beer, and transport are all very affordable. The Yucatan also boasts a brilliant – and comfortable – bus network. However, be prerpared to pay out for activities – Mexico boasts amazing diving, snorkeling and Mayan ruins aplenty.
Guatemala Another very reasonable country. Transport costs here are high because we used tourist shuttles instead of local transport and we did some incredibly long journeys. We found the general cost of life in Guat very affordable and good quality. Shop in the food markets wherever possible.
El Salvador Cheap as hell, but helped massively by only eating in little local eateries. Imported food is expensive, beer is dirt cheap. We only visited El Tunco, which is very tourist-friendly. Other parts are allegedly cheap, but far less welcoming. Cheapest surf in Central America.
Costa Rica Central America’s most expensive country, by far. We cooked at home and drank the tap water and it still comes high up the list. This is because activities are expensive and Costa Rica is full of them. We were only there for a short time, so transports costs appear higher.
Brazil This appears steep. This is because of the high transport costs, including long distance buses and flights. The cost of eating and drinking in Brazil is actually fairly reasonable and super market shopping is quite cheap as long as you stick to local staples.
Norway Oslo only, and could have been a lot more expensive had we ate out in restaurants or bought any goods. Dining out and drinking alcohol are prohibitively expensive, but supermarket shopping and accommodation are surprisingly reasonable and of a high standard. Avoid highly-priced hostels and Airbnb that bad boy.
Uruguay The cost of living in Uruguay is much higher than its South America neighbours, especially for food. Eating out is more expensive than the UK, as is supermarket shopping. Uruguay imports – expensively – pretty much everything bar cows and wine, so we were extremely careful and cooked nearly all our meals, relying on staples…and steak. However, this price is somewhat inflated by the border crossing transport (2 big journeys in 4 days) but given the expense of flying to Montevideo, you won’t be able to avoid these costs unfortunately.
Belize An expensive destination, especially in the Cayes, but you get what you pay for. We ate a lot of lobster in Belize, happy hour cocktails are cheap and the snorkeling is unparalled. You can’t do the Cayes on the cheap as import costs are so high and supermarkets so empty, but you won’t find a cheaper Caribbean island.
Cuba This looks expensive, and it is, but you can do Cuba much cheaper. You just don’t want to. It’s a perfect holiday destination, not necessarily a backpacking one. Cheap food is dreadful, and again, supermarkets are bare, but if you stay in the Casa Particulares you will have cracking accommodation and brilliant food for a great price. Cocktails are only $2-$3, so prepare your liver. You will struggle to take local transport so travel slowly wherever possible.
USA We went a bit nuts in NYC, this will be updated as we visit more of the states.