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 TOTAL Accommodation Food Transport Alcohol Activities
1 Colombia £49.88 £20.44 £10.88 £14 £3.63 £0.93
2 Nicaragua £53.31 £24.57 £18.51 £6.79 £3.28 £0.17
3 Mexico £53.83 £18.75 £11.36 £7.92 £2.26 £13.55
4 Guatemala £54.88 £16.02 £14.98 £14.20 £2.41 £7.27
5 El Salvador £57.31 £15.87 £15.58 £21.94 £3.92 £0.00
6 Bolivia £60.00 £10.82 £11.41 £14.71 £1.18 £21.88
7 Ecuador £60.11 £18.40 £15.53 £16 £3.18 £7
8 Costa Rica £61.44 £22.30 £16.58 £8.68 £1.70 £12.17
9 Chile £66.73 £20.69 £17.87 £18.29 £3.18 £6.70
10 Brazil £69.77 £23.10 £17.80 £21.84 £2.77 £4.26
11 Norway £70.81 £46.00 £11.95 £12.86 £0.00 £0.00
12 Uruguay £71.83 £24.15 £18.70 £24.48 £4.49 £0.00
13 Belize £73.69 £26.33 £18.09 £9.19 £3.69 £16.39
14 Argentina £76.80 £26.25 £23.75 £18.00 £4.91 £3.90
15 Canada £80.06 £35 £21.21 £7.27 £15.15 £1.27
16 Peru £81.25 £15.25 £10.77 £17.16 £1.74 £36.33
17 Cuba £82.29 £23.33 £29.98 £21.65 £6.45 £0.88
18 Long Island, Bahamas £95.71 £14.55 £75.00 £6.17 £0 £0
19 USA £100.58 £25.31 £33.47 £8.13 £11.11 £13.49

Notes

Country  Notes  Value for money
Colombia Including the cost of 1/2 the flight inbound (divided between Ecuador and Colombia) the daily cost would be £88. We chose not to include this, as it was an unecessary expenditure and one we did try to undo. Overland travel would have cost around £150 instead, bringing the suggested daily cost to £70, which seems about accurate. Obviously with slower travel this would be more affordable, but chances are you will do a fair few activities (like the Lost Valley trek) if you stayed longer. As usual, we didn’t include the outbound international flight to the US in the total or daily cost. 7/10
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. 6/10
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 prepared to pay out for activities – Mexico boasts amazing diving, snorkelling and Mayan ruins aplenty. 9/10
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. 7/10
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. 8/10
Bolivia You could easily spend less than £50 a day between two in Bolivia if you moved a bit slower (we moved quite quickly and flew once) and if you didn’t do a tour – but the value you get for the price is like nowhere else. If we hadn’t visited the salt flats the daily total would be £51 – our cheapest so far. We did actually spend an extra £50 on gifts in addition to this, but this covered 2xjumpers, 1xsofa throw, 1xtable cloth, 4xgloves, 1xhat and a few toys). Bolivia is definitely the South America budget traveller mecca. 9/10
Ecuador  

We were told that Ecuador is insanely cheap. Maybe it was where we went but we didn’t find this to be the case. Admittedly this seems odd for what appears to be the cheapest country in South America, but it is also the only country on the continent where we didn’t do anything “big.” We visited a national park, did a boat tour, went in a church or two, but the most expensive of these cost $30. Food and alcohol are fairly reasonable, and transport by bus is very cheap too. The US dollar is the currency which helps with the exchange rate.

 7/10
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. 3/10
Chile Including the W, our activities would actually cost around £50 per day! £1200 for this activity, though it included accommodation and food. Other very high due to high produce costs, washing and ATM withdrawals. Price including The W would actually be £120. 7/10
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. 7/10
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. 2/10
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. 3/10
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 snorkelling 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. 8/10
Argentina Argentina is a tricky country to “price up” because costs are so variable. Food, especially in the cities and in the supermarkets, can be very reasonable, as can alcohol (wine ahoy). However, transport in the country is, honestly, a joke. Internal flights are insane so the only option is overpriced buses, which are easily double the cost of the equivalent in the next most expensive countries in South America (Brazil and Chile). Inflation is an absolute bitch – prices can and do change overnight. Getting money out of a cash machine always costs at least 4-5% of the total, which adds up very quickly. 8/10
Canada Including the flight in, the daily cost would have been £112, but this doesn’t seem realistic for your average 6 day trip, so we discluded it. We were however helped by generous friends (who ferried us around, otherwise car hire would be advised for a couple of days for exploring Vancouver’s surrounding areas) and the exchange rate,  which, though still poor, was better than to the USD. If you did choose to venture outside of Vancouver into the big national parks you would 100% need a car and you’d have to camp to keep your budget to this amount. Overall though, we’d say Canada is definitely better value – certainly as far as eating/ drinking out is concerned – than the US. 6/10
Peru Would have been around £55 per day if didn’t do the Salkantay trek, but most trips to Peru would include this. Omitting the trek with just a visit to Machu Pichu (on a budget) would have brought the average to around  £60 per day. Cheap daily cost of living ($3 lunches with menus del dia) outweighed hugely by the total and shameless mugging off of tourists for the big attractions. National Park entry, Macchu Picchu entry, tourist-only transportation – all of them are obscenely expensive for what is quite a poor country. 4/10
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 Casas 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. 9/10
Long Island, Bahamas We included our international flights in the cost (which we didn’t for Cuba) as our daily spending and accommodation were so low comparatively. This amount is deceptively affordable because we luckily stayed with Sadie’s Aunt, otherwise it would have easily cost £300+ per day, depending on activities (expensive) how much driving you do (expensive) and if you eat out (expensive). You pay luxury prices on the island, in part because it is an exclusive location with dozens of empty, gorgeous beaches, and in part because it is remote and tricky to access (food deliveries come in twice a week). The cost of living is prohibitably high for most visitors, but cheaper holidays can be found elsewhere in the Bahamas, largely in the all-inclusive resorts. We would hugely recommend Long Island as a holiday 1) if you do have cash to burn or 2) for an indulgent honeymoon. 2/10
USA This price didn’t include the £920 cost of International flights in and out of the US, which would have added £25 per day extra, bringing the total to £125 per day. Including our “other spending” (a lot of shopping – clothes, gifts etc. which was additionally budgeted) the total was £145 a day, but as this was omitted for every other country we continued to do so. 5/10
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