I'm hoping in the future to take a big trip down to South and Central America. I'm still editing my lists, more stops will be removed in the future than added on. I plan to travel mostly by bus as it is the cheapest. Time is not much of a concern and will be built around how much I save up. My main question is what should my daily spending allowance be in South/Central America? I've heard some say $50/day? Going to be staying in hostels, couchsurfing, and maybe WOOFing a few times.
Open to any pieces of advice you have!
Sometimes the bus isn't the best method of travel if you plan to cover great distances, such as Brazil, where the fares on GOL and TAM are reasonable. Several kinds of bus services are available. Some are very nice, with reclining seats. But flying between countries in South America can be expensive. So traveling overland is a good option.
I looked at your map and wonder if there is any reason why you aren't visiting Iguacu Falls, where three countries meet: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for Venezuela, which now requires Americans to get a visa before entering. Some Venezuelans have advised me not to enter their country at this time, citing safety and security concerns.
As for your budget, if you plan to spend a year in Latin America at $50 per day, you'd need $18,250 ($50 x 365). It's doable, but you'll have to carefully watch what you spend. Helping your budget is the strong dollar. For example, it's appreciated 26 percent against Brazil's currency so far this year.
[ Edit: Edited on 29-Jul-2015, at 06:43 by berner256 ]
I've been travelling in South America (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil & Boliva so far) for the past five months and my travel costs to date have averaged out at $64/day.
My initial budget was $54/day, and I'm a conservative spender; I stay in hostels all the time, although not necessarily the absolute cheapest, because I I like clean places and hot showers; I have only taken three flights (one of which was in Brasil and cheaper than the bus that did the same route) but my budget has been blown apart thanks to a) taking spanish classes and b) spending about three months in Brasil & Argentina and c) indulging a little too much vino and fancy restaurant life in Buenos Aires and Rio.
I understand that more northern parts of South America are cheaper, Bolivia definitely was, and I'm relying on this to bring my average down, so I think that maybe $50 can be achievable, but I think to hit $50 you really need to be careful with your spending, avoid a lot of going out and maybe take advantage of free accommodation e.g use couch surfing, in places where accommodation is more expensive, such as Argentina.
And I agree with Berner256 about visiting Iguazu. If you're in the region, which you will be, it would be a real shame not to go. The falls are spectacular!
Thanks everyone! And I'll make sure to add the falls to my route. I really hope Venezuela becomes safer before I get down there, it looks like a beautiful country. Has anyone been to any of the places on my route that they can give me feedback on?
I've been to many of the places you're planning to visit. In Brazil, you should also visit Lencois Maranhenses National Park near Sao Luis. The quartz sand dunes there are spectacular, as well as the lakes among the dunes. Cashews grow in the area. Don't miss Salvador, the center of Afro-Brazilian culture. There's music in the air. Rio de Janeiro is one of the loveliest cities on Earth. Don't miss the sunset at Ipanema Beach. It sets between two mountains, viewed from one of the cliffs. Linger at the Botanical Gardens with its 200+ year old palm trees, toucans and marmosets. Sao Paolo is South America's biggest city; and a major airline hub. You can get anywhere from Sao Paolo. Go to Curitiba and take the Sao Verde Express. It's a spectacular train ride. Florianopolis and Porto Alegre in the South are European, like Buenos Aires. Near Cusco, try to visit the reserved zone of Manu National Park (only accessible with approved tour companies); and also see macaws and parrots swoop down to feed on clay. It's an awesome sight. There also are lots of giant shimmering Morpho butterflies. In Lima, visit the famed Museo Larco. Don't miss its erotic art gallery, showing that even in ancient times people were captivated with you know what. Take a boat tour of the Panama Canal. Choose the southbound tour so that you can see the ships emerging from the locks from the front. It's a sight to behold! Spend a day or two or more on the San Blas Islands. I could go on and on and on. You'll have a grand time!
In terms of travelling to Venezuela, you could always try to visit the Margarita Islands. As it is still part of Venezuela, I'm not sure what the visa details would be, but I visited there (as a Canadian) a few years ago and it was absolutely beautiful and locals were welcoming and extremely friendly.
I hope you enjoy your time in South and Central America. It is a remarkable part of the world!
Just come across this and looked at your travel plan...I think if you have the time definitely check out a few more places in Bolivia. Uyuni and the salt flats are a must see and if you can visit the mines and sucre. If time is not a massive deal consider volunteering for a few weeks in a cheap country as you spend minimal on food and accommodation whilst helping the lives of locals who really need it.
Enjoy your trip. South America is amazing! I go back and Central America in February and can't wait!
FYI depending on when you go some of these places can be more expensive. I recommend avoiding Costa rica from DEC-FEB at least. This is the peak season for tourists and hotels, air bnbs, hostels are all expensive and hard to come by. Just make sure to plan for time as well as general costs.
Good luck and have so much fun!