South America is one of the most popular continents in the world for visitors, and with amazing natural and man-made attractions found across the region, there are plenty of reasons to take a trip there.
There are however significant differences that you can experience in terms of the costs of exploring the region, and there are some countries that tend to be a fair bit more expensive than others.
This doesn't mean that you should only go to the cheapest countries, but if you budget correctly and plan around the costs of travel in the region, then you can enjoy all of the countries that you would like to visit.
The Basic Rules of Travel Costs
There are a few things to consider when you are planning your travel, and these rules are certainly applicable in South America too. In most cases, the most expensive places for accommodation will be in capital cities and major tourist resorts, especially in areas where the amount of demand outstrips the accommodation available.
Less developed countries will usually be cheaper than wealthier countries when it comes to booking accommodation, and on the whole food prices will also be cheaper, particularly when it comes to eating from street vendors, which will often be the cheapest way to explore the local cuisine for travelers.
Brazil, Argentina and Chile
These three countries are not only among the wealthiest in South America, but they are also widely considered to be the most expensive in the region for visitors. The vast distances between the different destinations in these countries mean that transport can be quite expensive, and especially in the southern portion of Chile and further south in Argentina, the need to use ferries can also add to the costs.
In many areas of the country, Brazil can actually be quite reasonably priced for budget-conscious visitors, but there are some of its marquee attractions which can significantly add to the costs. Joining the carnaval celebrations in Rio is traditionally the most expensive time to visit the city, while trips into the Amazon and to the amazing islands of Fernando de Noronha can also add a big chunk on to the overall travel budget.
Budget for the Activities You Want to Enjoy
When it comes to preparing for your trip, one of the most important things to do is to identify the experiences that you don't want to miss or the things that you will not compromise on, and then build your budget to incorporate those costs.
If you are planning on traveling to destinations such as Easter Island from Chile, or the Galapagos Islands from Ecuador, then these can be some of the most expensive parts of any trip to the region, so research these online, and plan for the expense. However, when it comes to other activities such as surfboard rental or mountain biking trips, then it is possible to shop around to find the cheapest possible options.
Reducing Travel Costs
When it comes to making savings as you travel in South America, then one of the most successful ways of doing this is to look at the accommodation where you are going to be staying. While hotels may offer a little extra comfort, it can be worth looking at staying in a hostel bed instead, and even if you do this for around half the trip, it can significantly reduce the overall cost.
It is also worth considering where you eat, and if you can buy fresh produce to cook for yourself, or whether you can eat local street food which can also slash your costs while exploring the region.
Another greater tip for reducing travel costs is to look at the countries you are exploring, and while most countries in the region are fairly similar, with Brazil, Argentina, and Chile being the most expensive, there is no doubt that Bolivia is by far the cheapest country for the international traveler.
Yes, the buses can be quite cramped and things don't always run as they should, but the hostel rooms are much cheaper than those in neighboring countries, and Bolivia has some amazing attractions that are often just as impressive as those in other parts of the continent.