Budget

When planning a big trip one of the first questions that comes to mind (after where should we go?) is How much will my trip cost? Here is our budget for our trip to Central America, along with how much we actually ended up spending.

These figures are based on LOTS of research, but since each travel guide, blogger, website, etc. has different information I had to synthesize what I expected Logan and I to spend based on:
1) Staying in hostels, cheap hotels and the occasional hammock hung in the jungle (which we never actually ended up doing).
2) Eating cheap, but staying true to the seafood loving foodies we are.
3) Paying for spanish lessons in Guatemala, scuba diving in Honduras and zip-lining in Costa Rica. We wanted to enjoy ourselves and plan to experience things we couldn’t in other parts of the world. Because of this some budgets are WAY higher than they would be were we not partaking in these sorts of activities (Honduras, for example, would be FAR cheaper if we were not getting PADI certified).
4) Taking the cheapest form of transportation we feel safe taking. (ie. Chicken buses not taxis)

We did not have a set itinerary for our time in Central America, but we had an approximate amount of days we are planning to stay in each country/city and the totals for each country are based on those approximations.

Belize

Budget: $45 per person/ day x2= $90 per day
Accommodation: $40/ night
Food: $20/day
Activities: Cave Tubing
Predicted Number of Days: 8
Predicted Budget: $720

Actual: $108.65 per day
Accommodation: $25/ night
Food: $24/ day
Added Activities: Snorkeling and Sailing Trip
Actual Number of Days: 8
Actual Dollars Spent: $869

Comments: We went $149 over budget in Belize due to splurging on lobster (twice!) and an added day trip spent snorkeling and sailing. We did save a lot on accommodation and getting around Belize was pretty cheap.

Guatemala

Budget: $30 per person/day x2= $60 per day
Accommodation: $15/ night
Food: $14/ day
Activities: Tikal, Spanish Classes, Semuc Champey
Predicted Number of Days: 16
Predicted Budget: $960

Actual: $69 per day
Accommodation: $12/ night
Food: $19/ day
Added Activities: Hot Springs
Actual Number of Days: 15
Actual Dollars Spent: $1,040

Comments: The big money suck in Guatemala was transportation. We went WAY over budget on getting around the country, mostly because we got sucked into the “tourist shuttle” available throughout the country. This could have been easily avoided if we had taken the local shuttles, which are far more uncomfortable but are FAR cheaper.

Honduras

Budget: $55 per person/ day x2= $110 per day
Accommodation: $25/ night (4 free nights with scuba diving)
Food: $20/ day
Activities: Copan Ruins, PADI diving course
Predicted Number of Days: 9
Predicted Budget: $990

Actual: $136 per day
Accommodation: $16/ night
Food: $24/ day
Added Activities: Advanced Open Water Course (Logan)
Actual Number of Days: 12
Actual Dollars Spent: $1,498

Comments: We went $500 over budget in Honduras, but we spent three days longer than predicted, and Logan ended up getting his Advanced Open Water (another $276). I got some money back from my failed attempt at scuba, but the extra days spent on the island added to our costs a little. Additionally, getting around Honduras was much more expensive than we thought. Getting to Utila was $28 per person each way (YIKES!) and the bus to get to Nicaragua was $40 each.

Nicaragua

Budget: $25 per person/ day x2= $50 per day
Accommodation: $25/ night
Food: $14/ day
Activities: None
Predicted Number of Days: 9
Predicted Budget: $450

Actual: $53 per day
Accommodation: $16/ night
Food: $22/ day
Added Activities: Laguna Apopya, Las Penitas beach
Actual Number of Days: 10
Actual Dollars Spent: $527

Comments: We added a day in Nicaragua, which brought our budget for the country up by $50, meaning our actual dollars spent was only $27 over budget. Food was more expensive, but accommodation was cheaper. All and all, Nicaragua was easy to do cheaply and we did not have to work very hard to stay on budget.

Costa Rica

Budget: $40 per person/ day x2= $80 per day
Accommodation: $30/ night
Food: $30/ day
Activities: zip lining, hot springs, National Parks
Predicted Number of Days: 21
Predicted Budget: $1,680

Actual: $73 per day
Accommodation: $28/ night
Food: $23/ day
Added Activities: none
Actual Number of Days: 19
Actual Dollars Spent: $1,380

Comments: Costa Rica was surprisingly easy to stay on budget, probably since we had such a large budget to begin with. We were mentally prepared for the country to be comparatively expensive and we actually ended up coming in under budget (LOTS of beach days!).

Flights (into Belize City and home from San Jose): $1320

Budget without flights: $4800

Budget with flights: $6120

This budget is about $1120 over our initial budget when we started planning this trip. Since we originally began planning we added a full week of travel as well as a week of classes in Antigua to work on our spanish.

Total for 9 weeks in Central America for a couple (without flights): $5,300

We went almost exactly $500 over budget. Most of this can be accounted for in the additional scuba certification Logan got and the additional snorkeling trip we took. Could we have done it for less? Yes. Would we have wanted to? No. $500 extra over a nine week period isn’t great, but it isn’t that bad either. We really enjoyed ourselves and did pretty much everything we wanted to. I don’t feel like we missed out on anything because of money.

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