Monday, March 29, 2010

Traveling Central America

I've been asked many times "How can you travel like this?" and since I have some time, I will finally address this. Just to let you know, I wrote this entire post out and my computer froze before I saved it so I hope this 2nd post turns out as good as the first.

I will start by saying that I was born lucky. I happened to have been born into a great family, in the developed world. My parents taught me many important things which I was lucky enough to learn easily. Education was the top priority which served me well in the job market. I was also taught to live within my means, to save my money and the importance of not getting into a mess of debt. I socked my money away for the future, and lived simply. I have no kids, drive a 10 year old car, and bought a cheap house that I could easily afford. The house was easily rented out for a year for enough money to cover the mortgage and expenses (hopefully). My parents also passed on to me a love of travel and the drive to see the world. Luckily I inherited my dad's love of no-frills travel rather than my mom's love of nice clean bathrooms.

I chose Central America because it is cheap and close enough that the airfare is cheap. We chose to travel for an extended amount of time because we can move slowly which actually makes our money go a lot further. Our budget is $60 a day for the both of us which we try to stay below if at all possible.

Food might be our biggest expense but we have learned to manage it. We eat no more than 2 meals a day and try to keep at least 1 of those meals to under $2 which usually isnt too tough in most places. Our veggie intake has gone down drastically but we are adventurous with our foods and are willing to eat like the locals to keep in budget. We have had many meals of simply chicken and tortillas or tortillas and cheese but if we are smart with our money, we can spring for seafood or something nicer a few times a week. Here in Honduras, we can get a baleada for less than a dollar or 2 which is like a huge quesadilla with cheese and beans. In Guatemala we could get meat and tortillas for a similar price. Alcohol can add up quickly but we will have a drink every now and then if the prices are right. Here at D&D we can get a mug of micro-brewed beer for $1.50.

Transportation can also be expensive. Staying in 1 place for a while saves on that. We also use local transportation as much as possible. For example, the Hedman Alas fancy luxury buses cost about $20 for a few hours ride while a local bus might cost $3 or less. The ride takes longer since they stop all the time to let people on and off but I enjoy the people watching and even find that the old school buses get a great breeze with all the windows open. We dont take cabs unless absolutely necessary for safety sake which is fine because most of the towns we spend time in are small enough to easily walk anywhere we want to go.

Tours and activities are the biggest budget blowers. In Belize we spent $75 a person on the ATM caving tour. For the most part, we spend our days, wandering the towns on foot, people watching and exploring and talking to people which is free. Here at Lago de Yojoa, we can rent a rowboat to go to the lake for $2.50 which will be a great budget activity. I've been enjoying the free wifi and colorful birds and flowers on the property which is free.

We keep our accomodations to below $20 a night if at all possible. Here at D&D our little double room is about $13 a night. For that we get a small room with a double bed, a sink, a shower and toilet. There is free wifi and a wonderful garden and pool that I can enjoy all day long. Our room is small, the bed may sag a bit and the bathroom does not get cleaned daily like at a fancy resort. Central America on a budget is not for everyone. Its more comfortable than camping but if you are a person who is bothered by dirt, mildew, bugs, germs, noise or discomfort...stick to the developed world, short vacations and resorts. Luckily, Rob and I dont mind these things too much. Sometimes we get a hot water shower, sometimes just warm enough and sometimes they are downright frigid.

That is really the long and short of it. I thoroughly enjoy this lifestyle. There are people successfully traveling on larger and smaller budgets than us. We suprisingly found Guatemala to be cheaper than Honduras.


alice said...

I enjoy reading all your posts, but TRAVELING CENTRAL AMERICA,, gives a clear picture of how you are doing it and how much you are
enjoying it.

You guys are doing great