578 NightsThanks to Bippers, we had a home as well as a set of wheels. Being in the shape of a van, we got a little more interior space than other 4WD alternatives and so we were able to take advantage of boondocking (free parking/camping) opportunities as we got more and more comfortable with the idea. For example our as we started out in the USA we opted for more paid campings and when we finished - Chile and Argentina - the ease of finding a highway rest-stop with shower, clean toilet and wifi meant that we never ever had to go to a campground.
And if you want to see a photo-representation of the above breakdown go to Bip Bip 1001 nights
It was interesting to see our daily expenses...This includes everything from laundry, to internet, to customs and border crossing fees to food and gas and camping (and to the odd restaurant). It must be pointed out that we did not start tracking our expences until we hit Belize and thus it is a shame we don't have costs for Mexico. We liked Mexico but have no more than a gut-feel that it was cheap. Food was great and that goes without saying.
There are a few notable comments -
1) Panama was expensive, as most developed country in Central America...but mostly because we sped through to catch up with our shipping partners. Thus the daily tally includes the $1200 shipping of Bippers AND the $1100 for the 5 day 'cruise' from Portobello to Cartagena (noted as 'hotel' above). Stink!
2)The daily average for Chile shocked me, but probably because I liked Chile; it should not have been such a shock as we had heard that it was an expensive land. I found the landscape reminiscent of Canada, and the people calm and respectful (as opposed to the loud and sometimes hot-headed Argentinians). But as you will see below, daily costs are directly related to price of gas and Chile was expensive in gas.
3)Argentina came in the bottom-half of the collective. Not surprising since we were able to capitalize on the black-market exchange for US dollars. While the 'official' rate for the period we were there was 5 pesos per 1 USD we were able to get 6.3 (in the early days) to 8.3 pesos per dollar. Thus more than 60% more purchasing power. Oh and the fuel is subsidized to half-price south of the Patagonia line and that is where we spent most of our time.
4)Rate of travel - faster you go the more costly it is. You use gas (#1 factor, did I say that already?), you cannot find the cheapest restaurant, you cannot set up camp on the beach with your neighbourly aligator, you cannot develop a relationship with your favorite Nene in the veggie market....
5)We got lucky and didn't have to bribe any cops or pay for any accidents. This could run into thousands....
FILL-'er UPToday Fanny was driving so I distracted myself with a small analysis of the fuel tracking sheet I have been keeping. I was shocked, initially by the total amount of money (14 000USD!!!) we spent on fuel on this trip. Wowsers, I don’t like to think of what the total MAINTENANCE costs were! However, doing the calcs shows us we spent 24USD per day on fuel (for two people). That is not so bad eh? Phew.
The ranking of most-to-least cost per country was surprising; countries I thought expensive were actually not so bad (the converse is true...who would have thought that NICARAGUA was so expensive?).
The ranking USD/Litre reads like this:
After all that...and two years on the road, the average cost per litre calculating for all countries is 1usd/litre. I find that interesting.
The photo below gives a short-list (66%less) of our fill-ups. There are some anomalies to discuss:
1. We will probably have to acknowledge that Ecuador gets our ‘most favorite country’ now. Mexico goes down to number 2!
2. Argentina was quite cheap on gas for two reasons-
a. Fuel subsidy south of the Patagonian line effectively charging half price per litre
b. The capacity to capitalize on the ‘blue market’ value of the US dollar. We got between 6.3-8.3 pesos per USD where the official rate is about 5 which slashed our fuel costs.
c. Argentinean beef wasn’t that great and we preferred the Chilean wine. What’s up with that?
3. While we loved everything about Chile – our daily costs were absurd (100usd-ish per day) and since our daily expenses are directly linked to fuel prices, fuel ranged from 1.6-2USD per litre. BAM.
4. In Bolivia fuel-life depended on your ability to negotiate – Local price OR Foreigner price. Either way it seems, considering the global picture, the foreigner price is middle-of-the-road. Thus it was not necessary for us to be so critical or anal regarding fill-ups...bummer that the people were less than interested in tourists.
5. Costa Rica- aka Gringolandia- was rudely expensive we found, considering what you get and where it is located vis-a-vis its neighbours. Where the aging pony-tailed staggering drunk gringos outnumber the poor working and landless peasants, well you can imagine the influence on the local economy. Thus it is not surprisingly the fuel costs were high. Too bad the surf wasn’t better when we were there.
6. Panama doesn’t show up on our short list – we only fueled up 4 times. However the price per litre is smack in the middle of the range of USA. Does that surprise you?
7. Colombia had a black market in Venezuelan gas (read jerry-can peddlers on the side of the road) that took the price of fuel on the border region down to 60 cents/L! Otherwise Colombia was quite expensive. Colombia has a trade agreement with the USA now so I wonder if costs will change now.
8. Fuel costs in Peru are almost identical to costs in Canada. Peru suffers a duality in its economy – the rape of the bumbaclad tourists and the rape of its indigenous.