This article is part of our Budget and Money Report series.
Our per diem expenses cover food, lodging, gas and other supplies and travel costs for three people. We travel in a 1997 Toyota 4Runner, tent camp in paid facilities roughly 70% of our nights and eat less than 10% of our meals in restaurants. This budget does not reflect personal spending money, which is mostly used to buy souvenirs and booze. We don't track this money, but we do know we have not come close to spending our budgeted amount of $10 per person per day.
We have a total of 120 days on the books between Chile and Argentina. Like most overlanders we'll be crossing back and forth between the countries several times over the next four months. To make our our next few budget recaps useful, we're cutting Argentina into two separate articles and publishing a third to include all of our time spent in Chile, with one exception. The three nights we spent in San Pedro de Atacama after exiting Bolivia and before entering Argentina are included in this recap.
In order to make life easier for us, our Chile and Argentina budgets are identical. However, as we've come to find out, Chile is quite a bit more expensive than Argentina. It may prove to be a challenge to stay on budget. Ideally we will be quite a bit under budget in Argentina to make up for cost overruns in Chile.
|Number of Days:||27|
|Average ATM Exchange Rate (AR Pesos per USD$):||4.69|
|Budgeted Per Diem:||$82.45|
|Actual Per Diem:||$86.15|
|Per Diem Budgeted:||$2,226.15|
|Per Diem Spent:||$2,326.17|
We missed the mark just barely, largely due to the cost of buying a refillable propane tank and gas after not being able to locate smaller cannisters for our stove. We also spent quite a bit of money on food, splurging for Thanksgiving and buying an obscene amount of delicious Argentinian beef.
On the whole, money gets you far in Argentina. It's not as good as it has been, mainly because of rising inflation. While the official exchange rate is in the neighborhood of 4.7 pesos per dollar, we've been told the black market rate is closer to 6.5 per dollar. If you can bring lots of US dollars into Argentina and find a place to exchange them, you'll do much better than us. Unfortunately we missed that memo and were unable to get US dollars before crossing into the country.
|Coffee & Booze:||$53.01||2.32%|
|Entertainment & Tours:||$32.00||1.40%|
|Phone & Internet:||$21.76||0.95%|
|Tolls & Parking:||$2.99||0.14%|
Groceries topped our per diem expenses by a long shot. The only other country where we've come close to spending that much money in proportion to our other expenses was Costa Rica. Much of this is due to the fact we only ate out a handful of times, and we spent a lot of money on a rather gigantic Thanksgiving feast.
The supplies category includes the cost of a new 3 kilo refillable propane bottle, adapter and two rounds of filling with propane. Without these costs we would have been under budget during this stretch.
Food & Lodging
|Percent Time Camping:||65%||100%||+35%|
|Average Camping Cost:||$15.00||$16.56||+1.56|
|Daily Food Expenses:||$25.00||$37.61||+$12.61|
The only reason our insanely high food costs didn't kill us in northwest Argentina was the fact we managed to camp 100% of our nights. We actually set a new record with 29 straight nights spent in a tent. It is (obviously) very easy to find campgrounds in Argentina. Throw a dart at a map and odds are there will be 2 or 3 places within 50 miles.
Campgrounds are more like those we're used to in the US. Almost all of them have power, tables and a grill. Some also have lights and shelters. Pricing for camping is very random. Maybe half of the time it's per person, for the rest it's per site, per vehicle, or by the number of tents. Sometimes vehicles cost extra, sometimes having more than one tent costs extra on top of the per person fee. It's like a box of chocolates.
|Average Gas Price $USD/Gallon:||$4.00||$5.62||+$1.62|
|Total Spent on Gas:||$484.61||$580.81||+$96.20|
We over did it a bit on gas, but our budget covers all 120 days we'll spend in Chile and Argentina so this may not be representative by the time we're finished down here. Our rough plan is 7,000 miles over the course of four months, with a budget of $4 per gallon. We know this is low. Gas in Argentina seems to cost around $5.50 per gallon, and it's closer to $6.50 in Chile. As usual, we kept the numbers low to offset our better-than-expected fuel efficiency.
Gas is easy to find in Argentina. There are a few longer stretches on the Ruta 40 in the north that might not have a station in every town, but it was never much of a concern as long as we filled up between a quarter and half of a tank.