Budgeting is one of the less fun aspects of traveling. It is however a necessary part of the process. Let me tell you about my 7 week Central America Budget. Although I always travel on a budget, this particular trip we could have spend a lot less. I think some of the activities we did were quite expensive and we may have splurged a bit
ok, a lot on food as well. I’ve made a complete overview of the prices of flights, accommodation and activities. We traveled in three countries: Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Instead of giving some vague budget advice I’ll just tell you exactly what I spent and on what.
- Multistop Flight: Amsterdam to San Jose, Costa Rica(stopover in Houston) and San Jose to Amsterdam (stopover in Toronto)- €600
Pre-trip costs- €20/$24
- Vaccinations: I already had all my vaccinations needed, but this may add extra costs.
- Insurance with Allianz Global €20
Accommodation is generally pretty cheap in Central America. Me and my friend mostly stayed in dorms. Sometimes a private room for two would end up costing us the same, since we can split it. So then we obviously would go for the private. I’ll only write down the part that I paid if we split the room. I also wrote down the names of all the hostels we stayed at, so you can use this as a reference for where to stay in Nicaragua on a budget as well.
- Hostel Alajuela in Alajuela, Costa Rica- 2 nights. €20
- Arenal Backpackers in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, 3 nights €19
- Cabinas Vista Al Golfo in Monteverde, Costa Rica- 4 nights. €40
- Costa Rica Guesthouse in San Jose, Costa Rica- 4 nights €47,25
- Cabinas Icaco Tortuguero in Tortuguero, Costa Rica- 3 nights €38
- Coconut Surf Camp in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, 4 nights €48
- Magnific Rock in Popoyo, Nicaragua, 2 nights €30
- Hospedaje Bull Shark in Ometepe, Nicaragua, 2 nights €9,6
- De boca en boca in Granada, Nicaragua, 3 nights €19
- Hostal La tortuga Booluda in Leon, Nicaragua, 3 nights €24
- Maya Papaya, Antigua, Guatemala 2 nights €25
- Hostal del Lago, San Marco, Atitlan, Guatemala €16
- Hotel Peten Express, In Flores, Guatemala 2 nights €28
- El Poeta, Guatemala City, Guatemala 1 night €6
- Surfing turtle lodge, Poneloya, Nicaragua, 2 nights €20
- The lighthouse, Corn islands, Nicaragua 3 nights €54
- Casa Azul, in Las Peñitas, Nicaragua 2 nights €20
You’re in trouble if you love nature and adventure. These countries are absolutely packed with nature and adventure activities. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time in Costa Rica make sure you have a big budget for activities, cause it is hella expensive. Nicaragua and Guatemala are a lot cheaper than Costa Rica, but the tourist highlights are never going to be super cheap.
- Free Walking tour, San Jose
- La Fortuna tour: rainforest hike, waterfall, hot springs, finding red eyed tree frog €25/$31
- Zipline in Monteverde/Canopy tour €40/$50
- 30 Treetop walkways/suspension Bridges in Selvatura Park €24/$30
- Hike Santa Elena Cloud forest reserve $4 for the shuttle and $6 (student) entrance fee
- Monteverde butterfly garden €5,60/$7 (student price)
- Night walk with Kinkajou €20/$25
- Tortuguero canoe trip €16/$20
- Turtle tour in Tortuguero 16/$20
- Tortuguero hike, entrance fee of€12/$15
- Surf lessons €48/$60
- Horse riding on Ometepe €20/$25
- Ojo de Agua entrance €2,40$3
- Tour laguna de apoyo and Masaya volcano €20/$25
- Massage in león €7/$8,60
- Entrance fees to ruins in Antigua €5/$6,20
- Visit to Tikal total of €45/$50
My friend could eat burritos everyday which is pretty cheap, but me being the food snob that I am like to eat something else every once in a while. We tried to eat locally, but there were a couple of places that managed to persuade us to change our food budget. In the end we probably spend $20 a day on average.
We took public transport whenever possible, but sometimes you just don’t feel like being squished into a bus. Those times we splurged on shuttle taxis, but we always shared those with other people to split the cost. Our biggest expense was the flight to the corn islands.
- Public buses €30
- Scooter rental Ometepe €30 but we shared the cost, so €15
- Overnight bus from Antigua to Tikal €20
- Private shuttles $100
- Boats (Tortuguero, Atitlan etc) €15
- flight from Guatemala City to Managua $70
- Return flight to Corn Islands $160
Overall I think I have been pretty thorough in this budget post. I may have forgotten something, but this should give you an indication of what you need. I did not include souvenirs we bought and don’t forget to budget more for emergencies!
You can make this trip a little cheaper by eating more street food and staying in the cheapest hostels. You could also easily spend much more, it’s up to you.