Category Archives: Budget

Budget planning tips and what we spend

It’s all in a day on the road

Do you want speed or do you want adventure?

A van from the beaches in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, where we stayed a few nights, to the nearest airport in Liberia is about $50 per person. A flight from Liberia to Managua, Nicaragua – the nearest airport to our destination in that country is about $120 per person. A van from the beaches where we were staying in Granada is about $40.

The route from Point A to Point B is not so easy sometimes.

The route from Point A to Point B is not so easy sometimes.

So for a mere $210 per person, we could have been here in a few hours.

Or, for $21 apiece, we made it here in seven – laughing, sore and sweating the excitement from every pore. Continue reading

It’s what they eat…

imageBecause so many Americans visit Costa Rica, some restaurants have taken to replacing some of the traditional vegetables that are on the typical casado plate. In place of chayote and plantains (frankly, my favorite items), I found french fries and pasta salad.
This $6 dinner took a big chunk out of our budget, but was so filling that a small breakfast was all that was in order the next morning.

Expense account: Day 1

While we have been here for a couple of weeks, the real budget part of the trip did not start until today since we were traveling with others. We’ll try to keep an accurate accounting of all our expenses and publish them here each day.

We saved a little money this morning since a hearty traditional Costa Rican breakfast was included in the cost of last night’s room.

ITEM                                                                                                           COST
Last minute items, including some
tea, some hot sauce,  and fruit for the
bus ride…………………………………………………………………………………$   8.77

2 bus tickets to Alejuela Central
(15 min. ride) to catch bus to San Jose……………………………………..$   1.04

2 bus tickets to San Jose (45 min.
ride) to catch bus to Liberia…………………………………………………….$   2.60

2 bus tickets to Liberia (5
hour ride)……………………………………………………………………………..$  14.00

Bottle of Coke at a rest stop…………………………………………………….$   1.90

1 night for 2 at a hostel (Hotel
Guanacaste, Liberia)……………………………………………………………..$  22.50

Dinner for 2 + 1 beer……………………………………………………………..$  12.00

Total…………………………………………………………………………………….$62.83

Tomorrow will be cheaper as there will be no cross-country traveling on the agenda.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

By Vicki Barnes

We made the trek to Alajuela – a few dozen kilometers from San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica, so that our traveling companions for the first leg of the journey could catch planes back to the US.

An upscale (by Costa Rican standards) city of 85,000, Alajuela is made up of a large city center surrounded by barrios (suburban neighborhoods). The small hotel where we set up camp for a couple of days is in the barrio of Coyol,  west and a little south to Alajuela Central (downtown).image

Unless you’re up for a long hike, the best way to get to San Jose is by bus. First the local bus to Alajuela Central and then a larger “Tico Bus” to the center of the capitol. The task seemed a little daunting at first, but with a little coaching from the young woman at the front desk, we  march a few hundred meters up the road to the covered bus stop and waited for the next bus downtown. Continue reading

Monday is laundry day

By Vicki Barnes

There are not laundromats readily available in Costa Rica as far as we can tell. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure the locals even understand the concept.

If you have dirty clothes, you have two options:
1) Pay a local about $3 a kilo to wash, dry and neatly fold your clothes
or
2) Do it yourself.

Trying to keep as many colones as possible in our pockets, we chose the latter.

A bit of hand soap and some elbow grease in the bathroom sink and – viola – job done. No dryer or clothes line around here, so we had to improvise.

Beautifully clean, freshly dried clothes…and some protection from the sun in our little casita.
image

Beach bums

By Vicki Barnes

After several days of biting cold and constant drizzle in the cloud forest above the Costa Rican capitol of San Jose, we could take it no longer, We bugged out of that frigid zone and headed for the beach.

imageThough Costa Rica is a small country – about a third of the size of Florida – there is no direct route to any place. We wound our way down from the mountains, through the suburbs of San Jose and on to the main highway through Central America before exiting at Puntarenas where we boarded a car ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula. Continue reading

Don’t blow your budget before you leave

You have to arrive at the airport a couple of hours early to ensure enough time for check in, security check and boarding. If you are on a tight budget, you can not afford unnecessary expenses, and – believe yme – most of the money people spend in airports is unnecessary.

imageBetween your tasks at the airport, you will be inundated with opportunities to spend money on everything from food to newspapers to plush animals wearing t-shirts advertising the city you are in. There are jewelers, art dealers and even high end clothing stores in the terminals. Continue reading

Doing shots

Photo (57)By Vicki Barnes

Depending on where you are traveling, immunizations can mean the difference between life and death.

Seriously. Get your shots before you go.

Vaccines are the most important tool you can have against getting sick – perhaps with a life-threatening illness – when you travel abroad.

Every country is different. Some countries require certain vaccinations prior to entry, others merely suggest the ones you should have. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a feature on their website that allows you to plug in the name of the country you will be visiting and information about the kind of traveler you are (traveling with children, mission or volunteer work, etc.) and with the click of the mouse, find out what is required or suggested for your destination. Continue reading

How to die (er, fly) cheaply

By Steve Barnes 

I hate to fly. In fact, I’m one of those travelers who gets to the airport a couple of hours early not because of security hassles, but so that I have time to hit the Steve airport cartoonairport lounge for a Bloody Mary or two (or three) before take-off. But if there is one thing I hate more than hurtling through the atmosphere in an over-sized tin can propelled by strap-on jet packs, it’s paying too much for the privilege.

Fortunately, finding a decent fare has gotten easier thanks to the internet, but it still requires some knowledge, time and a bit of luck on your part. Continue reading