how much does it cost to travel around for 5 months ?
well that always depends on where you are staying and on how you are spending your time, are you staying in hostals or do you want to invest your money in good hotels, do you want to do discover the nature or do you prefer visiting big cities ? when you try to travel on low budget like we did it is possible to get through one month with less than 1000 euros. we spend most of the nights in cheap but quite good hostals or in airbnb's (the best option for expensive countries like Chile and Argentina) furthermore we tried to do a lot on our own like the Quilotoa Loop in Ecuador (a great 3 days hiking tour to a huge vulcanic crater). organised tours are expensive but in a few cases there is no alternative for example for the Inka Trail Tour to Machu Picchu in Peru (you can book different tours in advance but each one costs a lot and you can´t walk there on your own .. but a tour like this is really worth it). in addition to these aspects you have to invest a lot into a good equipment .. for a backpacking trip the first thing you need is a good and spacious backpack (surprise haha). as well you need functional clothing for every kind of weather (from cold rainy and windy days on more than 5000 hm to 40 degrees in Rio de Janeiro everything is possible) so as you can see you have to be well prepared and high quality also means high prices .. but when it comes to health and security money should never matter.
how could i finance such a long trip ?
first of all working in south america is difficult. we visited 9 countries during our trip and that would mean requesting 9 working permitions in advance without knowing exactly where you gonna work down in south america. that´s the reason why i had to earn money for my big dream at home. months before we started i worked as waitress in a restaurant furthermore i gave private lessons and sometimes i had the chance to work as a supernumerary at film sets in munich what is real fun !! but anyway .. without the support of my family and especially my mum i would never have reached this dream. as i started this journey with just 17 years i´ve been reliant on the help of others .. i had to buy equipment, plan our route through south america and to save money .. not the easiest time but absolutely wort it !!
why south america and what were our highlights ?
we chose south america as the final destination for our first backpacking trip because of many reasons. on the one hand we didn´t want to travel in an expensive country and on the other hand we wanted to get to know a lot of new culture, different landscapes and not only the touristic parts. we wanted adventures to come and a new challenge for ourselves. furthermore we both learned spanish in school and that´s how we came to south america, the Inka culture and the Andes mountains. we started our trip on the 12th september 2017 in Cartagena de Indias in Colombia - the north west of south america. from there we travelled down the west coast till Santiago de Chile in .. well Chile : ) then we took a flight from Mendoza to the east coast of Argentina and went up to Paraguay where we passed the border to our last country: Brazil. we spend our last days in Rio de Janeiro from where we flew back to Europe on the 25th january 2018. retrospective i can give you a short ranking of our highlights down there: for low budget travellers Peru and Bolivia are the best places to visit. you can live quite cheap there but anyway there is a lot to see for example one wonder of the world: `Machu Picchu´ - without question one of our main highlights !! but the craziest thing we experienced during our trip was in Bolivia and is named Salar de Uyuni´. this huge salt desert with colorful lagunes, thousands of flamingos and islands full of cacti amazed us !! neverless Chile and Argentina showed us two really beautiful cities: Valparaíso in Chile - the city of art and graffities and the home of Pablo Neruda. and Buenos Aires in Argentina where you get the best wine around there !! last but not least we visited the `Iguazú falls´ in Brazil - a natural spectacle in the middle of a tropical forest .. a must see when you visit Brazil !! however my two personal highlights of our journey are the `Galapagos islands´ in Ecuador and `Rio de Janeiro´ in Brazil. i couldn`t get enough of the amazing beaches of Galapagos, of all the animals i`ve never seen before and of the beauty of earth. and although Rio represents the total opposite of this calm ands natural paradise we had such a great and unforgettable time there !!
what are the people like in poorer countries ?
of course you have always to be careful when you travel an unknown continent where quality of life is not on the same level as in Europe. but especially Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay are known as quite poor and dangerous countries in south america. anyway you can never be careful enough. so let me tell you about our first bad experience: it was on a night bus trip from `Quito´ to `Guayaquil´ in Ecuador. it was late, we were tired and so we both fell asleep sometime which was a really bad mistake. when we arrived to our final destination we both mentionned that our valuable things like laptop camera etc. were missing .. they robbed our backpacks while we were sleeping .. what a shame !! well this was a tough hit for us but at least we learned from it. afterwards we got even more careful and luckily this would stay the only bad incident on our journey. but let me tell you: the most people down there aren´t like this. we talked to locals, we met such a lot of kind hearted people, we found new friends there. if travellers, natives or tour guides .. it is hard to find someone who´s not interested in your travel stories, in your future plans or in a conversation together with a cold drink. we met a lot of extraordinary people we had learned from and that´s what makes travelling so interesting .. you get such a lot of new perceptions on life, you get inspired day by day and the most important thing: you get to know yourself on such a long trip !! even if a lot of people are poor, don´t have a good workplace or no work at all they try to stay positive (most of them) and just live day for day. we´ve seen kids begging, old women sleeping on the street and groups of adolescents selling their clothes just to make some money. and there are other people, too .. just buying the most expensive things but not having one cent for a homeless person. two totally different styles of life .. but both are lifes. we should not close our eyes, we should go and see and we should think about it, because everyone has the right to live a life, right ?
are there any hints i can give other backpackers ?
oh yes there are !! before starting a backpacking trip for the first time you don´t really know what is expecting you. even if you read a lot of other travel blogs, outdoor articles, travel magazines etc. you can never imagine how it will be. that´s why i would like to tell you about my own experiences down in south america. the first thing you need to do such a trip is the will and the courage to get it started. you have to fix a plan in your head and to put it into action step for step .. but you always have to stay focused. when you are sure you really want to do something like this you should hold on on it and so you will be able to make it. and when you are full of all this enthusiasm and energy you will find a way to save enough money, you will get through days of doughts and you will reach everything to turn your dream into reality !! well that´s the most important part of such a trip. but i also have some helpful tips for you when it´s time to pack your things for the great trip: 1. don´t take too much clothes with you .. you will need half of it .. i promise !! furthermore you have to carry everything on your back so try to save weight. 2. take several locks with you .. you will need them. 3. especially in Colombia and Ecuador the busses are refrigerated as fuck (under 0 degrees) so take warm clothes with you into the bus otherwise it will get super cold !! 4. you absolutely need good and comfi shoes .. they will be your daily transportation. 5. put all your electronic stuff into dry bags .. you never know. anyway you shouldn´t take a lot of valuable things with you .. it might get stolen. 6. note down important phone numbers or emergency hotlines just in case you need help. by the way: first aide kit .. always and everywhere !! 7. not more than one book .. almost every hostal offers book exchanges. 8. moscito spray and sun block will save your life. 9. check the website of the ministry of foreign affairs before leaving .. you might need special inoculations and you should check the current situation of the countries you want to visit. 10. after all the main issue is to have fun and enjoy !!