How to save on accommodations

How I saved over $4,000 on accommodations in one year of travel

This is not a financial advice but recently, I’ve realized that I haven’t paid for any accommodation since I started travelling South America. 17 months of travelling paying for nothing (accommodations) is all because of volunteering and making friends on the road. I slowly computed all these, analysed the different methods I used and I found out that I saved over $4,000 USD on accommodations!

So here it is. I am going to tell you the history of my accommodations for over one year of travel. I am not really good in Math but I tried my best to explain each item by including the host, accommodation type, number of days, hostel price per night (by city) and the amount of money I saved. I also included a brief history on how I met these people while travelling. The connections are amazing and I am quite surprised I made through friendship!

[us_message color=”yellow” icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]The events below took place when I first traveled South America in 2013. They happened as they are during my first year and everything is in chronological order. Photos are also very old (in low-res, poorly taken) because I didn’t have the energy to take nice pictures nor did I have the resources to do it. Everything was taken with an iPhone.[/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”][us_iconbox icon=”fa-question” iconpos=”left” size=”52px” title=”This post is good for…” title_tag=”h6″]Backpackers who want to start long term traveling. By long-term, I meant travel periods of 6 months to 2 years.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” iconpos=”left” size=”52px” title=”Resources” title_tag=”h6″]To be able to get a host, I used Couchsurfing to meet locals and a few volunteering websites to score a work exchange gig. I met half of the list from traveling Asia and Europe. In here, you will see the importance of making connections while traveling. Not that you will have free accommodations but you will also meet people who will be your friends forever![/us_iconbox][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Couchsurfing in Sao Paulo, Brasil

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Couchsurfing”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Private room”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”90 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$900 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Sao Paulo was my first destination when I went to South America. It was a very strange period of my life so I didn’t really have a lot (financially) and I was gambling on something I wasn’t sure of. Going to a place where you know no one and you don’t speak the language is very challenging but I pushed myself to survive a different environment.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Sao Paulo: $10

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]I never really wanted to try Couchsurfing in South America. I was 22 and was told there’s a lot of danger in venturing in this kind of free accommodation for travellers. So, I picked a girl host. She was the only one I contacted and after a few hours, she said yes right away![/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Sao Paulo” title_tag=”h6″]Livia works in a government office during the day so I have the house to myself. I was working 8 hours a day but at the comforts of her home. I walked her dog whenever I wanted a break from work and I also got to know Sao Paulo better. We ate out three times a week and I got to meet most of Livia’s close friends. Every Wednesday, we attended Couchsurfing meet-ups and had occasional drinks in the neighbourhood. Some weekends, her family comes to visit so I was able to spend time with them, too![/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Eating out, buying personal stuff, night outs, bus/train fares.[/us_iconbox]
[us_message icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]After Sao Paulo, I explored some parts of Brasil like Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Pouso Alegre, Iguazu and Ouro Preto. All expenses in this trip are mine since I was able to save money when I was Couchsurfing in Sao Paulo.[/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Family stay in Barranquilla, Colombia

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Couchsurfing”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Private room”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”60 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$733 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Barranquilla is not always in the list of places to visit in Colombia but I decided to go there to stay with the family of one of my friends. A small city where Shakira hails, Barranquilla is located in the northern part of Peru and relatively close to the famous port city of Cartagena.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Barranquilla: $12.22

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]I got exposed to Couchsurfing at a very young age. When I was living in an apartment in Makati, Philippines, I hosted this Colombian girl called Andrea. At the time, she was working in China as a zumba instructor and had a short trip to the Philippines. When I told her I am planning to go to Colombia, she told me that I will stay with her family and she won’t accept no for an answer. I ended up living with her family for 3 months while she was still in China! And it definitely let me save money on accommodation during that time.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Barranquilla” title_tag=”h6″]Cultural experience in a different level. Andrea was the only one in her family who spoke English fluently. She was still living in China when I stayed with them so communication was pretty hard because I had to learn how to speak Spanish in order to communicate to her family. This pushed me to learn Spanish and after three months, I was fluent! I lived with them for free (including food, including everything) so the least I can do is to put an effort in talking to them. I participated in all their family activities – eating out, grandmother’s birthday, Christmas dinner 2013. I was literally part of the family.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Personal stuff only. Food & transpo were free.[/us_iconbox]
[us_message icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]After Barranquilla, I traveled to some places in Colombia like Cartagena, Santa Marta, and Taganga. All expenses in this trip are mine since I was able to save enough when I was staying with a family in Barranquilla.[/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Volunteering in Medellin, Colombia

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Volunteering Website”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Dorm bed”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”20 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$238 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Medellin rings as the home of the infamous Pablo Escobar, the star of this hit series Netflix but I honestly didn’t think that it will emulate the same TV setting. Bagged as the city of eternal Spring, there is no perfect time to visit Medellin but every day.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Medellin: $11.91

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]The hostel I worked in was newly opened so they were always looking for last minute volunteers. I found them through a volunteering website.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Medellin” title_tag=”h6″]I did reception work for them during the day (with blog work in between) and during the night, I took the hostel guests to bars and parties. I met most of my closest friends in this hostel and we are still in touch up to now! The owners are our age and were very much up for anything the volunteers suggested. During my free time, I had the chance to explore the city, also with the hostel guests. Everyone is so random we just did whatever we wanted.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Eating out, buying personal stuff, night outs, bus/train fares. Food was provided for the volunteers.[/us_iconbox]
[us_message icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]After Medellin, I traveled to some places in Colombia like Guatape, Bogota and finally Cali to cross the border to Ecuador. All expenses in this trip are mine since I was able to spend less when I was volunteering in Medellin. [/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”] [us_separator style=”dashed”]

Volunteering in Quito, Ecuador

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Volunteering Website”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Dorm bed”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”30 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$315 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Colombia-Ecuador was my first real hardcore overland crossing so I was pretty excited to get to Quito. I didn’t have any plans to go to Quito. The idea of the trip was to get to Colombia and Quito was the easiest (and most popular) option.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Quito: $10.50

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]Like the hostel I worked in Medellin, I also found this listing through a volunteering website.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Quito” title_tag=”h6″]Reception work. I dealt with guests and mostly everything they needed. The people I volunteered with are also my friends up to now! After our shifts, we went out for drinks and did a lot of eating. We cooked together, slept together, did crazy things together – this is one of the best things that can happen to the young person I was.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Eating out, buying personal stuff, night outs, bus/train fares. Food was provided for the volunteers.[/us_iconbox]
[us_message icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]After Quito, I traveled to the south where I got to visit Cuenca, Baños and coastal cities like Montañita and Guayaquil. From Guayaquil, I crossed the border to Peru and stayed in Mancora for a while. All expenses in this trip are mine since I was able to save money when I was volunteering in Quito. [/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Homestay with a friend in Lima, Peru

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Friend from traveling Asia”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Private room”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”4 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$25 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Lima, the capital of Peru is full of life and of course, gastronomic choices. Always in the ranking of the 50 World’s Best Restaurants, Lima is one of the food capitals of the world that we don’t know much about. Aside from that, the nightlife is alive as a lot of young people opt to live here.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Lima: $6.30

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]When I was in El Nido, Palawan some years ago, I met a Peruvian guy called Salvador and we kept in touch ever since. When I told him I was going to Peru, he introduced me to one of his close friends (Guillermo) via Facebook and I stayed with him in the short period of time I was in Lima.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Lima” title_tag=”h6″]Through my host, Guillermo, I was able to get to know the nightlife and young vibe of Lima. [/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Eating out, buying personal stuff, night outs, bus/train fares. Food was provided by my host.[/us_iconbox]
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Volunteering in Paracas, Peru

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Volunteering website”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Dorm bed”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”40 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$400 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Just 3-4 hours drive from Lima, Paracas is one of the coastal towns that are often skipped by tourists. It’s very small, quiet and home to Paracas National Reserve, the so-called mini Galapagos of South America. Most visitors come here for a Kitesurfing Holiday as its strong ‘surf-able’ waves have a good reputation around the world.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Paracas: $10

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]I found this work exchange gig in a volunteering website. I worked there for 4 months and the following year, I went back and they offered me a paid job as bar manager![/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Paracas” title_tag=”h6″]Probably the craziest days of my life! Since it’s a hostel bar, I drank (of course!), I met friends, shared my life with a bunch of volunteers who are more or less have the same vibe as me, lived by the beach, lived the good life. Think about all the craziest things that can happen to a young person: that sums up my life in Paracas.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Eating out, buying personal stuff, night outs, bus/train fares. Food was provided for the volunteers.[/us_iconbox]
[us_message icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]After Paracas, I slowly made my way to Cusco where I got to briefly stop (1-2 weeks) in places like Ica, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa and Puno. All expenses in this trip are mine since I was able to save money when I was volunteering in Paracas. [/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Volunteering in Cusco, Peru

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Volunteering website”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Private room”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”21 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$315 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Finally, I arrived Cusco with the dream of climbing Machu Picchu (I did it twice but that’s a different story). I signed up for a 3-week volunteering gig because I want to get used to the altitude of Cusco. If you are climbing Machu Picchu and you are not physically fit like me, you need to acclimatise because you might have a difficulty with the Machu Picchu trek if you do it right away.

Cusco’s used to be a very sad and cold place for me but when I stayed longer, I got to discover a lot of many ‘young’ things in Cusco. It really is so much fun!!!!

Nightly hostel bed rate in Cusco: $15

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]I found this work exchange gig in a volunteering website. Maya is an Israeli cook married to a Peruvian who decided to live in Cusco. More than Peruvian, I learned a lot of Middle Eastern dishes from her. She generously shared her recipe and I was really happy working with her.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Cusco” title_tag=”h6″]Probably the craziest days of my life! Since it’s a hostel bar, I drank (of course!), I met friends, shared my life with a bunch of volunteers who are more or less have the same vibe as me, lived by the beach, lived the good life. Think about all the craziest things that can happen to a young person: that sums up my life in Paracas.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Eating out, buying personal stuff, night outs, bus/train fares. Food was provided for the volunteers.[/us_iconbox][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Volunteering in La Paz, Bolivia

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Walk in”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Dorm bed”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”40 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$440 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Straight from Cusco, I crossed to Bolivia by land together with my friends whom I volunteered with in Paracas. 7 of us wanted to travel together and we started our luck in La Paz.

Nightly hostel bed rate in La Paz: $11

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]Walk-in. Since there were 7 of us, it was nearly impossible that one volunteer host will take us so we started walking in. Leading the team, we went to several hostels and I explained to the bar managers our working dynamics – we are a good team because we’ve worked together before. I was firm when talking to the managers: it’s 7 of us or nothing. In the end, we found something that took us all! One of my mates was even offered a managerial job![/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in La Paz” title_tag=”h6″]I say this a lot to everyone: In my head, I had a picture of Bolivia as a very backward country and living in the old age but La Paz is different. There was a very vibrant nightlife although food choices were limited. I couldn’t believe I lasted this very cold city![/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Eating out, buying personal stuff, night outs, bus/train fares. Food was provided for the volunteers.[/us_iconbox][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Homestay with friends in Sao Paulo, Brasil

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Friends of friends”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Private room”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”14 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$140 saved”][/us_iconbox]

After spending 90 days in Brasil the first time, I went back the following year because there is one event that I’ve been dreaming of attending: The FIFA World Cup. I was already familiar with Brasil then so it wasn’t hard for me. It didn’t feel strange. But so much excitement ignited. It was my first year traveling South America and this point was the time I said, “Wow, I really am doing this and I am good at it.”

Nightly hostel bed rate in Sao Paulo: $10

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]Literally a long chain of friends. I met this guy called Eduardo in a Couchsurfing meet-up but he was traveling Mexico when I went back to Sao Paulo. He said I can still stay at his place but I have to deal with his roommates – 2 more Mexican dudes who I got along with easily! [/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Sao Paulo” title_tag=”h6″]More local stuff, this time. I met a huge community of Mexicans in Sao Paulo through my ‘roommates.’ I arrived a few days before the World Cup so when it kicked off, I was able to witness the true spirit of football – a spirit that doesn’t appear much where I am from.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]I paid for everything except for accommodations. I have been dreaming about World Cup for 4 years so I had enough savings just for the event – 4 years in the making![/us_iconbox][us_separator style=”dashed”]

Couchsurfing in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Friends of friends”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Shared space”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”90 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$2,250 saved”][/us_iconbox]

A sporting event like the FIFA World Cup will entail double the usual prices. Everything was so expensive because Rio de Janeiro was kind of the main host city as it is home to the Maracana. Even if I did have enough money to go through a full month of not working, it was still quite a heavy load because everything was unreasonably priced.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Sao Paulo: $25

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]I rented a shared space outside Copacabana and Ipanema (literally outside, but still Rio) so every time I watch the games and drink with friends, I have to travel by bus for 40 mins to get there. On top of that, I also should leave early because the bus schedules suck. The last trip to my shared apt is at 20:00 – games are not even halfway finished at that time! Remember I worked in a hostel in Medellin? I told you we hang out with guests a lot and one of those guests was a French dude who was also at the World Cup the same time I was! We were really close and when he found out I was traveling that far everyday, he asked his host if I can stay with them a few days in a week if I want to spend more time in the beach area. His host is a darling. We clicked and she ended up hosting me for 90 days! [/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Rio de Janeiro” title_tag=”h6″]Another chapter of crazy. World Cup is one of the best things that ever happened to my life. Up until today, nothing beats that. Rio de Janeiro is a very young city and I really think it’s a good place for young people to live. Although expensive, you can always find ways on how to make it work like everyone else. World Cup was only for a month. The two remaining months, I dedicated myself to being creative, meeting more people and of course, applying a visa to Uruguay, my next stop.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]I paid for everything except for accommodations. [/us_iconbox]
[us_message icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]After Rio de Janeiro, I slowly made my way to the south of Brasil to cross the border to Uruguay. I was able to visit Santa Catarina, Iguazu, and the surf area of the south-west. [/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”] [us_separator style=”dashed”]

Family stay in Montevideo, Uruguay

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[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Couchsurfing”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Private room”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”30 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$450 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Uruguay is definitely not on people’s bucket list and I honestly did it because it was on the way of the route I was taking. But when I came, I realised there were a lot of things to discover and cultures to savour in the unknown grandeur of Uruguay.

Nightly hostel bed rate in Montevideo: $15

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my host” title_tag=”h6″]I remember this vividly: it was my birthday month so I wanted to put a different twist to my travels. I want to stay at someone’s house (with a local family) to learn how to cook and improve my Spanish better. I posted in Couchsurfing: “I need a host but not an individual. I need someone who lives with a family.” In today’s Couchsurfing setting, everyone’s living on their own and it was very unlikely that I will get someone who still lives with their family. Andres, the first message I received in my inbox was pure magic. He said he asked his parents, they said yes, and 14 hours later, I found myself in their humble abode.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Montevideo” title_tag=”h6″]I learned how an Uruguayan family speak, cook, eat and sleep. I never did any touristy stuff while I was there because I can always save it for later. I did everything the family did – from visiting their grandparents to another city, to hanging out at a friend’s place to going to concerts, shopping for groceries, etc. I lived with them the best way I knew how. I participated in the family.[/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]Personal stuff only. Food & transpo were free.[/us_iconbox]
[us_message icon=”fa-lightbulb-o”]After the family stay, I took a few days to get to know Uruguay better. I visited Punta del Este, explored beaches, hitchhiked, met more friends and finally took a ferry ride to Buenos Aires. It was a good time to travel alone.[/us_message][us_separator style=”dashed”] [us_separator style=”dashed”]

Homestay with friends in Buenos Aires, Argentina

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-search” title=”Friends from the road”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-bed” title=”Shared space”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-calendar” title=”16 days”][/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” title=”$176 saved”][/us_iconbox]

Did you know that Buenos Aires is one of my favourite cities in the world? I was really excited to be here. I had so much fear that I won’t be granted an Argentine visa because I don’t have a job and proof of funds is slowly declining. In the end, the Argentine consulate in Montevideo gave me 72 days!

Nightly hostel bed rate in Buenos Aires: $12

[us_iconbox icon=”fa-handshake-o” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I met my hosts” title_tag=”h6″]Just as Buenos Aires is my favourite city, most of the people I met while traveling South America (and eventually became friends with) are all living in Buenos Aires. I only had 2 weeks to stay there and almost 4 people volunteered to host me in their homes. I didn’t want to say no to everyone so I divided those days to each one of them. I stayed with (1) Daniela (my host family in Barranquilla) for 3 days; (2) Mauro and Mili, a couple I met while working in the bar in Paracas for a week; (3) And Lucio, a backpacker I met while traveling Taganga, Colombia for a week. It was a bit tiring to move every now and then but still, I was able to see everyone![/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-hourglass-1″ iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”How I spent my time in Buenos Aires” title_tag=”h6″]A lot of eating (I mean a lot), crazy nightlife and loads of concerts![/us_iconbox]
[us_iconbox icon=”fa-usd” iconpos=”left” size=”24px” title=”Other expenses” title_tag=”h6″]I paid for everything except for accommodations.[/us_iconbox][us_separator style=”dashed”]

I can go on and on, and continue to the second and third year I explored South America but the key ingredients for then beginner long-term travelers like me were:

  • Volunteering/Work Exchange
  • Couchsurfing
  • Being genuinely friendly and building meaningful relationships while traveling

In summary, I paid $0 on accommodations for over a year of travelling. How amazing is that?! With this, I am really thankful for all the people who took me in. Thank you for accepting me in your home and always being enthusiastic about my visit. Even if there isn’t enough space, you’ve pushed beyond your means to make me comfortable during my stay.

Aside from saving money while traveling, it’s about making friends and eating, breathing, speaking and living a culture that is far away from yours.

I promise you all that you are always welcome in my home (actually my parents’ house because I don’t have a house at the moment) when you visit the Philippines.

Cheers to kindness, love and friendship! Save on accommodations and try these methods. Let me know how it will work for you!

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How do you save on accommodations when traveling long term?

Leave some tips on the comment box below and help other travelers make it!

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Trisha is on Instagram!

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Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha is an ambassador of Girl Rising, a global movement for girls' education and empowerment. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

Comments

  • November 9, 2014

    Love your article.. You inspired me to travel. God Bless you

    reply
  • Anonymous
    November 9, 2014

    Im also thinking of dumping the corporate world in exchange for freedom to travel anywhere in the world! Argggh im getting there. So happy to read your blog. 🙂

    reply
    • November 13, 2014

      GO FOR IT! That’s all I can say. You will not regret it, I promise you that! Thank you for reading!

      reply
  • November 9, 2014

    Nice article. 🙂 Continue inspiring others by your adventures. I, for one, love traveling and this article is an affirmation of my passion. Cheers.

    reply
  • November 10, 2014

    Really Love this story. Couchsurfing.com is the best. I used to host on that site. I’ve never been on the couch end. Looks like a fun adventure!

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    • November 13, 2014

      Thank you, Danielle! I’ve had a lot of good experience(s) in CS and everything always turns out well!

      reply
  • Karla Louise Pilapil Ceguerra
    February 4, 2015

    Thanks Trisha! I also want to do this, but not so soon yet. Always take care! God bless!

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  • Jonny Blair
    February 24, 2015

    Well done Trisha, great article. In contrast I backpacked through all the same places as you but spent money on accommodation, yet still felt it was worth it. We all get our own experiences on the road and like you say the money is less important than the experiences we have. Safe travels. Jonny

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  • PaperGirl
    January 16, 2016

    Hey Trisha!
    I’m new to your site, so this info may already be in here, but do you have an amount for how much you spent overall? Like besides the free accommodation? My bestie and I are about to head to South America and we’re wondering around how much we need set aside besides accommodation & travel expenses… I understand this varies by country, but it’d be great to have an idea…

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  • January 30, 2016

    Hello Ms. Trisha, Your travel is full of excitement and challenges.

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  • arvz
    February 1, 2016

    So you’re from Zambales too. I’m from Castillejos working hard here in Metro Manila as a ‘waiting on phone” guy. And honestly, it sucks the hell out of me to what I really want to do . But I had no choice but to endure it for the sake of living in the city. And i know it’s a bad choice. LOL. But my wanderlust is still firing me up to be a nomad. And though having no enough money to help me push with my travel-ish escapades still concerns me the most, you’re inspiring me to step up with my life and go beyond my comfort zone SOONER. For me, experience is what makes a person totally content and genuinely happy with LIFE. We DO NOT LIVE ONCE, we LIVE everyday and everyday is a celebration of LIFE. Keep on inspiring us Trish!

    reply
  • December 20, 2016

    Hi Trisha,,

    I’m Hani, we met in Aqaba, Jordan.

    I’m really liked your experience, you guide me to a new way to save money and make a new friends.

    I just want to ask you about how you being a volunteer?

    privet: i loved your blog and i enjoy when i reading, you inspire me to start writing about my trips.

    Thank you very much

    Regards,

    reply
  • May 23, 2017

    Hi Trisha! Been traveling for years now but haven’t really tapped this option. I always have a fear of putting myself in the wrong place especially if it’s a new place. Reading about this gave me a bit more guts and faith that there is goodness out there if I am willing to take it. Thank you for this post. It means a lot. 🙂

    reply
  • Heaven Ambhay
    June 27, 2017

    Your journey is so inspiring! Hope I could experience that too. God bless you always.

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  • July 8, 2017

    We are headed to South America later this year. Sounds like you found a great way to benefit and be useful. This is a great resource.

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  • July 8, 2017

    A new post, a new challenge, a new experience. So helpful. Thumbs up

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  • July 9, 2017

    Wow, now that is impressive! I love that this will probably inspire so many other people to travel once they see it doesn’t have to cost them a fortune. What great adventures you’ve had!

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  • July 9, 2017

    I really love your guts and your enthusiasm for adventure. I have to admit Couch surfing is something I haven’t tried. I do the meet ups or the hang outs but I haven’t tried staying with someone. This would really save a lot of money and it will be really helpful for long travels.

    I was particularly interested in your volunteering in hostels. I should probably do that in my next trips. Thanks for the inspiration yet again.

    reply
  • July 10, 2017

    What a nice post for backpackers! While couchsurfing is not our thing anymore (we usually travel as a couple and would prefer to have our privacy when traveling), our friends will be delighted to learn about your tips and ideas for budget-friendly travelers. 🙂

    reply
  • Megan Jerrard
    July 10, 2017

    That’s an impressive savings on accommodation – home stays, couchsurfing, these are all incredible ways to save on you accommodation, but I totally agree that it’s a double benefit because it usually means you’re able to immserse yourself more into your new destination, and experience it as through the eyes of a local 🙂

    reply
  • July 11, 2017

    Very impressive. But first I noticed a drastic changed on your blog. “Drastic” talaga. Super clean, neat, organized. ganda girl. Anyway. I haven’t tried CS pa maybe I’m worried to try it. But because of you I will definitely give it a try the next time Ill do long term traveling again.

    reply
  • July 11, 2017

    You’ve had some amazing adventures! I’ve heard Couchsurfing is a really big thing for backpackers and solo travellers. I personally haven’t tried it, but I think it would be a great option for solo travel. I certainly love the idea of becoming fluent in Spanish in only 3 months! I’d be keen to do volunteering in exchange for board (and food, if possible!). Did you ever find you missed having your own space though?

    reply
  • Sandy N Vyjay
    July 12, 2017

    Couch surfing and volunteering are great experience in themselves. Also the fact that your accommodation is taken care of is another bonus. Accommodation accounts for one of the major components of the travel budget, hence anything we can save here is of great help.

    reply
  • August 29, 2017

    accommodation is major expenses while travelling, you did great work and saved lot of money,nice article and loved your post
    please can you give name of websites which gives volunteering jobs??

    reply

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