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Tips for Budget Travelers


Colombia is a “swing” country for travelers spending six months to two years traveling in the Americas, northward from Argentina to Mexico or southward. Many will be flying out of an expensive country like the US, Mexico, Chile or Brazil. Here are some tips to help you experience Colombia more economically.




Cheaper hostels include hospedajes and residencias, often located near the markets. Skip the extras, like private bath, air conditioning and TV. If staying for more than a few nights, ask about a possible discount. Room prices are generally cheaper per person for couples than for the solo traveler. Camp or sleep in hammocks wherever offered. A new option that many budget travelers of all ages and professions are using is couch surfing (URL:, home stays that allow you a glimpse into daily life.



Food and Drink

Breakfast is a poor-value meal; fix it in. Inexpensive meals are the comida corriente, or set meal available at lunch and dinner, and those found in the comedor section of the public market. Buy a portable heating element to warm water for tea or coffee. Look for hostels that have cooking facilities. Purify your own water by filter or drops (some pharmacies sell Aquasafe).


Going out to Colombian nightclubs is almost prohibitively expensive for the shoestring traveler. Consider that often the cover charge alone is about $10, plus your drinks on top of it. Save such activities for a special occasion. Buying beer at the store is relatively cheap; wine is quite pricey.




Journeying long legs is cheaper than short ones in Colombia. Outside the high season, ask for a discount (“No sería posible un descuentico?”). Couples report success hitchhiking, though remember that this is not without its risks.




Many museums and archaeological sites in Colombia are free. Discounts are frequently given to those with an ISIC card, and often with your university’s own ID. Children and seniors get substantial reductions. For free entertainment, check out exhibits, concerts, movies and other events at cultural centers or universities. Some active sports are absolutely free, like swimming, snorkeling and hiking the numerous old stone roads that lace the Colombian countryside.




Avoid prime Colombian destinations during holidays, when prices for lodging and food at least double, and in some places up to quadruple. Limit travel at these times, also.

Although it may seem tedious, keep a daily accounting of your expenses. You can then see how you are spending your money, and know where to cut back if you find you are overspending. An additional advantage to this is you will always have handy the figures of hotels and transport to pass along to other travelers.


Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Colombia: Safety, When to Go to El Rodadero, When to Go, When to Go to Leticia, Dealing with Colombian Officialdom and Business, When to Go to Güicán, Safety, When to Go to Puerto Nariño, When to Go and Safety.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

28 Sep 2011

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