The Travel Dispatch

Financial Breakdown

Updated weekly, this page categorically breaks down every penny spent on the current Travel Dispatch expedition. Lasting a full 12 months, Season 1 kicked off on November 15, 2017 and is taking on the classic round-the-world route as I weave my way from Latin America to The Balkans, Eastern Europe to the Middle East, and Southeast Asia to the US.

The budget maxes out at USD 25,000 and I started counting trip expenditures the moment I arrived in my first destination – Panama. Check back every Wednesday to see how it’s all adding up. I’m also opening up the floor to public shaming if you catch me blowing my entire budget following the Hugh Grant-circa-1999 look-a-like to luxurious destinations I can’t afford.

PSA: Pre-trip expenses are NOT taken from this budget; however, I have included a breakdown of how much $$$ I spent in preparation for this 12 month route at the bottom of this page.

After 84 Days on the Road

Total Spent = $3436.72

Leg One: Central and South America

Panama | Colombia | Ecuador


# of Days in Panama: 20

Total Spent in Panama: $1019.13

Places Visited: Panama City, El Valle de Anton, San Blas Islands

Accommodation: $211.35 (avg $14 per night*)

Long Haul Transportation (over 6 hours): $0

Local Transportation (under 6 hours): $39.38 (avg $2.50 per day*)

Food: $102.9 (avg $6.40 per day*)

Alcohol: $42.50 (avg $2.10 per day)

Big Excursions: $595

  • 6 day/5 night sail from Panama to Colombia via the San Blas Islands
    • $550 for the sail (includes 3 meals per day, accommodation onboard the boat, activities onboard)
    • $25 for the shuttle from Panama City to the sailboat anchored at Puerto Lindo
    • $20 Kuna taxes for visiting the tribes’ private islands

Local Activities: $24 ($1.25 per day)

  • $15 entrance fee to visit the Panama Canal at Miraflores Locks
  • $3 entrance fee for La India Dormida hike (El Valle de Anton)
  • $2 bike rental (El Valle de Anton)
  • $4 thermal bath entrance (El Valle de Anton)

Misc: $4 (toothpaste and shampoo)

*as I went on an all-inclusive (minus the alcohol) 6 day/5 night sail, I only divided the accommodation, food, and local transport totals for Panama by the number of days I was on land to get a more realistic daily average.

Cartagena ColombiaColombia

# of Days in Colombia: 41

Total Spent in Colombia: $1628.46

Places Visited: Cartagena, Palomino, Santa Marta, The Lost City, Paso Del Mango, Riohacha, Mayapo, Cabo de la Vela, Punta Gallinas

Accommodation: $516 (avg $13.60 per night; I spent 3 nights in the jungle as part of a tour so I left these nights off to give a more accurate picture of my daily accommodation rates).

Long Haul Transportation (over 6 hours): $0

Local Transportation (under 6 hours): $188.36 (avg $4.60 per day; please note my computer broke so I had to return to Cartagena from Palomino to get it fixed and then had to catch a bus back up. This was a $37 detour so the numbers for local transport are slightly higher than they should have been. This is why you should always add a money cushion into your budget).

Food: $289.81 (avg $7.10 per day)

Alcohol: $32.08 (avg $0.80 per day)

Big Excursions: $291.14

  • $291.14 for 4 day/3 night trek to The Lost City. Includes all meals, transport, and accommodation.

Local Activities: $16.98 ($0.40 per day)

  • $6.64 entrance fee to the Flamingo Sanctuary outside Palomino
  • $5.15 to go to Pilon de Azucar in Cabo de la Vela
  • $5.19 to boat around Punta Gallinas to see flamingos, various islands, and watch the sunset

Misc: $177.47 (avg $4.30 per day)

  • $76.80 handmade bag weaved be the Kogi people of the Sierra Nevada as a gift to myself to commemorate my time in Northern Colombia
  • $3.98 bought 2 episodes of Riverdale on iTunes because I’m obsessed
  • $8 for random gifts
  • $6.62 for a beachside massage in Palomino
  • $13.55 for laundry (x2)
  • $13.69 for a new iPhone charger (x2 – I lost mine twice!)
  • $14.77 for medicine (x2)
  • $28.55 for shampoo, face lotion, deodorant, razors, tampons. etc.
  • $10.68 for mosquito spray (x2)
  • $0.83 tip for some amazing breakdancers in Santa Marta

Unexpected Expenses: $116.62 (avg $2.80 per day)

  • $116.62 for a new MacBook charger. The one I had was too powerful and is the reason my computer broke. This was a surprise expense and is a prime example of why you should always have a cushion in your budget. While I’m doing the full trip on $25,000, I only budgeted $23,000 of it for trip expenses for exactly this reason. It felt good to make this surprise purchase knowing I had the $2000 “emergency” fund to dip into.



# of Days in Ecuador: 23

Total Spent in Ecuador: $789.13

Places Visited: Quito, Otavalo

Accommodation: $112 (avg $4.90 per night; I am working for 3 weeks at a hostel in exchange for free accommodation so this number is skewed. Most hostel multi-bed dorms in Quito are $10 per night).

Long Haul Transportation (over 6 hours): $354.39

  • $354.39 on my flight from Santa Marta, Colombia to Quito, Ecuador

Local Transportation (under 6 hours): $55.25 (avg $2.40 per day)

Food: $120.9 (avg $5.25 per day)

Alcohol: $32 (avg $1.40 per day)

Big Excursions: $0

Local Activities: $27 ($1.20 per day)

  • $8 fee to ride Quito’s cable car to the top for views over the city
  • $3 tip to my guide after a free walking tour
  • $2 entrance fee to the Basilica of the National Vow
  • $6 day trip to Otavalo
  • $8 entrance fee to the Capilla del Hombre museum

Misc: $59.59 (avg $2.60 per day)

  • $19.23 on shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc.
  • $1.99 on an episode of Riverdale. My TV obsession knows no bounds.
  • $14 on misc gifts
  • $6 on laundry
  • $11 on books
  • $7.37 on colored pencils for journaling

Unexpected Expenses: $28 (avg $1.20 per day)

  • $28 in cash was stolen when I was robbed and you can’t claim cash on my travel insurance policy. This was a surprise expense and is a prime example of why you should always have a cushion in your budget. While I’m doing the full trip on $25,000, I only budgeted $23,000 of it for trip expenses for exactly this reason. This surprise expense came out of my $2000 “emergency” fund.

Pre-Trip Expenses

Total Spent = $2,638.14

Pre-trip expenses vary from person to person. Basics include travel insurance, packing gear, flights, and new international phone plans. There is no one-price-fits-all when it comes to these expenditures so it’s hard to give guidance on how much you’ll likely need to spend/save. Below I outlined all pre-departure amounts as they pertained to my specific situation.

ItemTypical CostTotal I SpentNotes
Flight From New Orleans to Panama$304.35$0I had enough travel credit card points to cover the full flight
Osprey 46L Porter Backpack $130.45$30.45Used $100 birthday gift towards it
Unlocked SIM-Free iPhone 7$649.00$750.10The total I spent includes tax and the screen protector ($39.95) I bought for it
12 Months of Travel InsuranceDepends on your needs$1617.59I use World Nomads for my insurance and bought the explorer package
1 Year's Supply of Contacts$280$240Acuvue gave me a $40 rebate in the form of a Visa gift card