How much does it cost to travel around South America for a year?

Living on the road

In this article we want to tell you how much money we have spent in one year travelling through South America with our camper van. Also we want to share some useful tips to reduce your expenses on your “Road Trip” across the continent 😉

Countries: Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile and Peru. Kilometers: 31.021

How much does it cost to travel around South America for a year? (according to 2 People)

After a year in the Americas we are happy because the expenses have been more or less the same as when we were travelling around Europe, despite of crossing countries where life cost is much higher than in Europe, such as Uruguay and Argentina. Plus the long distances you need to drive within a single country.

1 year – 2 people – La Furiosa (VW T4) – 5 countries – 31.021 km

Below are the expenses that are NOT included in this budget:

  • All transportation costs to ship the van from Germany – Uruguay RO & RO – 2,000 €
  •  One way air tickets Spain – Uruguay – 664 €

From Europe we have to cross the Atlantic to visit South America, it is a long way and the airfares are not very cheap. We flew from Barcelona to Montevideo and had a 5 hour stopover in Sau Paulo.

We reduce the costs of the flight tickets looking up in Internet time before flying, searching and comparing all the options; different dates, airlines and cities of origin. It’s a bit of work but it’s worth the effort and the patience.

How have we managed to live travelling in South America with  7,451 € budget for a whole year?

Easy, living in La Furiosa, a beautiful Camper. A beautiful house.

Creating new projects to get financing in any country and changing habits that help us to save when it comes to cooking, sleeping, carrying out regular checks and maintenance of the vehicle, mechanics, supplies and many more things that are detailed in our second book “Guide to Living the Van Life”

What are the biggest expenses we find on a camper van trip and how do we try to minimize them?

Food and Beverage Expenses in South America: 2.341€

We have spent 2,241 € on food and beverage, which together with diesel, become the two main expenses to deal with while living on the route. Eating well is very important to us, we love cooking, take our time to prepare a nice breakfast , enjoy a bottle of wine from time to time looking at the sunset either the stars and also celebrate with a few mojitos the miles travelled and those that remain to be traveled.

Eating in restaurants and frequenting bars is something we don´t miss at allIt is something we can live without. Obviously there are countries like Peru or Bolivia where a menu; soup, main course and soda, can cost around  1.5 €, so good, who can refuse to that?

The best way to save enough money is to buy food directly in markets or supermarkets and cook it ourselves. Fishing, when you can and there is luck, also favors the stomach and the pocket. Normally we try to cook with fire, the food comes out very rich and does not waste any gas. We prepare soups, pizzas and any food you can imagine. In South America we found no major problem when cooking with fire.

In Europe we are used to go to the supermarket that is usually cheaper than a small business, but here in South America is just the opposite. In this way we also support the small business, we meet a lot of local people and we try things that maybe otherwise, we would never buy.

We have a large warehouse and a refrigerator that allows us to store enough fresh food.

Fuel costs in South America: 2,428 €

The distances in South America are huge and our VW T4, (La Furiosa) is a super efficient vehicle, it spends about 8 or 9 liters of fuel every 100 km. During this year we have travelled 31,021 kilometers and we have spent 2,428 € in diesel. The price of fuel in South America is much lower than Europe.

We try to reduce fuel costs by filling the tank and the Jerry Can where diesel is cheaper. We travelled slowly, without hurry and at an average speed of 90 km / h.

But the expense depends a lot on the type of roads we use. We never give up losing by unpaved roads or routes with continuous slopes where the maximum speed can be around 20km / h.

The choice of the vehicle is very important, since consumption is the main expense in this way of life. We have met travellers whose vans consume 20 liters per 100 km.

Vehicle costs: 1,600 € 

  • Change of the 4 wheels in Paraguay, where they are much cheaper.
  • 900 Euros of parts imported from North America, since it is impossible to find spare parts for our van in South America.
  • Filters, oils and any other spare.
  • Visits to the mechanic when we can not repair or carry out the maintenance of the Furious.

Accommodation costs: 233 €

In the last 12 months of travel we have paid for accommodation a total of 27 nights in a year … the rest of the nights have been wild camping. 15 of these nights have been in an apartment in a coastal town because our state of health cried for rest and a bathroom. 😓 We paid € 82 for the 15 nights.

Of the 15 days we were in Montevideo waiting for our van to arrive we stayed part of the days at home of local people through Couchsurfing, and the rest at a lovely woman’s house through Airbnb, where we spent 100 €. The ship was delayed a week in arriving at port, unforeseen that gave rise to these 100 €

In the following map you will find all the places where we sleep, we will update as the journey progresses, but for now there are free overnight sites in the 26 countries covered with the van.

Miscellaneous expenses: 949 €

This amount includes expenses such as: tickets to natural parks, museums or other attractions, toilet paper, gas, fishing instruments, cleaning items, various tools, ferries in Argentina and Chile, restaurants or bars and different extras.

For those who hesitate 😋

We have not been eating just rice in the last 365 days. As we said earlier we love to eat and cook. We have time and that shows in the dishes we prepared.

We have visited the Iguazu Falls, the Perito Moreno, the Torres del Paine and countless wonderful natural monuments. We arrived in Ushuaia; end of the world, we have seen penguins, whales, many birds, sea lions, snakes and even a black panther in its natural habitat. We have climbed volcanoes, felt earthquakes, strolled through the desert, salares, coast, through the Andes Mountains and met many magnificent people. We have lived the life of the jungle in the middle of the Amazon, we have tried many types of fruits and vegetables of which we had never heard. We have made puénting, kayak, tirolina, cannyoning and a lot of walks through mountains, discovering lagoons and glaciers. We have driven the famous Route 40 and the Carretera Austral.

We have just lived


If you want to explore, learn and travel with your camper van around the world it is definitely worth it.

Click HERE if you want to read more about “Guide to living the Van Life” or click the YELLOW button to start the download

Have you travelled in South America? do you have any advice you woud like to share?

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