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Balancing The Global Budget: Guatemala

So it has been a wee while since we talked dollars and cents…or baht, or dirhams, or whatever currency we have been dabbling in most recently. Yikes, we haven’t posted anything since Vietnam and that was February!! But here we are again, time for a budgetary check-up and this round we are working with the mighty Guatemalan Quetzal!

Cheers to a budget friendly Guatemala!!!

For the first time on this mad journey of ours we have actually stayed in one place for a whole month, spending just over four weeks in San Pedro learning Spanish. Outside of that, we were in Antigua for a couple of days and that’s about it. Now the theory we have always bought is that daily costs should drop when you are staying in one place… let’s see how that holds up, shall we?

Hard to be humble when they name a sandwich after you… :)

As always, our goal is to see if the two of us can travel this orb on a daily budget of $100 CDN, excluding international flights. We don’t live a ‘rich and famous’ lifestyle, but we don’t really consider ourselves ultra-budget backpackers either. Let’s put it this way, outside of Europe we have rarely let our budget prevent us from staying where we want to stay, eating what we want to eat, and doing what we want to do…. if we can live that lifestyle and still stay under $100/day I am more than happy!

Anyways, let’s see how it all stacks up!

Here is a look at the Quetzals we dropped in Guatemala:

Dollar to Quetzal Conversion

$1 CDN = 7.5 Guatemalan Quetzal
1€ = 9.7 Quetzals

Guatemala Spending

Total # of Days – 35
Total Dollars Spent (CDN) – $2,472,85
Daily Average (CDN) – $70.65 (or 55€)

Total Spending To Date

Total Dollars Spent (CDN) – $44,041.34
Daily Average (CDN) – $104.37 (or 81.2€)

So the good news is that yes indeed, the theory is correct – if you stay in one place, you are generally apt to spend less money. No kidding, huh? But yes, at $70/day we are pretty happy. So let’s break it down a little further…

Accommodation - In all of Guatemala, we only actually slept in 4 different beds. In Antigua we paid $22/night (amazing breakfast inc) for our double at the Yellow House, which we can’t recommend enough. In San Pedro we paid around $6 for a night at the Hotel San Fransisco. It was, well, an alright place to stay for night or so, but we were more than willing to increase our nightly budget by an extra $3 so that we could stay at the Hotel Villa del Lago, our lakefront home for the following 2.5 weeks. The final place we slept was with our homestay familiar, which was organized through the Cooperative Spanish School. The easy price tag to put on that one would be ‘priceless’, as it was one of the most memorable places we stayed on our trip so far, but the reality is that it is truly is tough to tell you how much it cost, as our weekly homestay fee of $60US per person included all of our room and board… a pretty sweet deal from our perspective.

Tropical fruit with chocolate sauce for breakfast…yup, this is why we loved our Guatemalan homestay!

Food - This was really a mixed bag for us in Guatemala. When we had access to a kitchen, we cooked our own meals around 50% of the time. Other than that we ate out (Captain Obvious speaks again). Some of our favourite places to go in San Pedro were the Buddha Bar, Home, Hummus Ya, and D’noz. Most meals here would run us about $4-7 CDN for a pasta, burger, or salad. These were all incredible restaurants, and although they may not have been entirely Guatemalan, the quality of food was nearly always outstanding (making it even harder to cook our own food) Of course for our last two weeks we were staying with Andrea and Lorenzo and so we were treated to three meals a day, cooked with love in the home of our awesome Guatemalan family!

The Buddha Bar – one of our favourite places to eat and drink

Drink – Long gone are the days of my fifty cent Vietnamese beers, let me tell you that! Although it is still much cheaper to enjoy a beer in Guatemala than it would be back in Canada, the average lager runs a guy around 17Q or about $2.50CDN. A glass of wine is usually closer to 25Q ($3.50) (or buy the whole bottle for 90Q), and coffees will cost around 10Q ($1.50).

My favourite beer in Guatemala
Photo Courtesy of

Spanish Lessons - Our major investment while we were in Guatemala was the above mentioned Spanish lessons we took with Cooperativa Spanish School. Broken down on an hourly bases, we paid about $4.75 per person, which is ridiculous value in our opinions. We each received 20 hours of 1-on-1 instruction weekly. As we mentioned in our last post, we were thrilled with these guys, and would recommend them to anyone. In total this actually represented almost a third of our total Guatemala spending… again worth every Quetzal.

Have you spend time in Antigua or San Pedro, Guatemala? How does this compare with your spending habits? How does this compare with the rest of Guatemala? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Also a few other notes:

1) If you are the type of person that DOES like leaving comments (and really, don’t you all have something to say?!), but you want your pretty face next to your comment as opposed to that scary monster which is currently in its’ place, just go to Gravitar, and you can have photo hooked up to your email in a matter of seconds.

2) Sometimes when we are travelling, it takes us awhile to catch up on our blogs, so for the most up-to-date info, be our FB Fan… it won’t hurt a bit….

3) We just finished an interview for Travel Link Sites about out time in Morocco! Thanks tons to Kiri for giving us the opportunity! Check it out when you can right here!

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10 Responses to “Balancing The Global Budget: Guatemala”

  1. Dani | Globetrottergirls June 26, 2012 at 2:21 am #

    I think we spent about the same amount in Guatemala – I don’t remember beer being so expensive though! You mention two of our favorite restaurants in Guatemala: D’noz and Hummus Ya :) Just reading the names brings back good memories! As for other regions in Guatemala – as far as I remember, we spent about the same amount everywhere, but Antigua was a little bit more expensive than the rest of the country.
    Dani | Globetrottergirls recently posted..What I Wonder When I Wander: Why I Love Indian TV

    • Skott June 26, 2012 at 3:10 am #

      We spent a few Friday nights at D’Noz for their fish nights…. it was awesome… yeah, $2.50/beer is hideous… who are these scoundrels overcharging us poor thirsty backpackers ??

  2. Jennifer Burton June 26, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    This is a test to see if my picture will come up! p.s. thanks for the budget update (finally, ha ha, just buggin’)
    Jennifer Burton recently posted..How to apply for SSHRC

  3. Jennifer Burton June 26, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    Okay that didn’t work…..test #2 ;)
    Jennifer Burton recently posted..How to apply for SSHRC

    • Skott June 26, 2012 at 3:07 am #

      Yup – that one worked – you are officially in pictures!

  4. Chrystal McKay June 26, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Because I am cheap – which is a trait I like in myself – I stopped drinking while I travel. Not no drinking, but only 1 glass of wine a month or so. It also helps that I’m not a huge drinker to start- and ultimately this saves me many many many monies! haha I’ve never been to Guatemala or central america so I cannot compare to your budget – but for two people – that sounds good to me! Especially considering you weren’t sleeping in hammocks the entire trip and eating only rice and eggs!

    • Skott June 28, 2012 at 4:15 am #

      Yeah, we definitely don’t always choose the cheapest options when we travel… we try to be responsible with our savings (realizing it is running out faster than we would like), but we also want to make sure we are enjoying ourselves while we are here too. Congrats on the ‘cheapness’, Chrystal… it definitely takes a good deal of restraint… as far as the wine goes…well, Shawna would have left me in a boat somewhere ages ago if she didn’t permit herself a couple glasses of wine per week!

  5. Erica June 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Oh man – I feel like a debbie downer with how much we spent. We averaged $35/day in Guatemala. :X

    • Skott June 28, 2012 at 4:09 am #

      Hey Erica – don’t feel that way at all. We are fully aware that we are not the cheapest travellers out there, and recognize that everyone has their own budgets that they work within. The one thing that your comment did make me realize is that I did not include our spending at the Spanish School which actually represented nearly one third of our entire spending in the country. (I just added that info to the blog above). If you take that out of the equation we would have spent around $49/day, for what it is worth. Thanks, as always, for reading!!!

  6. Cloud August 6, 2012 at 3:45 am #

    Feeling happy to see Luis face as your teacher too. Bring back all those memories. (=

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