Howdy folks, this is Paula from AffordAnything.org.

(Kevin’s Note: If you remember, Paula was the inspiration for Get Married for College Money and is one of my favorite bloggers. Check out this great guest post, and then I highly recommend you check out her blog!)

In honor of my first guest post at Thousandaire, I started brainstorming a list of all the things you can do with $1,000:

  • Buy 76 bags of cat litter at CostCo
  • Dye your hair 9 times at a fancy salon
  • Put a down payment on a $2,900 Gucci 1973 handbag with double-G detail
  • Travel in South America for a month

Wait … what was that last bulletpoint? You can travel in South America for a month as a (one) thousandaire?

Travel Is Cheaper Than You Think

Yep, you can certainly travel Central or South America for $1,000 for a month, and the bulk of that cost will be your airfare. Stay longer, and monthly average will be far lower.

Of course, this depends on a few key factors: where you go, what you do, and how quickly you move. If you insist on staying in 4-star air-conditioned hotels, you’ll pay dearly for it.

Just for fun, I’m going to design a sample itinerary that allows you visit four sites in another country: two cities, one beach and one mountain valley.

Let’s take a look at what this could cost.

Airfare: According to the Spirit Airlines website, a round-trip flight from Atlanta, GA to Armenia, Colombia, departing Sept. 27 and returning Oct. 28, will cost $458. Kevin’s Note: Make sure you do your research on Spirit Airlines before you book on that airline.
Visa: Free for U.S. citizens.
Lifestyle: Since for the sake of this exercise I’m trying to show how you can travel for $1,000 a month, let’s assume you sleep in shared dormitories at the most economical hostels. Let’s also assume you eat at small cafes, stands, or buy groceries to cook at your hostel. Let’s also assume you don’t get drunk or scuba-dive (definitely not at the same time).

Itinerary:
Your flight arrives in Armenia, a mountain town world-renowned for its fields of coffee. You catch a taxi to a hostel for your first night. (The Lonely Planet website doesn’t list Armenia hostels, so let’s take the average of the two Cali hostels – listed in the next section – and budget for $7 a night).

You grab a few empanadas and arrepas from a street cart; it’s the best-tasting South American cuisine you’ve ever tried, and it’s $2. You don’t trust the local drinking water, so you buy a bottle for $1, bringing your dinner total to $3.

You spend two nights there, hiking in the hills. The third morning you catch a bus to Cali. (Bus ticket prices vary widely; let’s assume $20 per one-way ticket).

Cali is the second-largest city in Colombia, and it’s brimming with Spanish-style plazas, colorful neighborhoods and a winding, peaceful river (all free things to check out). You spend 10 days there, taking in all the sites.

The Hostel Mochileros in Cali, Colombia starts at $5 per night for a room that you share with other travelers, according to Lonely Planet. Photos on the website show a lush garden surrounding a basic building.

Thousandaire in South AmericaOr you could upgrade to the Sunflower Pacific Hostel, at $9 per night, which is “comfortable, well-lit, well-ventilated … clean and safe” and within walking distance to parks and restaurants, according to LP.

After 10 days, you hop on a bus over to Colombia’s third largest city, Medellin.

In Medellin, you stay at Arcadia Hostel for $9 per night, another dormitory-style hostel where, according to LP, all the furniture is “brand spanking new.”

You spend one week there, mostly doing free cultural tours: photographing the cathedrals, checking out the sports arena, climbing the hills to see the skyline, admiring the well-sculpted monuments in the city center, sipping coffee in cafes and people-watching on park benches.

Two weeks in cities has you itching for the outdoors, so you spend your third week in Taganga, Colombia, a beautiful beach town bordering the Caribbean waters. You stay at Chez Moi, a spacious hostel within walking distance of the beach, where you share a room with 3 other travelers.

You spend a week snorkeling, reading, tanning and Barbequing in the Chez Moi backyard before you catch a bus back to Armenia for one last night before you fly home. Chez Moi costs $8 per night including wi-fi, according to LP.

Total Costs?

Flight = $458
Accommodation:

  • Armenia = $7 x 3 nights = $21
  • Cali = $5 x 10 nights = $50
  • Medellin = $9 x 7 nights = $63
  • Taganga = $8 x 7 nights = $56

Total Accommodation = $190
Food = $10/day x 27 days = $270
Bus rides = $20/one-way ticket x 4 tickets = $80
Total: $992

There you have it … a 27-day trip itinerary for less than $1,000.

Of course, this is not a realistic itinerary. There’s no wiggle room. What if one of the hostels is booked, and you need to stay somewhere that charges an astronomical $15 or $20 per night? What if you meet some cool new friends and they invite you to a more expensive dinner? What if you decide you want to pay admission to the Cali Zoo or watch a soccer match?

Then again, around 50% of your expenses are for airfare. Stay longer and your monthly expense average plummets. (Why do you think I traveled for 2.5 years without coming home?)

I don’t advocate strictly following this itinerary, but I designed it to show how travel is cheaper than you realize.

Look at your accommodation: $190 for the entire month. Assume you want to upgrade and pay double: I bet $380 is lower than your rent or mortgage at home. (Don’t forget, that price includes all utilities.)

In fact, if you’re earning passive income in the U.S. or if you’re working from your laptop and getting paid in U.S. dollars, you could actually SAVE money by traveling overseas. (Just make sure to shell out for a top-of-the-line 3G or 4G wireless card. It stinks to rely on Third World wi-fi.)

So don’t be shy: hop on a plane to a nation with a low cost of living. If you only have a thousand, you’ll still have a grand ol’ time.

Guest Post from Paula at AffordAnything.org.