Posts Tagged ‘saving’

To get a better understanding of how much money we’re spending on the road, Lisa created a spreadsheet, breaking out our daily expenses.  We’re aiming for $100 (US) a day, ($50/person), which is very doable, especially in some countries like Bolivia & Peru.  However, there will be other countries, like Argentina & Chile, that will be more challenging if we’re not careful.  We know that at times we’ll be over budget & other times under, so things should even themselves out in the end.

We knew before entering Argentina that it would be one of the most expensive countries on our itinerary & it doesn’t help that we were there for almost 3 months!


Daily Accommodation Average: $20 per day

It’d be nice to say that we stayed exclusively in hostels during our time in Argentina.  However, Corey still had a few crappy days in Cordoba, so we did spend 4 nights in a hotel.  I realize that doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but at $94 per night, that’s a pretty big hit to the accommodation expenses, especially considering that the average cost per night in northern AR is about $24 per bed.  Luckily, we saved a ton during our stay in San Rafael, since we received free accommodation in exchange for our help.  Six weeks of no fees for room & board was no doubt one of the main contributors to remaining under budget.

DSC_2426   DSC_2433

Daily Food Average: $38 per day

Food is expensive in Argentina!  It was very shocking to go from the cheap street food in Bolivia to the pricey menus of Argentina.  Granted, you can find “menu del dias” all over the place, but you do have to be choosy, as some just aren’t very tasty.  I think we’ve had 4 meals of the day that were actually good.  Usually though, it’s pretty gross & you’d be better off going grocery shopping & cooking your own meals.  Which, we finally started doing in Bariloche, the first Patagonian city in Argentina.  Patagonia is just too touristy to eat out every breakfast, lunch & dinner.

I attempted to wake up for the free breakfasts wherever we happened to be staying & we got into a habit of pricing out all eateries if we did decide to eat out.  That being said, we did regress & fall back into eating out often by the time we ended up in El Calafate!

Daily Transportation Average: $15 per day

Another pricey thing in this country is transportation.  Fifteen bucks a day doesn’t sound too bad for transportation, but when you compare the cost for long distance bus tickets in Bolivia versus Argentina, you’ll see that the fares are outrageous!

18 hour bus ride in Bolivia = $24 per ticket

18 hour bus ride in Argentina = $140 per ticket

The most expensive bus ticket was from Esquel to El Calafate, a 26 hour bus ride that cost us a total of $322!  We learned very early on that taxis aren’t much better.  Like most cities in the States, you’re better off taking a city bus.  You might have to ride around for a bit longer, but you’ll be saving a decent chunk of cash.

Daily Entertainment Average: $12 per day

There’s so much to see & do in every part of this beautiful country.  We didn’t even come close to scrapping the surface in terms of site seeing.  There were a lot of things that we missed out on because you have to go through a tour company in order to experience some of the fun touristy activities.

Goat counting Sheep


We’re very happy that we spent money on the Glacier tour & white water rafting in San Rafael.  However, there were times, like the Cachi tour, where it seemed like a waste of money.  Had we gone in with 2 other travelers & rented a car, we could’ve done the same thing on our own, saved some money & still gotten some great pictures!

In the end, we were in Argentina for 78 days & spent a total of $7,296, which averaged out to $94 per day.  It’s great to know that we came in just under budget, but we know now that we could’ve spent even less had we cooked more often.  Hopefully, we learned enough in AR to improve our Chile budget!


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Our favorite independent travel website, BootsnAll, has a great travel forum with all sorts of advice for those planning to travel. 

Recently, one of the members posted this:

What’s the hardest part of planning your round the world trip?

It’s a good question.  It’s one that we have to deal with on a monthly, weekly & even daily basis.  When you’re planning something this big your life tends to turn into a questionnaire:

  • Do we really need that extra camera lens?
  • Should we really be eating out again?
  • Can we wait to see that movie on Netflix?
  • Do we really need to get that car part fixed? 
    (Yes, breaks are important!)
  • If you buy those shoes will they come on the trip? 
    If not, why do you need them? (Lisa?)
  • If you already have 300+ books, do you really need more?  (Corey?)

You get the idea.  Every single day we have the choice to spend or to save.  Whether it’s in the morning & we decide to make lunch or at the grocery store wanting to purchase something that you know you’re picky-self probably won’t like.  Should I start cutting Corey’s hair too?

haircut by me

Last weekend, we had no choice.  The money needed to be spent.  The Escape not only needed new rear breaks (which we suspected), but the entire break system had to be redone!  You don’t even want to know how much that set us back.  On top of that we’re still paying off a hospital visit from last summer.  We’ve been in a good saving stride for more than a year now, so we’re not that surprised to have a set back.  (In case you were wondering, luck has never truly been on our side.) 

So, as you may have guessed, we’re pushing the trip back.  Don’t worry, it’s not a big push.  The departure date has changed from August 31, 2012 to October 15, 2012.

our reminder to remain focused!

So, what’s the hardest part of planning the trip?  The answer to that question 4 years ago would’ve been saving.  To say we were awful at it would be an understatement.  The answer to that question now is patience.  To have the trip so close, but still have to deal with rude, ignorant, arrogant, pompous people on daily basis has been a struggle.  We were hoping that this last leg of the race would be a breeze, but in fact, it’s been the most challenging yet!

The planning/saving + patience has been one large HUGE GYNORMOUS test!  After 4+ years, I think we’re finally passing!  Yeah, it’s probably a B+, but there’s always room for improvement!  As long as we stay in the right mindset, we’ll be able to get out of here by October.  Maybe you guys could do us a favor & wish us luck(?) . . . like I said, it’s never really been on our side!

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So, Corey decided to look back on the last year and see just how far we’ve come in terms of saving.  Turns out, we’re doing better than we thought!  In 2010 we were able to save less than a 1/4 of the money we planned to save.  It seems as though we really didn’t start saving until March and it doesn’t help that we took a trip to Raleigh for the holidays.  In the last 6 months alone we’ve been able save that same amount.  At this point we are past the halfway mark, which means that if we keep up this pace (knock on/touch wood), we’ll actually be over our initial goal for this big trip! 

International Money Pile in Cash and Coins
Image by epSos.de via Flickr


We’ve also been going through our gear and we’ve crossed most of the big-ticket items off our list.  We got our tent last night from REI!  We’re hoping to do a test run in the next couple of days.  Thank goodness REI has a great return policy, so if it’s not the perfect fit for us, we can always exchange it for another one.  Here’s to hoping that we made the right choice.  Anyone have any feedback on the Big Agnus Copper Spur UL2?

Anyway, some of the remaining big-ticket items will be coming to us as Christmas presents from family members or each other.  We found our sleeping bags which Corey’s parents have graciously offered to get us.  Corey’s got his eyes on the REI Halo +25 & I fell in love with Marmot’s Ouray +0 (I get cold VERY easily).  I’ll probably get Corey his Kindle for Christmas & we still need to invest in an external hard drive.  We’ll need a netbook/tablet & travel clothes (all of which we won’t purchase until we’re about 2-3 months away from our trip), camera accessories, toiletries and other small miscellaneous items (like duct tape,  zip ties, sunscreen, bug spray, etc).

Some of you may have noticed that our gear list has grown a bit & it’s due to the decision to make camping a bigger part of the trip.  The idea is that the more we camp, the more money we’ll save on the road and the longer we’ll be able to travel.  That’s our theory anyway . . . we’ll see what happens!

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Today Lisa and I went through our budget for the third time.  Over the past few weeks, we’ve been re-examining the life we are living in relation to the amount of money we’re trying to save.  As Lisa has written in past blogs, a change definitely needed to be made. 

We successfully changed our cell phone service at a slight savings.  Anything is better than nothing.  Unfortunately, terminating our Direct TV wasn’t as successful.  Apparently the last time that THEIR receiver malfunctioned and was replaced, we were put back under contract for another year.  I know it’s garbage, but what are you going to do?  It made more sense to gut our programming package then pay the outrageous early termination fee.  We are saving quite a bit, but not as much as we were originally hoping. 

On my end, I’ve tried to cut back on my own habits, mainly Endorush (an energy drink) and sweets (via the practice of Lent).  For those of you who have never heard of Endorush its bar none the best source of legal energy ever made.  Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive and in light of the other changes that we were making, it didn’t seem right to continue spending the ridiculous amount that I was spending on it.  So it is back to coffee.  It’s not the same but I think I’ll live.  Besides, I don’t think I’ll be able to find Endorush for sale in Machu Picchu.  Although Lent is over, we both plan to limit sweets.

Overall, with increases of pay at work and the few changes that we have made we should be able to save more now.  I’m sure we’ll have bumps in the road and I’m sure more ways to save will come to mind.  We think it’s important to constantly assess what we are spending money on and where we can cut costs.  We’re not perfect but we’re doing our best to perfect our saving capabilities.

After doing the math we found that we’re saving $330 more/month!

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It’s not like this is the first time we’ve ever traveled anywhere, but it is the first time that we were actively looking for ways to improve our travel style.  I decided to do a test drive with both my main pack & my day pack, while Corey just did a test drive with his daypack.  We’re happy to report that we love all three items so far, but it was also a small trip!  But, here are the top 5 things we took away from our trip:

1 – Pack More Efficiently:  For starters, we were only in Raleigh for 13 days & we both overpacked!  We each took 1 to many pairs of shoes (Lisa: 3 & Corey: 2), too many books (Lisa: 4, Corey: 6 – though I did read 4 books, 3 of them were my mom’s & Corey also read 3), I took a bunch of nice clothes (1 set was worn to church) & Corey took way too many t-shirts.  We also ended up bringing our own bodywash, but my parents provided that for us.  I can only imagine all the weight that this extra stuff added to our load!   

2 – Patience:  Without a doubt we always end up near the screaming kid or farting man or nosey chick on our flights.  It’s something we have come to terms with, however, that doesn’t make our travel days very enjoyable.  And, it always seems to happen at the beginning of our trip, because the 2 flights from Raleigh back to Milwaukee were hassel-free.  Anyway, from MKE to EWR (Newark) I had the excited 4-year-old kicking my seat, while Corey had the farting man in front of him & from EWR to RDU we both had kicking kids behind us.  Another 4-year-old behind Corey & then mom was behind me with an infant on her lap, while dad was across the aisle yelling at his wife to control the kids. So not cool!  

3 – Stick to the Budget:  We actually get a silver star this year, but that’s only when you compare it to how badly we did last year!   We went to Raleigh in 2009 where we had a crazy shopping spree, buying jeans, shirts, movies (dvds & theater) & books.  To top it off we hit all of my favorite restaurants!  We were absolutely ridiculous!  This year we still went to my favorite restaurants, bought 4 books (2 each) & saw 5 movies (How do you Know, True Grit, The Fighter, Black Swan & Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows for the 3rd time), but paid for 3; my parents paid for the other 2.  I realize that some people would still see this as a lot, but besides all the eating out, this is what we enjoy doing while we’re home, so it just makes sense to do the same with our family during the holidays.

4 – Take (More) Pictures:  For anyone who doesn’t know, I majored in photography & I used to be one of those people who brought my camera with me everywhere. . . I mean that, EVERYWHERE!  So, I brought my camera with me & had intentions of keeping it on my person during our trip.  But, I took zero pictures.  You read that right: zip, nada, zilch!  I’m so angry with myself & this is definitely something we both need to work on considering that we plan to bring 2 cameras (1 nice, 1 point & shoot) for the big trip.  Photo score for this trip: F.

5 – Love Each Day: While we weren’t watching movies, playing video games or reading, we were enjoying each other’s company.  It sucks that we only get to see each other once a year & I think it’s important to enjoy the little things because our time together is so short.  We all had a great time & I think one could argue that there’s never enough time, so A++ for not taking it for granted!  Too bad we don’t have teleporters like the Jetsons!  

Now, we have a better idea of what to expect for our next trip.  We’ll be putting more effort into packing less & sticking to the budget, while packing an extra case of patience for the crazies we will inevitably encounter while on the road.  We hope that everyone had a Happy New Year and that this next year brings joy & happiness!

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The original Virgin Mobile logo.

Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure for those of you keeping up with the blog you’ve noticed that we haven’t posted anything in the past few weeks.  There’s really nothing new going on, however we figured out another way to save some money.  So, we thought we’d share it with you!

We’ve had a shared family plan with Verizon Wireless for a bit over 3 years now.  For 2 people who talk to very few people & never text we decided it was time to make a change.  Just to give you guys an idea of how little we use our phones: I talk to my parents once a week for about 1.5 hours & some phone calls here & there to Lisa (our best buddy) & Corey talks to his parents, his tile boss & sometimes his brother.  For whatever reason, we believe shadiness, our contracts end at 2 different times: mine in January & his in March even though we joined our plans in September.  After doing some research we found that it makes the most sense to cancel each of our contracts on the day they expire & switch to a non-contract plan.  The best one we’ve found so far is Virgin Mobile @ $25/month for 300 talking minutes + unlimited texting, internet, etc.  So, we’ll go from $90/month down to $50/month & unless someone knows of a better deal I think this is the one we’re gonna go with.  Do any of you have Virgin Mobile?  If so, do you like it or do you have a better suggestion?  We’d love to hear what you guys think!

As we’ve stated in an earlier post we will be cutting out Direct TV once basketball season is over & we might start looking for a cheaper internet provider, too.  That’s all for now. . . hope everyone’s having a splendid weekend!

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Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

Image via Wikipedia


For the first time in the extensive history of Wallagrams, I , Corey Waller, am contributing to our infamous pre-travel blog.  I have to say that I’m a little apprehensive in this first post because it has been a  long time since I’ve thoughtfully written anything of any real substance.  I guess the best way to introduce myself is to tell you all of my aspirations, goals, probably most importantly, my role in working towards our dream trip around the world. My travel history is very short and not very exciting.  I have never been out of the country and have only spent time in a handful of states other than Wisconsin.  I never really even thought about going abroad until after high school when my interest in global history and current events around the world took off.  It was at that point that I really felt a strong desire to see the rest of the world.  I initially wanted to go to all the usual places, Western Europe and maybe go on an African safari, but the more I learned about the rest of world and the more I watched others on TV, mainly Anthony Bourdain, the more I have wanted to see the world that most do not see. 

Once Lisa and I got married, our one and only goal was to save money to take a year-long trip to see the world.  However, as Lisa has already articulated saving money isn’t the easiest action.  What she has failed to mention is how hard it can be for people to earn enough money to make saving a sufficient amount plausible.  My wife reads a ridiculous amount of other travel blogs in her spare time.  I know it helps her focus on travel and learn more about extended world travel.  However, sometimes it does get her down that these people are out on the road and we  are still in the infant stages of saving.  She was able to discern a couple of common traits that most of these travelers had.  Most seemed to be in their early to mid thirties and had been saving for years.  The younger ones seemed to either come from money or had high paying jobs that allowed them to expedient the saving process (not all, but most).  Unfortunately for us,  we are in our mid twenties, we don’t come from money, and we don’t nessacarily have what you would call high paying jobs.  That, however, doesn’t make things impossible and hopeless. 

Once we decided to get engaged and several months later, get married, I knew it was to time for my focus to change into making enough to provide for my new wife and our future goals.  I worked in a small factory a year plus before our engagement.  After not much progress on the new job hunt, I decided to give them a try again.  They welcomed me back with open arms and put me on the fast-tract to advancement.  I’m not saying that my work at the factory is hard compared to other industries, but I’ve worked very hard at my job from day one.  If there is one attribute that my parents and grandparents instilled in me, it was being a hard worker.  Since starting up again at the factory I’ve received several raises and eventually a promotion to assistant foreman.  The great thing about this factory, aside from their support of me, has been the fact that we work 4 10-hour days.  This gave me two options, a long 3 day weekend or an opportunity to make more money on the weekend.  It was a no brainer, I would make more money. 

Some years ago, I started to help out our neighbor Al and his tile setting business.  My brother started out with Al, but became somewhat unreliable, so I started working as a helper for Al.  Over the next 6 years, Al graciously taught me pretty much everything that there is to know about setting tile.  I started off simply mixing mud and making cuts.  Now I have to ability and the confidence to set tile and work my own jobs.  I actually just finished off my first stand up shower last weekend and was quite surprised at how well it turned out.  All this thanks to Al’s tutelage. Sometimes its been tasking working 11, 13, 17 days in  row at time, but in the end it will all the worth it when we’re on the plane heading to our first destination.  I think with our work ethics and research/planning that we are definitely on the right track.   

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