We spent 38 days in Colombia with 28 of those days spent living in Medellin. We tracked all of our expenses in Colombia down to the most minor of expenses like tips and laundry in order to show how affordable travel can be. This is meant to serve as inspiration for anyone hoping to sustain long-term travel and is stuck under the preconception that travel is “too expensive”.
In Colombia we went on the Lost City Trek which was a large expense but well worth the money. On top of that, the food in Medellin was phenomenal – we couldn’t stop going out to eat! We ate like kings and queens and still kept our budget at a reasonable level. While we have a budget, it sure didn’t feel like we were living by one in Colombia.
Below we will show the breakdown of our expenses based on category and then dive into each expense category in more detail to explain what we spent our money on.
How Much Did We Spend in Colombia?
Total Spent in Colombia: $3,583.04
This was the amount we spent over 38 days in Colombia between two people. If we break this down further, we spent $94.29 per day between the two of us or $47.15 per person each day in Colombia. In other words, in 38 days we spent $1791.52 each.
We kept this budget while living an active lifestyle, doing plenty of tourist excursions and eating out way more than we probably should have. It also included yoga classes, private salsa dance lessons, and our gym membership. We even added in our cell phone bill to make this number as reliable as possible.
The majority of our expenses came from three categories: Sightseeing, Meals, and Lodging. Using points that we had racked up by travel hacking, we were able to keep our transportation costs very low. Normally, our grocery bill will be a larger percentage but we at a lot of meals out during our time in Colombia because the food was so good and very affordable.
Starting with the most expensive category and working our way down, we will dive deeper into the costs of each category.
Expenses in Colombia: Lodge (27% of Total, $959.09)
Our largest expense was the lodging which is generally the case. Our largest lodging expense was our Airbnb in Laureles, a nice neighborhood in Medellin, which we stayed at for 28 days and cost us $747.53. This comes out $26.70 per day which is a pretty great price. We were able to get such a great rate because on rentals 28 days or longer you can get monthly discounts of up to 40-50% off. This is one of the best ways we are able to save money while we travel.
The rest of the lodging expenses were: 3 nights in a nice boutique hotel in Santa Marta called Casa Mia (even had a rooftop pool), 2 nights in a hostel in Cartagena called Maloka Boutique Hostel, and one night in an Airbnb in Bogota. These accounted for $211.56 with an average of $35.26 per night.
If you’re checking my math that’s only 34 nights – the other four we spent camping on the Lost City Trek.
Expenses in Colombia: Meals (26% of Total, $914.97)
We went a bit crazy in Colombia… we ate out at restaurants usually at least once every day. Normally we keep it to around 4 times a week (not that we regulate this) because we cook a lot of meals at home. Not only is this cheaper and usually healthier, but it’s fun because we try to make local dishes after taking a cooking class.
We were able to avoid crazy expensive meals but the reason meals accounted for such a high percentage is we have 66 different expense entries from meals alone. The highest by far was $55.98 which was at a celebration with friends at a nice place. Since I’m writing this months after we left Colombia, I can tell you in the future we do a bit better in this category.
Expenses in Colombia: Sightseeing (23% of Total, $835.28)
Sightseeing is a large category in Colombia due to the Lost City Trek. We spent $659.44 on the Lost City Trek for the 2 of us. The trek was 4 days and included all of our meals, bunk beds in the camps, and two great guides. While the experience was incredible and 100% worth the money, it’s a bit more than we would normally spend in 4 days. If you would like to see a video of our experience with the Lost City Trek, check it out here.
The rest of our sightseeing budget included a cooking class for $64.52, a tour to the rock of Guatapé for $71.20, and a tip for our guide on the free walking tour in Medellin for $15.55 (all split between the two of us). We also went to see El Rey León (The Lion King) in Medellin for a whopping $8.40 for the two of us. The rest of our sightseeing was mostly DIY including take the metro or Ubers so most of that was included in Transportation.
Expenses in Colombia: Transportation (10% of Total, $340.26)
This is the category that might shock some people and why we are able to meet our budget. Our transportation expenses include flights from the US to Colombia and flights from Cartagena to Medellin. It includes our bus to and from Santa Marta to Cartagena and all of our metro fares and Uber rides while we were in the country. All of that fits into the $340.26 for the both of us.
Our largest expense in transportation for Colombia was our round trip bus ticket from Cartagena to Santa Marta at $64.68. We decided to go with a private service rather than the public buses because we had heard that they can be quite dangerous and it was a 4 hour ride. Therefore, our roundtrip was way more expensive than if we had taken the public bus.
Our next two largest expenses were our flights. From New York to Cartagena we paid $50.80 on taxes and fees (it was an award flight – if you want to start earning crazy cheap flights, check out our article here) and from Cartagena to Medellin we paid $55.07 for the two of us because flights within Colombia are just very affordable. We also paid $20.22 and $23.33 for taxis to and from the airport in Medellin. The rest of our expenses were Uber rides which usually cost between 2 and 5 dollars per trip.
Expenses in Colombia: Groceries (6% of Total, $223.84)
Groceries in Colombia were very affordable so for our 28 days in Medellin we bought a good amount of groceries. We bought a lot of fruit and vegetables which were delicious in Colombia. After our cooking class, we made traditional dishes like patacones very often which was a lot of fun.
Expenses in Colombia: Fitness (4% of Total, $149.28)
While we were in Medellin, we signed up for 4 yoga classes at $55.98, 4 private salsa dance lessons at $62.20, and a 2 week gym membership at $31.10 for the both of us. We highly value our fitness and always try to find ways to fit in our exercise, especially in fun cultural ways like taking salsa dance lessons.
Expenses in Colombia: Etc. (4% of Total, $160.33)
The only item in this category is our phone bill which came in at $160.33 for the both of us. We have a plan with Google Fi which allows us to have service in over 170 countries for the cost of a normal phone plan. It is so much more convenient than having to find a local SIM card in every country we travel to like the old days.
Our Expenses in Colombia in Review