Keeping a skinny budget in a skinny country: Chile

If you find yourself in Chile, on the South American circuit between Machu Picchu and Buenos Aires, you’ve already gotten past the major hurdle—the airfare to Chile. Need some ideas for getting more bang for your peso while you’re there?

Stay a while: Rent an apartment, and get the best of both worlds—get a better feel for the area and save money. In the capital city of Santiago, you’ll only pay about US$300-400/month. A house on the beach in El Quisco rents out for US$30-$60/night (low season/high season)—notice the extra pesos in your pocket when you split it among a group of friends and cook at home.

Befriend nature: Go rustic when you’re somewhere like Torres del Paine, a national park that just begs to be hiked. Thankfully, the decent number of campsites and refugios (rustic shelters) offer cheap and close-to-the-earth alternatives to hotels. At Las Torres, camping goes for US$6 (add a few more dollars to rent equipment) and the refugio is US$30 (full board), while the hostería is a whopping US$255.

Take the slow road: It’s a long country; bus it, when you have the time. If you compare options from Santiago to Punta Arenas, taking the ferry (from Puerto Montt) and flying (from Santiago) are about the same price, while taking the bus is much cheaper.

Remind them you’re a foreigner: Lucky you! As a foreign traveler you waive the 19% IVA tax on hotels. Just show them your passport and pay with foreign currency or a credit card.

But think like a Chilean: Book internal flights like a native Chilean would—through LAN’s Chilean website, instead of the US version. For example: rather than paying US$742 for a round-trip Santiago-Punta Arenas flight, you get it for US$113! And even when the ticket category is considered the same on both websites (“Flexible”), the ticket is a heck of a lot cheaper (US$406 instead of US$742).

Posted by | Comments (1)  | November 26, 2008
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

One Response to “Keeping a skinny budget in a skinny country: Chile”

  1. chilipari Says:

    Je crois que c’est ce que j’ai vu aussi.