Category Archives: Budget

Muy Malo: Part II

After all that good news, what possibly could go wrong? What possibly could stop us from getting the hell out of Panama City after 20 long, sweaty, days? Well, it turns out, its long story.

We spent 3 sweltering days getting the truck ready, working to build the bed and to process the title paperwork. Let us be the first to say there was a lot of waiting around for the paperwork. All we wanted was to take Pablo for a spin on the weekend and to experience something more then just city in this country. Hell, we hadn’t even been to the canal yet!

In typical Panama fashion, the title and registration were not ready in time for the weekend. Honestly, the amount of trees, no wait, forests, that the bureaucracy in Panama requires to complete anything official…….but we digress. After some quick thinking our friends drew us up an authorization to drive around under their registration over the weekend. By mid afternoon on Saturday we were on route, our first taste of the canal, of the PanAmerican highway and of freedom! We cannot describe the exhilaration!

Pablo was purring down the highway, like a satisfied kitten, then 1 hour outside the city there was instantly a bad sound and we just as instantly overheated and shut down. Only after cooling down and refilling the radiator did we see one of the cooling lines into the turbo had popped. Not an exciting thing to see but after attempting a slow drive back into the city, our tails between our legs, we had to get a tow back. We might add that our two truck driver was literally insane.


Sunday AM, we get the call, the truck is ready. Once again, we are so excited, Pablo sounds good, looks good, and rides smooth. Lets get the hell out of this city! But Jefe Pablo, he really just wants to go where he wants to fucking go. You can’t make this guy do anything that he doesn’t want to do. He is el Patron after all, we are simply the drivers. We only made is 15 minutes this time before he started heating up and this time it was really no bueno. The mechanics determined that we have a serious issue – the engine had warped during the overheating.


So, here we are 20 days later. We have a brand new (refurbished) engine, and a deep seemingly endless hole in our budget. A new engine wasn’t exactly in the contingency fund. We are choosing to look at the positive side of things however. What if the engine had blown in Honduras? What if Procars wasn’t a phone call away? What if the motor blew when Brett returned back to Panama and not immediately before? There are a lot of good luck snippets in our bad luck story.


Brett flew back to Canada for 20 days, I was also working on export paperwork which would take two weeks, so this was the most opportune moment for this most unfortunate event. We are happy to report that as of April 30th – we are reunited in Panama and have both successfully left Panama City in Pablo.

Paperwork nightmare continues, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Now we have 2 weeks and a great ride to travel and explore Panama for real. Considering we have only experienced Panama City and the Ecolodge in Coronado, we think this forced adventure is a great turn of events so that we learn to fully appreciate the beauty the country has to offer.

So cheers to our first night in our humble abode, and cheers to two weeks of exploration!





Colombia: Budget Recap

Total Days in Colombia: 42

Overall we were very close to being on budget, only $109 over for 42 days. As you can see in the break down below, we went a little too crazy on food and beer and underestimated transportation costs entirely.

Buses are very expensive in Colombia, and so is drinking. An over night bus can hit anywhere from 90000COP to 110000COP (between $35 -$50 CDN), which means as a couple, if we travel via bus there are days when our entire budget is eaten up by transit alone. Beers are typically $1.50 – $3CDN, but cocktails or anything fancy can get crazy. We’d recommend buying only the local rum and Aquardiente from a tienda rather then cocktails from a bar.

Food was also more expensive than we predicted, if you stick to cooking and only buying groceries from a local tienda or small market you can save tons. But in 2016, it seems as if even the comida typical (rice, meat, platain) can run over $10000 COP ($5 CDN). Again, we tended to share most plates as one of us is a very tiny eater and we can get away with it.

We were lucky in lodging as we had a very good deal from our friends in Medellin for 2 weeks, but if you are using this info for your own budgeting, you can find the same prices if you looked for dorms in the city, they might be even cheaper depending on season.

We did not include medicine, airplane tickets, most souvenir shopping or most adventure sports (paragliding, rafting etc) into our budget. These are considered one time expenses.

# Days Food / Beer Lodging Transport Spending / Activity Per Diem for 2 Total
 Budget  42  $15.00  $30.00  $5.00  $20.00  $70.00  $2940.0
Actual  42 $25.47 $16.79 $13.19 $16.41 $72.60 $3,049.25

Concrete Trip Budget

Middle of January, and the plot of our adventure is beginning to materialize into something concrete. Its not so much a distant dream anymore, but reality.

We are slowly crossing things off our list: gear is being purchased and wrangled (Spring suits from Rip Curl, hammocks, fancy new Sony Alpha 7 Mirrorless Camera);  shutting down and turning off all the bills that are necessary in Canada but not internationally; working on what exactly is required for vehicle imports…

Most excitingly, at least for me as I am a giant nerd, I put together an in-depth and hopefully somewhat accurate 6 month budget. Thanks to LifeRemotely (again) for providing the format for this budget.


FOOD COSTS:  budgeted for one meal at a local restaurant per day, and either cooking or eating from street stalls for the other meals. Obviously this budget includes beer. That’s vital.

LODGING: This budget is based off a private room in a hostel (the days of me staying in noisy, smelly, cramped dorms is quickly passing).We have decided not to lug a tent around either but will each be bringing a lightweight hammock when we decide to cheapout on lodging or that we don’t want to snuggle. We are also expecting that after purchase of our fancy new truck we will be able to camp out even more frequently and have less chance of getting mugged by tent robbers.

TRANSPORT: Extremely difficult to budget based around fluctuating diesel prices, unknown KMs driven per day, and the fact that we have no clue what sort of mileage our vehicle will have. I seriously guesstimated based on length of stay within the country and current fuel prices. For example, we plan to drive very quickly through Belize (its un-belizeably expensive!), so our daily transport cost would be quite high.

SPENDING/ACTIVITY: Are we renting surf boards? Did we run out of sunscreen? What about that crazy thing up on that mountain that we want to jump off?!  On the days we drive, we likely will save money on activities and vice-versa.

Basic plan is to take out required cash for the following 2 weeks, and function within that total which will allow for daily fluctuations between spending more from one category and less in another. At the end of the 2 weeks if we are over budget then we tighten our belts, eat only rice and beans and sleep in a cardboard box with a street dog for the next budget period.

Unfortunately we have to continue paying absurd monthly costs for our basic health coverage here in BC. I still find it insane that as Canadians we pay for coverage in this province. But be warned, although you can suspend your monthly MSP payments it could drastically affect your travel insurance if you discontinue .

The planning continues!