by Jennifer A. Roberts
There are few countries in the world that captivate visitors like Guatemala. Ask anyone who has visited this largely untouched nation in Central America what they loved most about their time there, and the answer is likely to be the people and culture. Many backpackers and budget travelers also love Guatemala because it is so easy to travel on the cheap. For those interested in visiting this quaint and quiet country, here are some tips for making your money go far in this relatively inexpensive place.
Accommodations in Guatemala can be very reasonable. A shared room in a hostel can be found for $5-15, and a budget hotel room can be had for under $20. Instead of staying in a hostel, you can sometimes find less expensive options if you stick to hospedajes, local Guatemalan guest houses. Always shop around the neighborhood, though, as you are likely to find a better deal just a few doors down from any hostel, hotel, or hospedajes. Most places will also offer you a discount for staying more than one night. If you are interested in other options, there are home stay programs, volunteer opportunities, and other accommodations that can cost even less.
Dining out in Guatemala is also very inexpensive. The least expensive eateries are called comedores, where you can get a two- or three-course meal for about $3. By ordering from the menu del dia, basically the daily special, you can save even more. Touristy restaurants will charge much more for European-style entrees, so you are better off eating where and what the locals eat. Remember to buy snacks of fresh fruits and veggies at the local markets and stalls to take with you on your daily adventures, saving you from the tourist-trap vendors in popular areas. Always ask for the prices from several vendors before purchasing to avoid being overcharged.
Getting around in Guatemala is cheap, too. Instead of opting for more expensive choices, take the las camionetas, or chicken buses. These are old school buses from North America that have been re-purposed, and they offer a great way to get from city to city, often for just a few dollars. Taxis are prevalent in larger cities and available at reasonable rates.
While the cost of activities will vary depending on a number of factors, it’s still relatively inexpensive compared to other destinations. With options ranging between $10-$30 for popular activities in Antigua, Tikal, Semuc Champey, and other attractions, there is something for every budget. There are also walking tours available in most major cities, and some of these are even free, making them a great and inexpensive way to explore the city while learning about its history, architecture, and people.
It is easy to see how traveling in Guatemala for as little as $30 per day is possible, making this a great, budget-friendly destination. By traveling and eating like locals, shopping around for the best deal, and staying in budget-friendly accommodations, your travel dollars will go far in Guatemala, which means you can stay longer and spend more time exploring this great country.
Please note that the US State Department has safety alerts for traveling to Guatemala. Violent crime is widespread. Please use caution when visiting. Despite the crime, Guatemala is a wonderful country to visit.
Jennifer A. Roberts lives a location-independent lifestyle with her husband, Chris, in their RV. They currently work and travel throughout North America, combining their passion for travel with a minimalistic life and freelance work. Jennifer is a former educator, an avid home cook, and an aspiring writer.