Make use of the Blue dollar in Argentina
Cook when you can
This is a must in Chile and Argentina - eating out can take its toll on your budget. Use what you save to organize a trip or plan an excursion. Sometimes you may be too tired, or just want a nice dinner out but the bonus of making your own dinner is that you can meet some really awesome people in the kitchen. It’s a great way to share food and make it taste that little bit better! A bit of onion in exchange for a clove of garlic can go a long way! Also take advantage of the “free to use” items too.
Walk El Chalten without a guide
There are so many websites online charging you an arm and a leg for a guide before you go. Most hostels in El Chalten offer you a map, and great information about the trail. You don’t need a guide! There are so many signs and people along the way it’s easy to do by yourself! Be careful though, stock up on money before you go to El Chalten. If you have a chip and pin bank card it will not work in any of the ATMs and most hostels only accept cash. Don’t leave yourself stranded!
Buy your bus tickets at the terminals
Don’t buy your bus tickets from your Hostel or from a travel agent unless you know how much the ticket costs for comparison. In Cusco in Peru, our friends paid an extra 40 PEN per ticket from an Agent on the street. This was almost double what it would have been at the terminal!
Ask for discounts when booking in groups
The chances are that the people in your hostel are there to do the same excursion as you! In La Paz the major attraction is Death Road so we rallied together 5 people to book the trip with Gravity and got a discount. Likewise in Cusco 4 of us booked a Machu Picchu/Salkantay trek and we got a good discount (see trip advisor for reviews of these excursions)! If you can’t get a group but plan on doing more than one trip, try going with the same company and ask for a discount. In Pucon Chile, we booked three tours with the same company and asked for a discount. We got 20% off! If you don’t ask you don’t get!
Volunteer if you have the time
Making new friends and save some money by working in a hostel. A lot of hostels offer a work-away program. Most offer lodgings and some food although not all meals are covered. Depending on the time you have or the money you have left we would recommend it. Some require different lengths of stay but most have a minimum of 2 weeks, and require between 4-8 hours of your time per day. Email the hostel in advance for more information or an application form.
If your booking ahead contact the hostel directly
Check the prices on the hostel reservation sites, then email them directly. Most hostels will be happy to offer you a good price because they too are paying a fee to host their hostel on the likes of Hostelworld & Booking.com. Some hostels offer a free night stay when you stay 5+ nights with them. It’s always better to book ahead if you want a private room. Places like Bariloche will always have limited beds available so try contact a few hostels before you arrive there. Air Bnb is always a good option too.
In El Calafate hostel booking sites mainly show expensive hostels that are in front of the Bus Terminal. If you go to the back of the Bus Terminal where it looks like it’s mostly residential you will find cheaper Hospedajes and Home Stays with a good standard of accommodation. It is much cheaper, especially if you only intend to spend a day or 2 at the location. These accommodations also provide you with a good opportunity to practice your Spanish skills! Sucre in Bolivia and Osorno in Chile also offer many clean and comfortable Hospedajes at very reasonable rates.