Guatemala Travel Budget: My Experience

Guatemala on a Budget

Traveling in Guatemala on a Budget

Budget Travel

Is it possible to travel in Guatemala on a budget? Learn how much it cost me to backpack in Guatemala — along with my favorite tips & highlights.

Overview

The first thing I want to say is that Guatemala is a very eclectic country. One moment you can be high up in cold mountains, and in the other you can be on a hot Caribbean beach. It is a beautiful country, and a dirty country. You can find pristine jungle forests as well as rivers filled with trash. Guatemala’s people speak over 23 different languages too!

I was planning on only spending a month here, but Guatemala’s magic sucked me in and I stayed for two. I’m not the only one to experience this magnetic attraction either, I heard from many travelers who had done similar things. Some people never even left…

People in Guatemala are a friendly bunch, but you have to make an effort to woo them. Initially you might receive an unfriendly stare, but as soon as you beam a warm smile and say “buenas!” their eyes will light up and you’re bound to make a new friend.

Safety in Guatemala was never much of an issue for me. The only time I felt on edge a bit was in the capital of Guatemala City. But even then, I spent 5 days in the city driving around with friends and even walking the streets after dark. Knowledge is power. Knowing where it is safe, and where it isn’t, is all you need to have a great time.


Guatemala Travel Costs:

Guatemala travel budgets can vary greatly. Here is a breakdown of how much money I spent over 2 months of travel there.

  • Food & Drink: $575 US (groceries, restaurants, water, alcohol)
  • Accommodation: $406 US (hostels, hotels, camping fees)
  • Transportation: $126 US (buses, taxis, boats)
  • Activities: $379 US (entrance fees, rentals, classes, tours, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous: $120 US (laundry, sundries, souvenirs, visas, etc.)

TOTAL DAYS = 62

TOTAL SPENT = $1606 US

DAILY AVERAGE = $26 US

Budget Notes: These figures include 3 weeks of Spanish language school. Staying in dorms at backpacking hostels and traveling by chicken bus and collectivos saved me a lot of money. So did cooking a majority of my own meals.


Highlights

Lowlights

Surprises


My Guatemala Slideshow


Stories & Adventures From Guatemala

Planning to travel to Guatemala soon? Browse all my blog posts from Guatemala to get ideas & recommendations for your own adventures.


Final Thoughts

Traveling solo is teaching me to solve all kinds of problems on the fly, with little to no help from others. For example: How to retrieve my backpack from the top of a chicken bus while it’s still moving, so I can jump off before the driver speeds off again.

My patience is growing. A 10 hour bus ride is no big deal anymore. Either is a bone-rattling & wet water taxi trip, or getting crammed in the back of a small van with 25 other people. Sure these things are inconvenient, but not on the level they would have been if I was still living by US standards.

Guatemala will always hold a special place in my heart, and I will definitely be back to visit in the future!

Additional Examples?

My last trip to Guatemala was in 2010. Prices have probably changed a bit since then. We don’t all travel the same way either. So to help you get a better picture, here are a few Guatemala travel budgets from others:


What About You?

Have you ever traveled to Guatemala? What did you like or dislike?

28 Comments

  1. Hi! I’m from Guatemala.
    I aleyas like to know what the people think about our country. It’s nivel to know that, considering the dangers and how is the violencia Here, you still look on the positive side of all.
    I’m glad that your experience here was good and know that you’re welcome here anytime
    Btw, you’re chapín now

  2. Hi Matt, good post, nice budget including 3 weeks of Spanish classes, how was your Spanish afterwards and now? My girlfriend and I traveled in Guatemala in April 2015, we spent $13.13 each per day and our average budget each was as follows:
    Total: GTQ 1619/$210 in 16 days
    Accommodation: GTQ 59/$7.60 per day
    Transport: GTQ 24/$3.12 per day
    Food: GTQ 27.50/$3.58 per day
    We are still in Latin America, now in Chile, Guatemala was our cheapest country in Central America and second in Latin America (Venezuela topped the list). Our favorite place in Guatemala was Semuc Champey, this was my favorite site in Central America (excluding dive sites). We did one hike up Mount Tajamulco, at 4220m this volcano is the highest point in Central America, cost GTQ 300/$39 for 2 days. You can see what we did, where we stayed and what we payed on our blog Stingy Nomads at http://stingynomads.com/guatemala/
    Safe Travels

    1. Hello Veronica.
      To be honest, here aren’t much places to learn spanish because in school you learn it. But some places that I think teach spanish are the IGA, the French Alliance, and CALUSAC.
      Good luck! ?

  3. I am from Guatemala but I am living in USA,
    I would like to go back, because I believe that I can find a better job and I can have a different experience but, my family do not agree, for the reason that they think that Guatemala is to poor and dangers. What do u recommend? Is Guatemala a bad place to live like everyone says, or it is a place that people can be happy?

    1. Hey Josselyn, I am in the USA and would rather be in Guatemala. In countries ratings of happiness Guatemala is near the top. USA is nowhere close. USA people have more material things but because of the stress and excessive government are far less free. I am so sad to hear that people who are from Guatemala I have a friend that is afraid to visit. Her family left during the war and all she hears is is is dangerous. There are just as many criminals here the media in the USA is owned by 6 huge multinational corporations that spew the same “news” everywhere. When a woman is raped walking out of a store in Eugene OR it does not make the news. People murdered in Cottage Grove not news, Guatemala has a freer press and they report more local events so people know they happened.

      Do you still have family in Guate?

  4. Mate, Such a rad blog!! My girlfriend and I are starting a 12month (minimum)
    trip to central and north America. We were considering missing Panama, can you convince us otherwise!? Thansk for the pics and the advice. Peace

  5. Another awesome collection. I fear that when you get back to ‘civilization’, you’re never going to forget about all these wonderful experiences and you’re always going to want to come back — permanently. It’s happening to me! Did you manage to experience the hot waterfalls near Fronteras and the Rio Dulce? That was an unreal experience; although the devil worshippers screaming in the adjacent caves kind of took away from the ambience, it was still pretty cool! Keep up the great work.

  6. Glad you were so delighted with Guatemala. We enjoyed the photos and it’s so nice every day when we find you adventuring and most importantly safe. Love the posts.Now where is my map so I can find the next country.

  7. Matt, if it is not already on your agenda, I strongly recommend the San Blas Islands once you get to Panama. Look at for the blue crabs near the landing strip!

  8. I definitely plan to make it back to Guatemala to see more of the diversity of the country. I’ve heard so many great things from other travelers like you.

  9. This is just the post that I needed to see!!
    I was thinking about going to Guate in April – also to do a Spanish course. Where did you study and would you recommend it? And how is your Spanish now?

    Tips on great hostels would also be really helpful.
    Many thanks

  10. Thoroughly enjoyed your post on your stay in Guatemala and am eagerly looking forward to your posts etc…from Nicaragua. All the best my friend..

  11. That little girl has heard about the Mad Traveler and is heading for the hills. A wild bald man who sometimes gets dressed in a rubber suit, eats all kinds of weird dead stuff, speaks in a strange tongue and is so cheap he won’t send his Dad Honduras cigars. The whole world is talking about it. Oprah will be notified.

Add A Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment, I appreciate your feedback. However please use your real name only and treat everyone with respect. Lets have a meaningful conversation!