The following represent the costs incurred between December 29th and April 22nd. Note that these expenses were for one person traveling alone. If your team has two or more members expect these costs to be more than halved (per person).
Each entry represents a fill-up. Everything has been rounded off to 2 decimal places, volume has been converted to gallons and prices reflect the current exchange rate on XE.com. Most of Central America is pretty expensive, while Ecuador is gasoline heaven. The average octane used was 90, the least 87 and the most 95. Octane ratings vary wildly from country to country. Overall, the Volvo has been getting 25MPG on average (not too bad for a 5 cylinder car).
The following numbers are a rough estimate, since most of the food, entertainment, and misc expenses were paid in cash (taken from the ATM withdrawals). The chart below shows only what was charged to a debit/credit card. I tried not to use a debit/credit card as much as possible because of all the additional charges. For ATM withdrawals, I used a Charles Schwab Checking debit card, which reimburses all your foreign fees. It’s free to get and most importantly, it’s a VISA, the most commonly used card in Central and South America. It’s saved me a considerable amount of money already.
The month of January shows high expenses in lodging (esp. since I was hosted most of the time in the States) and car, most of which ($515) was paid to a Volvo dealer in Austin, to replace a gasket, change oil and update the engine software. Most of the other car expenses were buying extra things like lightbulbs, oil, windshield wipers, etc at Autozone, both in the States and in Mexico.
February has lower expenses across the board, especially when you consider $1200 of the total went to shipping the car to Colombia. Car expenses consisted of an oil change and new front brake pads at the Volvo dealership in Medellin, and the purchase of extra oil (5W20 – hard to find) at a gas station.
March has pretty much the same expenses as February, with one exception. A side trip for 5 days to Easter Island from Santiago, Chile was done, which added to the total costs (airfare: $645, camping: $100, food: very expensive). No real lodging costs while in Santiago, as I stayed with a friend. No issues with the car either.
April was a pretty straight-forward month. After returning from Easter Island, I drove straight down from Santiago and crossed into Argentina. No car issues, and once in Argentina, lodging and food were pretty cheap. Ushuaia however is the exception, as it is slightly more expensive than the rest of Argentina. I got there pretty much in the off-season, so the hostel was cheaper than usual. Most of the lodging was paid in cash (so should be attributed to the ATM costs), since the black market exchange was 12 Argentinian pesos to a dollar, as opposed to the ATM rate which was 8 pesos to the dollar.
And that’s all folks! Keep in mind these are relative costs to Ushuaia, and do not reflect the additional expenses of leaving Ushuaia (driving back to Chile, and the airfare back to Santiago, and ultimately New York).