Our Top 5 Travel Destinations on a Time and Money Budget

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We love to travel as often and to as many places as possible. So we like to book trips for as cheap as possible without sacrificing too much comfort. After all, the less we spend, the more trips we can take. BUT we usually can only take one week off at a time (sometime a week and a half) so we will pay more for faster transportation, convenient flights and extra comfort on the road. We don’t stay in hostels, nor do we take long rides on the chicken bus—but those are great options for travelers who are on a tight budget and want to have an amazing adventure! We spend a little money for speed and comfort since we are vacation travelers rather than slow travelers at the moment. But we want to show you the experiences you can get by just saving a little bit each week.

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Got a friend? Got a grand? Go to Nicaragua! Here’s how

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The world is more accessible than some people think, and traveling through its great lands helps us to see that we are all one big tribe with the same hopes and fears.

The idea of world travel is exciting–it can be scary and costly too. BUT it doesn’t have to be.

We’ve been enjoying our travels through Central and South America over the last few years and have found the places we visit to be friendly, beautiful and unique.

We’ve also felt very safe everywhere we’ve been, from Bogotá to Managua. We say that while also cautioning that every place in the world has crime and tourist traps and scams to look out for.

We do to feel safer pre-booking transportation from the airport and have the hotel call taxis for us. This can be a bit more expensive, but it makes us feel comfortable as we’re getting to know a place.

We’ve used uber all over Colombia and Panama and wish it was available in even more places.

What we also love about Central America is that it’s close to the U.S. and affordable.

Here’s how you can do Nicaragua for about $1,000 – and we promise there are no chicken buses or hostels involved!!! Although, that can be a great way to travel too!

——–Airfare————————–

Flight from Washington, D.C.: $400

——–Accommodations—————

Hotels for 7 nights (per person based on double occupancy): $230.

You can easily find great rooms in San Juan del Sur (SJDS), Granada and Ometepe for $55 plus tax and fees, so let’s say $65 per night–which is exactly what we paid. So that’s $32.5 per person per night or $230 for a week.

——–Transportation——————

Transport: $138. Note that this can be done for a lot less. We took prescheduled shuttles with private companies everywhere and we traveled to three different locations (SJDS, Ometepe Island and Granada).

We used Iskra Travel and Adelante Express for our transportation. Both were excellent.

From Managua airport (we bypassed Managua itself), we took a 2.5 hour private shuttle ride down to SJDS for $40 pp.

We took a shared shuttle from SJDS to the port at San Jorge ($15 pp) to catch the ferry to Ometepe ($3 pp round trip) and then had the finca arrange a four wheel drive taxi to take us the 1.25 hour trek across the (sometimes unpaved) island ($30 pp round trip).

Our shuttle from San Jorge to Granada was $25 pp and from Granada back to the airport was $25 pp. It could’ve been cheaper, but we liked the security of prescheduling and the shuttle companies didn’t offer shared shuttles for the times we needed.

——–Food and Drink—————–

San Juan del Sur

OK – that’s $768 so far, which only leaves $30 per day for food. That’s a tight budget but it’s totally realistic. A giant and delicious Nica breakfast was included everywhere we stayed: Gallo pinto, huevos rancheros, fresh papaya, watermelon and banana, fresh squeeze juice, and toast.

When you’re hungry again, you can pick up a $5 sandwich or afternoon snack, $1 beers and 2-for-one cocktails at happy hour (which sometimes runs from 2 pm to 7 pm) and your all set. $15 is plenty for a good dinner–or you can get a decent $10 dinner and have a few more cervezas 🙂

You can tour around by renting a bicycle for $1/hour or $6/day.

Adding $125 to your budget would be plenty to do some really fun activities like kayaking ($25), horseback riding ($25) and volcano viewing ($20), with an ample amount left over to tip your guides, drivers and housekeepers.

There you go! Think about everything you waste money on. Stash a $20 bill every week for the next year and you’ll have enough saved for your adventure to Nicaragua!

It was a wonderful trip and one of the absolute best for meeting great people from Nicaragua and from around the world.

February 19, 2017

Our stay at the finca. Ometepe, Nicaragua

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When we arrived at Finca Montania Sagrada, we were greeted by about 5 lovely little chihuahuas, two bigger dogs and a few cats.

We were hungry after the somewhat long journey from San Juan del Sur, so after we checked in, we headed down the hill to get some lunch.

We stopped at Margarita’s restaurant, which consisted of four picnic benches under an awning beside a large window to order through.

When we asked what was on the menu, we were told, “pollo.” So, naturally, we ordered the pollo 🙂

Aside from having to fight off a little chicken who–feeling a bit cannibalistic–was taking pecks at my plate, the meal was delicious. Pollo y gallo pinto con cerveza toña. ¡Perfecto!

When we got back to the finca we made new friends and drank rum and danced in celebration of Valentine’s Day. It was a wonderful first day on Ometepe.

The next morning was another beautiful day. We had breakfast at the finca before taking a two hour horseback ride through rocky paths in the woods that opened up to breathtaking views of the lake and the two volcanoes that make up the island.

A few of the bigger dogs came along for the journey!

We returned to lunch and a siesta followed by a lazy evening and a good night’s sleep.

The next day we kayaked through a river that looks much like the Everglades. Then we ran into some friends and had some drinks by the water.

Although many people opt to do the 8-10 hour hike up one of the volcanoes, we decided we already had a nice balance between activities and relaxation. It was an absolutely beautiful stay.

February 17, 2017
Isla de Ometepe
Nicaragua

Ometepe the Beautiful. Getting There.

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Our stay at the finca (farm) on Isla de Ometepe has been an absolutely phenomenal experience. The nearly 3-hour car-boat-4×4 trek was well worth it.

On Tuesday we had a driver take us from San Juan del Sur to the ferry in San Jorge (about a 30 minute drive).

From there we hopped on a boat (which was a little confusing to figure out, but someone who worked on the boat helped us and we just paid 35 Córdoba each after we got on). It took about an hour to get to Moyogalpa–the main town on Ometepe where the ferry docks.

We were really glad we had the finca arrange for a 4×4 taxi to pick us up at the dock because the scenic 1.25 hour drive was beautiful and went by so fast in the open air jeep. Plus, the unpaved portion of the drive would have been really uncomfortable in a regular car!

We are now in a remote and quite bungalow surrounded by beautiful scenic views of volcanoes and beaches. It is simply amazing!

It is completely up to us if we want to hike volcanoes, ride horses or bicycles, kayak, or just relax and soak in the beauty. The island has all this and more to offer.

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, February 15, 2017

Finca Montania Sagrada on Valentine’s Day

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Not much of a Valentine’s Day celebrator, but when your new friends from Nicaragua, Italy, Germany, California and Austin welcome you to Ometepe with love, dance and drink .. and maybe even a flower or two, you celebrate. Much love ❤️

Finca Montania Sagrada
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
February 14, 2017

Chillin’ in Little Canada

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We are having a wonderful stay in San Juan del Sur. It’s nice just to relax and do nothing for a few days before heading to Isla de Ometepe for a bit more adventure.

The town of San Juan del Sur itself can be summed up as “little Canada.” It’s a backpackers’ destination complete with a Sunday Funday bar crawl and U.S. dollars in the ATMs.

It may not have a local vibe, but the travel spirit thrives here. Everyone is very friendly, the food is fantastic, and it feels quite safe.

There are more beautiful beaches a short drive away but we wanted to have access to town without a car. So we are staying just outside of town where it’s a bit more quiet but still close enough to walk everywhere.

It’s too windy hang out on the beaches, so for now we are enjoying the breeze and a few cocktails with a lovely view.

San Juan del Sur
Nicaragua
February 13, 2017