Behind the Scenes of a RTW Trip – Month 14 Travel Review

Posted By Jeremy in South America

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Hero pose at the fortress in Cartagena, ColombiaWe’re now finished with our 14th month of travel and timed it almost perfectly with the completion of our stay in South America.   Just a few days ago we arrived to our final city on the continent, Cartagena, Colombia, and with that completed our overland adventure that began in Ushuaia, Argentina, 167 days earlier!

It has been a long time coming, and we are quite relieved that we’ll never have to see another bus for quite some time.  But before we get carried away gushing about our future travel plans, it is time to take a look back at month 14 and see how we did!

As with our last report, each month we feature a travel review of the highlights, lowlights, and spending we had during the course of our adventure.  These are provided as a snapshot of what our RTW trip is like for your reference, although we know that every trip is different.


The world's tallest palm trees in Salento, Colombia

During our fourteenth month of travel we spent our entire time in Colombia (Ipiales, Popayan, Cali, Salento, Bogota, Guatape, Medellin, and Cartagena) as well as just a few days in Ecuador which we recounted in last month’s post.

Our total out-of-pocket spending for the month was about $2,452, or $79/day.  As surprising as it may sound, this is significantly lower than our target of $100/day- making Colombia one of the cheapest countries for us in South America.  This happened for two reasons.  First, we redeemed points for a five night stay at the Hilton Cartagena in Colombia, reducing our overall spending by at least $300.   Second, now that we are getting towards the end of the trip we are becoming a bit more conscious about our spending to ensure we don’t go over budget in the final few months.

Angie applying to be a coffee sorter in Bogota

Although we have one more day in Cartagena before we fly out, our spending averages will not change very much overall from below.  This spending includes the following breakdown on a per day average for the two of us combined (in USD).

Accommodation Food Transportation Sight Seeing Souvenirs Misc. Purchases
Colombia $24.96* $32.04* $15.95 $3.14* $1.54 $2.56

*Notes: Our accommodation cost in Colombia was reduced as we redeemed credit card points for 5 nights at the Hilton Cartagena.  This also reduced our food spending some due to significant food being thrown our way throughout our stay.  Had we paid for our own room in a budget room, our average would have been approximately $32/day.   We also received a free tour from Viator in Bogota that reduced our sight seeing budget slightly.

As always, our full spending log is available from our menu under “Plan Your Trip.”

RTW Tally Snapshot

Las Lajas Sanctuary in Ipiales, Colombia

One of the big milestones of this month was finally rolling over 50,000 miles traveled!   Although we should be jubilant after rolling over this figure, realizing we spent nearly 10,000 miles on buses in South America has made us a bit weary overall.   Other than that the tally had a great month as we actually started to read some books again, spent very little (for us at least), and overall had a very wonderful time in Colombia.

Days Traveling: 427 (+31)
Countries Visited: 35 (+1)
Dollars Spent (USD): $72,198 (+$2,955)    ~$500 Spent for Future Travels
Pictures Taken (Jeremy):  27,544 (+1,179)
Miles Traveled:  50,769 (+1,387)
   Planes: 24; Trains: 45
   Vehicles: 90; Ferries: 5
Days of Rain: 9 (+0)
Sick Days: 12.5 (+1)
Itinerary Changes: 4 (+0)
Arguments: 11 (+0)
Days Apart: 7.5 (+0.5)
Nights in a Dorm Bed: 39 (+0)
Combined Books Read: 49 (+4)
Bottles of Wine: 49 (+1)

Random Thoughts

Another job opportunity for Angie: bed tester at the Hilton

As with the last RTW trip covered on this site, these monthly updates are a great place to put in the little random details that we found interesting in the countries we visited that may not find their way into a full blog post.  The following are some of our favorites from the countries we visited in Month 14:

  • One of our first buses in Colombia broke down about 30 minutes after we left the bus station.  Rather than waiting to complain when we arrived to the next station (as was the Peruvian response), the Colombians on board began complaining almost immediately.  I was instantly in love with the people here after this one.
  • Salento (the palm tree destination from this post) is overloaded with handicraft markets.  It is almost overbearing with how many shops there are (okay, it really is overbearing), but you may be surprised to know that there are very few souvenirs with palm trees on them!  We found only one shop that sold ceramic mugs, shot glasses, etc with palm trees on them, and I left with what is probably my favorite of the 65 shot glasses in my collection (one per country I’ve visited).
  • Angie is now the proud owner of a few bags of gourmet Colombian coffee that we’re going to ferry home with us.  Like her chocolate experience in Ecuador, we were considering buying more; however, the import market for coffee in the USA has better prices than it has for chocolate. Now we want to learn to roast green coffee beans!
  • Although we have published a post on this one, it is important enough to say again: we’re hiring staff writers!   If you are a blogger who is heading off on a long-term trip in 2015, head over to our application page to earn some money while on the road!
  • Everyone complains about how hot Cartagena is, but we did not find the temperatures to be too bad (for extreme heat, try Cali instead).  The problem Cartagena has is that the humidity is absolutely brutal and will have you sweating within a few seconds of leaving your hotel.   Do yourself a favor and stay in a place with air conditioning here.
  • Other than Cartagena, most of the country of Colombia feels relatively devoid of foreign tourists.  It is a nice change of pace to be in a popular tourist city and see more local tourists than you do foreign ones.  Unfortunately you then have to consider the reason this is and realize that Colombia was in pretty bad shape a decade ago that has forced many tourists to avoid it altogether now (even though it is doing quite well these days).

Posts from Colombia

View of Guatape from the Rock of Guatape

Since each month is limited on the number of days, we cannot write our posts fast enough to fit them all in!  But don’t worry, we’ve got ideas for a lot of great posts for after this trip ends (if it ever does).  The following are a selection of some we’re thinking of!

Colombia to Costa Rica – The Yellow Fever Adventure
Colombian Coffee – The Freshest Cup You’ll Ever Have
Hilton Cartagena Review
South America OverlandUshuaia to Cartagena
The World’s Tallest Palm Trees in Salento, Colombia
The Time Angie Made Us Stay at a Sex Hotel
…and more!

So where will Month 15 take us? We have one more day left here at the luxurious Hilton resort in Cartagena, Colombia.  After that we’re flying to Costa Rica to spend some quality time on the beaches on the west coast of the country.  Before the end of the month we’ll be heading to the Yucatan region of Mexico as we slowly make our way closer to home.

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