FAQ – How Far Off Were Our Leg 5 Numbers?


Usually in our travels, we hew pretty closely to our plans. Occasionally we’ll add a spontaneous overnight trip or decide not to do something we intended, but most of the time, the plans I make are excellent and we follow them. My budgets are very well-researched so generally speaking, we end up being slightly under budget but within a margin of under 5%, typically less. 

All that is out the window in a COVID-19 world. We had to scrap all of our wonderful plans for Peru and spent nearly five months in Costa Rica, instead of the four weeks we had planned. Comparing our 18-week budget to our 29-week actuals, we’re actually pretty well on track for the year when accounting for what we’d have been spending at home and (at this point) in Europe if we’d been able to go. And luckily we’ve been successful in getting refunds back for most cancelled flights and all of our unusable Airbnbs through October. 

So, this time around, the planned numbers to actual numbers look nothing around. But I’m still happy to record and share them here.

Where We Were

Countries visited: 2, 1 new in bold – Mexico, Costa Rica

Countries we planned to visit but couldn’t due to COVID-closed border: 1, Peru

Cities visited (overnight): 7

Number of hotels: 1 (Hotel Fer at Teotihuacan during my sister’s visit)

Number of hotel nights: 1

Number of apartments: 8 (because we moved once in Playas del Coco)

Number of apartment nights: 195

Total beds slept in: 9

Total lodging budget: $3,850 (for 18 weeks)

Total lodging actual: $6,179 (for 29 weeks)

How We Got Around and What We Did

Number of bus trips (intercity): 2 (to Cahuita and to Monteverde in Costa Rica) 

Number of tourist transfer trips (intercity): 1 (from Monteverde to La Fortuna)

Number of flights: 4

Number of rental cars: 4

Total transit budget: $5,300

Total transit actual: $4,350 

Average weekly food/entertainment budget: $285 ($4,850/18 weeks)

Average weekly food/entertainment actual: $241 ($6,985/29 weeks)


Total budget: $14,000 for 18 weeks ($778/week average)

Total actual: $17,029 for 29 weeks ($587/week average)

Number of weeks over budget: 6

Number of weeks under budget: 23

Least expensive week: Week 16, April 13-19 in Playas del Coco (Ocotal), $347, the height of pandemic depression

Most expensive week: Week 29, July 13-19 when we travelled home, $1,980

The Best Parts

Best experiences (chronologically):

  • walking the Coba ruins in near isolation
  • hiking near our house in San Miguel de Allende
  • showing my sister Mexico, especially Teotihuacan and Lucha Libre
  • waking up to the sound of howler monkeys in Cahuita and Playas del Coco and having capuchin monkeys in our yard in Cahuita
  • touring the Bribri village with our wacky tour guide
  • walking through the cloud forests at Monteverde
  • soaking in the thermal springs at Arenal Volcano 
  • sunsets on our terrace in Playas del Coco

Best meals:

Public Market vendors (Playa del Carmen), Amate 38 (Playa del Carmen), Hecho en Mexico (San Miguel de Allende), KFC (CDMX, eaten as the Chiefs won the Super Bowl), Kazu’s Kitchen (CDMX, Valentine’s Day), Cafe de Playa (Playas del Coco), Santorini (Playas del Coco) 

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