How much did we spend in Belize?

March 18, 2013 — 26 Comments

Belize on a tree

I thought it’d be fun to track our spending in each location and give ourselves a score based on the evaluation. Hopefully, it’ll hold us accountable to our spending and it should be fun to see how I score it versus how my wife scores it!

How much did we spend in Belize?*

Overall score (Dan) = D+
Overall score (Jocelyn) = B+

*The grade is what we gave our spending in Belize – not an indicator of how much we liked Belize 🙂

Total time = 6 nights, 7 days
Total cost = $2,245
Cost per day = $320/day*
Flight costs = $300 + 70,000 American Airlines miles

*I’ll remove the costs of the flight into/out of the country from the “Cost per day”, but I will include any “internal” flights within the country

Summary
We pretty much did a regular vacation for Belize… Meaning we spent money like our total trip was only seven days! Originally, this wasn’t part of our RTW trip, but we added it in after our planned Belize trip from last year was postponed by my tendon rupture.

The reason we still spent like a “normal” vacation was that we went with my mother-in-law for her birthday and we didn’t want to make her slum it too much – but it also meant we got to split a lot of the costs! Also, we did quite a few excursions which add up quickly.

For such a small country, Belize offers and incredibly diversified experience – from visiting ancient Mayan Ruins, to adventure caving and cave exploring, to great diving and snorkeling. It’s a great place to visit if you want to sit on the beach, but it’s also a great place to visit if you want to stay busy the whole time!

How far does your money go in Belize?

Belize’s exchange rate is pegged at 2 Belizean Pesos for $1 US dollar. On the surface, it sounds like your money is worth twice as much here, but in reality the prices in Belize – at least in the main tourist areas – are adjusted upward. In fact, the prices for groceries on the island of San Pedro were about twice as much as we’re used to paying in the US!

Belize is very easy for US travelers because they speak English and they also take the dollar! Most stores will accept your US money at the 1 to 2 exchange rate, but they generally give change back in Belizian Pesos so be prepared for that

Spending details

Belize Spending Summary

The Good

Belize is a beautiful country with natural and man-made wonders. Spanning multiple climactic zones between the beaches and the mountains, a short 2-3 trip can take you into a whole new world. Not only does it offer natural wonders, it also offers top notch man made wonders with the ruins of the ancient Mayans that compete with some of the magnificent ruins we’ve seen elsewhere in the world.

Exploring some of the magnificent ruins of Belize; this is Xunantunich.

Exploring some of the magnificent ruins of Belize; this is Xunantunich.

ZIp lining in Belize!

ZIp lining in Belize!

Cave tubing in Belize

Cave tubing in Belize

However, it does come at a cost and Belize isn’t the cheapest country we’ve visited by any stretch of the imagination. To keep food costs down, we went to the local grocery store early in the week and covered 4-6 lunches and breakfasts each which easily saved a few hundred dollars. In addition, our flights to Belize were on previous earned airline miles so that saved almost one thousand dollars.

The Bad

Depending on where you stay in Belize, lodging can get very expensive. This was probably especially true for us because we stayed on the most popular tourist island – San Pedro – where most people stay for at least a few days to soak in the beach life and culture. We ended up spending $250/day for our two bedroom condo at “The Landings of Tres Cocos” which was really nice, but we were disappointed we couldn’t find anything cheaper.

Belize also embraces the island life which means we had to drink lots of Belkin (Belize’s beer) and rum drinks. We could’ve saved more by buying fewer alcoholic drinks while dining, but as I previously mentioned, we treated this like a regular vacation and went for it :). Come on, are you going to tell me you’d go all of the way to Belize and not have any of their local rum drinks???

The Ugly

San Pedro is a fun little island where you can fully experience the island culture, visit some decent beaches or fishing from the shore, but if you truly want to experience Belize, you have to get out on excursions! We fully embraced this as we took a day trip ($75 per person) to another beautiful island called Key Caulker which included snorkeling in the beautiful coral reefs and with sharks and sting rays! We also took a full day trip inland ($250 per person) where we went cave tubing, zip lining, and got to explore some of the ancient temples in Belize.

The streets of San Pedro, Belize

The streets of San Pedro, Belize

This is the supermarket in San Pedro, Belize - very colorful!

This is the supermarket in San Pedro, Belize – very colorful!

We could’ve saved some money by doing fewer excursions and planning ahead. We didn’t really price out additional options as we always called the day before to book the trip! We trusted our contacts from our condo who set the trips up, but we probably couldn’t done better.

In conclusion, to hit our goal of spending $100/day averaged throughout the whole trip, we have to get our costs down! The bad part is we have some expensive destinations coming up, but we’ve factored that into the plan.

Next up: French Polynesia

Check out these videos of our Belize adventures!!

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26 responses to How much did we spend in Belize?

  1. Spending 300 a day is crazy to me. Guess I am used to slumming on a regular basis.

    • Hi Jon – it was mostly due to the excursions and staying on the island which required separate flights to the mainland… We should see the number come way down as we get into SE Asia

  2. Aw… it’s just the beginning and much more to come. Have fun. If I know you, you’ll figure it all out and it will still be a great trip with the right expenses. 🙂

  3. It is wicked cool to see that you enjoyed your time in Belize – I live there! The local rum drinks are okay, but luckily, I get them cheaper lol. Very interesting to see your breakdown. Those miles really saved a lot!

    • Christine – what a great place to live! There’s so much to do and we definitely have quite a few items to come back for (ATM, Belize Zoo, blue hole, etc). I’m sure it helps to know the locals to get the cheaper drinks!

    • Hey can you contact me. I would like to travel to Belize next month and I want to get the most out of my trip for the lowest cost. Can you email me back, any help would be much appreciated. My name is Andrew

  4. I agree with you on this one. This was a ‘real’ vacation. The round the world stuff now that’s where we see Dan in action. See the world on a shoe string! Show us how it’s done. 🙂

    • Haha, I’m sure my wife will be scared to see this comment :). We’re already doing better in French Polynesia even though it’s more expensive overall… gotta keep tightening the shoe strings!

  5. It seems like you had a blast! While i cannot comment on the costs (i live in Europe and the flight to belize would be waaaaaay more expensive) – i do hear you about setting a cost per day and then doubling or tripling it in reality 😀

    I’ve learn my lesson – when we plan a trip, we ALWAYS add about 30 to 50% more on top of the budget that we think we will need – this way we know we’ll fit in 😉

    Keep on travelling and sharing afterwards!

  6. That sounds like an excellent vacation. I have been planning a vacation and this gives me a perfect idea of an average of how much I am going to need to make my trip happen.

  7. When I did my two-week trip to Greece, the excursions were definitely what put a dent in my budget. The next time I take a big trip, I hope to curtail that whim a bit. But then again, splurging on an excursion here and there is definitely well worth it!

  8. Awesome picture! Its understandable that you spent more here than you’ll (hopefully) spend on other places because you had another family member with you who was celebrating their birthday. Hopefully seeing the numbers spent on your first stop will give you incentive to tighten up a bit in other places. Still very jealous!

  9. Excursions and alcohol are always the two factors that automatically triple your spending! I just went to Italy for Spring Break and all of my money went to wine and tours, but hey it’s a vacation for a reason! Looks like you had an amazing time and on a budget, I’ll have to keep track of my spending next time I get to go on vacation!

    • Morgan – so true, you go on vacation to go out and have fun, not to save money! What I’m learning is to do as much research as possible to find the right ways to save money while still having fun.

  10. This was a perfect post for me because I will be traveling to Italy soon for the whole Summer! I have been kind of worried about the money situation because I truly do not know what will come my way, as far as traveling other places in Europe, etc., and other expenses. I will have to make a spending list to keep track! 🙂

  11. We’re planning a trip to Belize in November. Love reading your breakdown, especially as I’ve come to the realization that the tours are busting our budget as well, but you didn’t really address why you gave it such a low grade?? I see how the bad and the ugly were spending lessons and indulgences, but did you really not enjoy the country?

    • So glad it was helpful!! I’m glad you left the comment too, because I came back and noticed the post was lacking! I’ve added quite a bit of info so let me know if you have any specific questions. Also, our “grades” are for how we did on our spending – not an indication of how much we liked the destination.

  12. These costs seem really high, I cant imagine that you needed $320 a day to travel in Belize, thats the cost most people calculate out for Europe.

    Totally makes no sense to me.

    Questioning my decision to go to Belize this fall now, if Im going to be spending upwards of $350 a day, I’d rather just save my money and go to Europe instead.

    Hmm this post just doesn’t feel right.

    • Shay – we stayed on San Pedro which is pretty pricey for normal hotels. Also, we did inland excursions and flew instead of taking a boat which would save some money. We could’ve done it a lot cheaper (like we did the following 8 months on our trip around the world), but since we took our mother-in-law and celebrated her 60th birthday, we didn’t want to force her to rough it at all! I’d keep Belize on your list and do some more research, I’m confident you can make it much cheaper than Europe.

      • Hey, thanks for the reply.

        Honestly I have been researching a lot after reading this, and realized this was definitely a one time scenario made fit just for you. Most people did not spend $350 a day, and I’m no back packer trying to hostel it up, but I am also no 5 star Ritz Carlton traveler. I’m right in the middle, and I feel after reading other blogs that Belize can be done (not including cost of flights and hotels), but with at least $100-$150USD spending cash a day.

        To each their own, I was just hella scared that I would need close to $400 a day just to go to Central America, which is totally not worth it in my opinion. But really good on you for being able to splurge like that!!

  13. I just went to meet my aunt for my 1st time little to know my cousins work as tourist guides and own a souvenir store in lamanai..all free for me..went to 3 ruin sites and zoo..cousins advice,don’t go to San Pedro 1st and stay at resort do to is more expensive to purchase tours from the island ..stay in hotel around airport bze and purchase tours from there.after touring and jungle activities,then is ok to go resort and just relax

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