Travelers are often surprised at how expensive Ecuador is. You can easily pay $1.50 to $2.50 for a cup of coffee. Cheap accommodations can run you as little as $15 a night or as high as $30 a night. Bus fares to most parts of the country can cost anywhere from a few dollars to maybe as high as 15 or $20. Cheap meal can be $2 or $10. So a lot of what is “cheap” depends not only on your perspective, but on the quality of services you are comfortable with.
You can drink a cup of instant coffee or poorly made coffee for under a dollar at a lot of places. Or you can have a pretty decent, well-made cup of coffee, cappuccino, or other fancy coffee drink for a $1.50 to $2.50 at a fancy coffee bar. You can sleep in cheap accommodations, where no ways, bedbugs, and lack of security may be the norm. If you’re comfortable doing this, you can save a lot of money. Traveling by bus can be very cheap, but it all depends on your risk tolerance. Every year, there are numerous serious bus accidents in Ecuador, often with fatalities. If you’re okay with that, travel can be really cheap. If you’re not, expect to pay from $60 a day and up for a private taxi and driver, and similar rates for a rental car.
Just because it’s a developing country doesn’t mean it’s cheap. If you want to travel safely, comfortably, and eat well,consider the following. Because the general standards of quality, safety, and comfort here are often below what we are used to in the United States or other modernized countries, you will pay extra to maintain the standards you are used to. However, there are some ways to save money.
You’ll find that if you do eat at very cheap places, where you can get a lunch say for $2.50, you might find yourself with stomach problems or worse. This will cost you a trip to the doctor and pharmacy, which will run you at least $30-$50. If you’re willing to spend a little more, and eat at slightly better places, you may avoid a lot of stomach troubles. Without going to the very best spots, you can easily have a decent lunch for anywhere from $7.50 to $10, or, better yet, head to the supermarket and pick up a baguette, some cheese, some fresh fruit, and whatever else you like on the cheap and eat well. Spending a little more for meals can save you time and money, and help you keep your health intact.
If you’re planning on staying for the long term, or a couple of weeks in a couple of different spots, use a service like AirBnB.com to find rentals in the area. This can be a lot cheaper than staying in hostels or hotels.
If you’re out shopping for handicrafts at one of the local artisan markets, just assume that the price you’re offered upon your first glance an item is at least double what you should pay. So, even if you don’t speak much Spanish, start the bargaining game. Bargaining is a friendly, regular part of doing business for Ecuadorians, so don’t be intimidated and don’t take anything personally. Offer a price that is at least Of the initial price, if not a third of it, and work your way up from there. Don’t feel guilty about paying less – Ecuadorians like to bargain and you may be pleasantly surprised how much fun it can be. And you’re saving yourself some money while learning to interact with the locals.
While Ecuador can be surprisingly expensive, by following a few simple rules like eating well and bargaining with the locals, you’ll save money while making your trip more enjoyable.