Creative Ways to Save for Travel: Move to Latin America

Budget Travel, Chile, Couples Travel, Dispatches from the Road, Finances & Savings, Leaving & Coming Home, Lost Girl of the Week, Quitting & Career Management — By on March 3, 2009 at 9:00 am

by Kyle Hepp

So the last time the Lost Girls heard from me, I had just married my Chilean husband, was adjusting to life as a newlywed expat in Chile and trying to save money for a trip around the world.

Well, guess what I’m doing now – still trying to save money for a trip around the world. No surprise their, we’re planning a major trip that should last for 1 to 2 years, so we need major cash.

My husband and I paid off our wedding and our previous credit card debt in December from 2007, and from there we started socking away every extra penny. It took all of 2008, but we currently have about $21,000 in the bank. I’m proud of how much we have saved, but I know we have a long way to go to reach our trip goal of 60k (10k for an emergency fund and 50k for making our way backpacker style through Latin America, Europe, Asia and Australia).

The Lost Girls were hoping I could give a little advice on how to save money for a big trip like the one we’re taking, so before I created this post, I thought long and hard about what to tell you.

I could list off the typical tips – Stop going to Starbucks and put all your latte money in savings, put all your change in a jar, create a budget, don’t eat out, etc.

But, the truth is my husband and I haven’t done any of that. We live like ballers in Chile and we’re still saving. We’re not financial rockstars in the sense that we make really wise investments or know a lot about banking and money. The big secret is, we live in a third world country and I make a first world country salary.

So yes, I’m telling you that before you even take your big trip or whatever it is you’re saving up for, you should move to Mexico, or Chile, or really anywhere in South America. Santiago, where we live is actually one of the most expensive countries, but this strategy is still working for us.

Because honestly, living costs in developing countries are much lower. And if you’re creative you can think of a way to make a U.S. salary and work that to your advantage. I currently own my own destination wedding photography business, blog for 4 different companies and I do online operations for a mystery shopping company. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

My working hours are crazy, I bust my arse to make my money. It’s worth it. Within two years we will have saved up for the trip of the lifetime. And we’ve done so while continuing to maintain a high quality of life – living in a nice loft, going out regularly, continuing to travel on smaller trips, and having a maid come once a week. Are you jealous? Well then, move to Chile!

Note from the LGs: You can check out more of Kyle’s fantastic money-saving tips (plus tons of other great info) at her blog Getting married in South America? You can arrange to have her shoot very own Chilean wedding at

She also blogs for the following sites:

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  • The Flying Pinto says:

    Wow, Good for you! I love inspirational stories and hearing about people who are successful living out their dreams! Thank You…I thought I knew the secret, I work as a Flight Attendant for a major US airline, and after 16 years I pretty much fly if and when I want…haven’t flown since December. I have a 2 year old and love being a Mom now. Anyway, we live in Houston where the cost of living for the US is very low, and therefore afford a very nice lifestyle..great house, $$$ to travel etc.
    Anyway, thanks again…enjoy your trip!

  • Mamacita Chilena says:

    Well that sounds amazing too! I would love to have free flights! But, I’m sure working as a flight attendant has its ups and downs as well.

    If I did live in the U.S. I think we would definitely have to be somewhere affordable like Houston, because I just can’t imagine being somewhere like NYC where all your money goes to paying rent and scraping by! But, then again, it’s an amazing city, so maybe living there is worth it.

  • André says:

    Hey Kyle,
    great post. I like it. Good to see you are saving. Isn’t it a cool feeling to know you do not have to pay back debts any longer?

    Chile a Third World Country? Make sure no Chilean reads this. I actually feel the economy stronger then in some of the aledgedly first world countries I have visited. c’mon it isn’t that bad 😉

  • tjhinn says:

    Hey now, good for you! Truth be told, I’m a tad jealous of all you Caucasians. It’s much easier for you to be able to earn first-world country salary in a third-world (lets just say Developing shall we) country.

    Case in point, my sister married this London expat who’s earning about 30x what a fresh graduate would be earning. And he still have travel stipend to go back to London, as well as given a very nice house to live in (rental).

    How I’m trying to make it work is by working freelance online and make a living out of that.