How I’m Studying Abroad in Cusco, Peru & Not Breaking the Bank

1. Airbnb: I’m staying in a shared apartment with my host, but will have a private bedroom and bathroom as well as be staying in the city center. For 2 months of accommodation I am paying just under $330, split into two payments, half beforehand as a deposit/reservation and the other half of the payment halfway through my total stay.

Because I booked for over a month, my host offered me a monthly price discount of 45% off of my total rent. This brought the original cost of around $300 a month down to just over $150 a month for a total savings of nearly $300.

2. Not Flying Direct: Most people want to fly non-stop and fly directly into their destination city. Me? I don’t mind. I’ve learned to make the most of layovers and always have films downloaded on my mobile Netflix app as well as music and podcasts on my mobile YouTube Music app. Therefore, for a mere $240 I’m flying from Orlando, Florida, stopping in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for a brief 2-hour layover, and then onward to Lima, Peru – the capital of Peru. I plan on staying in Lima for just under a week and then flying direct from there to Cusco for just under $50 one-way.

If I had flown directly into Cusco from Orlando I would have had to pay around $500 on top of having multiple stops because of it’s secluded location in the Andes Mountains. This bring my total costs from $500+ to just under $300 for a total savings of $200+.

3. Paying My Tuition in Full, in Advanced: I’m studying Spanish abroad in an immersion program with Maximo Nivel for a total of 8 weeks of 2-hour classes, 5 days a week, Monday-Friday. Because I paid in full and in advanced as well as chose to study for over 4 weeks, my total cost of studying was discounted and went from $600 ($75 a week) to $480 ($60 a week) for a total savings of $120.

4. I Got Travel Cards & Exchanged My Currency Beforehand: I currently have two travel cards from Bank of America, one with a 15k limit, and another with just a 2k limit as a back-up. For every $100 dollars I spend I get $1 back in rewards points to be applied to any past purchases. This doesn’t sound like a great deal initially, but when you are purchasing everything with these cards (tuition, rent, daily purchases, etc.) the costs add up pretty easily.

Moreover, I exchanged $200USD into Peruvian Sol beforehand, also through Bank of America, for no extra costs besides a $7.50 shipping fee to deliver the foreign currency straight to my doorstep. Although USD is widely accepted in Peru, Sol is generally used for smaller purchases and especially in markets where haggling is everything.

Costa Rica, Myanmar, Cambodia, and several other countries surprisingly use USD widely and even dispense it from their local ATMs. The general rule of thumb is that you use USD for bigger purchases and the local currency for smaller purchases because it’s value is so low it’s comparable to our cents.

Total Costs & Savings for Two Months of Studying Abroad:

  • Tuition: $480 (Savings: $120)
  • Accommodation: $330 (Savings: $300)
  • Flights: $290 (Savings: $210+)
  • Total Cost: $1,100 (Total Savings: $630+)

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