Get the most for your money
Flights to Latin America may not come cheap, but a holiday there need not put you on frosty terms with your bank manager! There are a number of ways to keep costs down, many of which can even enhance your holiday experience at the same time as saving you money.
In this guide we'll cover the main areas for making savings, from air fares and transport to accommodation and dining. Meanwhile, make sure to browse through our selection of affordable value holidays for ideas – these carefully designed trips make sure you don't miss out on any of the ultimate sights but allow you the flexibility of independent exploration. And if you like to travel amongst others, take a look at our Discovery Journeys, a range of group tours created especially for budget-savvy, adventurous travellers.
Know before you go
Perhaps the easiest way to reduce your costs is by travelling out of season. Peak seasons vary depending on where you plan to go, but in general the most expensive times to travel are July and August and around Christmas and New Year, with smaller peaks around other school holidays. Local holidays (particularly Carnival) can also dramatically bump up prices so make sure to research them before you book your flights to ensure you don’t arrive to find hotel prices inflated and subject to enforced minimum stays.
Brave the weather
Climate factors also affect the times of year when air fares and hotel rates are at their highest, and in general you'll get a better deal if you visit at a time when the weather is not considered at its best. Of course this a question of personal taste anyway – for example the ‘best' time to visit Patagonia is October to March, but if you don't mind the cold there are some real advantages to visiting outside of that period, including astonishing autumnal tableaus in April and the chance to have the top attractions almost completely to yourself in our summer months.
Similarly you'll save if you visit the tropics during the wetter months – but note that rain tends to fall in sudden showers followed by sunshine, so if you don't mind a bit of rain the savings could be worth it. However, if travelling to Caribbean regions, always aim to avoid August, September and October as these months bring the highest risk of hurricanes.
Book ahead for flights – or seek out a deal
If you're planning to travel at a popular time of year – and especially if you plan to be in Latin America during Carnival, Christmas or Easter – book as far in advance as you possibly can. As the date approaches, prices will only go up.
On the other hand if you want to go somewhere last-minute or don't have a specific destination in mind, keep a close eye on special offers. Sometimes if demand for travel at a particular time is low airlines will release an offer to fill up empty seats, so if you're lucky enough to be looking for flights to the right place at the right time you could make a huge saving. Don't forget to sign up to our newsletter to receive monthly best buy air fares.
If you're keen to avoid racking up travel costs, consider sticking to just a couple of areas within the country that you are visiting. Not only does this save on internal flights and transfers, sometimes you will be able to get a better deal on your hotels by staying for a longer time – besides which, getting to know a region in depth can be more rewarding than ticking off the top sights at a lightning pace.
Remember also that booking internal flights and air passes at the same time as your international flights is usually a lot cheaper than arranging them separately.
Where to stay
Give some thought to how to split your budget. For example, staying in basic or mid-range accommodation for the majority of the holiday with a big splurge on a really memorable hotel at the end can feel like much more of a treat than if you put the same amount of money towards slightly better hotels for the whole trip.
In some places, particularly remote areas with few transport or dining options, it could also be worth splashing out on all-inclusive accommodation. Though it is more expensive on paper, it can often work out to be good value for money when you take into account the potential cost of transfers, food and drink and excursions.
Also remember that opting for a cheaper hotel in a less central location can prove to be a false economy.
Travel in a group
The more people are in your party, the better value you are likely to get for your money, particularly when it comes to splitting the cost of transfers and taxis several ways rather than forking out the whole sum yourself, and potentially even negotiating special rates if there are enough of you. Sharing a double (or triple) room is nearly always cheaper per person than a single room.
If you're a solo traveller, consider joining a group tour as an economical and sociable option. There is no single supplement to pay provided you are willing to share with another member of the same sex (and even if no one else volunteers to share and you end up getting the room to yourself, you will still pay no extra).
If you do decide to travel alone make sure to book shared rather than private transfers, and let us help you seek out hotels that charge smaller (or no) supplements for single rooms.
While you're there
Make sure you don't blow all the savings you've managed to make in booking your trip once you get there by setting yourself a daily budget and sticking to it. In markets, don't be afraid to try your hand at haggling – it is expected.
Eat and drink local produce – not only is it cheaper than imported goods, but the unusual dishes and delicacies (not to mention cocktails!) you may try could be the source of some unique travel memories. Most small cafés in Latin America will offer a set menu of the day: usually excellent value.