Ecuador – Live well…travel cheap

Ecuador: so much to see…so much to do…so much to buy! Welcome to one of the last great havens of your American dollar. Your presence in this country is greatly appreciated. You spending potential is appreciated even more. Thanks to Ecuador’s “dollarization” there’s no better time than the present to visit and enjoy the most value for your buck.

The smart way to save money during your trip means being smart when your spending it as well. So keep the following in mind:

Although ATMs are increasingly easy-to-find in Ecuador, it’s still best to take most of your money in the form of travellers’ cheques . Carry easy-to-change low denominations such as $20 and $50 and stick with the most widely-known brands, such as American Express and Visa. You’ll still have to exchange them in a bank or casa de cambio (exchange bureau). Exchange bureaus are usually open longer, but also charge more on commissions. And when you travel to smaller towns or outlying areas, change your cheques in advance.

Now on to the fun stuff. Where to sleep and where to eat. Hotels can range from the low end – US$16.00 a night to the high end $150.00 a night or more. You can check the hotels link on for more information on lodging. The cheaper hotels are going to offer up a bed and a shared bath – and this is especially true in the rural areas. In the bigger cities, the more you pay the better the accommodations.

Eating out on the other hand can offer up real savings. If you stick to set menus you can enjoy a full meal for about $1.50 a person; at lunch this is called almuerzo and at dinner merienda , which consist of two or three courses and a drink. A la carte and individual main courses – platos fuertes – dishes are typically $2-4. If you’re paying more than $5.00 a person your in one of the upscale establishments. No matter where you eat , you shouldn’t be paying more than $15 a head. And keep in mind that the better restaurants will add 12 percent tax (IVA) and 10 percent service to your bill.

Ecuador is full of bargains. Travelers on a budget can live well and live cheap by simply being smart with their finances.