How We Conquered Half the Pan-Am Highway in 2 Months for $2000

Backpacking South America: 2 Months, $2000

Welcome to the origin of Itchy Feet on the Cheap. This blog originally started as a way to share all the planning we did to make our first backpacking trip as a couple as budget friendly as possible. In this post, you will find the videos and links to the guides that outline the specifics of our journey.

If you are planning a trip to South America, you’ll find the guides helpful with your planning, and the videos will give you a preview of what’s to come.

If you are just looking for entertainment, perhaps you’ll only want to watch the videos (which is probably easier to do on the YouTube playlist).

If you just want information for a specific country, use these links:


Otherwise, I recommend going through these in order. They lay out a nice route that starts in Lima, Peru and goes all the way to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

One last thing, if you are looking for a detailed budget for traveling in South America you can check out this post:

How Much Does it Cost to Travel South America?

It even divides the budget up by country so you can get an idea how much Peru costs vs Chile.

Backpacking South America: Prologue

Backpacking South America: The Prologue

We are documenting our trip through South America. The plan is to spend 2 months seeing as much as possible, and only spend $2000 each. A guided tour this long can easily cost over $5000.

We booked a return flight from Toronto to Lima, Peru via Washington DC and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Sao Paulo layover was a whopping 9 hours, but in total the return flight was $715 CAD each (by far the cheapest option we could find).

As we take in the many sights, we’ll also be keeping our eyes open for English teaching jobs, hopefully in a city that we fall head-over-heels for. If we fail to find jobs, or if we don’t like it, we will have to be back in Lima to fly out after the 2 months. Otherwise, we will cancel our flight back and forever remain in South America til the end of time, or until we get sick of the stray dogs.

Our route is simple enough: From Lima we will cross the Andes, and then over to the Pan American Highway, down to Santiago, Chile, and likely over to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

All of this in 2 months with a total budget of $2000 (flight included!).

Backpacking South America – Episode 1: Lima, Peru

Backpacking South America: Lima, Peru

Ryan and Sara start their budget travel backpacking journey in Lima, Peru. They witness a protest, use the quote-unquote public transit system, go to the beach, and see the awfulness that is Lima.

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Lima, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 2: Pisco, Peru

Backpacking South America: Pisco, Peru

Sara and Ryan spend a few days in Pisco, an earthquake destroyed Peruvian town on the Pacific Ocean. While there, they visit the Ballestas Islands where they see sea lions and discuss vomiting.

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Pisco, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 3: Ayacucho, Peru

Backpacking South America: Ayacucho, Peru

Your favourite budget travel couple arrives in Ayacucho, a beautiful town in the Andes mountains. Sara is struck with altitude sickness and it’s up to Ryan to restore order.

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Ayacucho, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 4: Abancay, Peru

Backpacking South America: Abancay, Peru

Backpacking for 9 days has left Sara and Ryan feeling a bit burned out — nothing copious amounts of alcohol can’t fix! Also, Ryan is bitten by what may be a radioactive spider and they run into Dr. Octopus.

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Abancay, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 5: Cusco, Peru

Backpacking South America: Cusco, Peru

Cusco is an amazing city with beautiful buildings and a unique vibe. At one time it was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Now it is the pog capital of the world (presumably).

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Cusco, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 6: Machu Picchu, Peru

Backpacking South America: Machu Picchu, Peru

Want to know the cheapest way to get to Machu Picchu? There is a way to get to the ancient ruins without taking the overpriced (and foreign owned) train. Sara and Ryan find more adventure for less money as they take the long way around stopping off in Ollantaytambo and Pisac along the way.

Get details: The Cheapest Way to get to Machu Picchu, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 7: Lake Titicaca, Peru

Backpacking South America: Lake Titicaca, Peru

After having a look around Puno, Sara and Ryan head out on Lake Titicaca where they experience the Peruvian island life spending a night with a local family that speaks no English.

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Lake Titicaca, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 8: Colca Canyon, Peru – Itchy Feet on the Cheap vs. the Amazing Race

Backpacking South America: Colca Canyon, Peru

In this very special episode, Sara and Ryan compete with 7 other couples in a race that could (but almost definitely won’t) earn them $1 million! We see Condor crossing, where some of the largest birds in the world soar through the skies. We also hike into the canyon, which is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and hike back out the next day. This makes Sara very angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry, but you’ll like watching her be angry at me.

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Arequipa and Colca Canyon, Peru

Backpacking South America – Episode 9: Journey to Santiago, Chile

Backpacking South America : Northern Chile

After spending almost a month in Peru, Sara and Ryan crossed the border into Chile. We spent 10 days traveling from the northern tip to the capital, Santiago. Our trip took us to the beaches of Arica, the Georgian-style buildings of Iquique, the desert town San Pedro De Atacama, and the once pirate infested La Serena. It was a fantastic 10 days.

Get details: The Descent into Chile: Journey to Santiago

Backpacking South America – Episode 10: Santiago, Chile

Backpacking South America: Santiago, Chile

It took us 34 days to get from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile where we were determined to find teaching jobs. Of course, we had to tour the city first and try some of the local fish at the market.

Get details: Budget Travel Guide to Santiago, Chile

Note: From this point, we are fresh out of videos (for now), but the information keeps coming as we make our way to:

And all the way back to Lima on a gruelling 2 day bus ride.

All videos were shot with: Kodak PlaySport Zx3