Have you ever made a trip to Argentina? Argentineans will tell you that everything is so expensive these days, and they're right. Although inflation has haunted the country for years, the government's recent currency liberalization has sent prices skyrocketing again to keep up with the peso's shrinking value. Armed with a good exchange rate and a few smart choices, you can still enjoy Argentina's sophisticated culture and cuisine without paying ridiculous prices.
Here, we at GET.com share with you 6 simple ways how you can save money on your next adventure in Argentina, without compromising on fun!
1. Eat Where The Locals Do
There are plenty of great restaurants in Argentina, but if you only use tools like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet to find them, you could end up paying much more than you wanted to.
Restaurants that attract a lot of tourists tend to charge higher prices. Ask for recommendations and keep your eyes peeled for restaurants packed with locals. Inflation has most Argentineans counting their centavos, so restaurants favored by locals are almost always filled with delicious and affordable food.
Note for vegetarians and vegans: Argentineans consume a famous amount of meat, so vegetarians and vegans may have a hard time enjoying the local cuisine. Nonetheless, take heart that more and more options are slowly opening up for vegetarian and vegan travelers in Argentina. You can get a kilo of delicious food for between US$5 and US$8 at the increasingly popular vegetarian buffets, but you'll have to find one first.
Vegans may have an even harder time finding a good place to eat. A few neighborhoods of Buenos Aires like Palermo can be paradise for vegans, but you might draw some odd stares if you ask for vegan food in the rural pampas.
2. Stick To Wine
Wine is without a doubt Argentina's national drink of choice. A bottle of decent Malbec from the Mendoza region costs about US$3 to US$5 at a local supermarket. An imported beer can cost almost as much, and Argentina's rare micro-breweries charge even higher prices!
75% of the world's Malbec wines come from Argentina, and their smoky aftertaste go extremely well with a parrilla, a traditional plate that includes nearly every part of the vaca. When in Argentina, do what Argentineans do and save money by drinking wine.
3. Getting Around: Subte, Taxis or Uber?
Getting around Buenos Aires and other big cities in Argentina is (usually) pretty easy. You can get practically anywhere in the country's capital on the subway system, called the Subte, or on the city's fleet of buses for less than US$1 or US$2 a ride. A great site to help you get around Buenos Aires is ComoLlego.ba.gob.ar, which tells you exactly which trains and buses to take to get to your destination.
However, strikes by transit workers, which can shut down the subway and the bus network for hours or even days, are unfortunately common. If you have to hire private transport, taxis are not too expensive, but if you want to save money by using a ride-sharing service like Uber, you'll need to buy some bitcoins first.
Soon after Uber launched in the country, Argentina's government blocked credit card issuers from working with the company. In response, the ride-sharing service switched to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
Uber users in Argentina are turning to Bitcoin-based debit cards like Xapo in order to get around the government's ban. Oh, and using a Xapo card to book an Uber gets you a one-time US$30 discount.
So if you want to save money by hiring an Uber in Argentina, you'll have to get a Bitcoin-enabled debit card first, and maybe brave some dirty looks from the local taxi drivers.
4. Getting There: Avianca, Aerolineas Argentinas or Copa?
To get to Argentina, your best bet is probably Avianca. Avianca is a Star Alliance member, which lets you earn points with United's MileagePlus frequent flyer program. Aerolineas Argentinas, Argentina's national airline, is a member of SkyTeam, which lets you earn points with Delta's SkyMiles frequent flyer program.
If you're planning to visit other destination in Latin America, you'd be better off if you sign up for United's MileagePlus because it's also partnered up with CopaAirlines. Panama's national airline offers flights all over Central and South America at very low rates.
From my experience, Avianca is usually a bit less expensive than Aerolineas Argentina, and Copa is cheaper than either, but if you really want to save money—but miss out on a golden miles earning opportunity—opt for a bus instead.
And in case you're interested, here are the best airline credit cards with bonus miles.
5. Cama, Semi-Cama, or "Executivo" Cama?
Choosing a good bus seat in Argentina can be a daunting task especially if it's your first time, but knowing the lingo helps. A semi-cama, or half-bed, is just a fancy term for a seat that reclines slightly. A full cama reclines back enough to let you sleep, but you might still be uncomfortable on a really long bus ride. An executivo cama is a cut above the rest, with leg-rests, soft cushions and a deep recline.
For the 15-hour bus ride from Rosario to Salta, for example, an executivo cama is a must. Surprisingly, the price difference between a regular seat and an executive seat is not that big, and the extra comfort that it affords you is seriously worth the money.
Also, you might want to check out these items that'll help you get some shut-eye while you're on the road.
If you don't want to book an executivo cama, pick a seat on the second floor at the very front of the bus. You'll get a lot of extra legroom without having to pay more for it.
Bus Chevallier and Bus La Veloz Del Norte are both good choices with full-size executivo camas for a long overnight trip to Salta in the north or Bariloche in the south. Most bus companies are professional and punctual, so you shouldn't have any problems traveling the country on the open road.
6. Airbnb, Hotel, Hostel or Camp?
The price of accommodation in Argentina tends to get higher the further south you go. The cost of Airbnbs in Bariloche, the country's skiing capital on the eastern slopes of the Andes, are sky-high. Patagonia, the world-famous playground for outdoorsy types, is even pricier, but you can still find an affordable gem if you book a few months in advance.
Accommodation in cities like Rosario, Cordoba, Mendoza and Salta is usually plentiful and affordable, whether you choose to stay at a hotel or an Airbnb.
If you really want to save money, Argentina's very welcoming hostel scene is your best bet. Feel like roughing it? Many hostels in rural areas will let you pitch a tent for a modest fee.