How (And Why) I Spent A Month in Peru
· 15 min. read
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A week ago I returned to Canada after spending a month in Lima, Peru. I realized I did a terrible job explaining to people what I was doing down there for so long. A lot of people have asked about my "holiday" or "vacation", but I wouldn't call it either of those because it wasn't all that relaxing.
As you know, in recent years, for a variety of reasons, working remotely has become very popular. In fact, I haven't had an office since 2018. Back then I was freelancing, and then in 2019, I was picked up to work remotely for a web development company. Although I am fully employed, my nine-to-five grind is from my apartment, not from an office.
But, it doesn't have to be. As long as I have a stable internet connection and get my work done, I can do my work just about anywhere in the world. In fact, last autumn I had to work out of both Dawson City and Whitehorse, Yukon. The mentality is that as long as I hit my deadlines and I can support my team, I can work anywhere.
So, while I did spend a month in Peru, I still worked forty hours a week, and I sometimes had to work long nights too.
I mention this because it wasn't like a typical trip abroad. Although I was still out of the country, I still had a full-time income. I also didn't have to save up all my vacation time like somebody would for a two-week vacation to Mexico. I still had the responsibility of a normal day job, but instead worked from Lima instead of Regina.
What Is Remote Year?
This idea of working remotely, or being a digital nomad, is what gave birth to Remote Year in 2014. COVID-19 knocked the company down and they had to restructure, but now they are back and offering trips throughout the world. At the time of writing, Remote Year offers 32 different trips, with lengths ranging from one week to twelve months. For the programs longer than one month, they visit different countries. For example, there is a four-month program starting in early September that visits Mexico City, Antigua, Medellin, and Lima, each for one month.
Some of the countries that Remote Year visits are:
- Costa Rica
- South Africa
Remote Year is a diverse organization and has people from all walks of life. However, their demographic is primarily people in their mid-20s to early 40s and leans towards mostly women. In my group of about 25 people, we only had about six men. This is unintentional, but we think it's because men often don't feel the need to travel with an organization like Remote Year, or perhaps women have more flexible employment. In the group leaving this September, I believe there is one male and twenty-some women. I don't know the exact reason for it, but the statistics speak for themselves.
How To Find A Remote Job?
Although employees love remote work or a hybrid model of remote work, many companies aren't big fans of it. I don't blame them, but it does make it difficult to find somebody to go on these programs with. I asked several of my friends to join me during my month in Peru, and none of them could make it work. I made some awesome new friends along the way, but it would've been nice to relate to somebody about my experience when I got home.
But, what if you wanted to do Remote Year, but you don't have a remote job? Remote Year has some great articles on the topic, either at So You're Looking For a Remote Job? and 7 Jobs You Can Do From Anywhere. Many of the jobs they mention are tech related, but not all of them. Some of the people in my group worked in human resources or had meetings with clients every day. Susana, our wonderful community leader, even sent me some links to share with people who want to find remote work, like Oberlo, which lists 24 job boards to find remote work, as well as Otta and Remote.co, which are job board postings for remote workers.
To be honest, I have never really considered South America to be a tourist destination. I know a few people who have gone down there and loved it, and I know some people who were born in South America, but when I think travel, I think east and west, not south ? at least, not that far south.
Perhaps it is also ignorance on my part, but I know absolutely nothing about South America. I can name maybe six countries in it, but I can't identify their flags, I don't know when they gained independence, I don't know who their presidents are, and I don't know their history. All I knew before planning the trip is that all the countries speak Spanish, except Brazil, and that they call soccer football.
So why did I pick it? Well, honestly, it's because of the time zone. When I was in Peru, I was in the Manitoba time zone. It worked well for clients, it worked well for my coworkers, and it worked well for calling my family back home.
Also, the price of goods is much cheaper. Anything you buy is about one-third the price it is in Canada, or one-quarter the price in the United States. You could easily go out for supper for $10, or do a 45-minute trip to the airport for $8.
But this leads to the next question...
How Much Does It Cost?
This is a difficult question to answer because it varies on a few factors. First, my program was the last of the older pricing model. Now it's a little different, so the price has changed. There's also the fact that Remote Year is an American company, so the prices are in USD. There's also, also the fact that airfare isn't included, and that adds quickly up (especially if you're in Canada).
(Also, if you join the Remote Year family, you get significant discounts on future trips. I won't get into all that but it does lower the cost.)
But, just to try and give you a ballpark, here's how much my trip cost (rounded):
- Remote Year's Peru Package: $2,700
- Flights from Regina to Toronto and back: $880
- Airbnb in Toronto: $180
- Flights to Lima: $1,400
For a total of $5,160 CAD.
But that doesn't include the side trips.
For example, during the first week, we went to Iquitos to explore the Amazon Rainforest. That flight cost me $560 and the event cost me $510.
Our trip to Huanachina was included (I don't believe it is with the new model) but the extra add-on cost me $160.
The last week of the trip we went to Cusco, including Machu Picchu and Rainbow Mountain. The flights there cost $440, the stay in Cusco cost $80, the trip to Machu Picchu cost $660 and the trip to Rainbow Mountain cost $100.
Those add up to an extra $1,850 CAD.
Now, remember, the trips to Iquitos, Cusco, and the add-on at Huanachina were all optional. Some events like the cemetery tour, the food tour, the salsa night, and other events were optional too. So, you could do this trip for a lot less, but you'd also be missing out on a lot less too. If you're going to Peru, would you voluntarily skip out on seeing Machu Picchu? Of course not. But you could.
But, by adding in the price for the trip, and for all the excursions, you're getting easily going over $7,000 CAD, or $5,300 USD. That's a heavy price to pay and doesn't include the daily necessities of things like food or transportation.
Is it worth it? Well, that's up to you. Last month I got to do crazy things like swim with dolphins in the Amazon River, eat fruit with llamas in the Sacred Valley and go sandboarding down giant mountains of sand. I saw tarantulas, piranhas and penguins. I made lifelong memories and (hopefully) lasting friendships. I left Peru with a new mindset, a tan, and a tattoo. It was an unforgettable month that I would have spent back at home otherwise.
Are there cheaper options? Yes. I know a few people who chose to go to Huacachina or Machu Picchu outside of Remote Year. A few of them used G Adventures, a company I've promoted in the past. Others just did it themselves, and then later told me how complicated it was. Others just joined on with the side trips as guests who choose not to be "officially" with Remote Year.
So, while there are options, I probably took the easiest and, ultimately, most expensive route.
Would I Do It Again?
This is a big question. Personally, I am not sure. The trip was great, but some of the logistics made it less than favorable. For example, the onboarding process needed some work. After the initial thousand-dollar-plus deposit, the company took several months to get back to me. A lot of people expressed the same concern when we talked about it in Lima. I remember wondering at one point if it was a scam. But, the truth was that they were switching between onboarding systems, and some things took longer to roll out than others. However, it was because of this lull in communication that several people in the group chose to book side trips with G Adventures since they needed some kind of schedule in place, and that had not yet been provided. While this was an inconvenience for some people, and frustrating for others, it also meant that Remote Year lost some revenue because of that hiccup.
On the other side, when the tour started, it was fantastic. Susana and Francisco were amazing to work with, very accommodating, and very friendly. They were knowledgeable and organized and made the whole experience a breeze. They also went out of their way to plan a couple of surprises on the trip too. Once the program started, it was amazing. It was just the onboarding process that was awkward, but that should be getting hammered out soon.
I don't regret going. It was a life-changing experience. The price was high, but once I go through my pictures and videos, properly catalog what we did and saw, and really reflect on my experience, I think I'll feel a lot better about it. It'll also help when the bank account is a little more full.
Most importantly, I think I came back from Peru as a different person. Working a day job is fine, but I also do a lot of freelance work, and that compounds the stress and the exhaustion. It turns an eight-hour day into a ten-hour today. It leaves you too tired to go and enjoy your life. That affects everything from your mental health to your relationships. The trip to Peru showed me that I can both work my job, and live my life, something I don't do nearly enough.
Perhaps that realization alone is enough to justify the expense. I don't think you can put a price on something like that.
But, tell me: if you could, would you travel with Remote Year? How long would you stay away from home? Let me know in the comments below.
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Categories: Peru, Remote Year, Travel Tips