Quest for World Suds-premacy

Some people’s motivation to travel is to try the different foods from around the world. I too have enjoyed the various dishes from different corners of the globe. However, I have never been a “foodie.” I like beer. I set out to try as many different beers as I could on this trip.

Variety is the spice of life they say so I only count each beer once. I have friends that drink 10 Heinekens on the weekend all year long. For this exercise, that counts as one beer. So before before people start saying I have a drinking problem understand I’m only having one or two beers a day. Actually, I do have a drinking problem, it is when I’m in a country and I can’t find any new beers.

With the help of the Untappd app I have been able to keep a very good record of my quest. To date I have had 752 unique beers in 461 days or an average of 1.63 different beers per day.


I have had at least one beer from 59 countries. I’ve only been to 40 countries so far so obviously I’ve been able to snag a few imports from neighboring nations. Here are the major contributors:

Germany- 121

USA- 65

Belgium- 57

Poland- 51

South Africa- 36

Turkey- 34

Netherlands- 29

England- 28

Brazil- 26

Czech Republic- 25

Romania- 25

Israel- 16

Slovakia- 14

Ukraine- 13



Bosnia- 12

France- 11

Italy- 11

Bulgaria- 10

Croatia- 10


Germany’s 121 seems like a big number but I didn’t even scratch the surface, I could easily get triple that number with minimal effort. Turkey on the other hand, 34 is about the best I could do. I looked high and low over a period of months and that was the best I could come up with. I also left a lot on the table, or bar in this case, in the USA, Czech Republic, and Belgium. I am pretty proud of my totals in Poland, South Africa, Romania, and Brazil. Italy is an interesting one as I had 11 but didn’t even enter the country.


I also like to try different styles, I’ve had 64 different type of beer. Here are some of the big ones:

Lager- 250+ (the app only tracks to 250)

Pilsner- 108

Hefeweizen- 39

Blond Ale- 32

Cider- 29

IPA- 28

Pale Ale- 25

Non-Alcoholic- 24

Radler- 21

Dunkelweizen- 17

Fruit Beer- 17

Dubbel/Tripel/Quad- 16

Amber/Red Ale- 16

Porter/Stout- 13

Bock- 13

Strong Ale- 12

Witbier- 11


Most people I meet on this trip know about my quest and often are very helpful in finding new beers, or least drinking with me. Some people will even come to me with questions as a “beer expert.” However, the most common question is, “What is your favorite?” I just can’t answer that, it is like picking your favorite family member.

The quest is far from over but I’ve already learned so much. Sit me down an a bar and I can most likely tell you where each beer is from and the style. Not sure this knowledge is useful but I’m having a blast doing it and that is the main goal.


Budget Breakdown: Iraq

My trip to Kurdistan was very rewarding, to see a place I had been hearing about my whole life was tremendous. Not to rely on what you see on CNN (or god forbid Fox News) or read in the USA Today, but to see it for yourself, and meet the people, is an incredible experience. Still, people continue to question me on going there. I’d go back 1,000 times out of 1,000 but don’t take it from me, go see for yourself.

As with most rewarding experiences, it will cost you. Iraqi Kurdistan won’t totally break your budget but it is not as cheap as most places I’ve been to on this trip so far. There are few tourists, in fact I met zero other tourists in my week there. This affects the budget in good and bad ways.


My “home”

Accommodation is far and away the biggest expense. In fact, it is a pretty cheap travel destination otherwise. The reason is because there are no hostels in Erbil (hmmm future business idea?). The amount of foreign tourists right now is low (thanks ISIS) and the people who do visit aren’t really the hostel type. Couchsurfing isn’t all that popular there either. So that leaves hotels. I stayed for six nights in a three-star hotel. Although that rating is a bit generous, it cost me $37 per night. That alone puts the daily budget over what I spent in Panama, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Turkey.

I also spent $15 on a hostel in the UAE the seventh night, but since I spent more than 12 hours of the day in Iraq, I’ll include it here. In all, I spent $237 on accommodation or $33.85 per day.


Homemade Dolma

Food was very cheap, and quite good. I would stuff myself full of shawarma for a couple dollars. I spent $24 on dinner ($3.42) an additional $2 ($.28 PD) on lunch and $13 ($1.85 PD) on groceries (snacks). I was also very fortunate to get several free meals from the generous people I met there. I can still taste the homemade dolma, so good! Additionally, I spent $1 on bottled water ($.14) that wasn’t included in meals. The lack of tourists is good for things like food and almost everything else. There is no price gouging for tourists like in many other places.


Having a smoke with some locals

Other was a significant cost in Kurdistan, I spent $35 ($5 per day). Most of it ($15) came from souvenirs, which I usually avoid, but I couldn’t pass up the out-of-print Saddam Hussein currency. As in most places in the Middle East, I smoked a lot of shisha and that falls in this category. As a side note, Erbil has the best shisha that I have ever seen anywhere!

I spent $13 ($1.85 PD) on cabs which was my transportation to and from the airport. The city is quite safe and walkable so I walked almost everywhere, even at night. I also used the local bus which cost me $2 ($.28 PD). Again, the people of Erbil were generous with rides, even complete strangers, so that helped with the transportation costs as well.

As you might expect, beer is limited in Kurdistan. However, that is not to say it can’t be found. I saw one bottle shop where I spent $8 ($1.14 PD) on several regional beers. There were no beers from Iraq available.


Cable car above Shanidar and Minarae Parks

I didn’t do much in the way of paid tourist activities. There are several cool parks that are free to visit. The Citadel, the main attraction in the city, can also be explored for free. For me, Erbil was a cultural experience and not a sightseeing mission. No better way to do that than to just walk around and have a chat over a meal or water pipe. I did however spent $5 on a cable car ride ($.71 PD) at one of the parks.

All told, I spent $340 in my seven days in Kurdistan or $48.57 per day. Still a bargain for the experience I had!


Flag of Kurdistan

Budget Breakdown: Latin America

If you have followed along with this blog you know I keep close track of my finances. There are a few reasons for it: It is partly because I need to, when traveling long term you can derail your trip if you don’t know where your money is going. After doing sports statistics almost every day for a decade, that compulsion to quantify everything just doesn’t go away. Also because I think it makes a good blueprint for someone else’s trip. I realize most people don’t do this type of travel but if it helps one person plan then it is worth it.

These are the final numbers for 110 days in Latin America. Keep in mind these numbers reflect basic travel. Few “nice” hotels, even less fancy restaurants, no mid trip airplanes or private tours. It does mean hostels, overnight buses, mom and pop eateries, walking tours, free museums, parks and beaches. It also includes loads of new friends, unlimited laughs and a lifetime of memories.

What wasn’t included here were the flights in and out of Latin America, travel insurance, vaccinations, and the visa for Brazil. These things vary wildly.

Of course these numbers aren’t scientific. Sometimes I spent a little more to be lazy and sometimes I would grind it out to save a buck. Other people’s experience may be different but these are the actual numbers with no manipulation, recorded after every transaction.

Here is the breakdown:

Sometimes a taxi is a moto taxi

Sometimes a taxi is a moto taxi

Cabs- I generally dislike using cabs and prefer to walk but sometimes my hand was forced. Late at night it is not always safe to walk in South America, especially if I was a few drinks in. Also, when arriving or departing a new city I would sometimes opt for a cab in favor of lugging by bags over distance. I know this is a bit lazy, but so be it. I used cabs the most in Panama ($4.50 per day) and the least in Peru ($.55 per day). Overall, I averaged $2.81 per day using cabs.

Hostels aren't all bad, this one in Santa Cruz, Bolivia was under $8

Hostels aren’t all bad, this one in Santa Cruz, Bolivia was under $8

Lodging- This included mostly hostels, a few hotels, some couch surfing and overnight transport. I’m not super picky in this area. Just so long as it is secure, I can deal with anything else. Lack of temperature control, hot water and even electricity were things I overlooked at times. Of course some hostels were fabulous and better than what I had at home. I spent the most in Ecuador ($14.76 per night) because I used hotels more frequently there. I managed to spend just $4.44 per night in Bolivia. In total, I averaged $8.33 per night for a place to sleep.

Picked up a switchblade in Panama for $6

Picked up a switchblade in Panama for $6

Other- This included everything not listed elsewhere. Things like laundry, medicine, clothes, taxes, and various supplies. I spent $6.66 per day in Colombia mostly due to souvenirs and a hefty airport tax. In contrast, I only spent $.61 per day in Ecuador. All said, I dropped $2.20 per day on other.

You can find beers of all types on the road

You can find beers of all types on the road

Beer- This is a very personal one. Some people would drink much more or some less and some not at all. This category includes all alcohol but most times it was beer. I had a real good time in Peru, spending $3.55 per day and only spent $2.11 per day in Bolivia. Of course the price per beer is different in each place but overall I averaged $2.86 per day for beer.

A Lama steak won't break the bank in Bolivia

A Lama steak won’t break the bank in Bolivia ($7)

Food- I lost a total for 4 pounds over the 110 days but it wasn’t because of the food! I ate great all trip! I didn’t always eat breakfast, but if I did it was usually included at the hostel or hotel. That said, I spent $1.19 per day in Brazil while not spending a penny in Panama or Ecuador. In total, I spent an average of just $.38 on the first meal of the day. Lunch was the main meal in some places, like Panama, where I spent $3.87 per day. I got away with just $2.15 per day in Ecuador. Overall, lunch set me back $3.15 per day on average. On the other hand, dinner was big in Ecuador where I spent a whopping $6.61 per day. In Panama, I limited myself to just $1 per day for dinner. In total, I spent $3.84 a day on dinner. I have a bit of a bad habit of snacking as well. I spent $1.19 per day on snacks in Brazil but didn’t give into the temptation at all in Panama. I spent $.54 per day over my time in Latin America. All said, I spent $7.91 per day on food.

Headed in the bush in the Pantanal with my guide Tony

Headed into the bush in the Pantanal with my guide Tony

Tours- In general, I tried to occupy my time with free activities but if there was something that I just had to do, I gladly forked over the cash. The Uyuni Salt Flat tour in Bolivia cost me big, but was worth it. I spent $9.22 per day in Bolivia while I enjoyed the free nature of Ecuador and only spent $.15 per day. On average, I spent $3.65 per day on tours.

A shuttle to the middle of nowhere Brazil

A shuttle to the middle of nowhere, Brazil

Shuttle/Metro- Rather than get a cab I rode shuttles or the local public transportation on occasion but not in every place. On the trip, I spent an average of $.63 per day on shuttles and $.14 per day on public transport.

When the person in front puts their seat back

When the person in front puts their seat back

Buses- This was my main way of getting from city to city and did it quite often with the exception of Panama and Columbia where I stayed in the same place. Brazil was the most expensive with at $5.53 per day while in Bolivia is was just $4. Overall, the bus was a major expense at $3.30 per day.

Gifts- I’m a guy who doesn’t mind getting a round of drinks for his new friends. I got a gift for a local who showed me around or opened their home to me. Overall, I averaged $.38 per day on gifts.

Don't drink the tap water, this feast was $10

Don’t drink the tap water, this feast was $10

Water- Outside of a few places, tap water is not safe to drink in Latin America. Although many hostels/hotels/residences have filters I still bought quite of bit of water. In Bolivia I spent $.66 per day while I went without in Panama. Overall, I spent $.36 a day on water.

All said and done, I spent an average of $32.62 on daily living over 110 days in Central/South America.