Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Planning South America: The Why

Posted by Ali

While planning our trip to South East Asia, it has been impossible not to think of my last big backpacking trip. That was my first time, so the whole planning experience was new, and overwhelming. This time, it may not be new, but it still feels overwhelming! Looking back at how much I planned, and what I actually did, I know that a lot of it was wishful thinking. But by re-evaluating my planning process, hopefully I’ll be able to apply what worked and what didn’t this second time around.

 So why did I choose to go backpacking, and why South America?

I was in the final stretch of my last semester of University, and I knew I wanted to get out of Edmonton. I had wanted to go work abroad in either France or Spain, or potentially both. Except the more I looked into it, the more I realized that firstly, I had no idea what kind of job I wanted, let alone qualified for, and secondly, the visa process was a bitch. And then my boss at the time brought up a valid point: I was just about to finish over 16 years of schooling, did I really want to jump into the workforce immediately, and did I really want to do it abroad? Why not travel for the sake of traveling? And he suggested South America. He had been, had loved it. And it was cheap. Oh, and considering half my major was Spanish,  I had taken numerous Latin American Studies courses,  and had always been fascinated with the culture and history, it only made sense that I went to see it for myself.

But how would I do it? I had no idea how to start planning a backpacking trip. I had a few friends who had done those Contiki/G Adventures/etc. guided trips and loved them, so I grabbed a few of their catalogues from the school travel center. However, the more I looked into them, the more restricting they felt, and, well, not so cheap.  Then the more I researched online, the more I realized I could do it myself, on my own time and for as much, or as little as I wanted. Thousands of people do it independently, so why not me? And I could speak the language, which I figured would probably come in handy. If anything, those guided trip packages gave me good ideas for routes/sights/places to do and visit. Now I had an idea where to start planning. The next problem was how exactly do you plan a long term backpacking trip? 

Also see: South America: The How


  1. haha, I really recognize that!! I'm planning my first backpacking-trip for 6 months now. Getting inspired by other group trips and other blogs. :)

    1. That's awesome! Where do you plan on going?

    2. I'm going to Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil for 6 months. I will need to plan another trip to south america to do the resting countries haha another year, haha. There is sooo much to do!!
      If you have any travel tips of what I really should miss, the stuff you did do and loved, I would appreciate it :) I'm going to the galapagos and doing the inka trail already.

    3. You should have more than enough time! I did Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile in 3 months :) Chichen Itza in Mexico is a must, and the Salt Flats in Bolivia. You should also visit Iguazu Falls, I only did the Argentina side, but you can visit them on the Brazil side as well. They are very beautiful! I plan on posting more about my trip, so check back! And if you have any questions feel free to ask!! :)