This is going to be a blog post series to hopefully help an overwhelmed traveler plan an epic trip. I travel different ways. I try to get out and see the sights in my own neighborhood and local area. And sometimes I am spontaneous, follow sales and just buy a ticket (that is how I recently went to Iceland). But at least once a year I use 2-3 weeks of vacation from work, and spend the previous months if not the entire year, planning an amazing trip. For 2016, this trip will be to South America. But I am already thinking about 2017 (Trans-Siberian Railroad) and 2018 (S.E Asia). There is no right way to plan a trip, but these are the steps I use…
Step 1: Decide when and where you want to go.
This may seem obvious and some may think I should gloss over it. However, this is the most important and exciting step. You can do this in either order. If you have a set vacation time every year based on work or the kids schedule, then “when” may be pre-determined. So then you want to concentrate on where. Follow travel blogs for inspiration (I follow a lot of them for you on my facebook page at www.lifekientictravel.com/facebook). Browse through the travel section of a book store. Tune into the travel channel on TV. Go to Whichairline and search for “anywhere.”
Sometimes you decide the “where” first. Like me, you may naturally plan and have a list longer than you have time or money. Or you may have that one place you have been dying to go. In this case, you know the “where” and you can do some research on the “when.” What is high season, low season and shoulder season? Is there particular weather you want? Is there a festival or special event you want to catch? Is money or crowds a concern?
Last year I took a trip to Central America. This was my first trip Central or South America. I had a wonderful time and knew then that South America was my next major destination. But South America is a huge continent so where to start? Mauchu Pichu is high on my bucket list but it is on my husband’s too. And since he can’t join me for this trip, that cut out Peru. And in my mind, Peru and Ecuador go together. I eliminated Chile because I want to combine that with Easter Island and I wasn’t ready for that trip because I want more of a South American sample. And I want to stay away from Brazil as I am sure prices and crowds will sky rocket with the Olympics this summer. So, I happily settled on Argentina as my base with some side trips to Uruguay and Paraguay.
For me, timing was easier. November is shoulder season. While prices will be higher than the off season, the weather should be fantastic and I want to see whales in Patagonia which can only be done October through December. Also, the November holidays make it a prime time to be away from work. Frankly, I can be gone longer but impact the office less due to the two holidays.