Saturday, 3 March 2012

Two Month Check-up, Part two: Itinerary and Plans

This is another check-up post. If you have no idea what that means, go back to this post.

In Part Two of the two month check-up series, I'm going to go into the fascinating (not really) details of how our plans and itinerary have changed since we started. Hope you are sitting down for this one...

How has your itinerary changed from your original plan?
The itinerary has changed drastically since we first planned it and is still in a state of constant flux. Before we even left for the trip, we gave our original route a complete overhaul. As 99% of our decisions are made on the fly, our plan has continued to change as we go. Our actual itinerary, which I've been too lazy to update for the last two weeks, is HERE.

When we started the trip, we thought that we would have a basic idea of our destinations and would more or less follow the plan. That hasn't really been the case. We started out disciplined enough but as time went on, our plans kind of went to hell and we started just making it up as we went. Which has worked out just fine. We've really enjoyed several places that we originally had no intention of visiting and we have no regrets about those to which we never made it. Once in a destination, we simply look at a map and bus schedule to figure out where we want to go next. We often need to at least consider two or three steps ahead to make sure we are moving in a direction that makes sense, but we rarely know where we will be a week from any given day.

Examples of how our itinerary has changed just in the last eight weeks: We never planned to go to Arequipa or Mollendo; we originally planned to go into the Brazilian Amazon, not the Bolivian Amazon;  we had planned to cross into Argentina from Bolivia, not through Chile (in fact, we hadn't planned to hit Chile until April!); we thought we would go south from Salta and instead, we went east to Buenos Aires, with a random, unplanned forray into Uruguay, where we happen to be now. The biggest, and for me, most heart-breaking, however practical, change we have made is that we are taking Brazil off our itinerary. I desperately want to go, but we have neither the time nor the budget to do the enormous country justice and it just doesn't make sense to do (and pay for) 80 hours of bus to get to and from Rio just to spend one week. Flights are prohibitively expensive, so the land of thongs, Samba, Cacha├ža and beautiful people will have to wait for another trip. And there will be another trip.

At the moment, we are also looking at changing some of the Asian portion of our trip, but since that's still a question mark, I'll wait until the next check-up to cover it.

What about volunteering? Are you still planning to do that?
Yes! We still plan to volunteer while we are in South America and are in the process of finalizing what we are going to do and when. We know that we will spend at least two weeks working on an organic farm in El Bolson, Argentina, in northern Patagonia, and might do two more weeks working in an eco-friendly bed and breakfast.Volunteering remains a key goal of our trip and as much fun as it is cavorting around the continent with no schedule or responsibility, we are ready for a challenge and some good old fashioned hard work. Plus, our budget demands that we get free room and board at some point. So there's that.

How does your original plan for your trip hold up to the reality?
I am going to do a separate post about our impressions and feelings, but regarding pure logistics, the way we are travelling is quite different than how we envisioned it before we left. When we originally planned the itinerary, we thought we'd spend two days here, three days there, moving a couple times a week. In reality, we are much happier and appreciative of the trip when we go to less places but spend more time in each. At this point, we are averaging around 3 or 4 nights in each destination, which is a sustainable rhythm that allows us to do a lot without feeling like we are just rushing from place to place, simply to check it off our list. 

So there's the planning check-up. I'm sure we'll have many, many more changes to our itinerary. In the next check-up, I'll cover how the trip itself has held up to our expectations, which hopefully will be a little more interesting than this white bread cheese sandwich of a post. 

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed hearing about your updates. I love the flexibility in your style of travel!