South America Travel

How to plan for a six-month journey to South America

Preparing for the trip. I opted to take a smaller daypack instead of the front backpack in the bottom right picture.

I’m traveling on a six-month journey to South America. This is a trip I’ve been planning for a long time and I wanted to share details about this adventure.

Here are some of the most common questions I get about the trip.

Where are you going?

I’m flying into Quito, Ecuador on Monday… and flying out of Rio de Janeiro in December.  My boyfriend Chris and I will be traveling to Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.  We are traveling by bus and will be visiting most of the major cities, and coastal towns.

Why a six-month journey to South America?

I originally wanted to travel for a year, but my boyfriend felt more comfortable going for a shorter length of time… so we compromised.

Why South America?

Why not? I know the language, and have family members in most of the countries we are visiting.  I have not been back to Bolivia for several years and there are so many people I want to see. Plus, I believe our money can stretch for a lot longer in South America vs. Europe.

Where will you be staying?

As I mentioned already, I have family in most of the countries we are visiting.  When we can, we will stay with them for a few days, and when we go to places where we don’t know anyone we will stay in hostels or hotels.

How were you able to get time off from your job?

I’ve been thinking about traveling for the past two years.  It took some intense planning and saving on my end to prepare for a long-term trip like this.  I’m a journalist and I have been blessed to have (in my opinion) a pretty successful career.  I have a fabulous relationship with my previous employer and I explained to them that the time to travel was now, and I left on my own terms.

How does one get to go on vacation for 6 months?

You have to Save! When I relocated to San Francisco from San Diego, I moved in with a friend who already had a fully furnished apartment. The only thing I needed was a bed, and I was able to sell that before I left the city.
I already had so so so so many shoes and clothes, that there was no need to buy anything new. I took public transportation to work when I lived in San Francisco, and my company paid for my Clipper Card.  (A Clipper card is a plastic card that can be loaded up with money to access public transportation in the Bay Area.)  That way I was able to save money on gas and car maintenance.
I used coupons all the time, and instead of eating out at fancy restaurants on a regular basis, Chris and I made fabulous home-cooked meals.  (I’m lucky he can cook…because my cooking skills are not the greatest! )

Don’t get me wrong, I indulged when I wanted to… I just didn’t spend my budget. I should also add, I paid off my student loans a few years ago, and I don’t have a car payment.

What exactly will you be doing when you get to South America?

I don’t have an agenda, so we will go wherever our hearts desire. I do want to check out Foz de Iguacu in Brazil, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, and of course, Machu Picchu in Peru.

What will you do when you get back?

That is kind of tricky. In a perfect world, I would like to come back and spend the holidays with my family and friends, and then continue to travel.  A more realistic option…is likely staying in New Jersey. Chris’ family is here, and I would pursue work in my field. So much can happen in 6 months, so right now I am focusing on that.

I think that pretty much sums it up!  And a big thank you to everyone who has sent suggestions and blessings my way 🙂

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