WHEN you embark on a trip you’ve really got two options, you can plan the whole thing out or you can accept a laissez faire approach and leave it up to the will of the travel gods.
Both have their benefits. The idea of rough and tumble, “local’s only”, style travel where you glide around like a nimble thief in Prince of Persia has an appeal and a rather romantic air to it. One imagines plenty of hopping in the back of pick up trucks and grabbing the final train car railing as the conductor let’s out the departing howl and the wheels shake free.
There is the other option though. The planned and booked sort of travel where each hotel, travel stop, tour, etc., are all planned out and ever so correctly plotted. The ease and effortlessness is easily imagined. A smartphone holds the answers to every question: a simple thumb tap and the itinerary “folds open” on your screen and a demure finger swipe checks you into the next accommodation or summons Le Uber driver. Of course, a true travel gentleman would never break a sweet and each departure would come and go without cause for a single grey hair.
Hmm perhaps such as:
Or actually no, more like this (Yes Sir Michael Cain has it down):
Now, I have always thought myself as one who would fancy the rustic and unplanned. The choice would be easy. I’d wing it. Grab a duffle and see where the wind decided to shift next.
This time around, I’ll be in a group of 3 and the fact that as I write I’m in San Francisco and my friends are up in Seattle, has started to force a bit more planning and a bit more precision. It has been hard to discuss or get questions going back and forth, or at least it is not as simple as talking it all over a beer. We’ve emailed quite a bit and have a Google Doc running to track who has bought what.
Last you heard, I was planning a trip with friends to hit Machu Picchu and embark on the touristy Top 10 thing to do.
This time around I’ve decided to piece mail a trip together using all tools at my disposal. Starting with the known dates: September 28th until October 22nd. I then focused on the major event – the hike – and made sure to reserve from October 3rd through the 6th.
Then we did various flight searches on United, Avianca, American, etc., and tried to understand the best deals, the flights with the fewest connections, the best time to arrive each new city (Pro Tip: Don’t fly into a new city late at night. It’s dark, you don’t know where you’re going…best to arrive during the day).
We ended up piecing together the flights and then bought on Expedia as a multi-destination route.
Our flights will leave from Seattle and San Francisco and transfer in Houston, TX, then arrive in Bogota, Colombia.
I know what you’re thinking….wait…Colombia? When did that get added to the plan.
When did this become the plan?
Ok so that’s not the plan!
But all sorts of Travel magazines are calling Bogota a big hit and a must see for it’s history, art, coffee and culture. So naturally, a few history buffs like us, felt it made sense to fly into Bogota then fly to Cusco, Peru (near the Machu Picchu hike and Sacred Valley). That flight was more direct (less time waiting in airports) and cheaper, than flying from the USA to Lima, Peru, and then flying from Lima to Cusco.
So while we are very excited to check out Colombia we feel very sorry to miss Lima, Peru. (Although I’ve heard good and bad about the fine colonial city and I hope to visit another time).
To make sense of all these flights, as well as our modest hostel accommodations, I have been using TripIt, an app by SAP / Concur, that can lay out your plans as you forward the confirmation emails from airlines, hotels, etc., www.tripit.com
So as the planning continues, we’ve folded in a stopover in Bolivia to visit the Salt Flats. We have some more research to do about our time in the capital city in Bolivia, La Paz. But if Bolivia seems strange, remember it was listed as the #8 place to go last year!
But in the coming weeks I’ll be filling in the rest of the trip and making sure we are in for smooth sailing.
Got any ideas? Or feel missing out on Lima will be life shattering? Please let us know.