My final countries destination list for Central & South America is significantly shorter than anticipated. Although I initially wanted to do 12 countries, the expensive flights and inconvenient routes of Central & South America became a hindrance. So as a compromise, I chose to stay longer at each place instead of visiting more countries. This also cuts down on administrative costs & time, and will allow for a mix of hectic exploration and relaxation
I am approximately under 5 months away from my date of departure and considering I have to get my passport renewed, get visas, etc, this leaves very little time to apply for visas for more than 3 countries.
This is where I really had to return to my Travel Mantra, I had to think about what I wanted to get out of the experience and from there, cut the fat
– Brazil (including flight to & from Manaus)
– Peru (Including a flight to Cusco from Lima)
PLACES I HAD TO CUT OUT (but really didn’t want to):
– Ecuador / Galapagos Islands – While it has been my lifelong DREAM to go to the Galapagos Islands, this excursion alone would add upwards of $1000 to the trip and considering I have to budget for the whole year, this seems like an obvious cut. Not one easily made however
– Chile – I really wanted to go to the southernmost point of South America via Chile, and also to the Easter Island, but the Island is basically halfway to Indonesia and Chile has expensive visas & I thought about how awesome it would be to lump my eventual Chile visa with an Antartica trip when I can afford it
– Mexico – Even though my only Mexico visit was to Acapulco during spring break in college (I succumbed to peer pressure – *sigh*) and I really wanted to experience the Mayan ruins, its close enough to the US that I can visit another time. And besides, this is probably not the safest time to be traipsing around drug-lord infested Mexico.
– Venezuela – I’m sure Venezuela is incredible, and its both mine & Justin’s dream to visit Angel Falls, we would need an aerial tour to really experience it, and the cost of visiting the falls + airfare would be close to 1000 USD
– Fernando de Noronha – This incredible escape in the Northeast corner of Brazil looks AMAZING, and I’m dying to go, but besides the 200+ USD flight to Recife, the flight from Recife to the islands (upwards of $600) and the expensive accomodations ($120+ / night) – this escursion would’ve cost us close to $1200, didn’t seem worth it
PLACES CONSIDERED (BUT SKIPPING):
– Costa Rica – I’ve always fantasized about Costa Rica as this amazing place, the jungle, the surfing & beaches, but 99% of my well traveled friends pretty much agree. Once you’ve seen great beaches, & the rainforest, its kind of the same thing. And I’ve done the whole zip lining thing so it seems like an obvious choice to omit
– Caribbean – Both my boyfriend and I have been to the Caribbean plenty, and not to generalize, but again, once you’ve seen a few, the difference is marginal
– Panama – was on our original itinerary, but a few people who have been there told us its OK to skip that in an attempt to shave down our airline expenses
We had a lovely agent (Andrew) at AirTreks help us price out our different itinerary options. Andrew was SO patient with us as we tried to rejigger everything to make all the dates work and the costs down.
In the end our fare was $2770 (11 flights to six countries, originating and ending in Los Angeles) – including taxes & fees & the base travel insurance (which is GREAT! even after comparing to other insurance options – only reason we bought additional insurance was for the Hazardous Sports coverage.)
And just to be sure, I priced out the itinerary via Kayak, Skyscanner and Vayama and AirTreks ended up being WAY cheaper.
Not to mention, there was a considerable amount of emails exchanged between us and the agents to push down costs. Namely, changing the order of the countries we visit to eliminate some flights that don’t make sense, we had Andrew nudge the dates around to see if a Wednesday would be cheaper than a Saturday for example. There were even times when we changed our minds in terms of how long we wanted to spend somewhere, or changing up our preferred route. Andrew was courteous, super friendly, and super knowledgable (avid traveler himself.) And because he was leaving for his own vacation when we were about to book, he handed us off to Sara, who was equally as amazing.
We emailed with Airtreks a bunch and they got us a price thats not only the cheapest, but one that made the most sense. I was ecstatic about our final itinerary and honestly don’t think I can book anything without their help now! I’m spoiled!
*my boyfriend is shocked at how I’m all about Airtreks now, I’m the ultimate non-trusting cynic when it comes to services, he never thought he’d see the day…