T-minus one month

August 11, 2009 at 11:37 pm | Posted in life, Planning, travel | Leave a comment

September 7th. That’s the day I will jump off the proverbial cliff and fly to Buenos Aires to begin my 13 week trip to South America. I bought my tickets the day before I jumped a plane to San Francisco to see my boyfriend for the last time for nearly five months. Then I jetsetted across the States to NYC for a weekend with family, and now I find myself back at home facing reality. AKA the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do in South America for more than three months.

And so the time for preparation has arrived. I’ve finally pushed myself to start my attempts at re-learning Spanish. So far I’ve listened to about a half hour of Spanish learning podcasts and spent another half hour or so perusing a “Teach Yourself Spanish” book from the library. I’m hardly approaching riveting conversationality yet, but at least I’ve taken the first step.

I’ve also been burying my nose in guidebooks. Cross-referening between Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, I’m trying to make note of what seems worthy of seeing and doing on my journey north from BA to Quito. In the end, I’m sure I will end up determining my route more by recommendations and spur of the moment decisions, but it’s nice to be informed and aware of the options. I’ve only immersed myself in Argentina and Bolivia and Already my dreams of Argentina have grown from a simple route of BA-Iguazu-Salta-adios to visions of red rock formations, dinosaur graveyards, and fertile vineyards and Bolivia has become so much more than just salt flats.

But in all honesty, I have my priorities a little jumbled. It’s good to be better versed in Spanish and the regions I’m visiting, but these are things I inevitably won’t have a real grasp on until I’m in South America. There are other things of a more pressing manner I should be worrying about.

Health

Luckily, my vaccinations are pretty much in order. Having visited Peru three years ago, yellow fever, hepatitis, etc. are all covered. Unfortunately, it seems my typhoid vaccine will be just about overdue so I should probably look into getting the thyphoid pills (they’re cheaper and last longer, not sure why I didn’t go for that option in the first place — I hate needles!) Here’s to hoping my dismal health insurance will cover them. Which brings me to part two of health: travel health insurance. World Nomads receives nothing but glowing reviews and offer reasonable prices. I will certainly go with them, it’s just a matter of getting that done!

Funds

My credit card bill is going to be a whopper this month, what with buying my SA tickets and spending a week in San Francisco, plus anything more I will spend preparing for this trip. And my bank account will be looking tragic after that. I have adjusted pretty well to the lifestyle of spending almost nothing (aka the lifestyle of living with my parents and being a hermit) so it’s going to be hard hitting having a constant flow of money out of my pockets when I’m traveling (no matter how inexpensive SA may be). I am relying heavily on some old bonds my dad gave me for graduation. Lord help me if I have any trouble accessing that money in the next few weeks!

Packing

Should be a four letter word. In general, I am a pretty good packer and can easily pack much less than many others I know. But as far as packing for backpacking, the longest I’ve had to pack for was a month and a half. Not that there’s really much difference when it comes down to durations of 6 weeks or 13 weeks. Still, I tend to get better when I’m in that mode (i.e. taking lots of little backpacking trips when I’m abroad studying or something). So I’m a bit worried, especially when I’m considering the huge variances in temperatures and environments I’ll be encountering–well below freezing temperatures in the Andes or altiplano versus scorching temperatures and humidity in other areas. I hope to list out all the things I think I need, then lay out all the things I plan to pack, figure out what I need to eliminate, and figure out what I still need to get.

Get moving!

All in all, there’s a lot that goes into preparation for a trip. In the past, my travels have always been after a study abroad experience and so have allowed for a lot of adjusting and getting to know the area beforehand. And I was usually with other people as well. This trip is overall just very different circumstances than any other travel I’ve done. Though everyone is pushing me to plan, figure everything out, and “for goodness sake join a tour!” – I feel being open and flexible is the best path for me and over-preparation will do nothing but stress me out! Here’s to hoping it all works out!

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