Pre-departure

I’ve got the jitters.

The next three months will be a blast, I know it. Trip planning lets my imagination run wild and dream big, and I’ve got a big route to follow. But of course, I can’t help but be extremely nervous. This’ll be by far the longest time I’ve ever been on the road, and also the longest time I’ll have spent travelling alone. (The previous? 17 days in India, 7 of them alone.) This is also the first time I’ll be travelling in countries where using English might not work so well. For some, especially the experienced, this trip is nothing.  (Or perhaps I’ve been reading too many travel blogs and watching far too much of Departures lately.)  For me, it’s a big deal!

So yes, the jitters. Jitters of excitement, and jitters of nerves.

I’ve been super lucky in the past with travelling, and I know my luck will run out at some point. There’s bound to be plenty of difficulties ahead, but I think that’s part of the whole experience!
Over the last few weeks as I’ve been finalising my plans, several questions have been asked quite a few times.

First: the budget. I’m fortunate enough to have more than enough to fall back on, so this isn’t a concern. I’ll still be doing it relatively cheaply though – minimal flights and mostly bus journeys, plus staying in hostels. However, I’m covering a lot of ground, and spending peak season (January/February) in the two most expensive countries (Chile and Argentina). I’m allowing myself $7000, but anticipate spending about 65% of that.

Second: the packing. Though it may be South American summer, my planned destinations take me from searing, dry desert heat to humid to mountainous to windy and cold. That being said, I’d like to pack *somewhat* light…

39L backpack and a 17L daypack (to be packed in the 39L one)
4 x t-shirts
2 x long sleeves
1 x rain jacket
6 x underwear, socks
1 x jeans
1 x trousers
2 x shorts
1 x swim trunks
1 x sandals
1 x flip flops

toiletries
sunglasses
money belt
DSLR (with 18-55mm kit lens) + second battery + charger
point-and-shoot + second battery + charger (yes, I’m bringing two cameras!)
memory cards (16, 16, 8, 2 GB)
mini tripod
head lamp
universal plug converter
USB cord
USB charger
USB SD card reader
mp3 player + headphones
portable hard drive
notepad + pen
guidebook
lock
Pepto + antihistamine

No laptop means no photo editing (I’ll still upload a few here, and upload the edited ones on Facebook in April), and Internet only when I can find it.  Might affect the blogging!

Third: my itinerary. This is something I’m a little reluctant to reveal, mainly because I’m already tempted to diverge from my planned route. I’ve got a tourist-trail kinda thing planned, but something might catch my eye and take me off course once in awhile. That being said, there are several foundations to this trip.

  1. Fly into Buenos Aires, fly to Ushuaia shortly after, and fly out from Quito three months later.
  2. Go from the very bottom of the continent to the equator…preferably by land. This means passing through at least 5 countries (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador), if I don’t end up skipping any.
  3. Visit Patagonia. See a penguin or two or hundred or thousand.
  4. Visit Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia – the centre-point of my trip.

Everything else, I’m flexible. 🙂

Lastly: the purpose.

  • Why am I doing this trip? I’d just like to see more of the world, and I want to challenge myself – not just physically, but also to see things differently. Photos and landmarks and food are all awesome, but never end up being the most memorable things about my past travels. The journey, the people, the culture, and things I probably can’t even guess at this point – that’s what makes it all worth it in the end, and you get more of that in a long term trip than a short one.
  • Why now? Well, I’ve got some precious time off before I start work. Eight months with no commitments is very hard to come by, and I’m gonna make the most of it.
  • Why alone? Because I’m definitely not wasting away my time off by sitting at home waiting months for someone else to be free to join me! (I do wish that someone could join me though.)
  • And why three months? There’s so much to see, and so many things that come up in my research that interest me – I wish I had even more time!

People talk about travel all the time, but it seems like they never follow through with it. Yes, there’s fear of the unknown and of all the logistics involved, and yes, it’s definitely not easy to drop everything and go spend yourself into the red… If you’re serious about wanting to travel, you just have to make it happen no matter the obstacles! I feel so fortunate that these obstacles aren’t exactly there for me at the moment, so I’m gonna try my best to make the most of this opportunity.

Next stop – Buenos Aires!

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