The point behind me commencing my contract work with Health Care Australia was to not only provide me with the opportunity to travel within Australia and gain professional experience in a variety of culturally diverse settings, but to be give me the freedom to work six months of the year and travel six months of the year, to discover the world. At the ripe old age of 25 when most of my high school friends have been on the traveling bandwagon for a few years now, I’m still studying (I’ll be graduating with my PG Dip in Midwifery at the end of this year) and have seen very little of the world.
I am unsure yet, in the long run, whether I want to work for three months and then travel for three months, or work for six months and then travel for six (I know, I sound like a self entitled white person… talk about first world problems?!) However, my first contract is a six month contract which is suiting me nicely at this stage, and therefore I will take five months off at the end of the contract to do my first big trip.
Most people dream of a contiki through Europe, standing beneath the Eiffel tower, or being on a boat in the Greek Islands, which I hope to eventually get to, but I am planning my trips in order of importance to me, in case I never get to tick all of the destinations off my bucket list, then I’ve done the most important ones first. My biggest travel dreams have been Central and South America, and Africa.
With my Mum and Stepdad currently on their year-long OE, and my Mum’s dream of spending Christmas and New Years in New York with the family, I figured I may as well plan my Central and South America trip around this, and thus I began planning my first big adventure.
When I started planning for this trip, I realised how much I wanted to do, and how completely impractical it is to do it all within the time and the budget that I have available to me, and therefore, like any traveler, I’ve had to prioritise, and put a few countries on the ‘next time’ list.
I have chosen the more expensive options than a lot of other travelers, simply because I am traveling alone as a woman who doesn’t speak any other language (I am planning on learning some Spanish before I go), and I don’t want a stressful journey so I’m taking the easy option and spending the majority of time doing tours.
Up until recently, when I decided to leave the safety of New Zealand behind and travel solo, I always wanted to travel but missed out because most of my friends were traveling with their partners or were having families and I wasn’t brave enough to go by myself. I may still not be brave enough to go it alone (I don’t know, I haven’t really pushed myself out of my comfort zone yet but I’ve giving myself no other option) but it’s happening, and I will roll with it and see how I go.
My point being, that I know what it’s like to want to travel, and wish you could just tag along on someone else’s holiday without being the third wheel. Yes, we can be brave and go it alone, join a tour and just do it anyway, but it’s so much more enjoyable to share it with someone you know (it’s always nice to have someone taking your photos without worrying they’re going to steal your camera, right? I guess that’s why selfie sticks were invented).
So I’m sharing my travel itinerary with you, and extending an open invitation to anyone reading this, who wants to travel but doesn’t want to go it alone, to jump on board. You are welcome to peruse my schedule and join in for any part of it, or the whole thing if you want to. I’m going anyway, solo or otherwise, but I would love to share this journey with any other travel enthusiasts and would openly welcome you all on board. Plus, I’ve done heaps of research and planning so it will mean you’ll be able to just jump on board the best tours with the best local highlights and all for the most affordable prices that I’ve managed to find.
Without further delay, behold, my travel itinerary:
December 18, 2017 – Fly from Auckland to Hong Kong with Katie, my sister. We decided to have a four day stop over here on the way to NYC for Christmas with the family and neither of us have been here so if anyone has any tips on what to do that would be greatly appreciated!
December 22, 2017 – January 13, 2018 – New York City baby! I’ll be here with my two Sisters and Brothers in law, my Mum and my Stepdad for Christmas and New Years. We have planned a trip to Atlanta to see the biggest Aquarium in the world, and I think mum wants to go to Philadelphia too. This bit of the journey is what my Mum has been dreaming of since she was a little girl – having a white Christmas and New Years in Time Square!
January 13 – February 5, 2018 – Playa Del Carmen, Mexico – This is where my Sister and Brother in law live. I will be staying with them to have a bit of down time before my first tour starts and to explore some of the famous Mayan ruins, including El Castillo at Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world. Hopefully, during this time we will make a trip to Cuba together too.
February 6 – 9 March, 2018 – Central America Journey tour – my first tour of the trip which is a 32 day tour with G Adventures from Playa Del Carmen, Mexico to San Jose, Costa Rica. I spent a long time comparing the tours on offer through Central America and this one seemed the best to me in terms of pricing, what it included and the destinations visited. This tour travels through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, spending a minimum of 2 – 3 days at each stop over for maximum enjoyment. To read more about this tour, including the daily itinerary and pricing, click on the link above.
March 10 – March 17, 2018 – This is a period that I haven’t planned for yet – most likely I will be staying on for maybe 4 more days in San Jose, Costa Rica before flying to Quito, Ecuador which is where my next tour starts.
March 17 – 23, 2018 – Local Living Ecuador, Amazon Jungle tour – this tour is a week in the Amazon Rainforest with G Adventures, starting and ending in Quito, Ecuador. I am really excited about this tour as all of the activities sound so amazing! During this tour, the accommodation for the most part is rustic jungle lodges with a host family of locals. The tour encompasses walking through the jungle, visiting an animal rescue centre, experiencing shamanic healing ceremonies and taking a guided jungle medicine walk, experiencing a traditional jungle wedding and much more! Click on the link above for more details.
March 24, 2018 – April 19, 2018 – I left a large gap here because this is when I am planning on doing the 4 day / 3 night Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu national park. It is important to spend a minimum of 4 days in Cusco, Peru prior to this to acclimatize to being at that altitude and let the altitude sickness pass before commencing the hike, hence why I left myself some leeway in this travel period. Ideally I would commence the hike in the middle of this period, to give myself time to travel Peru around these dates and to get to my next travel destination before my final tour departs. I have yet to book in for this tour as I am waiting to see if anyone wants to join me and accommodate their date preference before locking in the tour and paying the deposit. I have done extensive research into the tour companies that run the guided walks and have decided on Llama Path tours, which is linked above, as they offer small group sizes, good camping conditions and food.
April 20 – May 9, 2018 – Discover Bolivia and Argentina tour – when I was looking at South America tours, I found it really challenging because it was impossible for me to do everything I wanted to do without ending up on a tour for months. Unfortunately, I decided that Brazil was going to have to be left off the list this time and done in it’s own trip (it is massive and deserves the time spent on it all on its own, not as part of another tour). So when I looked into what I really wanted to see in South America, the most important things to me were the salt flats of Bolivia and the Atacama Desert and thus I looked for a tour that provided those experiences. The tour I selected is a 20 day tour traveling Bolivia, Chile and Argentina with Intrepid Travel, that starts in La Paz, Bolivia and ends in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This tour is the perfect blend of adventure, scenery and relaxation. Commencing with the amazing sights of the salt flats and Atacama desert and finishing in Argentinian wine country. For more details, click the link above.
May 10 – May 17th, 2018 – Argentina – I have decided to finish my trip with a week in Argentina, which I have yet to plan anything for yet besides Iguazu falls which is a tentative plan, depending on how my budget goes leading up to this point (travel always costs waaaay more than you think it will). So, if I am a homeless person by then, maybe my flight will be brought forward and I’ll go straight home and start looking for a job ASAP, but if I am on target with my spending, I will spend a week in Argentina and visit these amazing waterfalls and explore the city!
So that’s my plan for the great Central and South America trip of 2018, I’ve had to cut a lot of my list that I really wanted to see like the Galapogos and Brazil, but all in all I am really happy with my plan and I’m super excited to see all of these amazing places. I have yet to book any of the tours yet as I wanted to put my itinerary out there for people to peruse to see if they wanted to jump on board with my travel plans before I started booking but I will be booking within the month to avoid disappointment so if you’re keen – hit me up asap through the contact me part of the website or on facebook.
Tour radar, which is the site I’m using to book all of my tours, is an amazing website that offers awesome referral schemes and discounts so if you want to book a tour at any time, sign up under my link to get 5% off your first tour (that’s $150 off if you book a $3000 tour!)
Feel free to share this blog post with people that you know who are traveling or wanting to travel and need a travel companion and if anyone has any travel tips for any of the travel destinations I’ve listed above, please share them as this is my first time traveling to these places and I’d love to hear your stories or advice.
Cover photo taken by G Adventures – I did not take this photo and have no legal rights to the photo, this image is copyrighted to G Adventures.