If we were to do it again – what changes would we make?

We’re back from our 7-month trip to South America, and the trip exceeded our expectations. Even so, it’s always good to look back to assess what really went well and what we might have done differently. We’re guessing that honing in on the good and the bad should improve our future travel choices.

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Was there anything about our South America trip we would have changed? Yes, and this first one may surprise you. (And it’s not the rocking ship in the Galapagos Islands, even though Joe suffered a bit of seasickness.)

Our first change involves money and value. We try to travel on a modest budget, but we also understand there are some amazing places to see that require dipping into our carefully saved funds. When we decide to do that, we expect to get our money’s worth! Our biggest splurge in South America – by far! – was our visit to the Galapagos Islands. That trip was very good we thought, but then we realized that we had paid only slightly more for the best wildlife trip we’ve ever taken, a safari in Tanzania. The comparison of the two trips led us to conclude that we may well have skipped Galapagos.

Galapagos was a good trip, but we think other great trips we’ve taken offered better value….

Galapagos was a good trip, but we think other great trips we’ve taken offered better value….

… such as our safari in Tanzania with so many more sightings of animals and birds.

… such as our safari in Tanzania with so many more sightings of animals and birds.

Another change might surprise those who visit Machu Picchu. We spent 2 days at Machu Picchu (which was perfect) followed by 6 days total in the Sacred Valley at Ollantaytambo and Pisac. We could have easily spent another 2 or 3 days in the Sacred Valley. So many visitors short change or skip this area, but exploring the many Inca ruins scattered through the mountains enhanced what we’d seen at Mach Picchu and our understanding of the Inca empire.

We should have spent a few more days exploring some of the ruins (like Pumamarca) and hiking in the Andes.

We should have spent a few more days exploring some of the ruins (like Pumamarca) and hiking in the Andes.

While we’re at it, we would have added another day to our 2-day visit to Colca Canyon in Peru. We stayed at the lovely Killawsi Lodge in Yanque at the start of the canyon.

While we’re at it, we would have added another day to our 2-day visit to Colca Canyon in Peru. We stayed at the lovely Killawsi Lodge in Yanque at the start of the canyon.

Our 3 stays in Buenos Aires taught us these lessons: location is very important, steer clear of a noisy place to stay, and make sure the neighborhood has lots to see and do. Our first Buenos Aires AirBnB stay was located on a very noisy street in the Palermo neighborhood. Who knew we’d be sleeping in a room with an adjoining wall to a nightclub?

During the day we escaped to the nearby Parque Tres de Febrero to visit the gardens and watch the birds on our daily walk.

During the day we escaped to the nearby Parque Tres de Febrero to visit the gardens and watch the birds on our daily walk.

If we had it to do again, we would have spent those two weeks outside Buenos Aires, possibly in Salta, Argentina. However, later in our trip, we spent 26 lovely days in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires at another AirBnB. It had everything going for it that our previous location lacked. Location was everything!

The apartment was lovely and quiet; we walked to street festivals (great for photography!); art museums and the Recoleta Cemetery were just a few blocks away.

The apartment was lovely and quiet; we walked to street festivals (great for photography!); art museums and the Recoleta Cemetery were just a few blocks away.

We’ll use what we learned from our trip to South America to guide our future trip planning. We’re curious if you’ve done the same post-trip critique? What did you discover that you would do differently?

 

 

December 2016

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in South America - 2016, Trip Planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to If we were to do it again – what changes would we make?

  1. HaiHui Story says:

    Hello guys, so happy i found your blog 🙂 we’re actually planning around 4 months to South America next year, so i’m doing a lot of reading beforehand :))
    As lessons learned, i have to say that, if traveling in Europe, we’re taking our car whenever possible, and we learned that a vehicle inspection is a must before we go…another thing we do differently is looking for a place to stay before buying the airplane tickets…it happened that one time we bought the plane tickets and had no idea that the city we went to, was hosting a carnival and there were absolutely 0 places to stay…
    Returning to your story here, have you been to all the countries in south america? do you have any other travel tips? 🙂 Cheers!

    • Glad you found us! First, we also make sure we’re going to have a place to stay before booking air travel. In some places, like Bermuda, that’s essential. Second, no, we have not been to every country in South America! Not even close. In 7 months travel , we visited just 3 countries: Ecuador, Peru, and Argentina. We try to focus on spending more time in each country we visit and even at that, just visiting a few places in each country. It works well for us. More travel tips can be found under the “Travel Planning” category under “Places We’ve Been” on the homepage. Enjoy the planning, enjoy the travel!

  2. A longtime friend and sometime travel companion emailed the following:

    Dear B & J, just looking at your blog and I want to answer the question of what we would have done differently on one trip. When in Jordan we would have spent 3 or 4 days in Petra instead of just 2. We really felt there was much more walking and exploring to do, but we’d just bought a 2-day ticket and weren’t going to break the bank for another 2.

    We might sometime go back to Vancouver Island for more time in Strathcona Provincial Park …. what a gorgeous place! But now that I’ve started thinking about this, I could probably name 20 places I’d like more time in. — NT

  3. Thanks for this useful information. After we finished our recent five week driving holiday in England, we decided next time we’re going to buy Britrail passes, do a circuit of a few cities, base ourselves there and use public transport. If there is somewhere we really want to go to that in inaccessible, then we’ll hire a car for a day or two.

  4. leggypeggy says:

    Love your rundown. Agree completely that the Sacred Valley deserves more time. We wouldn’t have missed the Galapagos Islands for anything, but were on a very small boat (10 passengers). And just so you know, Salta had more bugs than anywhere else we went in South America.

  5. I love the way you make the most of your travel, and expect the same in return! You put your heart into what you see and do, and it shows in your posts. I’ll have to catch-up on your Argentina experience (and I think your Peru posts, too). Congrats for a safe journey and a safe return. Susan

  6. Merrill says:

    Hind sight is always 20-20!
    This information is why I like reading travel blogs like yours when I’m travel planning. We are strongly considering Peru this next year.
    Are you back to Portland? We’re in Portland. Wouldn’t it be fun to meet up?

  7. Tina Sumner says:

    I have enjoyed your posts. We just returned home from our 16 month trip around the world (aroundtheworldbackpacking.wordpress.com) and are also talking about what we would and would not do again. Your comments about the Galapagos are similar to ours… it was expensive and we would probably not go there again.

    I agree that location is so important in accomodations. Looking back I can’t believe what we put up with in our rooms (noise, walking blocks to the only close restaurant, freezing cold, roasting hot). We traveled faster than you did so we were moving every three to seven days. At least we did not have to put up with problems for long.

    The main thing we wish we had done differently was to get our scuba open water certification in Mexico at the beginning of our trip. As it was we didn’t do it until Thailand in the last third of our trip. We missed many great diving opportunities.

    Thank you for all of your great articles and pictures.

  8. We usually complete a ‘post mortem’ on all aspects of a trip and as a result tweak our future plans. Places visited is a challenge as most we don’t intend to returns to. Accommodation is important, we have always put location high on the list of requirements but some times a compromise is necessary. Modes of transport is important and usually involves ongoing lessons for us. Packing, is something we think we have finally sorted. There are many more and the lessons continue.

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