Trip Checklist – Part 2

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Putting together a checklist for a three month trip to South America and then a who-knows-how-long trip to the UK and Europe was a bit tough but the good old Lonely Planet was very helpful and so were my friends who have travelled previously – both were full of very handy advice. So here is the second part of my checklist:

Travel money card – DONE. I decided to get the ANZ travel card because I’m an ANZ customer already so I thought it would just be simpler. There wasn’t that much difference bewteen the Travelex and American Express. I’ve loaded US$ on for the South America leg as I thought that would convert the best (not sure if my logic was right there) and I’ve got some some Pounds and some Euro loaded on as well.

Camera – In progress. I’ve decided to get a Canon PowerShot S95 which I’ve got on order at Georges camera shop in Sydney. I did have my eye on a couple of other Canon cameras but when I got in touch with my friend Lexy who writes the camera reviews on Cnet, she suggested the PowerShot S95 (and she would know). Hopefully it will come in soon, I’d like to try it out and get some practice before I leave. I’ll be sure to blog about it when it arrives.

Travel vaccinations – In progress. On Monday I went in to get the first of my vaccinations and I am now protected against Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Measels/Mumps/Rubella, Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus, Influenza, and Polio. I had six shots all up and next week I have to go back for my second Hep B and take a Dukoral drink which protects me against Cholera and E-coli. I also have to take Malaria tablets when I go to the Amazon. I decided not to get the Rabies vaccination, as I think it is highly unlikely that I will get bitten by a rabid animal and also because it involves having three shots that cost $115 each! I know I should be more worried about protecting my health than protecting my back pocket, but geez, that’s a lot of money!

Organise visas for Brazil and UK – DONE. Both processes were very different and both quite confusing. My only advice to others is to read and re-read all instructions and applications forms very carefully as I’ve heard of a lot of people who have had to put back their travel dates as they filled out their visa applications incorrectly.

Bits and Pieces: Sleeping bag (my friend Jo lent me hers that she took to South America, which is very kind of her. I bought a compression bag so that I can squish the bag right down so it takes up less room – very handy!) thermals and duck down jacket (the jacket is really warm but also compresses really small), power adapters (it seems just about each country has a different power plugin), insect repellant (big mozzies in the Amazon and a malaria risk), first aid kit (just in case), torch, universal sink plug, water purifier drink bottle (I thought this was a good idea at the time but now I’m not sure I trust it enough to drink from the water supply, which is said to be full of nasty things).

Still to do: buy earplus (in case of snorers), photocopy my travel documents (very important) and research phone use in South America.

As you can see I’m almost organised and there’s still a month to go before I fly out. I’m sure there will be something that I’ve completely forgotten and I’ll be rushing around like a headless chook the day before I leave though!

I’ll be doing a post about packing soon so you can take a look at all the things I’m taking with me. Hopefully I’ll be able to use my new camera to take photos.

Until then, adios!

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Trip Checklist

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When I first decided to go on this trip, one of the first things I did was write a checklist of what I need to do before I fly out. Then I can tick things off as I go along and also keep track of all the costs that correspond with my to do list actions. This is what is on my list:

Get fit: In progress (kinda). This was the very first thing on my list as I really wanted to be able to hike the Inca Trail without having a heart attack! I’ve been going ok with the goal but it’s been very difficult to get up on these cold winter mornings and go for a run. When I can’t convince myself to go outside I walk up and down the fire stairs in my building. Hopefully getting those mountain climbing muscles ready to go!

Books flights – DONE. I am flying with Lan Chile to Lima via Auckland, New Zealand and Santiago, Chile. Then my flight to London is with Linhas Aeras. I booked all my flights through STA Travel at Broadway Shopping Centre. I highly recommend my travel agent Mick Tattam who was extremely helpful and patient with me when I was trying to make up my mind about whether or not to book.

Book tour – DONE. I decided that it would be best to start out on a tour so I could get used to being in a country where I knew absolutely no one before trying my luck on my own. I booked my tour through STA who are affiliated with GAP Adventures and once again Mick was very helpful.

Buy backpack – DONE. I went in to the adventure travel district on Kent St in Sydney and went to pretty much every single store there. The very first store that I went into was Paddy Pallin where I was assisted by a very helpful girl and she recommended Osprey backpacks.  I fell in love with the very first one I tried on, the Waypoint, but I forced myself to go to the other stores to try on some others. But, guess what, in the end I ended up buying that very first backpack!

Buy hiking boots – DONE. I’ve bought a lot of stuff at Kathmandu and my boots was the most exciting purchase out of these. A friend who had hiked the Inca trail before recommended that I get ankle high boots as the trail is quite uneven in places and ankle boots give you a bit more stability. So I got Kathmandu’s Terania boots which I thought were comfy and not too ugly looking!

Buy travel insurance – DONE. I looked into getting travel insurance through a financial institution that offered free travel insurance with their credit card products. However, for all of them it was required that I have a return airline ticket for the insurance to be valid. I looked at a few that were incredibly expensive and then my mum suggested World Nomads which is designed for young, adventuous travellers and you are able to extend the cover at any time.

That’s enough for now. In my next post I’ll tell you about the other things that were on my checklist.

Adios!

Itinerary

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Three months seems like a long time, but in a place like South America where there is so much to see and do, I think that three months will fly by. So I’ve decided that I’m not going to attempt seeing the entire continent but rather visit a few countries and do them justice.

As I said in my last post, I am flying in to Lima, Peru on the 1st of August and I join my Gap Adventures tour the next day. The tour lasts 21 days and ends in La Paz in Bolivia. I am hoping that I will meet some lovely people on the tour who are continuing their travels through South America that I might be able to travel with.

I’d like to stay a few days in La Paz, I’ve been told the people are very friendly and the markets are a must see. From there, I’d like to head south to see the salt flats in the south of Bolivia and then down through Chile to Santiago. I’m very keen to do a trip to Easter Island from Santiago but I want to try and find a good value tour to go on as it seems very expensive. From Santiago, I think I will travel further south (depending on how cold it is) to the Patagonian lakes district and then across the Andes to Bariloche in Argentina.

Once in Argentina, I am planning to head to Mendoza, the wine area of Argentina and the home of delicious Malbec. I’ve never been a huge fan of red wine but after being persuaded by my friend Helina to try some, I have fallen in love and now I can’t wait to spend some time among the vineyards indulging in some of the finest vino Argentina has to offer.

If Mendoza is the wine capital of Argentina then apparently Buenos Aires is the beef capital and anyone that knows me, knows that I love a good steak. So next on the list is the cosmopolitan city of BA. Buenos Aires is also the home of Tango and after doing one Tango class previously I cannot wait to learn more about this very steamy dance.

From Buenos Aires I want to head to the famous Iguazu Falls which sits on the border of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Iguazu Falls are meant to be some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world and I’ve been told that you have to see them from the Argentinia side as well as the Brazilian side.

From there, I’m thinking that I might spend some time on the southern beaches of Brazil and hopefully soak up some sun, before heading north to Sao Paulo and then lastly to Rio De Janeiro which is where I will fly out from on the 1st November.

Of course, this isn’t set in stone and there will be many other places visited in between. I’m very interested in hearing suggestions from anyone so please let me know if you think there is a place that I must visit.

Well until next time, adios!

The First Step

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The first step - grab some brochures and start planning!

So, it is about a month and a half before I fly out on the trip I have been dreaming of for, well, forever.

This is the first time I have been travelling by myself, and while this is the most exciting thing I have ever done, it is also the most terrifying.

Well, my flights are booked and believe it or not I’m actually already packed (all that’s remaining to pack is my underwear and my toothbrush!). I know that’s a bit excessive considering there’s still 46 days before I fly out but I suppose you could say I’m a little excited.

I’ve done a beginner’s class in Spanish (hola!) and a beginner’s salsa class, and while I doubt the locals are going to be amazed with my skills, I hope that these will help me to make the most of my trip.

So, where am I going I hear you ask. Well, here’s the lowdown:

I fly out of Sydney on the 1st August to Lima in Peru. The next day I join a Gap Adventures tour group (Inca Heartland & Amazon, in case you were wondering) which goes for 21 days visiting places like Pisco, Nazca, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Amazon Jungle, Puno, Lake Titicaca and finishing in La Paz, Bolivia.

From there, I’m a free woman and will be making my own way across the continent to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil by the 1st of November – three months all up.

I’ll save the rest of my plans for my next post so until then, adios!

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