When we first began planning this amazing year-long honeymoon, we planned to spend 7 months backpacking through South America: starting in Colombia, working our way down through Ecuador and Peru, popping into Bolivia, and spending a month bouncing between Chile and Argentina.
We dreamed of completing the Lost City trek in the jungles of Colombia, swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, frolicking with llamas on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, mountain biking on Death Road in Bolivia, backpacking through Patagonia in Chile, and exploring vineyards in Argentina.
Things didn’t go quite as planned. After 5 months of backpacking through South America, we’ve decided to cut our trip short. We’re leaving tomorrow.
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Why we decided to change our travel plans
What happened to make us end things early? Well, there were a few reason. For starters, a lot of the things we thought we’d be capable of doing, we weren’t. On our very first week in South America, we realized that the jungles we’d be hiking through to find the Lost City were oppressively hot and humid, and we weren’t acclimated to the heat at all. Despite hiking monthly in the Bay Area (take a look at some of our favorite hikes, here) for the year leading up to our trip and power-lifting 3x per week, we could barely move in the Caribbean heat of Cartagena, much less hike (thanks a lot, constantly cool sea-level San Francisco). Our 2-hour attempt to reach the isolated beaches of Parque Tayrona was so miserable, we opted to save the $600 and skip the Lost City trek altogether.
Hiking, one of our favorite activities (and the “sport” for which all of my training is focused), was so much more difficult than we were used to in South America, and we were totally under-prepared. Altitude also threw us a loop – even with copious altitude sickness pills, we still struggled with basic things like stairs. Most of the rest of our hikes met with disastrous fates (like this one and this one), so that by the time we reached the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, we weren’t in frolicking shape. We were in gasping, panicking, and turning around shape. (Yes, we actually ended up in worse shape on this trip than when we started! RIP, biceps.)
It was all downhill from that first failed trek (in like a painful, injured kind of way): by the time we hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which should have been a highlight of our trip, it actually ended up being the lowest point and our biggest disappointment. (Read more about our failure here.)
Some parts of the trip did go as planned – but we wish we could have changed our plans. Spending 2 months in Peru was set in stone thanks to our expensive Machu Picchu reservation. But 2 months was simply too long to spend in one country.
During our time in Peru, we found ourselves thoroughly exhausted with constantly packing up our backpacks and moving, taking miserably long bus rides, eating unhealthy food (too much rice & fries and not enough protein and fresh produce), and not having any personal time or space.
We found ourselves being uncharacteristically irritable and snippy with each other, skipping out on fun experiences just to sit around and do nothing, and dreading each new place we went. Not exactly our vision for our jam-packed superfun travel honeymoon.
Peru did not agree with us (mentally or physically) and we found ourselves homesick and wishing we could leave early.
Our destination after Peru was supposed to be Bolivia, but we hadn’t booked anything yet. The visa to enter is expensive for US citizens, which made us hesitate. But as we did more research, we discovered some things that made us less than excited for our next destination.
We learned that the roads are even windier and more nausea-inducing than Peru’s, which made my stomach turn just thinking about it (I pop Dramamine like candy). I was not feeling up to more 12+ hour long bus rides.
In addition, some of the highlights of visiting Bolivia raised “exploitative tourism” red flags with us (like touring silver mines where impoverished workers still toil under the same inhumane conditions as they did 100 years ago). The promise of cheap and readily available cocaine – a major tourist attraction – made us want to steer clear altogether (cheap cocaine = irritating hostel-mates and frequent crime. Where there are drugs, there is misery for people who don’t do drugs).
Despite the promise of otherworldly landscapes, the tantalizing Uyuni Salt Flats, and the cheapest way to see the Amazon Jungle (“cheap” is a relative term – it’s only really cheap if you’re willing to take 2 miserable 17-hour long bus rides, and even then it would cost us about $1,000), Bolivia was starting to sound less and less appealing. Finally, we decided to skip it altogether and spend more time in Chile and Argentina instead.
We were halfway into planning our extra time in Chile and Argentina when we realized how forced it all felt. We were planning our bus routes through Patagonia – 8 hours here, 12 hours there – and instead of being enthralled by the scenery we’d be passing through like we were at the beginning of our trip, we just felt nauseous thinking about it.
The promise of adorable penguins, monstrous glaciers, and sparkling marble caves in southern Chile didn’t have the same appeal as it once did. Nor did vibrant Buenos Aires or even jaw-dropping Iguazu Falls.
Instead of being excited by the rest of our trip, we just felt tired. We realized we were just going through the motions and trying to cross “must-visit” destinations off an arbitrary list. It was time for a new plan.
Making a new travel itinerary
We thought spending some time relaxing with our families at home might help our travel blahs, so we accepted a generous family gift of a flight home for Thanksgiving.
And as we booked our trip, suddenly there it was: our excitement was back! We were SO stoked to be going home to the States to relax with family, even for just 2 weeks. Although we booked a return flight to Chile thinking that we’d finish the rest of our trip, we started feeling like we weren’t so sure we wanted to go back.
On a whim, I checked the prices of flights to Europe from the New York area. And wow, were they cheap. We’re talking under $200 for a flight to Copenhagen in December. Within Europe, it was even cheaper: like $30 to fly from European country to European country! (That’s like, a cup of coffee in San Francisco. Amazing!)
The Euro and the Pound were down to reasonable levels compared to the dollar, and everything was so much cheaper than I’d thought. Before I knew it, I was in a Pinterest spiral: I was researching Christmas Markets, fairytale castles, wine regions, the Whisky Trail in Scotland, the wine regions in France. And within a day of sharing my excitement with Jeremy, it was decided: we were going to Europe!
With only a few weeks remaining in South America, we had to squeeze our visit to Chile and Argentina into only 2 weeks. And they were an amazing 2 weeks! We explored vineyards in Mendoza and Valparaiso, were inspired by Pablo Neruda’s house in Valparaiso, stuffed ourselves with incredible food and wine in Mendoza, and ate the best churro of our lives in Santiago.
We know we want to return to Chile and Argentina – at a later time in our lives – and give them the full attention and excitement they deserve: we’re still dying to see Patagonia, the marble caves, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, and more. We ended our 5 months in South America on a high note, and our travel excitement is back in full force.
We’re still working on our travel itinerary for Europe, but here’s what we’ve got so far.
Our Europe Itinerary
We’re starting with the most Christmassy month we can possibly imagine! Our December will be filled with snow, festive Christmas Markets, ice skating and mulled wine. We’ll be exploring famous cities in Europe that we’ve always dreamed of seeing.
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Hamburg & Bremen, Germany
- Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- Brussels, Antwerp, & Bruges, Belgium
After a chilly December, January should be a bit warmer. We’re doing as much of France as we possibly can – except for Paris, actually. (Lia’s not a fan.) We’re planning to rent a car and drive the (hopefully empty) French Riviera and pop up into wine country to indulge our newfound love of wine in the world capital of delicious wine. Then we’ll fly to Spain and do another 2-week long road trip through the Northern half of the country.
- France road trip: 2 weeks driving through Bordeaux, wine country, & the Côte d’Azur (Note: this was a complete disaster, read about it here)
- Spain road trip: 2 weeks driving through Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, castles, Basque country, & both the northern and Mediterranean coasts (Note: we never actually got to do this – read why here)
We’ll be flying back to the states in mid-February, so we don’t have much time to visit Scotland or the rest of the UK. We’re making the most of it by checking out Scotland’s famous Cairngorms national park (hello, reindeer, snowboarding, and the Northern Lights!) and doing even more booze tourism on the Malt Whisky Trail (helloooo, scotch distilleries!). Then we’ll head back to London very briefly before flying back to the states … and promptly hitting up Disney World. (We thought a Disney trip would take the edge off of leaving Europe.)
- Scotland Road Trip: Edinburgh to Aberdeenshire to see castles, the Whisky trail, and snowboard in Cairngorms national park
- London, England
- Disney World!
Once we’re stateside, we’ll be embarking on a road trip through the US, hitting as many national parks as we can, crashing on as many friend’s couches as will allow us, taking a detour through Canada and then looping back through the states again. More details on that later, as we flesh things out.
We’ve had an amazing 4 months in South America, despite our decision to end things early. We had an incredible time in Colombia and did get to realize our dream of swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos! (The Galapagos were by far the highlight of our time here – read more about our week in the Galapagos here.) And although Peru wasn’t our favorite country, we still enjoyed amazing experiences and found places that we loved, such as Huanchaco, Huacachina, and Lima.
Our short time in Chile and Argentina was incredible, and we’ll definitely be planning to return at some point and finish the rest of our bucket list items here. We look back on our time in South America as wonderful and life-changing: it had its highs and lows, as do all trips, but ultimately we learned a lot about ourselves and our preferred travel style.
We’ve also gotten a lot better at long-term travelling in general. We’re less nervous about everything and find ourselves willing to relax and let “travel magic” work things out. We’ve realized the importance of carving out alone time for ourselves, even while traveling. Our Spanish is the best it’s ever been (can’t wait for Spain to put it to use again)! We feel prepared and ready for the next leg of our journey. Well, except for the cold. We’re gonna need a lot more warm clothing….
We’re so excited for the next leg of our adventure and we hope you’ll enjoy continuing to read about our travels (and our ridiculous travel fails).
Note from the future: Um, this was so optimistic. We were so young and so naive. Like, half of this never actually happened. Here’s what we actually did.
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- 25 Things We Never Asked for from Traveling the World for a Year
- 30 Things Nobody Tells You About Quitting Your Job to Go Travel
- Our Year-Long Honeymoon: What Happened & How Much It Cost
- 25 Things Nobody Tells You About Traveling While Fat
Have you ever changed plans suddenly? Did you regret it? Drop us a note in the comments!
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- Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it - visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance. SafetyWing is one of the few policies that covers Covid-19, and they have excellent monthly policies that are perfect for Digital Nomads and long term travelers!
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- Luggage Storage: Whenever we're checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover, we use LuggageHero to safely store our luggage while we're running around. Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
- VPN Service: A VPN keeps your digital information (like website login details, bank info, etc) safe, even when you're connected to an unsecured network while traveling. Plus, it lets you use Netflix & other streaming sites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO when you sign up!
- What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!
How can you complain about exploitative tourism in South America, like the silver mines, and then celebrate cheap flights? It’s extremely polluting, and flying on a whim is part of what’s killing the planet. Flights should be much more expensive, to cover for the horrible emissions.
Lia Garcia says
That’s a good point! I think being an ethical traveler inherently does involve a complex pull between wanting to leave a positive impact on a destination, knowing that travel is inherently bad for the earth but good for humanity, not wanting to gatekeep travel by making it too expensive to be accessible for the masses, and knowing that overtourism leaves a negative impact on a place … it’s a tightrope walk for sure, and there is no right or easy answer.
It sounds like you don’t have any money.
South America is not Southeast Asia.
It’s not budget friendly for broke hippies.
Yes, the locals live on budget. But they live together, often with their families (inc, extended families), and when they do travel they take long bus trips. And as you can see, transportation in the Andees is not cheap!
South America is fantastic tourist destination, but it is predominately for those who have money to spend. And subquently for those who plan in advance, and have the money to spend in advance.
Lia Garcia says
Uhhh… what? South America is VERY budget friendly, by USA standards at least. We spent about $1k per month total for the two of us. Those four months were by far the most inexpensive portion of our year-long trip! I’m really not sure where you’re getting your information. As for us, we left for the reasons outlined in this post. You can get a budget breakdown of our trip in our year-long honeymoon summary if you’re concerned about our finances lol
Bleecker Backpack says
Your story is a bit like mine, Realy many many thanks for sharing honest advice and the full details. I hope a lot’s of people get helps after reading your blog.
Just some overall comments. First, I’ve read several of your posts now and find them SO refreshing. I am an American who moved to London over three years ago and with the flexibility of a remote job, I’ve been bingeing on European travel since, averaging a trip nearly once a month (but slowing down now). If I’ve learned anything about myself in this period, it’s that CONSTANT travel is NOT for me! I hear so many people fantasize about escaping for a year or traveling for long periods of time, but it is far from glamorous and it makes you reevaluate the importance of home. In short, wanderlust must be regulated. 🙂 It’s better in more spread-out doses and allows you to have something to look forward to. When I think about travel icons like Anthony Bourdain, and the pressure he must have been under with relentless travel, well… without making too many assumptions, it’s still a good cautionary tale to just take it easy, slow down, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Good for you for adjusting and being realistic, for sharing those experiences with an internet that needs to grasp reality beyond glossy Instagram photos, and for having a sense of humor about it too!
Lia Garcia says
Thank you so much for your kind words, Kim! You’re so right! There is such an idealization of that digital nomad/constantly traveling all over the place kinda life, and while it’s definitely the right fit for some folks, for many of us it’s not only fairly unrealistic, but it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be either! We fell for that same kind of idea that like “when we’re traveling, everything will be different – WE’LL be different.” Like, nope. Everything was the same except that we were in a lot of really amazing places 😛
We always want our readers to come away from our blog with this feeling of like … it’s OK to not want that life, it’s OK to not be living that life, it’s OK to just be really into like, normal routines and stability and stuff – and that you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out or that your life is somehow “lesser than.” We never want anyone to feel shitty about their lives after reading our blog. So your comment makes us feel like we’re doing an OK job, which we really appreciate 🙂
Julie Cao says
You are not alone here. I feel a lot of me in it in this post. I was in South America for six months and almost did not make it in the end. Many people in South America raved about Peru but it turned out to be a country gives me a lot of hard times. I was really exhausted there and instead of exploring, I often found myself sitting in the hotel lobby and doing nothing, I dreaded for long bus rides and arriving in new cities. Bolivia, I went to the embassy twice and could not get the visa no matter what, and I have to pay $100 at the border if I want to get in so I decided to skip it. I heard people there is not that nice neither.
I am glad you went to Chile. It was a country that really makes me love South America. I hope you return there. Patagonia is so worth spending a few months there.
I live in South America (not by choice) and I’m exhausted every day. It’s the high altitude, terrible traffic, bad crime, 24/7 reggaeton playing everywhere, people trying to take advantage of you, and terrible traffic. I can’t imagine backpacking around here for a year! Just a weekend in Santa Marta was draining for me. One can see how someone would get overwhelmed here. However, there are some beautiful places, wonderful people, and gratifying experiences. It seems like the folks that have the best time are the ones that get guided tours or vacation packages for shorter trips, like 3 weeks duration.
I’m currently sitting in a bus headed back to Quito, Ecuador. I found your blog because I googled the Quilotoa Loop while making plans for what to do during my month in Ecuador. This led me to reading a few of your other pieces. Thanks for keeping me entertained on this long bus ride.
I know exactly what you mean about Peru. I spent the month of November there and went to Cusco, Lima, Puerto Maldonado, and Puno. While I saw and did many incredible things there, I found it to be the most exhausting place I’ve ever visited. It was also the first country where I never felt like I could escape the touristyness. It was constant. That being said, I’ve heard the Coast is quite different, so I’m planning to take a trip to a few coastal cities next month on my way to Chile.
I was honestly super sad to disappointed to read your feelings about Bolivia. I went to Bolivia from Peru and it was like a breath of fresh air. La Paz (though it was at high altitude 12k feet) totally recharged me. To dispel some of the things you’ve read about Bolivia…the roads have been paved over the last few years and are all relatively safe now. Tourism is becoming more of an industry there, so the bus lines are better and safer. In fact, the bus I took from La Paz to Uyuni (Todo Turismo) was comparable to Cruz Del Sur. It was full Cama with movies, blankets, meal service, onboard host, and was safely driven. The food in Bolivia was so much more diverse and better than Peru too! (With the exception of Lima) The Death Road was incredible and we ended up staying in the jungle in a nature reserve at the end of it. In short, though I’d read the same sketchy, out of date things you’d read about Bolivia, it ended up being my favorite country so far and in my top three favorites ever. I hope you reconsider some day and visit! (I did avoid the silver mines though)
Good on you though for recognizing your need for change and heading on. I too took a short break and went home for Christmas, but returned to Ecuador feeling better prepared. Safe travels to you both!
Lia Garcia says
Thanks so much for reaching out, Katlin! I’d definitely like to visit Bolivia – and I’m really glad to hear that your experience was so great! Definitely looking into that for a future trip.
We really enjoyed the places we visited in Peru outside of the typical touristy areas! In particular, we really liked Huanchacho, which is a super cool surfing town right on the coast with the BEST CEVICHE IN THE UNIVERSE, and Huacachina, which is a desert oasis south of Lima.
Super jealous of your trip 🙂 Enjoy!
I’ve just discovered your blog whilst doing some last minute research for my own honeymoon to Chile. Firstly, you are hilarious, in a loudly chuckling to myself on the train like a psychopath way. Will probably be spending the next six hours reading every post on here.
Secondly, thank you SO much for painting an accurate picture of what travelling for long, uninterrupted periods can be like. I am the 21st century’s single greatest casualty of FOMO. Yet after ten days of pure holiday joy, I start getting nostalgia for the good times when I was eating doritos and watching Better Call Saul on my own sofa.
Thanks for all the tips! Totally stealing your itinerary for Casablanca.
Lia Garcia says
Hahaha yesssss you totally get me! Thank you so much Jules, I’m so happy you think I’m funny. That’s like, what I’ve got going for me here so it’s crucial to my ego that people continue to be entertained by me 😛 Enjoy your amazing honeymoon in Chile!
I enjoyed reading this. I had a similar experience recently, however it was when I was in Thailand and decided to cut my trip short instead of spending 6+ weeks traveling through Southeast Asia. It felt forced to me as well and decided to come home for Christmas and then continue on to South America hahaha. I actually found your blog while looking up South America tips. But I am fluent in Spanish and learning Portuguese and I don’t plan to move around too much, plan to base myself most of the time in a few cities and just leave the city for some key adventures. I don’t know how long I will stay and I am sure that at some point I will get burned out and ready to come home. No shame in recognizing when you reach that point and decide to end your trip. I am addicted to travel too but I feel like there is a lot of hype about the digital nomad lifestyle, and I can get sucked in when I meet people who are travelling for a year, or 3 years, or indefinitely, and I think I want that lifestyle too, but like you I find my tastes change as I get older and now I am all for adventure and wandering but think it’s important to establish a home base at some point and then plot 3-4 week adventures (or shorter) from there 😀
Lia Garcia says
Thanks for sharing! I’m glad you were able to recognize that you weren’t enjoying your time and adjust your plans accordingly to something that fit you better. Our tastes are changing too – and we’re loving our current situation, with a home base from which to take frequent trips!
Christy Morgan says
This is such a timely post! I just bought my ticket home, about a month early than originally planned because I’ve realized I’m not so much a fan of South America. And that’s totally okay. I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels this way. <3
Lia Garcia says
It’s TOTALLY OK! If we’ve learned anything throughout our travels, it’s that nothing ever goes as planned. And if you’re not enjoying yourself somewhere, you have no obligation to stick it out just because everyone ELSE liked it. You do you, girl! We support you all the way.
Dylan McClintock says
I traveled across southern Europe & Morocco – Portugal, Spain, Sicily and Romania – for 4 months which was intended to be the start of a year(s) long experience of living & traveling and had a very similar experience when I got to Romania, which I totally loved & recommend BTW. As I was doing the next step planning, I had that same going-through-the-motions, tired feelings and when an issue came up “back home” (also in the Bay Area!), it took almost no thought to decide I should handle it in person and 3 days later I left Bucharest. What a great decision! I am now energized for my travels in South America – mostly Ecuador, Peru & Chile! Your blog has been very helpful as I’ve been planning. My blog will be up eventually 🙂
Sometimes the best plan is to change the plan. You made a good decision. Backpacking in SA is not easy. You should look into Trusted Housesitters.
Lia Garcia says
We discovered Trusted Housesitters a few months ago!! We’re OBSESSED!
I found your blog yesterday and like your writing style, which is intelligent and witty, and the actual website is very well presented – I wish I had your skilles. I am sorry that you felt the need to leave South America early, for me it is my favourite place and, after a visit to Colombia in 2003 decided to make it my home. Travel here can be frustrating, however there are many wonderful places and things to see without the excessive hardship you seem to describe.
A lot of your experience ‘failures’ and negativity seem to be down to a monumental lack of fitness that is so widespread in the USA And other places these days. Having great difficulty with a relatively standard walk to Park Tayrona, which my 70 plus year old parents did with ease, is indicative. You really missed out on the lost city trek – the scenery is quite stunning, and I rate it higher than the MP. Hopefully, sometime I the future you will be able to come back and complete it. Until then, developed country travel probably suits you much better at this stage in your life. I bet though, in the future, you are going to look back on your experiences here with a massive smile. Our first Latin backpacking trip in 02 always lights me up, and the same for my best friend who I travelled with.
That’s definitely part of it! Though I suspect it was more the heat that we weren’t accustomed to in Parque Tayrona – the hike wasn’t difficult, but the heat KILLED us. In California, we went hiking every weekend on 8+ mile hikes … but we live in Northern CA, where it’s always comfortably in the 60’s! The heat smacked us in the face and totally threw us. And by the time we attempted more difficult hikes in places like Ecuador and Peru, we were already miserably out of shape since we were no longer hiking every weekend and hitting the gym 3x a week.
You’re right that the US has special challenges when it comes to fitness – we spend very little time walking from place to place and tend to drive everywhere instead. Our whole country is built around cars, not transit. But thankfully we live in an urban environment where we can bike and walk to public transit instead and don’t need to rely on our car, so we’re looking forward to getting back in shape and attempting those hikes again someday! If your 70 year old parents can do it, that gives us a good 40+ years to train 😛
I understand. I spent 6 months travelling through south america by myself, but thats life. Travelling through Peru or Bolivia is never going to be comfortable. Personally, I dont know what type of transport you took to pay $1000 just to get to Uyuni. I travelled from La Paz to Oruro, then to Sucre, then to Potosi and finally onto Uyuni over the course of about 1 week and altogether those bus trips were extremely cheap…and in fact i only paid a little over $100US for a 4 day tour of the Salt Flats. My advice is to not book anything in advance because you will always pay higher prices.
That’s such a great tip! We meant that it would be $1000 to go to the Amazon, not to Uyuni. Had we visited Bolivia, we would have wanted to do both the Amazon and Uyuni, and when you add in the cost of entry of American citizens, it all started to add up fast 🙁 I’d love to go back one day, though! The photos of Uyuni are just absolutely otherworldly.
Karin @ GirlAstray says
This is exactly why I dislike planning far ahead. I usually have an idea of what I´ll be doing in the next month or maybe two, but really, you can never know if you will like a place or not. I love having the flexibility to stay longer if I feel like or skip it if it just isn´t exciting. I think you did the best decision! Also, after months, I really miss my family. It´s amazing you could go home for a bit. Wish I could have gone home for Christmas, but simply didn´t have the money for flights and all.
Karin @ GirlAstray says
Also, I feel you on the altitude and food. I was exhausted every single time we went hiking in Colombia and it was not even that high. And the food made me rather sick. Too much oil, sugar, everything fried, my skin still haven´t recovered from the eczema attack I got there! I am in love with Turkish cuisine though, it´s salads on salads with every meal 🙂 South America is great, but it´s a bit more rough than what I´m used to back home.
I definitely feel you! We’ve learned a lot about long term travel (that we may not ever use again, lol) and this was really eye opening.
So refreshing to read your story! I had a similar experience while travelling in Peru. I’ve done hostel/ backpacking travel before and had a great time. I also have been to Argentina and loved it, I highly recommend! But I was totally unprepared for Peru! Even with extensive research and regular training sessions at the gym before hand I found the experience was just too much. I think the hardest part for me was there was no real place I could find to get a break from it all. Whether it was oppressive heat in the Amazon, altitude in Cusco, or always eating rice with a side of potatoes. It is so nice to hear I’m not the only one who felt that way!
Totally feel you, Diana. It’s intense! The worst for us was probably the miserable 18+ hour bus rides – 2 days straight of nausea only to arrive somewhere with insane altitude. I just kind of felt vaguely sick for 2 months straight. Next time we visit Peru we might just stick to the coast where it’s much easier on the body!
It’s so refreshing to hear an honest and truthful post. Not everything is sunshine and daisies on the road. The only way we found we could survive during our 10 month trip through the Americas was by taking a break in Air B n B’s, cooking our own food and bingeing on Netflix. Before we discovered this we were drained, fed up of moving around and super unsociable.
Oh, we’re totally the same way. We cling to tiny normalcies like Netflix and shelves to put things on and home cooked breakfasts because they keep us going in between all of the nonstop travelling! Long term travelling has definitely made us miss some very basic and boring things. Like couches. We really miss couches!
So sad you missed Buenos Aires! But you did the right thing.. its so irritating to be tired and moving all the time. Hope you can visit Argentina soon! Patagonia is beautiful 🙂 And Buenos Aires is an awesome city, you’ll love it.
Thanks! We were bummed but we’ll definitely be back. We’ve heard so many amazing things about Buenos Aires (and we LOVED Mendoza)!
Sam and Veren says
I definitely applaud you guys for recognizing that you were just flying through countries just to check things off bucket lists – I did that on my first 2 backpacking trips and I’ve also realized it is not my preferred way of travel. Everything online tells us to do this, that, and the other thing, and have an amazing time while doing it, glorifying things (like 8-10 hour bus rides) that absolutely suck!! Haha! Good on you for cutting the cord on something you didn’t enjoy!
Thanks Sam! Sometimes you have to do something you end up not enjoying to realize what your preferences actually are, and we’ve definitely learned a lot from this experience. We always strive to be honest with our readers, even about experiences we don’t enjoy.
Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever read such an honest recount on how you were feeling. I was traveling through South America once and cut our stay short as well. It takes its toll on you. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Europe, a much easier place to travel. Good luck.
Thanks Corinne. I’d be interested to read about your South America experience!
Ellie Cleary says
Such an honest and open account. Sometimes places just don’t ‘feel’ right, and I completely respect your reasons for not going to Bolivia. I’ve never been to South America but have to admit somehow it’s not really high on my travel wish list. Congrats for following your guts and I hope you have a wonderful time in Europe! Ellie
We did love some places in South America – especially Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and the Galapagos! Next time we go down there, it will just be for less time.
Donna Meyer says
Sometimes we just need to cut out losses and move on. Good on you for realizing what you REALLY wanted and going for it.
So sorry the trip isn’t what you thought it would be, but kudos to you for going with the flow and adjusting! I myself am much more of a suitcase / plane / hotel type of traveller than a backpack / bus / hostel one. Neither is better – they’re just different. But knowing which one you are makes all the difference!
P.S. Love your comment: The couple that fails together, stays together. I believe that is true – succeeding, failing, trying again *together* is what makes all the difference!
I totally agree Cynthia! We’re usually suitcase/plane/hotel travelers too, but on our year trip right now we’re trying something different to save our budget. And you know what? We much prefer a shorter trip, with more comfort, than a longer trip with less. Now we know!
Honestly, I love that the beginning of this article id si honest but it also sounds to me like a lot of nagging… it seems like you didn’t do your research well enough (yeah, everything looks good on Pinterest but planning 7 months in South America should take much more) and it also sounds like you were just those people who wanted to backpack because everyone is doing it now and it’s so cooooool! … well, it might sound harsh from me and I” sorry for that, it wasn’t meant to sound that way, just saying… but I’m glad you found out u can do something else and u found ur excitement again! Hope you’ll love Europe, Copenhagen is a good place to start the trip 🙂
Well, that’s one way to look at it! I did do loads of research for the trip (and although I love Pinterest, that was only part of it.) I’m not sure about your thought that backpacking is “in” now – when I first went on a 2-week backpacking trip through Europe 5 years ago, it was just as popular. And I loved it! It’s true that backpacking in developing countries is very different than backpacking through a place like Europe, and maybe that was part of what I didn’t quite fully understand in advance. We’re also older now, and backpacking at almost-30 is a lot different than backpacking just after graduating college. Tastes do change, and although we don’t mind hostels and schlepping around our heavy backpacks, we are starting to mind constantly being on the road.
Definitely agree that it is not worth doing the trip simply for the sake of ticking it off. I also like to have a home base where I can return to and rest after an active backpacking trip. I need my time off from traveling.
By the way, I hope you’re not expecting a lot of snow, it doesn’t snow that much in Copenhagen 😀
Yep, we can’t WAIT to have a home base again! Full-time travel is just not for us. Now we know. Sad to hear that Copenhagen won’t be snowy – I do hope at least somewhere on our trip will have snow!
Sarah - Exploring Kiwis says
It’s so refreshing to read an honest post like this! We’re trying to work out what we’ll do when I wrap up my contract here in Abu Dhabi – we’re considering backpacking in South America but you’ve got me thinking twice! Not in a bad way, you’ve just opened my eyes a little 🙂 You’ll love Europe!
I don’t want to discourage you from looking at South America, we LOVED Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and the Galapagos. But the rest of it wasn’t something we’d do again. If you go, just be choosy about the places you travel to, and don’t rush through the entire continent just to see it all (or fly instead of bus)!
Laura || Plantbasednomads.com says
Haha I I love that, couple that fail together, stay together. So true. My husband and I had many many failures together, and we love laughing about it. We were in a similar situation last year and going home for a while and changing our plans was a great decision, why force yourself to do something you won’t enjoy?
Have a good time in Europe! You should come to Switzerland, it’s so beautiful in Winter! (I’m Swiss, so I’m biased haha)
Happy travels! x
Ahh I LOVE Switzerland! We aren’t quite snow-ready so we decided to skip Switzerland this trip 🙁 I’d like to go back any other time of year, or maybe even in winter when we actually have some cold weather gear with us!
Ava @ My Meena Life says
Thanks for sharing honestly about this less than fun travel experience, and I hope your Europe trip is fantastic! You’ve got some great destinations listed.
Thanks Ava! We’re super stoked for Europe!
Brittany from Boston says
Good for you for realizing when your plans weren’t working for you, and having the strength to change plans. Backpacking is tough, and it’s definitely not for everyone, especially in developing countries. I hope you enjoy your family time at home and have a great time in Europe!
Thanks Brittany! I think we’re realizing more and more on this trip that we prefer to have a home base and travel from there rather than being nomads.
Aw thanks for sharing your story! I love how honest this post is. I also like how you use the word ‘frolicking’ — lol trust me, with 60L backpacks on there is no frolicking! =P Your trip still sounds like an adventure, and going home is part of it! Really glad you’re able to spend time with your family and hit the road again.
We are older Canadians (70)..very well traveled. I retired when I was 41 and we had traveled avidly even before that..since the 1960s. We now live mostly in Ecuador, a little city called Cuenca. We still travel..by car and motorcycle. We realized 20 years ago that the days of traveling the best haunts of old, Europe and North America, even Asia, were numbered. To grab its dying days, we bought an old classic sports car, left it France and commuted from Canada, spending 4 months each year, Spring and Fall, and stuck to the European countryside, away from cities and the Coast.
After 10 years, we realized that even those seasons and territory had become less-than-ideal. After a ton of research, we moved to South America. We are very pleased. It is the last place for adventure travel. Uncrowded. The West happily pans SA, and that bs, even the silly inaccurate weather reports, keeps away the crowds, for the moment. We know enough about travel and what has happened to avoid the common downers, like hot spots that are too well known and not worth it. For every place that is well-known, there are at least 100 that are as amazing but UNKNOWN. There is no fun in seeing Machu Pichu or Everest when you have to wait in line. The first time I saw it in 1970, I was alone on the site with a guide! There are still places like that or, depending on your tastes, better!
It is not difficult to see where you went wrong. Forgive me, but Americans the best travelers. Never have been..at least in my lifetime. But research can overcome that. We researched, so have had no trouble with the altitude. We merely planned our travels so that we could adjust without being affected. WE WOULD NEVER DREAM of backpacking it. Not only is that a bit of insanity in the Andes (highest mountain range in the world aside from the Himalayas) but travel within South America is ridiculously cheap by bus..or even plane. There are also colonies of 25-35 year olds from the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and France where you can have fun, surf, get a free lift to your next place.. get advice. You can rent clean lovely places for next to nothing..5-6 dollars a day. Additionally, many places in SA, can get you your throats cut, if you don’t know what to look out for.
Sounds like you planned an itinerary..to a continent you had no idea about! Itineraries are a prejudice on any trip more than 2-3 weeks. simply go with the flow, following the weather and advice we pick up along the way rather than any preconceived silliness. Itineraries get you traveling 500 miles to sit in the rain. Galapagos is SO expensive. Hard to get to. Food is so-so. It is good for old farts like me for a weekend cruise from time to time.
I was saddened to read your blog. It should have been a dream of a lifetime. Instead it was a disappointment.
Lia Garcia says
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Alick! It sounds like you’ve had quite a lifetime of adventures (as did my parents, who are about your ages!) I will say that even with the setbacks and unexpected changes, it was the trip of a lifetime, and it did change our lives! Travel is always challenging – it takes you out of your comfort zone and throws you head-first into the unknown. It’s a struggle! But that struggle makes you stronger and more adaptable. Since our first trip together to South America we’ve been back over 5 times, including with a group of Jeremy’s students, and have fallen more and more in love with it each time! It’s totally OK that our trip wasn’t perfect – that’s part of what made it so special.