One month until Chile and Argentina
In 31 days I'm departing early in the morning for a 24 hour travel day to eventually get to the first destination of my next trip, Valparaiso, Chile. When my friend and I started planning our itinerary at the beginnning of 2018, we had cities in mind but not an order. Thus, we started planning by searching for flights from each of our cities. Long story short, flying to the lower third of South America from Chicago is not cheap, like, at all. From Los Angeles, it is a bit more reasonable. I could have shelled out whatever to buy the flight from Chicago, but remember I'm also going to Kenya and Tanzania in November and had the rest of that trip to pay for and the "big" flight to the continent of Africa from Chicago - both of those are paid for in full as of last Friday (hurrah)!!! So, I was trying to save as much money as possible without being ridiculous.
I'm starting my trip with a very early flight to LAX on Alaska Airlines, which I bought as a one-way. I have a 3-4 hour long layover at LAX before I depart for Santiago on LATAM Airlines and I have a layover in Lima on the way to Santiago. My flight departs LAX at 13:00 and lands in Lima after midnight. None of this is ideal...however, I'm hoping the excitement and adrenaline of new countries and adventures will help me power through cheerfully. My friend has a different itinerary than I do but our planes are scheduled to land within 10 minutes of each other in Santiago. Then we'll get our bearings, get some breakfast, and find our way to the bus station where we will depart for Valparaiso. It is a lot in the first 24 hours or so, but I think it is better to front load a trip like this with extra details. At the end, I am more tired and more likely to skip out on something.
We are not skipping Santiago entirely, but we will spend a little over 24 hours there the last day before departing for the United States again - and the same trek back. Except my last leg is on American Airlines, also booked as a one-way with miles! That was the last bit of loyalty travel miles I'll probably be able to use for a long time because AA has not been the cheapest option for a lot of my travels this year and I've just been booking whatever is the most reasonable for my schedule and finances. It may be a new era for me in traveling since I've been really loyal to AA for the last 3-4 years for work and personal travel.
I don't want to spill too many details yet, but our trip looks roughly like this - Friday through Monday in Valparaiso. Monday evening we depart Valparaiso for Santiago and fly to Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza is small and Argentina's wine country, so we're doing a wine tasting tour our first full day there (after arriving pretty late the night before) and the second day we are going paragliding! We depart Mendoza for Buenos Aires on Wednesday evening and we are there until Sunday, then we fly back to Santiago and depart for the United States on the evening of Monday, September 3 (Labor Day in North America).
I'm ready for this trip. It is my first 2 week long trip since October 2016 when I went to Central Europe with the same friend - we know we travel well together and that we can handle a 2 week adventure because we have similar tastes and interests. We also are both working on our Spanish - last I heard anyway, ha - so that one of us doesn't have to be the sole communicator. I've done that, for a week, and it can be a little stressful. For two weeks I'm not sure how this is going to go! I'm kind of excited to see what happens to my speaking and listening skills after 2 weeks. I'm hopeful, but I don't have expectations - that should be my motto in life right now.
It is good to find people you can easily travel with, I can't stress that enough. I recently had a friend tell me about a trip she took with a new friend and they were not compatible travel partners. I felt bad for her, she (and I) can always manage to have fun on any trip, but I always worry about one bad trip ruining a friendship. It should not! But I never know how the other person will react. So I am closing with that. The best friends and partners are those you can travel with, no matter the length of the trip.