How to plan a trip to South America

Planning a route across South America

We always knew we wanted to travel in South America, but that’s a pretty big region, and at first the thought of planning a route felt more overwhelming than choosing which colour wire to have on my braces when I was 13. This post will guide you through how we went about such a daunting task.

If you’re in the same position that we were, and don’t miss the following posts:

 

Initial ideas for planning a route

We started by popping into travel agents like STA to get advice and a large stash of brochures, even though we weren’t really keen on the group tour style of travel (but if you’re under 26 STA do some amazing concessions on flights. If you’re ancient like us, Skyscanner and Google Flights are top dogs!).

How to plan a trip to South America | Latin America travel guides by Cuppa to Copa Travels

 

The Almighty Map

Still, with so much to look through it was hard to whittle it all down to a proper plan, and that’s where The Map came in. Satisfyingly cheap and coincidentally the perfect size for our wall, we’ve spent hours pouring over The Map, dreaming and planning a route.

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Looking at brochures, TripAdvisor and travel blogs, we stuck dots on all the places we wanted to visit and/or stay. Over time, our dots began to form a route without us really having to think about it.

 

Choosing where to fly to in South America

Although we had our route, we didn’t know where we should actually pick it up. Our original plan was to fly into Colombia first because we thought that was somewhere we would love, but then realised that as we would be arriving in Summer it would be best to get to the colder south first. Looking at flights using Skyscanner, for some unknown reason flights to Rio de Janeiro were £2-300 less than any other major city on the continent at £275. Kinda bizarre, but we decided to just accept it and plan our route to include Rio, Sao Paolo and Porto Alegre before getting a bus into Uruguay (internal flights are super expensive because the region doesn’t yet have RyanAir equivalent budget airlines).

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This was the plan for months, but stupidly we didn’t book it as the whole trip was in a bit of uncertainty at the time. Once we were finally ready, in a cruel twist of fate the Rio flights had become just as expensive as everywhere else. This made us return to our previous plan to fly into Uruguay first and save Brazil for another big trip, especially as I have a burning desire to samba like a frivolous queen at Carnival one day. We bought our flights to Montevideo around 4 months before departure and each paid around £580 one-way.



Fine-tuning

Since then, we’ve been slowly but surely working out the finer details of planning a route: timing, pit-stops and transport options along the way. We’re going to be very flexible in case we meet some ‘totally sweet peeps’ and want to take up their offer to share a 2 man tent in the woods, or decide we really dislike a certain place and need to move on quickly, but right now our plan is around a month in each country, with Christmas and New Year being spent in Santiago, Chile.

Here’s the latest route plan, though this is totally subject to change. This is both exciting and completely nerve-destroying.

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