Seeing as at the time of writing we have exactly 75 days, 17 hours, 34 minutes, and 12 seconds until we embark on our journey, I’m going to write a number of posts about the planning and preparation that has gone into the trip so far.
Being typical teenage boys, we did leave starting the planning side of things a bit late, and to be honest, where do you start with this sort of thing?
We knew from the beginning that we wanted to go to South America. I’m not entirely sure why. We didn’t know much about the continent, we certainly didn’t know how much it would cost to go there, and none of us had been there before, but maybe these actually were the reasons, as weird as it may seem.
Anyway, however vague, South America was a starting point and we could continue with our research. One thing we also knew was that we wanted to do this on our own and wanted to be a bit different. No package trips as such, no pre-listed itineraries, we wanted to do the majority of traveling ourselves. When you go on a trip like this, it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we want to make sure its as authentic as possible! If we had taken a package trip, yeah we would still see the main tourist attractions, but you would also miss out on all the smaller details in between. It’s a bit like watching a pirate DVD, you still get the main idea, but you can miss the details that can be the difference between a good film, and an amazing one.
So with our trusty Lonely Planet South America guidebooks on hand, we began the daunting task of finding exactly where in South America we wanted to go. After a couple of planning sessions we had a rough plan. We had decided that we would like start in Ecuador, and work our way south until we ended in Rio, Brazil.
Great, we where getting somewhere. We began looking at flights in to Ecuador and out of Rio. At this point we had no intentions of traveling anywhere else other than South America. After another couple of planning sessions looking at flights, we had found that we were looking at about roughly £800 to fly into Ecuador, and £700 to fly back from Rio. This was much more than we had expected, but we accepted that we would just have to stomach it, and get saving up.
A few weeks later it was announced that there was a military coup in Ecuador. Before we’d even had chance to check the government’s advice on traveling to there, our parents had made it pretty clear we would be giving it a miss. Strangely, this was the best thing that could have happened!
With Ecuador out of the equation, we had to rethink our plans. At first this was a bit of a pain, but we had soon decided that we would now probably start in Rio and end up further north. Again, a rough plan, but any plan is better than no plan.
This was the point where my Dad came to the rescue. Having changed our route we started looking into individual flights again, and with our new altered route flying out of Peru, the prices where coming in even more than before! Luckily, my Dad found a number of online sites that specialized in round the world plane tickets. We hadn’t really considered this before, because we just presumed that finding the flights ourselves would be cheaper. Oh how wrong we were, and our plans where about to change again!
After getting quotes from a number of these companies we soon found www.roundtheworldexperts.co.uk . (I just want to say now that this post is in no way affiliated with roundtheworldexperts and I doubt they even know about it). Like a lot of these companies, roundtheworldexperts offer set price round the world tickets that include a set number of flights with the only variation in price coming from airport taxes. The price we where quoted was a little more than some of the other companies, but the thing that sets roundtheworldexperts out from the rest is their Travel Butler service. Now obviously we haven’t tested this yet, and we will have to wait and see how good it is, but the idea is that if you are going to miss your flight, want to bring your flight forward, or basically change the date or time of your flight for any reason, you can ring up their Travel Butler and they will change your flight completely free of charge! For about £50 pound more on the flight tickets we thought it would be worth it to have this flexibility.
It sounds to0 good to be true, most of the other round the world ticket companies charge quite substantial amounts for this, but seeing as round the world experts is a sub company of the reputable Flight Center, I’m quite confident they will hold their promises.
Obviously it would seem silly to get one of the tickets and then only travel to South America, so it was at this point that our trip became truly, or almost “Around the world”. For about £1800 including all airport taxes we would now be flying to Brazil, out of Chile to New Zealnd. From New Zealand to Australia, and from Australia back home. When you compare this to the cost of getting two individual flights to and from South America at about £1600, this deal is a bargain. We where also told that if we went in March this price probably would have been about £100 cheaper!
When searching for tickets, the price isn’t the only thing you would look for in a company like this, but right from the start I have been extremely impressed with how helpful and friendly roundtheworldexperts have been. From the very first quote you are assigned your own expert, someone who has traveled extensively themselves, who will deal with you the entire time. I wish more companies did this. It makes things so much easier and can prevent a lot of confusion.
I’ve lost count of the times we have called up to ask questions about this, that, and everything, and every time I have been impressed with their willingness to help, their knowledge, but most of all how genuinely enthusiastic they are about your trip! I haven’t found them to be pushy at all, and they have on a number of occasion come up with some really helpful suggestions that we would have never thought about on our own. Campervanning in New Zealand being one of them.
They have helped us work out our route, given us estimates of how long it will take to travel across South America on land, and plenty other useful tips.
I just want to say again, I haven’t been paid to write this in anyway, I have just been genuinely impressed with this company so far and would highly recommend them to anyone traveling across multiple continents. Obviously I will report back how the Travel Butler service works out once we are out there, but for the time being I’m extremely pleased.
Anyway, the flights are booked. That’s one thing to check off our list!