In 12 days I’ll be heading to the Caribbean coast of Colombia where I’ll be starting a 3 month adventure backpacking around South America! It’s my first time traveling in this way, and for the most part I’ll be doing it on my own. I’ve gotten lots of questions in response to my plans, so I’ve decided to answer a few of them here.
Where are you going?
Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru (in that order).
You’re going alone?!?
Yes, I will be traveling on my own for the majority of my trip. But I’ll be staying in hostels where I expect to meet lots of other travelers who are going to many of the same places I am. I’ve also reached out to my traveling friends, and it turns out that my network of people who were born in/have traveled to/have lived in many of these places is extensive. In addition to giving me lists and lists of recommendations, they have introduced me to their friends, friends of friends, family members, etc. etc., some of whom I’ll be meeting in various places. Super exciting!
But aren’t you scared?
I’m nervous about a few things, mostly because traveling like this is new for me, but I wouldn’t say I’m scared. I speak Spanish, so communicating will be challenging but not impossible. Lonely Planet – South America on a Shoestring has helped me set my expectations and research the places I’m visiting. I’ve been traveling for 9 (!!) years, and each trip has taught me something new about living outside of my comfort zone. I’m excited to see what this trip teaches me about myself and another part of the world.
So you’re not working – how will you be funding this?
Savings. For the past 6 months I’ve been waitressing in Boston and living with my parents to save money. It hasn’t been the most fun experience having a work schedule that’s opposite of everyone else’s, and as lucrative as serving tables is, it’s not my dream job. But it has allowed me to save way more than I need for this trip. I’ll also be living on a very tight budget (I’m aiming for $30-$40 per day for food, accommodation and transportation, which doesn’t include any of the gear, flights, or immunizations I’ve already purchased). This will be more realistic in some places than in others. Some of the people I’ve connected with have offered me free places to stay, and I’m also looking into WWOOFing for a week or so to save a little. I’ll keep you updated on how the budgeting goes.
What are you bringing?
Everything I need, and not much else. I plan to write a post about what’s in my backpack before I leave, but suffice it to say that I’m packing very lightly and will be carrying everything with me.
Where will you be staying?
For the most part, I don’t know. I’m going into this with a very open mind and a very flexible itinerary. I’ll book hostels a few nights in advance, but the reason I’m not planning my every move is because I expect to meet other travelers along the way who I’ll want to continue traveling with. I don’t want to have to say no to visiting somewhere I hadn’t considered just because I’ve already paid for accommodations and transportation. So whenever possible I’ll be waiting to make reservations, but it’s certainly not my intention to be looking for somewhere to stay at the very last minute.
How will you stay connected?
Read my blog! Since I won’t be working, my blog is a big priority for me, and I’m hoping to turn it into something a little more than what it is at the moment – which is a way for the people who love me to read about cool places I’ve visited. I’ll also be posting a lot on Instagram (@curiouskgo). Major shout out to my friend Lucas who is letting me borrow his GoPro, which will most certainly take the documentation of my trip to the next level.
I’ll also be buying SIM cards in each country I visit so I can easily stay in touch.
Isn’t South America dangerous?
Maybe in some places, but aren’t there dangerous neighborhoods/places everywhere? I’ve done my homework and the countries I’m visiting are definitely safe places for travelers (including solo female travelers).
What’s your plan when you’re back?
My least favorite and the most anxiety-producing question. But if you must know, I’ll be teaching at the summer program that I’ve been at for the last 3 years when I return home in June, and after August I have no plans. Of course I have ideas, and the most appealing one came to me just the other day. I’m 28 years old and currently I’ve been to 21 countries on 3 continents. This trip will add 5 more on a new continent as I pass my 29th birthday. This makes it totally plausible for me to visit 30 countries and add Asia and Australia to my list before I turn 30. So at the moment, that’s my plan.
You’re so brave, I could never do that!
This is not a question, but it is something that many people have said to me. My answer is usually something along the lines of “Yes you could! You just need to buy a plane ticket and go!” Okay, it might not be so easy, and it is true that my unwavering love for travel urges me to continue exploring the world. But as much as I’ve talked about a trip like this (for years!) I never actually thought I’d be doing it. Never say never.