Skip Navigation

Wing it or Organise it

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Wing it or Organise it


Last Post

1. Posted by lo.avery (Budding Member 5 posts) 31w

Hi everyone,

I will be travelling round the world solo. My second section will be South America.

Ill be coming from Cuba and the Bahamas to reach Mexico, making my way down through Peru and to Salar de Uyuni. My flight out of South America to my third section is from Rio. I definitely want to walk Machu Pichu.

In between I am trying to decide on between Chile/Buenos Aires, the Patagonias 'W' trek, La Paz (to see the Valley of the Moon).

My question is, is it best to wing it - not book anything and dive in. Pick up a tour to Machu Pichu whilst I'm there OR book a tour or 2 here before I leave?
I have done Topdeck tours before and hated spending all of my time travelling. I want to get the most out of my trip so I would be very appreciative if you could give me some advice on what would be best.

I aim aiming at having 26 days to do it which isnt much so if i have to fly I will, otherwise I would catch buses etc.

2. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 444 posts) 31w

Someone might have some more recent advice on this but when we walked the four-day Inca trail along with tickets for Huaynna Picchu a couple of years ago, we had to book fairly early so that we got the permit.

There are only so many permits per day on the walk (about 200) see and it looks like they are already booked out until October 2016. You might have to plan this bit and build your trip around these dates. And you might want to acclimatise too - Dead Woman's Pass (the highest point on the trail at lunchtime on day 2) is at 4200 metres and altitude sickness may be a factor. Cusco is lower than this but the Salt Flats in southern Bolivia or the pass from San Pedro to the Salt Falts is much higher (5400 at some points) so that could be useful just beforehand.

You might be able to join a Machu Picchu trek once you arrive in Cusco but, if it's a must for you, I wouldn't chance it myself.

Good luck and enjoy South America.

[ Edit: Edited on 21-Mar-2016, at 21:01 by Borisborough ]

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4817 posts) 31w

The above is correct. For high and shoulder season (May through September), if you want to hike the classic inca trail, you need to book at least 4-6 months in advance.
If you just want to visit Machu Picchu (taking a train to Aguas Calientes), then booking a few days in advance is plenty, and you don't need a tour at all.

Hiking the W is something I'd only recommend from December through March unless you have experience hiking through the snow. Hard to combine "well" with Machu Picchu, since that period is rainy season in the mountains in Peru, though at least that means you can just book a few weeks (and regularly even days) in advance for the inca trail. (Note that the inca trail is closed for cleanup all through February.) However, with only 26 days in your trip, I'd personally not even try to combine both Patagonia and Peru. Too much cramming, too much distance. Peru and Bolivia fit well together, though, since you can benefit from altitude acclimatization in the one when moving on to the other.

4. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 238 posts) 31w

You ask about winging it vs. planning it and then go on to outline a pretty detailed plan including a specific amount of time.

I as someone who generally wings travel completely beyond a ticket to A, have to say that it sounds like your definition of winging it only means pre-booking certain things or not pre-booking them but everything else is planned. That to me is hardly winging it.

Here is how I wing it. I have a certain amount of money available and may have a maximum amount of time available for my entire trip. I have an outline of where I THINK I might get to. I buy a ticket to A.

I visit A for as long as it holds my interest and when I am ready to move on (and not before), I decide where I will go next. I repeat that process until either my funds run out or the maximum time I have available runs out. Then I go home. That is winging it.

I may get to all the places I was thinking of and I may not. I may go somewhere that was never on my original list. I may never leave A. There is no prize for the quantity of places you get to and there is nothing better about getting to more places. What matters is did you enjoy every day you had, wherever you chose to spend it.

Time is not fixed. You may have a maximum but there is no minimum. That plays into budget. Many people start out with X amount of funds and Y amount of time available and then try to divide the money by the time to come up with an average budget which they then look to keept o more or less.

I have no budget daily, weekly, monthly at all. I spend as much as I need to spend each day (without throwing money away) to enjoy my time. I would rather enjoy 4 months than survive on noodles for 6 months. I have met far too many longer term travellers who spent so much time trying to find the cheapest everything in order to keep to their budget, that they had no time to enjoy where they were. When someone brags, 'I did it on $20 a day', I'm not impressed at all. I tend to think 'and what didn't you see and do because you were busy keeping to your budget.'

Itineraries, pre-booking and budgets put blinders on people to opportunities. I have heard travellers being offered an opportunity to do something and respond with something like, 'wow, that would be so cool. I would love to do that but I CAN'T BECAUSE I have a flight booked, a hostel booked, a train to catch using my rail pass I've already paid for, if I did I wouldn't have enough money for the rest of my trip, etc. etc.'

Long term travel is not like short term travel at all. If you asked 100 people who had undertaken longer term travel if they would plan more next time or plan less, I don't think you would find very many, if any, that would say they would plan more.

Tourists plan a tour, travellers rarely know where they will end up going next. Things happen when you are on the road longer term. Things that you have no way of anticipating beforehand. So you can plan a tour if you want or you can go on an adventure. An adventure by definition requires two things. The unknown and risk. Those are the two things a tourist actually tries to avoid. Those are also the two things that can make life exciting.

[ Edit: Edited on 22-Mar-2016, at 08:51 by OldPro ]

5. Posted by lo.avery (Budding Member 5 posts) 31w

@Oldpro - I was actually asking for help on what needs to be booked or what can be decided at the time. I did not need input on how to 'wing it' or your version of 'winging it'. Everyone travels differently so unless you have something productive to attribute (e.g yes you do need a pass to do machu pichu so that will need to be booked - as the other contributors have advised) please do not attempt to help me again. It is people like you who attack others who are after advice on a place that is unfamiliar. there is no need to be rude or judgemental.

6. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 238 posts) 31w

I simply went by your post title lo.avery, "wing it or organise it"

I thought you were actually asking whether to wing your trip or organize it and did not realize you were only talking about whether you needed to pre-book MP or not.

7. Posted by Peter (Admin 5791 posts) 31w

Tourists plan a tour, travellers rarely know where they will end up going next.

Eh, tourists are actually travellers. They're travellers who are on a tour. Trying to make a distinction is a popular pastime, but not particularly helpful to anyone considering people tend to attach negative sentiments to "tourists".

8. Posted by OldPro (Respected Member 238 posts) 31w

Anyone who walks down the street is a traveller in the strict definition I suppose Peter but I was simply using the word to denote a difference between two types of travellers. Those who plan a tour and those who don't. What name would you suggest I use instead?

Touring traveller and non-touring traveller seem a bit unwieldy. The name tourist is quite clear and defines itself. It is someone who goes on a tour as you yourself say. What would you call a traveller who does not go on a tour but instead, simply starts out on a trip and sees where it takes him/her? That person is a traveller but not a tourist in my view.

Of course then we will get someone who insists we are all tourists just as we are all travellers because a 'tourist' is anyone who is travelling for pleasure etc. Yes, we are all travellers and yes we are all tourists but in the end, we all also know that some are more of a tourist than others and some are less of a traveller than others.

I will stay with my definition of the two. A tourist tours, a traveller does not.

9. Posted by Borisborough (Respected Member 444 posts) 31w

"What would you call a traveller who does not go on a tour but instead, simply starts out on a trip and sees where it takes him/her? That person is a traveller but not a tourist in my view."

So, going back the the original post, by this definition above, anyone who visits South America and plans (because they have to) to walk the Inca trail is a tourist rather than a traveller and since "...people tend to attach negative sentiments to "tourists"." , therefore viewed as less of a traveller than someone who doesn't plan anything when they venture out. And, by this same definition above, pretty much anyone who has posted a question on this site asking for advice about where to go, what to do and how to get there will be in this "tourist" category rather than the "traveller" category. And anyone who has been to India deliberately to visit the Taj Mahal , to Cambodia to see the Angkor complex, to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, to Venezuela to see Angel Falls amongst anything else they may do, are all in the "lesser" category of "tourist" rather than the "superior" "traveller".

I can't help but think that this definition is a little too restrictive for my liking.

10. Posted by lo.avery (Budding Member 5 posts) 31w

I appreciate the advice to book Machu Pichu and to not book accomm already.