You know what’s the worst? Feeling stuck. And it’s usually when we are the most stuck that getting unstuck feels impossible. We repeat old patterns. We give up. We stop kicking and let life drag us under by our hair, and that is almost certainly the worst thing to do.
Back in October, I left my life in San Francisco to freelance and travel. I loved that city with every bit of myself, but I knew that the hours I spent waiting around were as good of a sign as any that it was time to go. I started skipping birthday brunches and coffee with coworkers to save money. I’d wake up early to research difficult hiking trails and cancel plans with friends to get vaccines. I had lost my sense of being present and instead lived in an imagined reality of the place I’d be next – South America.
Now, I’ve always found travel logistics oddly fun, but I know logistics are the thing that keeps many of us away from taking the next step. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and back out of the plan altogether.
Feeling stuck? South America is kind of the perfect place for Americans to make a short escape. The continent offers all things adventure with just enough comfort to make you feel like you’re on a proper vacation. I’ve partnered with Anywhere.com to show you how you can plan a trip to to Peru without freaking out.
What’s your budget?
Setting a realistic budget should be the first step in any trip. The best trips are the right mix fun and spontaneity, and being spontaneous is a whole lot more fun when you can actually afford to be spontaneous. Rather than thinking of flight prices alone, take a look at the cost of accommodation, transportation, food, and activities in the country. Consider the kind of experience you would like to have and recognize what amount of money you’ll need to make it happen. If your ideal destination is out of budget, consider a less expensive alternative or plan your trip in low season. Rather than visiting every single place you’ve ever wanted to see, consider staying in one place and getting to know it well. It may not feel like it now, but you’ll always have the chance to go back.
Budgeting for Peru: The cost of travel in Peru varies tremendously. If you’re going basic, you can get your costs down to as little as $30/day. If you’re relying on flights, staying in nicer hotels, and visiting more popular attractions, your budget can come closer to $200/day. No idea where to start? With Anywhere.com, you can set your budget along with your preferences, and they’ll create a custom itinerary!
How much time do you have?
You may have all kinds of time to travel if you’re quitting your job, but if time is more scarce than money, the time you have to travel can be a huge factor. Do you prefer traveling slow or more packed itineraries? Are you planning on flying or traveling by bus? Would you rather see more cities or get to know a couple really well? I’m going to say something obvious here, but South America is big. What seems like a quick jaunt on the map may actually be hours of travel time. Before planning your trip, make a real assessment of your priorities and how you’d like to spend your time. Go from there.
Photos from the train to Machu Picchu | Ollantaytambo, Peru
Travel Time for Peru: South America is great for short adventures as there are loads of direct flights and you don’t lose hours in time changes. Once you’re in Peru, you should let the duration of your trip guide your itinerary. If you’re planning a short trip to Peru (> two weeks) limit your itinerary to 3-5 cities. Busses are inexpensive and comfortable, but the country is mountainous and overland transport takes forever. You don’t want to spend your whole vacation in transit! If you have more time, consider traveling really slow and making time for places like Arequipa, Huaraz, or Mancora. Backpacking trips, homestays, and work exchanges are a great way to extend your time in a place and to get a more intimate knowledge of the area.
What kind of activities are you going for?
Travel means different things to different people. Some would say it’s not a vacation without a beach, while all inclusive beach vacations are my idea of hell. Figure out what you need from your trip, but always make an effort to challenge yourself. Stretch your limits and consider some experiences that you wouldn’t normally do. You’re traveling way too far to simply recreate life at home.
Photo from the Santa Cruz Trek | Huaraz, Peru
Activities in Peru: Peru is kind of the gateway drug to travel in South America. There’s plenty of things to do in Peru besides Machu Picchu, though that is often the focal point when people plan a trip to Peru. With beaches, ancient history, modern cities, insane mountain ranges, an up-and-coming culinary scene, and a handful of other “things to see before you die”, just about anyone can plan their perfect trip in Peru. Don’t know where to start? Some of my favorite adventure travel destinations in Peru were Huaraz, Huacachina, Arequipa, and Cusco. When you plan your trip with Anywhere.com, they’ll give you a handful of travel styles to choose from to help guide your itinerary.
How uncomfortable are you willing to get?
Travel should always leave you feeling a bit out of control; being uncomfortable is actually a really great thing. But in order to enjoy yourself, you should still make a realistic assessment of your limits. If you’re lacking in survival skills, you wouldn’t start with a monthlong excursion into the wilderness, would you? Pick a level of accommodation that is going to suit you. Don’t commit to overnight busses when you’re not even willing to take red-eyes at home. Don’t assume that just because you’re in another country, you’ll be able to change everything about yourself. Take small steps outside of your comfort zone and expand them as you get more comfortable. Change takes time.
Photos from a Local Market | Chachapoyas, Peru
Comfort Level in Peru: Peru is an incredibly popular destination, meaning there’s a service for any level of comfort. You can stay in backpacker hostels or you can stay in 4-star hotels. There are local buses and private vans and luxury trains that can take you where you want to go. You can dine on $1 ceviche at the local market or you can feast on tasting menus created by internationally renowned chefs. Be realistic with your budget and your level of comfort. If this seems like an impossible balance, Anywhere.com will let you set your preferred style of hotel and transport to ensure you create a trip that you’ll actually be able to enjoy.
Are you ready to pull the trigger?
Your budget, the amount of time you have, the activities you want to fit in, and your comfort level will help guide your trip, but the final step is actually committing. Travel is one of my favorite catalysts for change because you lock yourself in with the flight, and kind of have no other choice but to follow through. Don’t let fear hold you back from doing something big. The world is safer and stagnation is deadlier than you think, so get your butt out there and do something!
Photos from a Sandboarding + Dune Buggy Tour | Huacachina, Peru
I’m an independent traveler at heart. I’ve never been one for packaged vacations and get a lot of joy out of customizing my own trips. If you love planning, there are tons of great blogs and resources to help you do it! If you need some help getting started, Anywhere.com lends their local expertise to help you get the kind of authentic adventure you’ve been missing.