A couple of things came into alignment for taking a trip at this time – Alexandra and I both are “between things” and me avoiding surgery on my arm (doctor’s advise – if it isn’t broken, don’t break it!). This was planned to be more of backpacking trip than a vacation (e.g. – try to spend not much more than we would at home on day to day costs) but we were limited in physical activity because it is a couple of more weeks before my torn Achilles heals. The original thought was Australia for about a month but the logistics didn’t match up. So we settled on South America and a two week window and started to search for the best deals on redeeming frequent flyer miles and pretty quickly found Alexandra a round trip for 30,000 miles (LA-Rio & Buenos Aires-LA) – this is about the same as a discount FF round trip fare from LA- DC which set the overall trip itinerary. Sharon was unsure if she could go but we got her and I trips on a similar routing down to Rio for 110,000 miles total and I got a return on miles as well – so it was just waiting until about a week before whether she could go and she ended up staying back in USA for work. When it came to the trip planning, it was helpful to reach out to several friends who have lived in Brazil or Argentina and I got the inspiration for Iguazu Falls from a Facebook post from a Korean ex-coworker.
- Fly into Rio for a couple of days
- Possible local day trip TBD – ended up going to Buzios
- Fly to Iguazu Falls
- Bus to Buenos Aires (17 hrs but saved about $1000 versus flying)
- Depart Buenos Aires to DC and LA
You need a visa for Brazil. A pain but luckily, we could drive to Embassy in DC to get the process started.
Stayed in AirBNB and hostels – averaged about $50/night and all were fine.
Travelling with Alexandra (or Annelise for that matter) is more like travelling with a peer than your kid – she was huge help in many areas. Her high school Spanish recollection was impressive as well as more Brazilians spoke Spanish than English and in more than one occasion was key.
You need a visa for Brazil. A pain but luckily we could drive to Embassy in DC to get the process started.
Didn’t do my normal quality check and I almost paid for it – printing put papers of all the details as backup to the phone and reviewing each step. I did print them but didn’t review the step and I had purchased a connecting air leg from Atlanta to Miami (where my free air let started to Rio) for the wrong day. And because everyone was returning after Hurricane Irma, all the flights from all airlines were full as I walked around the airport in Atlanta from counter to counter looking for flights. Went back to American and explained the situation that I had a connecting flight to Rio and they put me on standby – and I made it. Plan B was flying from ATL-DC-Panama City-RIO leaving at 5:45am the next day for $1,600 (and 22 hr trip) and Plan C was Delta direct that night from Atlanta to Rio for $2,400. Neither choice was appealing but Alexandra was already in route from LA so I would have had to make a choice.
Overall – not a lot of pre-planning after the airline tickets procured but left a lot of the trip to on the road decisions.