How long does it take to plan your South America trip like a pro?

How long does it take to plan your South America trip like a pro?

Calculate the time required with our formula.

Some people just love holiday planning and start doing this the second they arrive back from their previous journey. But what is a realistic timeframe in which to plan and book your travel arrangements to the big SA?

I would always recommend giving yourself plenty of time to research and plan your itinerary.

Whilst every one plans their trips differently and to different degrees, let’s focus on two necessary components of any international holiday, flights and accommodation. This also varies depending the length of time you plan to spend away.

But before we even get that far, you need to have some idea of what or where you actually want to see within South America which involves doing some research. South America is a big continent and has so much to see, whether love history, culture, food or wildlife, each country has its own personality and range of attraction so whatever your preferred medium, whether it be guidebooks, travel blogs, web research, speaking to friends who have been there or discussing with a travel agent, you will need to spend time over at least a couple weeks to explore what interests you most about the continent.

Using this as a basis, you can set up your plan on what you will want include as part of your South American adventure based on when and how long you want to travel for, and most importantly, what your budget allows.

It could take another week or two to try and coordinate your ‘must sees’ and how to structure your trip around them, this will often involve flying from place to place and making this all fit with airline schedules and availability.

Now if you also need to look into our accommodation options, I would anticipate that this would take another 30 minutes to research each destination (so about 5 minutes looking into each hotel, looking up review sites, comparing prices etc.)

And there is also the research required to find and price the relevant flights that you will need as part of your trip which would take at least another couple of hours.

Here is a nifty formula can give you an idea of the amount of time you would spend planning.

Research (Approx. 1  hour per country visited)


Coordinating time (so 20 minutes per week that you will spend travelling)


Accommodation research (30 minutes per destination you will travel to)


Flight research and booking (2 ho furs)

= Minimum amount of time you will need to plan your South American holiday.

So for example, we have Greg who is wanting to travel to Peru, Chile and Ecuador. After his initial research, he decides has three weeks to travel in and would like to visit Santiago, the Atacama Desert, Lima, Cuzco, Quito and the Galapagos Islands.

Based on the above formula:

Research (3 x 1 hour) + Coordinating (20 minutes x 3 weeks) + Accommodation (30 minutes x  6) =

3 hours + 1 hour + 3 hours + 2 hours = 9 hours minimum planning time

Of course, this summary is based on researching in between things like work and responsibilities rather than in intense chunks and you may spread out your planning over time.

We’d love to hear if you’ve planned a trip to South America before and how long it took or any other comments to see how accurate our formula is.

Next week:

Boutique SA Blog looks at how far in advance you need to start booking your South America trip so you don’t miss out on the best experiences?

Want to know more about travelling in South America? Check out our special Go To Guide  featuring a brief summary of 32 of the most popular destinations.


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