In September 2018, we said “YES”, yes to realize our dream now and not wait for retirement in 30 years (and that concept should still exist). So we took a year to prepare this project in terms of organization (financially we have been putting money aside for several years).
Who? What? Where? When? Where? When? How? Why did we do it? How much? We will try to answer all these questions to make it easier for other potential travellers and satisfy your curiosity.
For this question the answer is quite simple: we will make this trip as a family, mom, dad and our 3 year old son.
We love to travel in order to enrich our education and our open-mindedness. We are in love with Nature as well as the Culture and History that surrounds it. We particularly appreciate the sites classified as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, National Parks and Nature Reserves. Of course, we always enjoy making new encounters and sharing human moments.
It is a common dream that we have had for a very long time (even before we met) : Crossing South America to explore all its charms ; Nature, History, Culture & Relationship !
Moreover, after a decade of “hard” work, we were starting to get bored of this life despite all the conveniences it offered us: a good job with a decent salary, a functional house, the foundation of a family with the birth of our son, good relations, two vehicles, and all the “western” comforts (drinking water permanently at the tap, abundant food, abundant electricity, unlimited telephony, broadband internet access, all the shops nearby satisfying the slightest need…). It is true that we live in an era where everything is possible, everything is going faster and faster, and we can be satisfied with anything in just a few “clicks”. Nevertheless, with a little hindsight, we are always in a hurry, impatient, intolerant and unsympathetic…people don’t have the “Time”.
So we wanted to move away from this system in order to recharge our batteries, to take the “Time” to enjoy, contemplate, discover, share!
In South America, if you hadn’t understood! Then the filter is done naturally: we exclude the Amazonian zone to avoid any health risk for our child. We will also exclude politically “unstable” countries, always to eradicate any risk.
Thus, we first decide to visit Chile, Argentina, a piece of Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. We will later exclude Brazil (too vast to see everything, it will probably require a dedicated trip).
For the detailed itinerary, the “What” allows us to identify a multitude of points on the map, we just have to connect them to draw a “macro” itinerary (“macro” because it is not possible to predict or know everything in advance, some points may be excluded while others will be added).
The point of departure and arrival will be Chile because of the “How? “and the direction of the route (order of passage) will be according to the seasons and therefore the “When? (to avoid the polar cold and/or periods of heavy rain).
Due to my function, a one year “availability” is only possible from September. This is good timing since it is the beginning of Spring in the southern hemisphere, so we will avoid the winter cold. For the precise date of departure, it is the tariffs of the airline companies which will make us take our choice, namely September 24, 2019 with the LEVEL company.
How do we do it?
The option pedestrian, bicycle or public transport (bus, train, plane…) forces us to skip a lot of things and imposes a certain cost for accommodation. In addition, it adds a constraint of “Time” with dates and schedules to be respected, that’s all we want to avoid because of the “Why?
After several years of practice, the Road Trip is for us an obvious choice. We travel in our “house on wheels”, which allows us autonomy and a certain freedom for the places to visit and/or the places to stay.
This means of locomotion finally conditions our itinerary since we have to invest in an adapted vehicle in South America. Renting a converted van is possible provided that you are prepared to spend 14 000€ for 1 year. Similarly, crossing the Atlantic Ocean round trip with your own vehicle in a container costs 5 000 €. For us this “dead loss” is unthinkable. After much research, it turns out that Chile is the only country in South America in 2019 where it is possible to acquire a vehicle as a foreigner (and whose exit from the territory is allowed). We will also finish our trip in Chile in order to be able to resell the vehicle and thus recover money. We will describe in detail in a future article the administrative procedures for the purchase of a vehicle in Chile as a foreigner.
How much do you charge?
Delicate question and specific to each one according to his personality, the activities that he wishes to realize, the places and countries that he wishes to visit and the “Time” spent.
In our case, a couple with a child for 1 year, our basic estimated budget is 25 000€ including the purchase of the vehicle and the plane tickets. With a good margin of 20%, our final budget is estimated at 30 000€ (knowing that we will recover part of it at the end of the trip thanks to the resale of the vehicle).
This may seem exorbitant, but after calculating our annual expenses (or cost of living) in France for one year, the choice is quickly validated! And you, how much does a year of living with a child in France cost you?
As far as means of payment are concerned, we have opted to open an account in a “low-cost” bank (Revolut) allowing payments and withdrawals worldwide at a lower cost, as traditional banks would have taxed us abusively on each transaction. There are other banks of this type (N26 for example), it works very well.