Posts Tagged ‘South America’

2 Backpackers: Where Are They Now?
Monday, March 21st, 2011

In the summer of 2009 we introduced you to three career break couples, including Jason Castellani and Aracely Santos of 2 Backpackers. Jason and Aracely began their career break in Guatemala and quickly learned that they preferred slow travel. So they shifted their round-the-world plans to focus their year in Central and South America.

In between, we checked in with them to see how they were adjusting to life on-the-road and get some travel tips based on their road experience. One of the most exciting aspects of their trip was getting engaged and since their return, have already gotten married and moved to Miami! So we decided it would be a great time to check in.

2 Backpackers

You obviously survived traveling together for a year – having gotten engaged and married shortly after your return. What insight did you gain about your relationship while traveling?
We figured, if we survived this, we can survive marriage. Which, to us is the long-term commitment of being together and tolerant of each other all the time, while still staying in love. I had planned on proposing during the one year of traveling if we were getting along. And we did get along. Looking back on that journey now, after 7 months of being home, I still feel as though that was our best time together.

What advice would you give to other couples planning a career break?
We suggest not using a travel career break to find out if you are compatible. In our article 5 Tips for Traveling as a Couple we suggest that you each have a clear understanding of your travel preferences. There will always be compromise, but you don’t want to discover one loves hiking and camping while the other is a foodie and sun bather after you just landed in Guatemala.

Photo Friday: Salinas Grandes, Argentina
Friday, March 4th, 2011

Salinas Grandes

This Photo Friday in Salinas Grandes, Argentina is from Jen & Ryan Fuller, of Consulting Rehab. In “Beware Responsible People – Embrace the Crazy” Jen & Ryan gave advice on how to deal with people who think you are crazy for wanting to take a career break.

They spent their own career break living and traveling around Argentina and Chile for six months. During their travels they explored the northwest portion of Argentina where this photo was taken.

We’d read that the massive salt flats were not to be missed and also that they were best viewed toward the end of the day, after all the tour buses have left. So we cut short an intense game of chess in a café in Purmamarca and hit the road. And not just any road. It’s a 1-hour series of switchbacks straight up the side of the mountain to 12,000-ish feet. With tour buses and big trucks barreling down at us.

After this lovely drive, we made it to the salt flats just as the sun was going down. Here’s our take on the famous Salinas Grandes: big, wide open space that’s white and crackly-looking.

What daring escapades have you endured to capture an image?

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On the Road with Warren & Betsy Talbot
Monday, February 14th, 2011

Shortly after hosting our Inaugural Meet, Plan, Go! event in Seattle this past September, Warren & Betsy Talbot (aka Married with Luggage) took off for their three year career break. Now with four months under their [shrinking] belts, we check in with them to see how they are adjusting to life on the road.

You spent two years planning your career break travels. Now that you have been on the road for four months, what have you found to be the most valuable aspect of your preparation process?
We have found that living on a budget is the most valuable skill for a long-term trip like this. In addition, doing the research to figure out what the trip would likely cost for our style of travel means that we are comfortable traveling with the budget we set out for ourselves and do not anticipate running out of money early. We lived for 2 years on a fairly tight budget, which means once we started on the trip, there was absolutely nothing to get used to. In fact, we felt like we could splurge more once we were on the trip because we had lived under budget for so long – which is a great feeling!

Another thing that really worked well for us was selling off our possessions. We know this isn’t right for everyone, but for us it gives us nothing to think about but the trip. Our advice for anyone planning a trip like this is to make sure you have your “home details” locked in before you leave – hopefully with someone else to look after them – so you don’t have to waste any of your energy on what you left back home.

Warren & Betsy Talbot

Do you feel like you were over-prepared in any ways?
We bought into the hype that we needed special travel clothes, gadgets, and medicine for the eventual “traveler’s illness.” This was a big mistake because we spent too much money on things we either don’t like, never use, or can find abundantly (for less) in every country we have visited so far.


Photo Friday: The Hostel Life
Friday, February 4th, 2011

This is a special video edition of Photo Friday from Mehdy Ghannad who recently shared with us two perspectives on “What is the American Dream?” – that of his immigrant father and his own, which is The Hostel Life.

Having grown tired of the corporate life, Mehdy ventured out to follow his passion for travel. He backpacked through 35 countries making countless friends along the way. For him, backpacking is more than just traveling – it’s about taking chances.

“The Hostel Life is more than a backpacking adventure. We want to break down cultural stereotypes and show how you can see the world for next to nothing.”

His goal is also to shift pre-conceived notions of what it means to stay in hostels. He does this through discovering new destinations chosen by viewers and sharing them through webisodes. The first series takes viewers to Colombia.

Here is the pilot episode. We look forward to seeing what other destinations Mehdy brings us down the road!

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Photo Friday: Volunteering in Peru
Friday, November 5th, 2010



This week we focused on preparing for your volunteer experience abroad. But have you thought about how that volunteer experience can carry with you after your career break? Cindy Peterson knows, and this Photo Friday showcases her time volunteering with Peru’s Challenge with her husband Bill.

“My husband Bill and I volunteered with Peru’s Challenge thanks to a recommendation from Michaela at Briefcase to Backpack. We had done several volunteer assignments during our 14 month career break, but Peru’s Challenge has a special place in our hearts for their superb efforts working to empower underprivileged communities in Peru. In fact, I was so moved by their efforts that I still work with Peru’s Challenge as their volunteer coordinator for the US and Europe, helping to interview and place volunteers in the program.

It is a great way to stay involved with a program like this even though we’ve returned to ‘real life’, and continue to meet and talk to people excited to travel and volunteer. The #1 reason that people I talk to everyday choose volunteer travel? – to immerse themselves in day to day life and culture in another country, instead of just traveling as a tourist.”

How has a volunteer experience abroad followed you home?

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Photo Friday: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Friday, October 15th, 2010

[singlepic=1886,588,,,left]This Photo Friday of the Salt Flats in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia is from Jenny Leonard of Where Is Jenny? This week Jenny shared with us how she doesn’t let a chronic condition get in the way of her long-term travels, and gave great advice on traveling with medications.

She spent 5 months backpacking through South America studying Spanish when this photo was taken.

The Salt Flats were one of the most amazing places I’ve been to so far. It’s white as far as you can see and the water gives a mirage effect. The endless perspective allows for some fun with photography. A very surreal place.

What’s the most surreal place you’ve traveled to?

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Reflecting: How Travel Reawakens Your Passions
Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Extended travel offers an inspiring break for more than just those stuck in a rut in their career. It is also great for those who need to recharge their lives – like Teresa Gotay and Mike Tieso from Art of Backpacking. They share with us how travel reawakened their passions and set them on their life paths.


Teresa Gotay

Teresa in Peru

When life give you lemons, you don’t always have to make lemonade. What if you’re in the mood for iced tea? You envision your life to go one way, and it ends up another. All my life, I envisioned a cookie cutter lifestyle of going to school, starting my career and getting married before the age of 25. As my 24th birthday recently passed, I have yet to complete any of the three.

In early 2008, in my Senior year at St. John’s University, I lacked financial aid, decent credit and the motivation to finish school. For years, I was surrounded by the notion that you had to finish school as soon as possible before the rat race began. After working countless 9-5 jobs, bartending in between, moving in and out of many apartments in New York City, my life battery needed a recharge.

2010 became the year of travel and self-discovery. I spent 5 months traveling through South America getting a taste of the backpacking experience. It left me with a craving for more and the appreciation of people, culture and travel.


What to Do: Teach English As a Second Language (ESL)
Monday, August 9th, 2010

There are many ways to travel. Teaching ESL within a local community and really connecting with the people and the culture through education taught Alisha Robertson more about her location and herself than any other experience. She shares with us what inspired her to teach ESL abroad and gives advice if you wish to pursue this path as well.

[singlepic=1859,275,,,right]Teaching English abroad is one of the most amazing travel experiences. I always recommend taking this approach into consideration when someone is pondering the idea of long-term travel. Teaching ESL allows you to connect with the local community in a way that is much different than being just a traveler. You are also able to make money for your travels while giving back, and you truly get to experience life as a local.

For a year I had the opportunity to teach Business ESL in the northern part of Chile in the coastal city of Iquique and in the Middle of the Atacama Desert. During this time, I was able to meet some of the most amazing people, and build friendships with many who I still keep in touch with today – friends who I will always consider a part of my extended family.

When I decided to move away and told my friends, family, and co-workers the questions were endless. Where are you going? Isn’t that dangerous? How long will you stay? How did you find your position? Where will you live? and the list goes on and on. Now that I have returned, I find that the questions are still endless, and many are interested in how they too can sustain their travels through teaching abroad.


Peru Needs Our Help
Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

[singlepic=1681,250,,,right]With the devastating earthquake that recently hit Haiti, a great deal of attention and fundraising for recovery efforts has been placed there. However, there is another natural disaster that is affecting thousands of families. Heavy rains and extreme flooding have devastated many parts of Peru. In 2006, I had the opportunity to volunteer with Peru’s Challenge, an organization that works very closely with these communities.

Below is a recent email I received from Peru’s Challenge asking for urgent help. Whether you’ve already visited Peru or have it on your “bucket list”, I ask that you take a moment and see if you are willing to help the people of these communities.

[singlepic=1686,250,,,left]The people of Peru need your help.

If you’ve seen the news, you know that heavy rains and flooding have devastated Peru in the past few weeks. But while much of the international news coverage has focused on the closure of Machu Picchu, behind the scenes thousands of local Peruvians have lost their homes, and millions of acres of crops have been destroyed.

The communities that Peru’s Challenge works with have been hard hit too. Of the four communities in which we currently work, three are experiencing severe damage. Last week rain washed away an important access bridge between Pumamarca and Quilla Huata. Only 10 of more than 200 houses in Quilla Huata have been spared from flash flooding which has destroyed house foundations, meaning most will crumble and have to be rebuilt from scratch. I’ve just received word that flooding has claimed the whole school we built in the Huandar community in the Sacred Valley and all their cropping areas – their only livelihood. Keep in mind that now, in the standard rainy season (from November to March), is usually peak produce time for agricultural areas so all has been lost and cannot be recuperated until the rains fall again in late November this year.


Colombia Overview
Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Colombia is not usually the top travel destination for Americans. But after living in Colombia for six months, David Lee shows us why it should be.

[singlepic=1545,200,,,right]Colombia is not the first, second, nor even the third destination most travelers have in mind when planning a trip to South America, which is exactly why it can be so rewarding to visit. While the rest of the world remains scared away by outdated stereotypes and Hollywood movies, curious travelers can explore a variety of dynamic cities, traditional pueblo towns, and undeveloped tropical beaches.

Safety is the primary concern on everyone’s mind when considering Colombia as a tourist destination. President Uribe, currently in his second term, is widely credited with marginalizing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and opening up the country’s main roads for safe travel. While visitors should continue to guard against robbery and theft, the likelihood of being kidnapped around any of the main tourist destinations is minimal. Drug and gang-related violence tends to be targeted, thus you are unlikely to be affected unless you are purposefully hanging out with the wrong crowd. Feeling better?


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