I’m stuck in a black hole of travel planning

The last few weeks have been a carpal-tunnel-inducing blur of Momodo, Airbnb, Kiwi, SmartFares, Booking, TripAdvisor, random travel blogs, Sherpa, Google translate, email, various countries’ U.S. embassy websites and departments of foreign affairs. Getting denied from entry to Chile meant needing to rework our entire itinerary for the next month. So while the kids relaxed during our unexpected downtime in Lima or in the evenings after our excursions, I’ve been sitting in front of my computer trying to figure out where to go next and how to get there, or on the phone with an airline trying to get our current unusable tickets rerouted or refunded. We knew that traveling during COVID would be harder logistically, but I didn’t expect it would take this much extra time. 

Of course, a big part of the reason it’s so difficult is because I am trying to optimize across multiple competing dimensions: high-impact experiences in a short time on a limited budget. When we planned to remodel our kitchen 20 years ago, we heard the adage: “On time, on budget, or with quality: pick two!”  I’m reminded of that now. And, the challenge is compounded by constant COVID-driven changes. I have bookmarked many wonderful travel blogs that inspire edits to our aspirational to-do list, but across the expansive World Wide Web it is still hard to find timely, specific, and accurate on-the-ground information about crossing land borders, what COVID-precautions are in force, what bus routes have changed, and what hours businesses are really open. Ideally I would “pay it forward” by posting some of our own experiences for other travelers but honestly, the planning takes so much time that it’s been hard to find the time! 

For the past 20 years, most of our family vacations have been with James’ parents – and therefore, we have benefited from his dad’s extensive travel planning. I have a newfound appreciation for all of that work. Thanks, Jim! 

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