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Old 02-25-2011, 10:53 AM   #21
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Michael, this is the foolishness we've signed up to do in January:
Mototaxi Junket

The Mototaxi Junket has a new itinerary, which will start the madness in Puno, near Lake Titicaca, and end at Ayabaca, on the Ecuadoran border. I've described the distance as kinda like driving a moped from here to Texas on dirt roads, but only if the Andes Mountains and the Amazon basin were between SC and TX.

We've paid our money and signed up as Team Dixie Chickens. I'll be updating that thread as we get our website built (we will be raising money for Practical Action as part of our commitment). It is going to be awesome!

We are taking private Spanish lessons with a Peru-born tutor and I hope that will help as we traverse the Andes in a moped with a sofa on the back. On a lighter note, we did just update our wills last week.
So, you don't need a travel agent, you need a life insurance agent.

Just joking. This trip sounds like a blast. I think Peru is a country worth exploring, culturally quite divided, a unique mix of modern world together with origins of the Americas. I embarrassed to say how many times I've been to Peru but never left Lima (work...). This will change in the next couple of years.

Hope you like spicy food. You might ask your tutor to throw in some Quechua. It may come in handy with the route you're planning.

Up to date on shots? Especially hepatitis?
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:43 AM   #22
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Glad you can appreciate the adventure, Michael. The CDC says we just need Yellow Fever for Peru. I was vaccinated as a teen for Hepatitis, don't know if that will help. I still remember how much the shot hurt for days!

We are hoping to travel in a bit of a caravan with the other participants, but what I will probably agonize over is evacuation insurance. I've looked at a bunch of carriers in the past but it is so rarely used that it is hard to pick the right one. And pretty much, it isn't like they are sending a Black Hawk in there to pluck you out of danger or anything. If we get injured on the road somewhere, I think we'll either be lucky or dead, regardless of whatever insurance we buy.

Vanessa (our tutor) has mentioned Quechua and the likelihood we'll meet people who don't speak Spanish. She grew up in Lima so she has limited exposure to native language, but I am hoping she'll be able to help us with at least a few phrases.

I ordered a road map the other day and was impressed that our route takes both sides of the map to show people, LOL!
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:07 AM   #23
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My DW is a registered travel agent so we seldom use anyone else. There is one agent who specializes in high end or exotic travel. She doesn't always get the best rates so DW has to watch her. The agent's strength is that she personally knows the destinations and the hotels. One thing we always do is check the hotel websites to see if there are any better prices as we get closer to the departure date. This has saved us big bucks over the years.
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:40 AM   #24
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I just go to the airlines' own websites such as www.continental.com for the best prices.

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Am I missing something, or is he just not an astute shopper?
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:27 AM   #25
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I can't imagine using a travel agent when I can book online 24/7 and see all the options before choosing flights, hotels, cars, etc. Why pay a travel agent commission for someone who can't show you all the options (that was/is my biggest objection)? I don't miss travel agents, YMMV.
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Old 02-26-2011, 08:54 AM   #26
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I can't imagine using a travel agent when I can book online 24/7 and see all the options before choosing flights, hotels, cars, etc. Why pay a travel agent commission for someone who can't show you all the options (that was/is my biggest objection)? I don't miss travel agents, YMMV.
Generally agree as far as flights and cookie cutter deals are concerned. Sometimes it is useful to have someone who has actually been there. Also , helps to book a good guide, etc. You generally don't pay them directly but since my DW is a registered travel agent we always have to weigh the cost of her(DW) not booking the deal and earning the commission.
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Old 02-26-2011, 12:34 PM   #27
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We recently booked a 14 day cruise (including 5-6 excursions)and 4 airline tickets on SWA without speaking to a live person. I did not even consider using a travel agent.
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Old 02-26-2011, 01:52 PM   #28
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Glad you can appreciate the adventure, Michael. The CDC says we just need Yellow Fever for Peru. I was vaccinated as a teen for Hepatitis, don't know if that will help. I still remember how much the shot hurt for days!
"Just" yellow fever?!?

I sure hope the vaccine has improved over the last 10 years. When I was on active duty, the Navy medical people made you make an appointment for that one. It was kept under special refrigerated conditions in a container that supplied something like 5-10 doses. They wouldn't open it until all the people scheduled for that vaccine were standing in the room, in good health. Some candidates went through two or three trips before they got the damn vaccine.

Hawaii has one of the world's most multicultural populations. In a stunning coincidence it also has the world's highest per-capita rate of hepatitis B infection. The stories I heard from EMT trainees were not for the faint of heart.

I'd strongly suggest that you get vaccinated for hepatitis A&B at the very minimum. I believe the Hep B vaccine still takes a few shots spaced out over a few months, so get a head start on it. If there's a decent vaccine for hepatitis C I'd get that too.
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Old 02-26-2011, 03:52 PM   #29
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You really need vaccines for both hepatitis B & C. You absolutely need deet - though I'm not sure you can pack it in your luggage (TSA regulations?). Also recommended: prescription antibiotics for gastrointestinal infection. Really good sunscreen.

If your route takes you through tropical Peru, and you have a family MD, it wouldn't hurt to have a "what if" discussion about malaria. Also how to identify dengue. These are not big issues but given your exposure to rainforest and away from urban areas, a few minutes in preparation wouldn't be wasted.

Hope you like potatoes.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:58 PM   #30
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I've never used a travel agent in the past, but am just now thinking one might be useful. My brother in-law has been in New Zealand for the last couple of years and we'd like to get there before he leaves. We've never made the trip out to see him because we'd only have a week or two to spend there, and that didn't seem to justify the 24 hour flight. But now we have as much time as we want, and are thinking about heading there over the winter. The problem is, flights run $2k per person.

Where I think a travel agent could be really helpful is getting us there more cheaply by some convoluted route. We'd have no problem spending a week or several days in Hawaii, or Fiji, or Australia, or Taiwan, or anywhere remotely between here and there. Even multiple stops would be just fine with us. But there's no good way to figure out the least costly route on the internet. Maybe a travel agent, or multiple agents, could do better.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:31 PM   #31
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I don't travel frequently enough or to complicated destinations. I use either the internet or AAA travel and sometimes American Express travel.

I
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:32 PM   #32
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:03 PM   #33
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shucks, I was sort of contemplating getting trained as a travel agent as a post FIRE position for a little income, some travel discounts and doing something I generally do for myself and my family already...but maybe it is going the way of the buggy whip...
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:07 PM   #34
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I've never used a travel agent in the past, but am just now thinking one might be useful. My brother in-law has been in New Zealand for the last couple of years and we'd like to get there before he leaves. We've never made the trip out to see him because we'd only have a week or two to spend there, and that didn't seem to justify the 24 hour flight. But now we have as much time as we want, and are thinking about heading there over the winter. The problem is, flights run $2k per person.

Where I think a travel agent could be really helpful is getting us there more cheaply by some convoluted route. We'd have no problem spending a week or several days in Hawaii, or Fiji, or Australia, or Taiwan, or anywhere remotely between here and there. Even multiple stops would be just fine with us. But there's no good way to figure out the least costly route on the internet. Maybe a travel agent, or multiple agents, could do better.
Gone---GO! I had a friend working in NZ and I managed a two week trip to go see her. You can't pass up the opportunity, even with those expensive flights. You could always try a couple of agents (maybe have your brother ask there, Kiwis are very savvy travelers).

It is beautiful and very much worth the days it takes to get there. And with a person on the ground, all the better!
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:33 PM   #35
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It is beautiful and very much worth the days it takes to get there. And with a person on the ground, all the better!
Yup, that's what we're thinking.

The idea would be to get the hell out of dodge for the winter. This year we spent in FL, which was great. Next winter looks like Texas if we stay in the RV, or Costa Rica, or New Zealand, or if we hop a flight. Having a local on the ground makes a compelling case for NZ. Lower cost weighs in favor of Central America. The good thing is, we have plenty of time to decide. The bad news is, I'm getting antsy for a trip.
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:49 AM   #36
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Okay, so I'm back to wondering about the travel agents. I've been on literally a dozen flight search pages for our trip to Peru in December and I am starting to see why people like to use travel agents. One of the sites showed me flight schedules where you have to change AIRPORTS in New York (mind you, I live in SC and am heading south).

Plus, I can find some flight schedules on the consolidator type sites that I can't seem to find on the airline sites. That seems very odd. The difference in prices isn't too large, some of the more odd multiple stop schedules were cheaper, at around $1200 while the simpler (here to Houston to Lima) were closer to $1600.

Randomly I found a CHS to MIA to Lima for $1100 on a UK travel site, but I'd have to buy it in pounds rather than dollars. And it was for an American Airlines/Taca combo that I couldn't find at all on the AA.com site.

Any of you other Central/South American travelers ever used an agent to cut through the clutter? I may get desperate and just call Taca anyway.

At least the tickets to go see my sis in Vermont in June were easy to find and buy!
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:08 PM   #37
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I've never used a travel agent in the past, but am just now thinking one might be useful. My brother in-law has been in New Zealand for the last couple of years and we'd like to get there before he leaves. We've never made the trip out to see him because we'd only have a week or two to spend there, and that didn't seem to justify the 24 hour flight. But now we have as much time as we want, and are thinking about heading there over the winter. The problem is, flights run $2k per person.

Where I think a travel agent could be really helpful is getting us there more cheaply by some convoluted route. We'd have no problem spending a week or several days in Hawaii, or Fiji, or Australia, or Taiwan, or anywhere remotely between here and there. Even multiple stops would be just fine with us. But there's no good way to figure out the least costly route on the internet. Maybe a travel agent, or multiple agents, could do better.
Have you checked out the Air New Zealand website to Air Tahiti Nui as they go LAX-PPT and onto Oz and NZ I think. Alternatively you can do mainland to HNL then from HNL to NZ on Air New Zealand.
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Old 03-31-2011, 01:26 PM   #38
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Any of you other Central/South American travelers ever used an agent to cut through the clutter?
Sarah - are you aware Spirit flies to Lima? For early December flight ATL<->LIM roundtrip is $610. Even cheaper from MIA.
If you fly from ATL, I'll even let you park your car in our driveway if you want
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Old 03-31-2011, 03:12 PM   #39
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Ooh, that is great, Sailor! Thanks for the tip--and wait, haven't you heard about my cars--it would drop your property values immediately to have one of them in your drive!
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:33 PM   #40
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Sarah - are you aware Spirit flies to Lima? For early December flight ATL<->LIM roundtrip is $610. Even cheaper from MIA.
If you fly from ATL, I'll even let you park your car in our driveway if you want
I wavered back and forth over taking Spirit to Lima, but ultimately decided against it after reading one too many horror stories online.

My brother bought an American nonstop from LAX (he is meeting us in Lima) and was recently notified that he is now going via Miami with an 8 hour layover and his return flight was moved up from 6 AM to 10 PM the prior night! He mitigated the damage somewhat with a phone call, but my point is that once you make a reservation, you may still have some unpleasant changes, with little recourse.
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