How to blow your travel budget.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Venezuela  ,
Saturday, November 5, 2005

I think I have said a few times recently that I spend much more money now than I did at the start of my trip. Mainly because of laziness and convenience, but also because I don't plan things well enough or take too many decisions on the spot. I don't know how many times I have changed my so-called travel plans, and I am also amazed at how quickly I sometimes change them. Having this flexibility is awesome when out backpacking (if you can call it backpacking anymore), but it is also bound to cost you more. I am also kind of surprised at how often I take the easy way out (and so are my brother after just one month on the road with me). I have never liked spending too much time checking price differences between different shops and agencies on for example a tour or a flight. So I often sign up on the first deal I get presented (not always a smart move). Some of my latest blunders include a close to US $100 taxi ride in Quito (how that's even possible I don't know) as well as a US $340 (US $120 of them was taxes we were told about later) flight from Cartagena to Caracas. US $340, that's more than my flight from Seattle to Guatemala City. If you look on a map, the distance between Cartagena and Caracas isn't really that long. In fact it's about 20 hours on a bus. 20 hours isn't really a big deal in South America, as the distances down here are monstrous (for example, Colombia is about the same size as France, Spain and Portugal added together). Mainly we took the flight to save some time on our way to Salvador in Brazil (Salvador looks to be our starting point along the coast, as Natal is too far north considering the time we got left). But we didn't really save any time at all, as we could have taken a night bus from Cartagena instead of the morning flight to Caracas (via Bogotá). So basically we ended up spending a lot of money for a short ride (it's still a long way to Salvador). Spending a lot of money was what we tried to avoid in the first place, by going to the coast of Brazil via Venezuela and Boa Vista in northern Brazil, instead of taking a hilariously expensive direct flight to Brazil from Colombia. What we of course should have done, was to take the bus from Cartagena to Caracas (at least to Marcaibo close to the border with Colombia) and then taken a domestic flight in Venezuela instead. Domestic flights are typically much cheaper than international flights (not just because of the taxes), especially in this case where we had to travel double distance by first flying down to Bogotá. Anyway, the bus option didn't even strike me as an option at the time. Of course it should have, after more than a year on the road. It's all called travel planning, a game I have become pretty lousy at lately (my brother still blames me). Being so mind stuck on having to take an international flight in order to reach Brazil within a reasonable time, also caused me to buy my flight home to Norway (on the same flight as my brother). I had to, as no travel agent or airlines would sell me an international flight ticket without a return flight to my home country (I bought the ticket online, but they were right, as I was asked about my flight home when I tried to check-in on the flight to Caracas). The ticket from Sao Paulo to Oslo practically cost me the same as my brothers flight from Oslo to Quito with return to Oslo from Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo. And I still haven't bought the Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo flight (man I am the expert to overspend). So once again I didn't really bother to check around, instead I just bought the first and best I found online.

And being back in Venezuela, why not spend some more money and go back to Angel Falls and Canaima National Park. The place was amazing, so I have no problem to visit again with my brother, but I am pretty sure we could have found a cheaper deal by checking around. But no, of course we didn't. Anyway, we are here in Canaima National Park now, on a three day trip to see Angel Falls, tepuis and other spectacular cascades. I had hoped for more water, as last time I visited was in the dry season (now we are at the tail end of the wet season), but in fact there's a bit less water now. Still an awesome place though, and I can always come back.
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