Long-term Travel – How We Chose Our Starting Point

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This world is a big place (although smaller than you think). The number of countries to explore seems very overwhelming at times. We at least want to find our starting point and go from there. But how do we make that choice? Should we throw a dart at a map and see where it lands? Here is how we decided on the first spot.World Map Photo by Tomjonescoaley Creative Commons

Transportation Costs

One of the most expensive elements of travel is transportation. So to help us decide on a starting point, we began to think more regionally for flights. We know we want to visit South America first but how do we get there for a reasonable price? This is where Google Flights comes in.

Google Flights

With Google Flights, you can enter the date you wish to travel and open a world map to see prices from your home location to every destination in the world. How freaking cool is that? That map alone will make you want to travel more.

Google Flights South America

Now that we can see the entire continent, it is easy to narrow down where to start. The cheapest flight is to Bogota, Colombia. Comparing that to Rio de Janeiro, it is almost 1/3 of the price. Keep in mind that these prices are for two people. But we aren’t done yet, so lets keep digging.

Colombia.JPG

Our Starting Point

Nearby Medellín is almost the same price. We have heard many great things about both of these cities. Since we plan to go down the western coast of South America to Patagonia over three months, we can choose Medellín, and take other ground transportation to Bogotá as we make our way south. Now what does this flight to Medellín entail, and is this really the best price?

Flight info Medellin google flights


The total transportation time is just over 24 hours, which makes it a long trip. Since we aren’t in a hurry and would rather save $300/couple over the next flight on the list, this is worth it.

Flight List Medellin Google Flights

Before we go forward with this, is this really the best price? Next, we shop around for different dates and check another website.Flight prices by day google flights

Travel Dates Matter

We save money if we fly on Tuesday instead of Monday. Since this is a world trip, we have the flexibility to change dates. Can we find cheaper prices on that day elsewhere? Let’s check kayak.com.

Kayak.com Flight Info

Finding Cheaper Options

Kayak has a shorter trip for about $36 less per couple at $600 for one way tickets. After this you would need to look into baggage fees because some airlines are tricky and show lower prices, but have higher fees.

As we are planning through the rest of our trip we will play this game to narrow down our options as we travel from place to place. We already found that the cheapest flight from Patagonia is to Seoul, South Korea. That will likely be our gateway to Asia with short hops to neighboring countries.

You can see our current list of countries on our destination wish list.

Related:  World Travel – Factors in Deciding Where to Go

How would you pick your starting point on a year long trip? 

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Cover Photo by Joe Ross Creative Commons

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