Santiago, Chile: Planning is Important

Katelyn calls me and says “Hey want to go to Chile in 3 hours? Hope you say yes because I just booked your flight to Dallas.” Clearly I did say yes, after calling my mom and seeing how upset she would be if I missed Mothers Day. (Don’t worry she was cool with it.) So off we went to Santiago, Chile. This was actually a trip Katelyn was working so I sat in 1st class, had a glass of wine and slept all I could throughout the night while she had to work the flight. I was the definite winner here.

On a normal trip, Katelyn and I have very specific roles. Katelyn is obviously in charge of flights. She is also in charge of food because it’s her favorite thing in the world and she has to eat every 3 hours; like an adult toddler. She also has a sixth sense; she can just walk past a place and know if we should eat there or not. It’s her own personal super power. She is also our translator, seeing as she has a degree in Spanish. My job is planning. I just soak up every single travel blog, pinterest pin, lonelyplanet post and tripadvisor review I can find. I keep our tentative itinerary in mind and usually have a Plan B…and C… that Katelyn doesn’t even know about until it is needed. I am also the one that is going to want to do something adventurous and I’m in charge of dragging Katelyn along with me. (I’ve got about a 95% success rate. I failed t get her to sandboard in Peru though)

We were only in Chile for 36 hours and the main lesson we learned was that spontaneous travel is great, but without doing any researching or planning it is very hard to maximize your time in a new place.  In Chile we went in completely blind. We had a nice trip and our flights and hotel were free so that’s always a plus but we had a couple travel fails along the way. Learn from us, young padawans.

There is nothing worse than not knowing what to do when you get somewhere. We sat in the lobby of the very nice, real life HOTEL brainstorming and googling “What to do in Santiago” for an upsetting amount of time. You heard me; not a hostel, a hotel. (Thanks American Airlines)  Renaissance Hotel Santiago, to be exact. If you happen to be reading this and are maybe a real life adult that stays in hotels I would definitely recommend! Another bonus was the hotel restaurant was wonderful! We had steak and Chilean wine that night which is exactly the meal you are supposed to have in Chile.

So we arrived in Santiago, rode the shuttle to the hotel, and then took a nap. Remember that Katelyn worked all night, so that necessitates a nap. Then Katelyn had seen some instagram pictures of some girls she knew up in the mountains around Santiago, and we thought that would be a good place to go. The problem was that we had done zero research and spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best way to do this. Should we rent a car? Should we Uber? Should we get a driver from the hotel? We settled on just ubering even though it was far away because of the convenience and it was the fastest option. So, we walked from the hotel to find some lunch and then got an uber. The second problem came when we let Katelyn find an address and take us there. We drove for almost 2 hours and found ourselves in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. Think gravel road, some bushes and a chicken scratching in the dirt nearby….NOWHERE. I’m still not entirely sure how we ended up there, but end up there we did. So our uber driver, who was clearly having some problems with his girlfriend who kept calling, took us to a scenic lookout where we walked through a scary tunnel and took some pictures. I think we were trying to get to a place called Cajon de Maipo but because we were sleep deprived and I let Katelyn operate under the “Let’s just see what happens” mantra, which I normally try to curb, we never actually made it. However, we definitely had an adventure and got a glimpse of the Andes mountains! We headed back to the hotel and had the aforementioned delicious dinner. We had talked about touring a winery the next morning, but by the time we got back to the hotel and looked online everything with the times we needed were booked. Another reason to plan ahead people! If you do go to Santiago, I would recommend looking into wine tours, possibly earlier than the day before you want to go. I had no idea that it is a huge industry in Chile and from what I tasted, the wine is fantastic!

So the next morning we woke up and decided to roam around the city a little. We took the subway, which I was very impressed with. It is clean and easy to navigate, so don’t be afraid to give it a shot! We went to the Plaza de Armas and saw the Metropolitan Cathedral and hung out in the square. It was a beautiful day and we just people watched and wandered around the many markets in the area. No planning needed! We went back to the hotel and packed our bags. 36 hours in Chile were complete.

I’m not saying spontaneity should be avoided, but you have to be OK with not seeing or doing quite as many things as you maybe wanted to. Any research you can do beforehand is a must! Planning is a good thing! To be clear, by planning I do not mean scheduling out every minute of the day but more having an idea of activities you want to do and how to do them. It will save time and money to go into a trip having some idea of what to expect. Before this trip I’m not sure we really understood how much we benefited from having a tentative plan in place when we travel.

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