There it was, a question looming in the air.
I wasn’t particularly dressed up for the occasion, and yet, I had been anticipating the moment for months now. Could it really be this easy? I say yes, and then, a few months of planning, and then… bliss? Why wouldn’t I say “yes?” I had been waking each morning thinking, could today be the day? But when faced with a question that needed the answer, I felt the rush, the swell of excitement, the acknowledgement of a potentially life-changing committment.
Staring at me in the face, the question begged an answer: “Confirm purchase?”
I took a deep breath, hovered my cursor over the word “Confirm” and clicked. Yes, I will go to Ecuador with you, Avianca Airlines.
But what of the time between airline purchase and the big day?
I am no stranger to international travel, and my planning process usually consisted of purchasing a Lonely Planet book and reading it cover to cover, cross-referencing hotel recommendations with Trip Advisor, booking a few hotels, and finally, creating a cheat-sheet for those accompanying me (currency conversions, helpful phrases, etc.) I was meticulous. I was prepared.
In the past these trips have been as simple as booking the chapel, finding a priest, and walking down the aisle. The difference between past trips and Ecuador is that this is the first trip I’m going on since I joined Twitter and became a reader of travel blogs.
I sent out a Tweet, long before I purchased airfare but after I had decided that Australia would be too hard, and the responses I received were encouraging. Pretty soon, I was able to find travelers who had been to or lived in Ecuador and who wrote blogs about their experiences. I still bought a guide-book, but I found myself referencing it less and less and referencing the world-wide blog more and more, especially when I (literally and figuratively) stumbled upon posts like this one from Brendan’s Adventures, which are comprehensive as guides in and of themselves.
My planning process has taken a much more unconventional route, but I appreciate having learned how not to be a target for crime and a first-hand account of where the real equator is located. I have enjoyed reading travel stories, which upon second glance, contained little gems of helpful information.
Of course the danger in reading blogs in preparation of a trip is that you may allow another person’s idea of a place plant a seed of prejudice in your mind. I must confess that reading blogs about being robbed in Quito led me to momentarily question why I was dragging three close friends through a city where bad guys lurk around every corner. Of course then I’d find a photoblog post, and my heart would skip a few beats, unable to withstand the torture of the planning phase at all.
So here you have it: a blogger blogging about blogs blogging about travel. Blogs are valuable as a planning tool because they are able to show you a place in a way that guides may not have the liberty of time and space to do. Engaging with people in the way absolutely affected my travel plans, as before booking my flight I was unable to gauge whether Ecuador sans Galapagos would be worth the trek. I am so grateful to have gleaned information from people who are as passionate about travel as I am. Now it is my job to go out and have my own experience. I cannot wait to meet Ecuador.