While we like to believe that we are going to be traveling without any plan, agenda, or itinerary, some measure of thought does need to go towards figuring out where we should be when, to avoid either the hottest (or coldest) and rainiest (or snowiest) parts of the year. The National Geographic Map Machine is by far the slickest weather mapping site I’ve found. It lets you look at average temperature, rainfall, and snow cover for both January and July (among many other things), and looks pretty while it’s doing it too. Given that we’re going to be heading out of the US at the beginning of September, from the overall weather patterns from these maps, I think we should try to drive down the Pacific side of South America, arriving at the Southern tip sometime in January or February, and head back up on the Atlantic side to the Amazon arriving there by May or June. Looks like it’s always going to be hot and rainy in Central America. We’ll do more in depth checking with our guidebooks and more local weather information, but this is at least a beginning.
Before leaving for points south, we’re going to visit family across the US. I mapped a potential route that would get us there in the least time possible time to maximize time with the family. Our thoughts are to visit various aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandparents who are scattered across the midwest, spend a couple of days at each of their locations, and then continue on to the east coast to spend a couple of weeks with our parents. The end goal is to head out of the US by the beginning of September.
While looking for information on how AAA can negotiate a new car price in your behalf, I found out that AAA will send you maps of Mexico, Central America, and South America at no charge if you are a member. They should show up in a few days.