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Ruta 40 in the Puna
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How to plan your Road Trip on Ruta 40

Prepare a relaxing road trip

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Things to consider and bear in mind when planning your trip along Ruta 40.

Panoramic view of the Glaciar Perito Moreno glacier
View of the Glaciar Perito Moreno, Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia, Argentina, Ruta 40, El Calafate, Santa Cruz

Plan your Trip

Road Trip along la Ruta 40

"To Travel is to Liver"
Hans Christian Andersen

Planning a trip is part of the fun, as you set out to plan it you start traveling with your imagination, anticipating the pleasures and thrills that you will experience during your vacations.

Ruta 40 offers a wide scope of possibilities, you can experience natural and cultural beauties along it, from the arid north, to the high Andean peaks in Cuyo region to the forests and wind swept steppes in Patagonia. This will be an unforgettable road trip.

This page give plenty of advice on how to plan your trip and explains why a good plan brings peace of mind and eliminates the anxiety caused by travel to unknown foreign places.

Ruta 40 Cusi Cusi Mars Valley
Valley of Mars on Ruta 40 en, Cusi Cusi, Jujuy. Foto:

The Best Tips to Plan your Road Trip

Free E-Book

A beginners guide to planning a relaxing road trip

This is what you will find inside:

A step by step guide

  • When to travel
  • How to calculate your budget
  • How to define the length of your trip
  • Getting to your Road Trip
  • A Check list
  • Don't forget the Side Trips!
  • What to Pack
  • Over plan it or go with the flow?
  • Hotel bookings

Planing your trip reduces stress

Stress and anxiety can ruin your trip

Stress plays an important role in the happiness provoked by travel: Studies have shown that of the travelers who ranked a trip as "The Best Trip" only 4% were stressed. So being stress-free makes a trip more enjoyable.

On the other hand, 66% of the travelers who rated a vacation as "The Worst Trip", were stressed-out.

Take home point: Stress can ruin your trip. The main causes of vacation stress are:

  1. 28% - Wasting time: Defining a trip in a hurry, running around in circles, last moment definitions, poor trip planning.
  2. 25% - Lack of knowledge about the destination: being in an unknown place can be stressful. For example: Where is my hotel?
  3. 21% - Feeling insecure: How do I get to a tourist attraction? Can I pay with my credit card? Do I need an international driving licence?

These three factors account for 73% of travel stress.

photographing scenery from a moving car
Relax, unwind and enjoy your trip

Manage your stress proactively

There is a very simple solution to get rid of anxiety: embrace your holidays, Plan you trip, enjoy the process, get acquainted with your destination, familiarize yourself with the places that you will visit: check out maps, read about them, browse maps, visit online information sites -like our website. Ask friends, check online forums...

The more you know about a place, the easier it will be during your trip.

The secret to happy vacations

A trip is meant to be an enjoyable experience, you should be happy! 90% of those who said that they had experienced their "Best Vacations" had planned for at least one month.

So the key is to Give yourself time to plan your trip, and the sooner, the better.

These are the Positive things in planning your trip:

1. Anticipaton

A study by Leaf Van Boven of the Universidad de Colorado ad Laurence Ashworth ( Looking Forward, Looking Back: Anticipation Is More Evocative Than Retrospection) explains that people experiment more intense emotions when they anticipate an emotionally positive event than when they look back at it retrospectively.

This happens because we tend to expect that our future emotions will be even stronger than those that we have alredy experienced (and this is because we, humans, are natural optimists).

So the take home point is: plan your trip, choose your hotels and start to enjoy your future experiences while you anticipate them.

Map with hand on it, studying it
Dreaming about your Ruta 40 Road Trip

2. Better Prices and less last hour rushing

Planning in advance lets you book your hotel rooms at lower prices and helps you get better deals. It gives you more time to compare different options and redraw your plan.

You'll be able to book a tour or excursion in advance -important at certain crowded sites or attractions

3. Time to meet the locals

In your plan, build in some time for the unexpected, and also, to meet the local folks.

78% of tourists said that their best trips were those where they interacted and connected with the locals: a local guide who suggested something new to see or do, local residents who gave them some tip that made the trip more enjoyable (a hidden attraction off the beaten track for instance).

Travel makes you feel good

A study conducted by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan sponsored by the Institute of Applied Positive Research and Monograms found that "bad trips" provoke stress and unhappiness, which in turn lower the energy levels and increase fatigue in the travelers after they get home.

On the other hand, 94% of travelers who experienced stress-free holidays ("Good vacations") reported more vitality and 55% said that they had more energy than when they began their vacations.

Planning your trip: Where to start?

Below we detail all the points to bear in mind when you plan a trip:

1. Destinations and itinerary

You should define what to see, where it is, and how to get from one place to the other.

You surely know What you wan to see and Where it is, for instance: Northern Argentina along Ruta 40: the vineyards in Cafayate, the Calchaquí Valley, Salinas Grandes salt flats, etc. or, the Patagonian lakes and glaciers in the south.

Now you must define your trip: How to do it.

Learn about your destinations

You should learn as much as possible about each of the destinations along your road trip: what is it? how long does it take to visit it? opening hours and entrance fees, services available. Is it accessible for handicapped visitors? Read sites (like ours) with information on it.

Which town is close to the attraction? Hotels nearby? Road conditions?

This process will require defining a Starting point for your journey and an Ending point. This is important because if you plan to drive the Ruta 40 (you could also go by bus), you will need to know where you'll pick up your rented car and where you will be returning it.

Also you have to find out how to get to the starting point (for instance the city of Salta or the city of Mendoza or El Calafate) from your point of entry in Argentina:

Flying in from the US to Buenos Aires, or from London to Buenos Aires? Then you will have to fly out of Buenos Aires to Salta or Mendoza or El Calafate.

The same principle applies to getting back to your entry point from the end point of your road trip: fly back to Buenos Aires from Bariloche or some other town.

2. When to take your trip?

Decide when you want to travel. Consider that high season periods (are more expensive): (Summer and winter holiday periods). Try to travel during low season.

The Patagonia should be visited from mid spring to mid autumn, avoid the cold winter period. The Northern part of Ruta 40 is better between early autumn and late spring (avoid the hot and rainy summer season).

Learn more > > When to Drive Ruta 40?

3. How much time do you have?

The length of our trip and how much you can do or see, depends on how many days you have for your vacations.

Consider the time it will take you to reach Argentina from your country, add the time it will take you to reach your starting point on Ruta 40.

Calculate your actual road trip time:

3.1 Driving time

Estimate your driving speed -average of 70km per hour on the open highway, 30 km per hour in the towns. And define how many hours you will be driving each day (4, 5, 6 hours).

You will stop for meals, to fill your car's tank, to visit attractions, walk, etc. So a 4 or 5 hour drive per day is the limit.

That means 4 hours per day times 70 km per hour = 280 km per day). So if you plan to drive the whole of Ruta 40 it could take you roughly 19 days.

Road conditions will affect your driving time (gravel surfaces vs. paved or mountain vs. flat, city or town vs. open countryside).

Sections with more attractions will mean more stops and shorter daily drives.

3.2 Rough Trip Outline

Then once you reach your journey's end point, you have to get back home (fly to a city in Argentina to catch a flight back home).

Add all of that and you will have a rough idea of the time you need to do your trip. Now you should fit that into your available time frame.

Maybe you can drive part of the highway, fly to another part and drive a second segment of Ruta 40...

4. Stopovers and lodging

Kowing the distace you can drive each day, will help you locate where to stop along the road. Get a map and find a town or village nearby, and find a hotel to spend the night. (Hoteles & Accommodation).

5. About your Accommodation

If you plan to travel during low season you could travel without booking in advance, but if your trip will take place during high season, you should consider reserving your lodging and booking it in advance (Easter, Carnival, summer and winter holidays, long weekends are peak tourist periods).

Some towns along Ruta 40 don't have many available hotels so it does make sense to pre-book.

Consider Booking your Hotel

6. Budget

You should work out a budget, and calculate your expenses: going and coming from Argentina, internal flights, fuel, lodging, food, presents and souvenirs, park and attraction entrance fees, tolls, car rental, tours, excursions, emergencies and y other miscellaneous expenses.

Consider adding cash to your credit card (in the event that the card is rejected, or not accepted or there are no ATMs available in certain towns along the way).

7. Clothes and Gear

When planning what clothes to pack, think weather.

Find out what sort of weather you'll encounter along the road (high altitude areas -Northern Ruta 40, or the windy and chilly Patagonia mean warm clothes). Will it rain? Be sunny? Summer? Fall?

Don't forget to pack the essentials: backpack, sunglasses, chargers, USB cables, cap or hat, sunscreen, first aid kit, socket adapter so that you can plug in your electronic gadgets, etc.

8. Renting a Car

All major car rental companies offer good cars and top service.

They are all quite similar. You may choose one instead of another based on your previous rental experience, out of loyalty (do you have a frequent flier mileage program?) or just out of habit. They are all very good.

8.1. Where, When, What

Before renting, you have to define the following:

  • Pick-up and Drop-off locations
  • Pick-up and Drop-off Date and Time
  • Car Size category and "extras"


9. Double check and refine your plan

Clothes packed for a road trip
Getting ready for you Ruta 40 Road Trip

As you advance with your plan, you can go back and review it, adjust it and refine it.

As you learn more about the sights along the road you may consider dropping some less interesting ones and add others. You could decide to spend a few days at one location and shorten the length of your road trip drive.

And remember the golden rule: Enjoy the process, the journey begins with the plan, and it is about the journey, not the destination.

10. Avoid Post Vacation Blues

Give yourself time to adapt to being back at home after your trip. Avoid returning Sunday evening and rushing off to work the following morning.

It is better to arrive Saturday, unwind over the weekend, unpack, do some shopping, fill up the refrigerator, water the plants and take it easy.

When Monday comes, and you are back at work, don't rush back into your daily routine. Take things one step at a time, take a deep breath and catch up with your backlog trying to remain in a relaxed mode. Extend the "wellness" of your holidays, remember the nice things you did, the amazing food, wine, sights, people...

Go over the photos you took, share the trip with friends, remembering is a way of reliving your great trip.

Additional Resources for Planning your Road Trip

Our website is full of useful information



Road Trip Journeys
Liniers 440, B1602 Florida Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Ruta 40 (Argentina) Online Travel Guide: Information on accommodation, sights, attractions and destinations. Itineraries, tours and resources for planning your Route 40 Road Trip.

Updated on V.12