How much do you plan?


I'm seeking more information about Colombia as the date gets closer. I'm asking friends more specifically about the safety in the area. I hear a lot of "If you don't speak Spanish, you're screwed." But I also hear "it's safe, people are just too scared."

My friend traveled around the cities and stayed there for a significant period of time. She had no problems and told me that people were very friendly and that I should not worry. Her friend told me through her that if I was to travel through rural areas I need to speak Spanish. I could get into "sticky" situations if I don't.

I speak Spanish. But to a level where I'm obviously "gringo" or white.

To make things more confusing, a latina girl told me I'd be welcomed there and would have no trouble getting a temporary job by speaking with barkeepers and shop owners.

I'm quite confused by all the mixed messages I'm receiving, all coming from people who've lived there. What's clear to me, which is supported by this official US travel warning, is that there are safe areas in major cities. Those places I shouldn't worry.

So I'm planning for this trip much more thoroughly than I would plan for other trips because of the safety factor. I generally like to be spontaneous and figure the trip out as I go along. It brings me the most pleasure.

So I ask you, how much do you plan for your international trips? Please let me and the other readers know in the comments.