David3K saidSouth America is too big to do it all by bus.
I've been in Argentina for 3 trips for a total of 12 weeks in the last 18 months. And, every time I've considered a bus or train trip to another city, I've realized (with the help and insight of the locals) that I'm going to either waste time and/or waste money "for the experience".
Interesting! Can you please elaborate a bit more? Some people suggested travel by bus for the beautiful scenery along the road. As I am not in a hurry to go from one to the other city, I don't feel it's wasting time. Are you saying the bus ticket is actually more expensive than the flight ticket?
An example was a train trip to San Carlos de Bariloche from Buenos Aires. It would have taken at least 18 hours. And, it's not quite as sceneic as you might think. Many of the trains have old plexiglass protections over the windows becuase they don't trim the trees next to the tracks, and some people like to hurl rocks at the train as it goes by. Also, the train only runs once a week. And, if something goes wrong with the train (or a bus for that matter)...you're stuck literally in the middle of the Pampas. There's not another Muni, Caltrain, taxi, rescue vehichle, or any other train/bus coming to get you anytime soon. Don't bother looking for the number of signal bars on your cellphone either
(Zoom out and see just how sparce cell service is in all of South America outside of the major cities).
The risk of having an outstandingly fucked up vacation was just not worth the "excitement" of the over rail/road experience.
It only took a couple of hours to get to Bariloche by plane. Yes, it was a bit pricier because I did not have a DNI. But there are some things which are worth the money. Avoiding misery is one of them. Also, take LAN even though it's more expensive than Aerolineas Argentina because that's avoiding another whole world of drama/travel misery altogether.
Some people really like the gritty backpacking experience to the max. You just better be prepared for all kinds of travel drama if you really want to go for it.
In the end, I've had great trips to Argentina. I'm going back again the end of the month for about a month. I'll probably go back in early February 2015 for another 8 weeks as well.
Finally, why keep going back to Argentina? It's super cheap for U.S. citizens with US$ (bring cash), and it's a GINORMOUS country. I'll probably even hop over to Uruguay, or Cerro Catedral for some July skiing this next trip. I've now got local friends who take me places tourists don't know about and would probably fear treading.