how about you just start unwrapping and then post a screen of your UV here, me and others can then give you points on what you could do or how to get the best out of it. Don't worry to much yet about the symmetry just unwrap unique first - post and then get into the tricky parts
if you work with polygons instead of just triangles deep down maya or max divides your models already automatically to triangles. That saves a lot of work as you don't have to build your model triangle by triangle.
Now the reason why some people triangulate certain parts of their models is to control the triangle distribution for some parts that otherwise are taken care of automatically.
Esspecially with low poly sometimes some triangles can cause a hard edge in the wrong direction which is when you sometimes have to spin the edge or just cut manually in the model to force a triangle there.
But it wont change your triangle count for the model anyway, so its something you can do afterwards, like after the unwrapping if you feel like it.