Traveling through South America is one of the most unique experiences a traveler could have. From exploring tropical forests to adventuring icy mountains, the continent has something to offer to every kind of tourist.
If you think it is a simple trip due to the fact that most countries speak the same language and the culture is very similar, think again. The continent has a magnitude of peculiar cultures which can vary consistently from state to state, so one of the first steps is to get rid of all stereotypes you’ve been fed, and immerse yourself in a sea of complex culture.
If South America is on your mind, we have selected a few valuable tips for your next expedition. From finding your way around countries on a budget, to some facts that will help you immensely with your trip planning.
Get Your Facts Straight
It is extremely important to do research on visa policies of the countries you are visiting. For American visitors, an upfront visa is required for your entry in Brazil, while most of the other countries allow tourists to get a visa or electronic authorization upon arrival. If you are an E.U. tourist you do not need to apply for a visa upfront. Make sure to research each country entry requirements before embarking on your trip, information can be found in your home country’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Currency and Exchange Rates
It is important to keep an eye on the exchange rate of different currencies. While you can stretch your money considerably in countries such as Peru and Bolivia, popular cities in Brazil, Chile and Galapagos Island can get quite expensive. Make sure to tailor your itinerary and budget accordingly, so you do not run short on money by the end of the trip. Remember that prices can vary immensely from region to region, even within the same country.
It is also a good idea to have a mix of credit cards and debit cards as well as local money, as some small cities’ ATMs may run out of cash and not all establishments accept credit cards. It is also a good idea to inform your bank about your whereabouts in order to avoid the nuisance of a frozen bank account while abroad.
According to a survey conducted by Travelodge, two-thirds of travelers typically return from a trip with at least six unworn outfits. Meaning, you will probably not need a pair of everything on your wardrobe. If a special outfit is required to your destination, wouldn’t you think that they sell it there?
Check our previous post on essential travel items, for more tips on how to pack efficiently. Moreover, make sure to invest on a resistant suitcase, as from our experience, South Americans are merciless with luggage handling and the last thing you want is a busted suitcase as a welcome to your journey.
Bring Your Appetite for the Unknown
How about a chocolate pizza or would you rather eat a Charqui Llama stew? When traveling to South America prepare to embark on a gastronomic trip literally, taste all of the deliciously inexpensive street food and local restaurants. Dishes can get quite exquisite, so make sure to try them all, of course after you see a local taking their first bite. Ceviche in Peru,Cuy in Ecuador, seafood stews in Chile, giant steaks and matte tea in Argentina, barbecue in Brazil – these are just some of the delicious options waiting for you.
Check your Mobile Phone Plan
Whoever has trusted their mobile plan blindly while abroad knows the sting of a steep bill at the end of the month. Make sure to check if your mobile operator has specific international plans or consider getting a chip on your local destination. In Brazil for example, you can find inexpensive prepaid SIM cards in newsstands for very reasonable prices.
Check Weather Forecast
The climate in South America is very unpredictable, therefore make sure to check the weather forecast before visiting some parts. The weather can also have an affect on safety in some parts of the continent, as intense rains can cause floods, mudslides and etc. The best time to visit is probably from Easter on, as before there is constant rain in some regions as well as a lot of local tourists on summer vacation.
Mingle With Locals
While we would advise for travelers to mingle with locals everywhere they go, with South America we really recommend it. South Americans are very friendly, specially toward tourists for the most part. Just enjoy the local spontaneity which will probably end with endless conversation with total strangers.