There are a number of things to keep in mind before heading to a new place, and often times it can become a bit overwhelming. Especially when you look at the Internet and numerous suggestions fill up your screen. However, if you’re searching for some expert advice on South America travel, look no further. Here are our Top 10 Travel Tips for a first-time traveler headed to South America.
#1. Plan, Plan, Plan…
South America is a beautiful continent, home to some of the world’s most spectacular landmarks. Not only can you find 2 New Seven Wonders of the World (Christ the Redeemer Statue and Machu Picchu), but it also has amazing landscapes. Visit the Andes Mountains (longest mountain range in the world), the Atacama Desert (driest desert in the world), the Amazon Rainforest (largest rainforest in the world), and so much more.
However, the sheer size of the continent, hosting 12 countries, makes it nearly impossible to see everything in one trip. That’s when planning is most valuable. Based on what excursions you want to do or what sites you wish to explore, it is very important that you plan ahead so that you are able to accomplish all of the activities you have set on your itinerary. Our Expert Travel Consultants are the best people for this job! They are happy to help you plan your South America trip well in advance so that you can visit a number of places worry-free.
Contact us to plan your trip >> South America Travel Experts
#2. Practice Speaking the Local Language
The two most widely spoken languages in South America are Portuguese and Spanish. You should at least know some basic words and phrases, as it will help a lot when ordering at restaurants, asking for directions, etc. Even learning how to say you don’t speak much Portuguese or Spanish will make your trip go a lot smoother. Although it can be tough and frustrating to learn a new language, the locals will greatly appreciate your effort! You don’t need to necessarily take a class to learn Portuguese or Spanish. Travel books, the internet, and language software (such as Rosetta Stone) are all at your fingertips! You might even have a friend who has some experience with either one of these languages. Just remember to keep trying!
#3. Embrace new culture
South America is steeped in history, with fabulous tales of the Inca Empire, the powerful Tiawanaku, and other cultures. With several destinations deemed UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you will have plenty to see, learn, and experience. Follow local guides as they take you through the ruins of Machu Picchu, the Jesuit Missions in Paraguay, or three of Peru’s most important archeological treasures – Trujillo, Chiclayo and Cajamarca. You will feel as if you have gone back in time after visiting these fascinating sites!
See more >> UNESCO World Heritage Tours
However, culture is more than just historic monuments, it is also embedded in food and drink! Prepare your taste buds for some flavorful dishes and traditional South American cocktails. The continent is full of restaurants for foodies and wine enthusiasts to explore!
See more >> New Chile & Argentina Food & Wine Tour
#4. Pack wisely
South America is full of diverse landscapes and climates, making what you pack imperative! To help organize your thoughts, make a checklist. From clothes to toiletries, mark down everything you would need for the destination you’re headed. For example, if you’re headed to Patagonia, you will need to pack clothes for a rainstorm and chilly nights even if the forecast predicts sunshine (the weather there changes in a heartbeat!). If you’re headed to the Amazon, make sure you pack bug repellent, binoculars and a pair of sunglasses so you can spot wildlife in the leafy forest at any moment. And no matter where you travel to, always make sure to have your passport, any tourist visa necessary, local cash for souvenirs and tips, and of course a durable camera to capture all of the fantastic memories you’re about to create!
Find out more >> Essential Items to Bring on an Antarctica Cruise
#5. Share Your Photos
Although a camera will fail to capture the mind-boggling sites only your eyes will witness, it never hurts to try! A bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu, the sunrise over the Amazon, and the jagged mountain peaks in Patagonia are all moments you will want to hold on to forever. We recommend that you preserve those surreal sites through photographs, which will not only make a priceless possession but will also help you show-off to your friends and family back home! After your trip, don’t forget to share your pictures with us for a chance to be featured on our Instagram page!
#6. Make Copies of Important Documents
As stated above, visa travel, passport and insurance documents are very important. Therefore, make sure you have these organized properly. It is also recommended that you have a few copies of the originals (in case of misplacement). Take a look at our Travel Insurance Tips or you ask our team of experts for advice on how to keep track of important documents while traveling to and around South America.
Find out more >> Travel Insurance Tips
#7. Contact Your Doctor
Contact your insurance agency to find out more information about your health coverage in South America. Speak with your doctor and ask him about any shots or vaccines you need to get before traveling to South America, as different regions have different requirements. It is also recommended to carry a first aid box with basic ointments and medicines so that you would have something handy in case of an emergency.
#8. Carry Cash
It is important that you carry some local cash, but make sure you check the conversion rates. This will give you an idea the currency you need and how much of it you should carry. It is highly recommended that you call your bank and ask them about activation requirements for card use in South America, as well as information on transaction fees. While you are at it, make sure that you turn on fraud alerts for your account, so that you get notified if your card is misused.
#9. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Since you are traveling to a foreign country, you should make sure that you stay safe by being aware of your surroundings at all times. Don’t engage in unnecessary conflicts with the locals, don’t wander alone at night, don’t carry any valuables around and if you are leaving anything in your room, make sure it’s locked and protected. The hotel safe is a great way to store any precious items and important documents that you do not want to lose!
#10. Remember to Relax
At the end of the day, it’s your holiday and you are going a long way to make it happen. Remember to relax. Instead of incorporating multiple destinations, pick your top favorites and see those to the fullest. To maintain optimal health, make sure you are always hydrated and eating properly so that you are always full of energy. In the end, just try to make the most out of your trip and have fun!