Top 10 Tips for South America

South America holds some of the most rewarding sights in the world, but it can also be a challenging experience travelling through this continent. While more and more people are making their way out to this continent, it has become a more navigable than before. Here are my top 10 tips that I wish I had known before I visited South America;

 

1. Dont Forget Your PDI

A tourist card that will be given to you at every border crossing in South America. DO NOT lose this or throw it away. You will need this document for almost everything, even hostels will try to charge you an extra tax if you can’t present this card. If you do lose it go to the local police station and show them your passport stamp, they should issue with a new tourist card

 

2. Learn Some Spanish 

Does this go without saying? The majority of Latin America uses Spanish as its first language. Don’t rely solely on your phone to translate

 

3. Plan it When You Get There

South America is an incredibly difficult place to book anything online. Even trying to book a place for Machu Pichu online is a nightmare. This continent works better with face to face bookings so don’t stress yourself out planning everything before you get there

 

4. Buses

When using buses make sure to give yourself plenty of time. From my experience, bus drivers are very unhelpful and will not look at your phone to provide any information

 

5. Flights

Internal flights in South America are extremely expensive. Using overnight coaches are far more affordable if you have the time to spare

 

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6. Money Withdrawals

If you use any ATM with your foreign bankcard expect to be punished. Your max withdrawals are limited with high fees and bad exchange rates. If you can, bring your currencies with you from your home country. Use your best judgement

 

7. The Food is not ‘All That’

When I got here I was expecting excellent cuisine. This was far from the case. Most of the meat is deep-fried and you will likely never want to see a bean again after travelling here. My favourite meal was usually breakfast here, and was usually avocado and bread. If you have rare dietary issues or just particular with your diet, than I suggest cooking for yourself

 

8. The More South You Go…The More You Pay

Unfortunately this is painfully true. If you plan on heading to the southern regions of South America (Patagonia in particular) expect to pay through the roof for everything. Even basic meals cost $10 USD and poor standard hostels will cost at least $20 USD per night. I even paid around $25 USD for a bag of laundry to be cleaned in Puerto Natales

 

9. Be Flexible

Being flexible with your plans will allow you to stay longer in that awesome little beach town or escape the city sooner than planned. Accommodation availability is not an issue here. Talk to other travellers and be open to adding new places to your itinerary

 

10. Pack Smart

Bring clothes for both rain and sun. There are only two seasons in South America, hot and hot/wet. A raincoat, lots of socks, walking shoes, a good day bag and sunscreen. You will survive with these items. No need to bring hats gloves or jewellery. You will most likely want to buy these items from the markets when you get here (especially the Alpaca wool). On a side note just for women…I heard from people I met from travelling that you should bring your own tampons to South America as they are very hard to find

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