South America is one of those places which can captivate you, we’ve all seen the iconic images of Machu Picchu, the Cristo Redentor in Rio, or the glaciers in Patagonia, it’s these sites that inspire people to travel to the continent. There is much to see and do and such a large area to cover.
Getting around in South America can be a very pleasant, relaxing experience or it can be some of the longest hours of your life. There are many different companies to choose from but the basics are all the same – meals, reclining chairs, leg room, films and that’s just in the basic class. You can get buses with even more legroom and with some companies you get hot meals, blankets before they switched the lights off at night. At the other end, though, buses in Bolivia are cramped, falling apart with drivers taking corners so close to the edge of a sheer drop that there was many a time when you just close your eyes.
Where you stay will of course depend on where you are and how much you are prepared to pay. In some places it is possible to get hostels and stay in dorms, especially in the bigger cities. There are also a couple of chains slowly growing, for example the Loki hostels in Peru and Bolivia. There are also numerous hostels affiliated with the VIP backpackers’ network. In many places you may be staying in very basic, cheap guest houses and some of the cheapest ones may not be in the safest parts of town.
Food depends on how much you want to pay. At most hostels you are more likely to have a kitchen meaning a quick trip to the local supermarket and you can eat whatever you make. In some countries, you will be staying in guest houses with no kitchen, but, eating out will be so cheap it would be silly not to. It is stated by PassionRoamer, that wherever you are, the more touristy the area the greater choices you will find in restaurants. If you are on tour, you will probably find some meals provided but you’re always best to check which ones first.
What to Take
Everything you need can be bought in South America and many times for cheaper so if anything is forgotten, you needn’t worry. There is nothing in particular that stands out as necessary except malaria pills for the jungle regions where you will also want bug repellent. Tampons can be hard to find even in large cities so make sure you bring these with you.
What to Wear
Clothing depends on where you are visiting although many find that they are going to so many different weather situations that you need to bring clothing for all eventualities. One of the biggest myths to dispel is the belief that South America is always hot. It isn’t. Places that lie in the Andes and are at altitude are generally much cooler, sometimes downright cold and wet even in summer. Night time in these regions is especially chilly. The lower lying regions of South America are easy to prepare for. Heading into the jungle weather will most likely be hot and sticky and quite possibly very rainy.
No matter where you are or what you plan to do with your days will also play a part in your clothing. If you are spending all day on the beach, take a sarong, you won’t stand out as much as a tourist. If you are trekking, ensure you have adequate footwear and enough layers for day and night. If you are heading into the jungle, you may wish to consider longer trousers and long sleeves.
The most obvious thing when it comes to safety is in the way you conduct yourself. Don’t go flashing expensive jewelry or cameras about; don’t go wandering round dodgy parts of town after dark on your own. This also applies to if you have been out drinking and may be a little under the influence even in nicer parts of town. Keep valuables locked in your hostel safe or keep them in a money belt. If you feel you have walked into a possibly unsavory area, go back the way you came.
Well amigos, the time has come for us to send you on your traveling’ way. We hope this guide has given you some invaluable budget travel knowledge in addition to getting you pumped for your South America trip. We wish you all the best with the journey ahead.