I’m sitting on the plane heading to Lima and thought this would be a brilliant time to write a post, detailing everything that may be useful for someone planning on travelling to South America. I did a huge amount of research beforehand and spoke to a lot of friends and travel bloggers who had visited South America to ensure I was fully prepared.
There is a huge amount of preparation required before taking the leap, therefore I have tried to list the most important tasks below:
- Bank – let the bank know you will be leaving the country. Don’t just tell them in the branch as there is nothing they can do, you will need to call up so that it can be notified on the system. I would recommend visiting the bank so you can use their internal phones. I would also recommend setting up more than one card, one being a credit card and one being a debit card. Credit cards will be a lot better if you need to pay for anything while travelling, while debit card will be much better for withdrawing money, therefore you can see the benefit of having both.
- Let your mobile company know you will be leaving the country and try to set up something beforehand, whether it is roaming or whether you plan on using your phone with a different sim card.
- Passport – make sure your passport has at least 6 months on it from the moment you will be returning home. If you have under a year, it is best to just get this sorted to be on the safe side.
- Learn some basic Spanish before you fly out. Try to make a deal with a friend where you will regularly communicate with each other in Spanish. Stick post-its on items around the house with the Spanish name for them. If you get used to the image association, it will be easier to remember once you are out there. I would also recommend watching some YouTube videos on ‘learning Spanish basics’ as then you can also hear the exact pronunciation of each word.
- Hostel – book a hostel, not laying out your entire trip but simply for the first couple of days, so you can arrive without worrying where to go and risking staying on the street. Hostels are also much better than hotels for meeting other people. Some are reluctant to stay in hostels and would rather have their own room in a hotel, however if you aren’t willing to stay in a hostel, you shouldn’t be making this trip, full stop. Hostels are amazing ways to meet people and will also help you to find out about what to do in the local area, as well as finding others who can travel along with you. It is a weird phenomena where the people you travel with you feel incredibly close to as you are sharing such amazing moments in your life with, however once back home you will tend to find contact is lost over time. However make the most of making hundreds of new friends and try to stay in contact.
- Sign up to CouchSurfing – even if you don’t want to crash on someone’s sofa, you could use this as an opportunity to find others who are travelling in the area as well as hosts who would be up for meeting up or showing you around. Having a driver in a local area can help you to do things you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
- Vaccinations – Make sure you visit your GP way in advance so you can get the necessary vaccinations. You will need one for Typhoid and another for hepatitus, while you will also need a prescription for malaria tablets. If you are travelling on the amazon at all, then you should get the Yellow Fever vaccination. Some areas require you to have this vaccination otherwise they won’t let you enter, so it is sometimes worth getting this sorted. Once you get your vaccinations, ask your GP to write up written confirmation. Bring this along with you as something to show guards at the border if they ask you about your vaccinations. I would also recommend getting these sorted early as if you leave it too late, they might not have any available and might have to order it in. If this is the case, you might have to settle for private healthcare, meaning spending a few hundred on something that would have been free.
- Visa – If you are travelling from countries such as any in the EU or from USA, Canada, Australia etc, you will not need a visa for entry up to 180 days, therefore you just sign something while on the plane and hand them the completed form. These forms will be handed out by the air stewards.
I hope you found these useful! Let me know if you have any additions you feel should be added to the list.