Backpacking through South America, with a myriad of things to see and do, can be a great adventure. However, as with any extended travel, a little planning beforehand can really pay dividends in helping things go smoothly. To help, here are a few important tips to make your backpacking adventure the best!
Pack the right things
Be sure to check the weather conditions for the areas you’ll be visiting and pack appropriate clothes, waterproofs and shoes based on the temperature, climate and the things you plan to do. That way you’ll be prepared for activities such as swimming at Venezuela’s El Agua beach, trekking to the lost city of Ciudad Perdida in Colombia, jungle adventures in the Peruvian Amazon or city excursions in Sao Paulo or Santa Cruz.
Don’t forget to pack medication and bug repellent and other important items like a phone charger, a plug adapter and a quality camera. You’re probably going to want to buy a few souvenirs, so make sure to leave some room in your bag for them so you don’t overburden yourself with extra luggage. A great way to save some space is to buy your toiletries when you get there. Make sure that you don’t over-pack; it’s better to take fewer clothes and wash them, as opposed to lugging around unnecessary stuff in hot weather.
It’s a good move to make a list of all the things you need to pack and bring it with you, so you don’t leave anything behind when you move from place to place.
Plan your accommodation and travel
Whether you’re staying in a hostel or spending the night in a luxury hotel, whatever your budget allows, it’s a good idea to plan some of your accommodation. For example, if you know which attractions you want to visit, having somewhere to stay that’s close by will help you cut out hours of travelling. While it’s good to be flexible, have a rough idea of your journey beforehand to make the most of your time and familiarise yourself with train and bus routes. If you’re going to travel long distances, plan which flights you’ll be taking and know what weight limits you can travel with. Doing your homework should mean you have more time to explore and discover some hidden gems in South America that you otherwise wouldn’t see.
Take out travel insurance
Whether you’re going away for a few weeks, a few months or even longer, arranging a good travel insurance policy will give you real peace of mind. Unforeseen issues such as illness, cancelled flights, loss or theft can happen at any time, and when you’re far from home, the ability to call on a team of professionals to provide support will be invaluable.
You’ll need to choose a policy that will cover you for multiple destinations, lengthy travels and multiple activities, so you can go anywhere, from Easter Island to Brazil and from Venezuela to Argentina. Key aspects that your travel insurance policy should provide are access to a twenty-four-hour medical emergency helpline, allowances for temporary visits home, and cover for all the activities and sports you plan to do. Also, check if the policy covers gadgets automatically, or if additional cover is available.
Make sure you have all the right documentation
If you’re the forgetful type, write a list of all the documents you’ll need to take with you, including your passport, driver’s license, visa info, insurance, boarding passes, reservations and event tickets. Make physical and/or electronic copies of your documents and keep them separate from the originals in case anything happens to them. It’s also a good idea to leave another copy of these documents with a friend or family member as it will make it easier to obtain your details if they’re lost.
Learn the language
Learning a new language can be useful and fun, and while locals in the more touristy areas will probably speak some English, speaking in the local language, even if it’s just a few keywords and phrases, will always be appreciated. You’ll also find that by conversing with the locals, you’ll learn plenty of interesting things and make some new friends.
Plan a safe trip
Check the latest travel advice about the countries you are visiting by referring to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website. There are thirteen British Embassies in several South American countries, so do some research before you go to find out which ones are nearest to you.
Also there are different emergency contact numbers depending on the country you are visiting, so be aware of the relevant contact details, so that you know what number to dial if something goes wrong.
Check that you’re up to date with your inoculations and make sure your family has a number they can call you on and an outline of your itinerary. It’s a good idea to keep a written log of their contact numbers, and any other important details too, in case your phone is lost or stolen.
Keep some money separate from your bank cards and other money so that you have some to hand if your wallet or purse goes missing. It’s also a good idea to arrange a travel guide if you’re going somewhere unfamiliar.
Now that you have all of this information, you should have no problem with planning your South American backpacking adventure to ensure you have fun while you’re away.