When I was younger, I preferred travelling the luxurious way. I stayed in the poshest hotels and focused only on visiting urban centres and following what the tour companies said.
After a while, I realized that I wanted to get something more out of my travels. I yearned to learn and embrace the culture of the countries that I visit and get to experience things, instead of just taking photos and buying souvenirs. So I abandoned my old travelling habits.
I went on a long trip that gave more focus on cultural immersion – I chose to explore South America. I instantly fell in love with this warm, inviting and exotic continent.
Here’s my detailed travel preparation guide to help you explore South America like a local.
Keep in mind some standard safety tips
A lot of people tend to shy away from visiting South America because they hear so many news about petty crimes and all sorts of local mishaps. Honestly, I think it’s quite a safe travel destination – if you know and do the right things.
I’ve never experienced becoming a victim of any crime while I travelled to various South American countries. Here are the standard safety tips I follow:
– Avoid exploring dark alleys and other shortcuts at night.
– Never wear a flashy outfit or large pieces of jewellery.
– Don’t show off expensive gadgets or money most especially when you tour around the cities.
– Be alert, most especially if you choose to travel solo.
– Keep abreast of the latest news and stay away from crime-ridden areas.
Study their language
To achieve my goal of becoming fully immersed in the culture of South America, I dedicated a few weeks to take Spanish lessons.
Surprisingly the language was quite easy to learn. The lessons included speaking, reading and comprehension lessons to help me learn the language systematically.
By learning how to speak Spanish, I was able to become friends with so many locals, most especially in Spanish-speaking countries like Chile, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Argentina and Bolivia.
Think about the activities you will do
Whenever I visit a new country, I make sure to have a short list of things that I would want to try once I get there. For example, as an adventure junkie, I want to check out as many natural formations as I can.
So, I include destinations like the Santa Cruz Trek in Peru, Lost City Trek in Colombia and the Huayna Potosi in Bolivia…