Exploring a different land can be an enriching and wonderful experience but for a unique thrill, why not try backpacking across the land? Backpacking is a unique way to travel to a different place because you are to go from one place to the next by whatever means of transportation carrying all your belongings in a bag on your back. It is an exhilarating way to see the world and marvel at other country’s unique offerings. Europe is a favorite of most travelers, but South America is a good place to visit too! Here is how to backpack through South America:
- Learning about the culture before the trip. So you are going to South America. Know the basics before you leave! Learn the language (at least the basics like knowing how to ask for directions, keywords like ‘hospital,’ ‘airport’ and ‘bathroom,’ etc.) which is Spanish, Brazilian or Portuguese, know the currency (varies from country to country), identify some places you know you want to visit or food you want to try, the climate (it is going to be hot in South America) so you know what to wear, etc. You would not want to head into a different country blind would you?
- What to bring. The essentials of course are medicines, guide books, dictionaries, maps, clothes, money and a sturdy backpack. You of course go it alone if that is your thing however, bringing a friend would make the trip more memorable as you have someone to share the trip with and also much safer as you will have a buddy to help you if problems arise. Wash and repeat your clothes; you should pack no more than a week’s worth of clothes. Bring cash to spend and extra for emergencies. Have your shots before leaving and bring medicine just in case. Dictionaries and maps are a must of course to get around the country. Cameras, journals, cell phones, camping/hiking gear and the like are not absolutely essential but might make the trip more fun. Make sure you take care of them though.
- Experiencing the culture. You are in a different country. Act as if you are. Do not be afraid to look like a tourist; chances are, your big, clunky backpack will give it away. Enjoy the culture! You may not get the chance to go back. Taste the food, go to all the vacation hotspots and just live. Do not act as if you are back at home and stay in a hotel watching local TV the whole time and calling that your lesson in South American culture.
- Take pictures and make a journal. Document your journey and take lots of pictures (if you can) to bring home to your friends and family while also remembering highpoints of the trip. You can write your experiences down inside a journal too, if you wish.
- Safety a close second. Of course you need to exercise safety at all times while on the trip. Strangers can be charming but also very dangerous so do not leave your partner or your belongings with them. Again, have all your shots (especially for Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Polio, Cholera, Smallpox) before going abroad and bring your medicines with you. Practice a buddy system if you are going in a group so that no one gets separated from the group and lost. However, do not be afraid to take some risks. You are in a different country, live a little. South America deserves your undivided attention while you are there. Be smart but also do not forget that you are there to experience an entirely different culture.
- Must see places. South America is a big place. If you are planning on going everywhere, kudos to you! However, if it is simply not possible, make a list of places you want to visit so you can fit them into your budget and time constraints. Some great places to visit are: Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, the Inca ruins in Peru, Easter Island in Chile and Lake Titicaca.
South America is just south of the border. What are you waiting for? Amazing adventure and unparalleled experiences await!