Skip Europe And Backpack Through South America This Summer
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
So, you’re ready for your next great adventure? Here are a few tips for getting through a backpacking journey through South America, a continent with varied landscapes, lower travel costs, and some may argue, a more welcoming attitude than you will find in Europe.
Backpacking through any country can be done very cheaply, and is usually a large motivation for those on strict budgets. Many suggest that $1,000 per month is what is needed to backpack through most South American countries. This includes the costs of food, accommodations, transportation, and supplies as needed. It’s always good to have a backup savings account as well for emergencies. If you can make some income on the road, great, if not, work up your savings before hitting the road.
Learn (At Least Some) Spanish
Translation apps are great. But when traveling through remote areas, where phone service is spotty or non-existent, you can rely on an old fashion translation dictionary or the confidence of your own ability to communicate. The latter is always a great way to build your confidence and win the respect of locals. Make sure you know at least a few key phrases for getting around, emergencies, and negotiating rates for everything from accommodations to local wares.
Have A Plan
Nothing has to be (or should be) set in stone. Half of the fun of a backpacking adventure is playing it by ear and having the freedom to roam as you please. But South American is a large continent and each country has something different and fascinating to offer visitors. A quick online search will reveal dozens of South American backpacking routes that have been tried and tested.
Do Some Research
Visas and passport requirements vary from country-to-country, political unrest can compromise your safety, and cultural customs or differences can leave you in uncomfortable situations. Be sure to do your research. Facebook groups are a great place to start to connect with real people who are currently partaking in a similar adventure or have just completed it.
Hiking through rural, mountainous areas is expected in South America. So are varied altitudes and temperatures. Pack lightly, but be prepared for weather changes and environmental changes like riding in an air-conditioned bus for hours and then trekking through a difficult climb through a hot, arid climate.
Get A Mentor
There is no better way to prepare yourself for a life-changing experience than to have a friend or mentor that can walk you through a bit of what to expect during your journey. Mentors can come in many different versions from a close friend to someone you connect with over a blog post or meet at Starbucks. Share your story often and be open to connecting with new people.