I’d love to hop onto a plane and travel through the South American continent because each country there is so different and all of them have so much to offer; there is plenty to see, do, experience, and of course, eat! If you’re like me and you want to make your way to South America, besides getting vaccinations to prevent yellow fever, hepatitis or typhoid, here are 5 things we at GET.com reckon you need to know before you embark on your adventure.
1. Different tourist visa requirements for different countries
Nobody can deny the fact that the coveted Singapore passport is pretty mighty in its own right, but different countries in South America have different visa requirements. For instance, Singaporeans who are travelling to Bolivia or Venezuela need to apply for a visa prior to their trip whereas those who will be visiting Argentina, Ecuador and Peru don’t have to if their trip is 90 days or less.
Singaporean travellers exploring Mexico can go without a visa for up to 180 days. Interested in Colombia? You can explore the country without a visa for up to 30 days. So, before you fly over to the South American continent and embark on your trip, always check the visa requirements first.
2. Be familiar with each country’s local currency
This point is particularly important for travellers who will be heading to different countries across South America. Unlike the United States, China or even the 19 member states of the European Union, there isn’t one specific currency that you can use across all South American countries.
Instead, different countries rely on different currencies such as the Brazilian real, Colombian peso, Peruvian nuevo sol, Argentinean peso, Guyanese dollar or even the U.S. dollar. What I’ve listed isn’t exhaustive, of course, so do your own research and get chummy with the exchange rates to avoid getting ripped off.
3. Knowing Spanish and Portuguese is a definite plus
Being able to converse in Spanish or Portuguese will go a long way in your epic South American holiday. Even if you aren’t incredibly fluent, there is absolutely no harm in picking up a couple of key phrases in those two languages before you explore South America’s dynamic countries and cities.
Learn the local lingo while you’re at it – locals will appreciate the effort that you’re putting in to speak with them no matter how broken your conversations in Spanish or Portuguese might be. Also, make sure you’ve got trusty language translation apps downloaded onto your smartphone; they will definitely come in handy.
4. Always keep your belongings close to you
In addition to arming yourself with the best tips to travelling safely, make sure you practice them and keep your belongings safe at all times. While many locals might be genuinely friendly and welcoming, not all of them are like that.
Time and again, travellers who are not native to South America have been the targets of unscrupulous pickpockets and thieves. These crooks have no qualms about slashing your backpacks regardless of whether you are commuting on the bus, taking in the sights and sounds at the markets, getting in and out of metros, etc. One of my friends even got robbed at the dormitory he was staying at.
5. You might experience altitude sickness
A lot of big towns and cities in countries like Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador are nestled high up in the mountains, so you might end up battling altitude sickness if you don’t give yourself time to acclimatise to the altitude changes. Take it easy! Nobody wants to be dealing with fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, nausea or even bouts of vomiting when they’re supposed to be experiencing some of the most beautiful places our planet has to offer.
This article was first published at Get.com.