- Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/south-america) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.
- Latin American Network Information Center (www.lanic.utexas.edu) Links to all things Latin American.
- UK Foreign Travel Advice (www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) Travel advisories.
- US State Department (www.state.gov) Travel advice and warnings.
- Thorn Tree (lonelyplanet.com/thorntree) Get trip recommendations and destination tips from other travelers.
- Don't be shy. Talk to locals, who are often happy to share insights into their culture.
- Be prepared. Read up on destinations before you arrive; know the exchange rate. Have a map handy when arriving in a new town.
- Slow down. Don't be in such a hurry to tick off sites that you miss the beauty in front of you.
- Learn some Spanish and Portuguese. Don't expect to rely just on English.
- Prepare for crazy driving. Pedestrians have no rights.
- Carry valuables in a hidden money belt to prevent theft.
- Don’t cram the whole continent into a month. Pick a country or two, and get to know it.
- Prepare for huge contrasts in weather and terrain.
- Get your vaccines in order — especially yellow fever!
- Acclimatize! Give yourself ample time to adjust to the Andean heights and heat/humidity of the tropical coast. Don't make any big plans on your first few days.
What to Take
- A week's worth of clothes
- Rain gear (jacket, dry pack for electronics)
- Hat (for sun and rain)
- Good walking shoes
- Small flip-flops (for beaches and dodgy showers)
- Medicine/first-aid kit
- GSM cell phone
- Refillable water bottle
- Tissues (for public toilets)
What to Wear
In general, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes will be the most comfortable options. Bring a jacket for cool highland temperatures and over-air-conditioned buses. Pants and long-sleeve shirts are handy insect protection for jungle hikes. Shorts are generally not appropriate outside of beach destinations.
- Ensure your passport is valid for six months past your arrival date.
- Apply for visas well in advance.
- Organize travel insurance.
- Medical check-up and vaccinations.
- Stock up on contact lenses and prescription medicines.
- Inform banks of travel plans.
- Scan key documents (passports, visas, credit cards) and email them to yourself in case of loss.