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Help! Have no idea where to start!

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Help! Have no idea where to start!

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1. Posted by EDAngeli (Budding Member 43 posts) 11y

Hello people,
I am looking to go and travel South America in February 2007 for about six months. I am seventeen and have never been travelling so have no idea where to start. I have a few questions, first of all do you all think it is unsafe for a 19 year old (thats how old I will be then) girl to travel alone in S.America? Also I need to know which places are the best to visit, I know I definitely want to go to Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Argentina. Can anyone suggest which other countries are also unmissable in S.A? I am looking to go on a trip which is fairly relaxed and cultural but I also want to fit in seeing some of the natural wonders of S.A as well as a fair amount of partying. I plan on trying to learn at least the basics of Spanish before I go by buying a learning tape, do you think this will be enough or should I take actual Spanish classes? Also will I need to try and learn Portugese aswell? I would love to pop over to Mexico and Cuba at the beggining or end of my trip also, do you think all I have said will be possible in six months? Also does anyone have any idea of the amount of money all I have said will require?
If anyone could suggest a rough itenary I would be very grateful, but any info at all would be appreciated. Look forward to hearing from you.
Love Emily

2. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y

Hi Emily!

I'm 26 and I'm going to South America alone for the first time this January. Some days I feel quite nervous about it, but I'm sure it'll work out fine. It'll be the same for you too!;)

I suppose it's hard to work out an itinerary if you dont know where you are flying into yet? Do you have a paritcular country in mind to start in?

My rough itinerary is this:
Flying into Lima, Peru. Plan to spend a month between Peru and Bolivia (hope that's enough time ) Then cross into Chile, spend a month there, including Easter Island and Southern Patagonia. Back up to Santiago and cross into Argentina, overland to Buenos Aires (approx 2 weeks). From there, overland to Iguacu, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro (brazil).
In total I have 3 months before I leave. I think I should be able to fit what I've planned comfortably into this time-frame. So, with 6 months you should be able to see LOTS MORE!

I bought a Latin American phrase-book and I'm hoping that's going to be enough to get me by! I might also take a 4-day crash course in Spanish in Bariloche if I can afford it. #

Money-wise, it's hard to gauge. After flights, I'm budgeting for about US$40-50 a day. I'm not sure how realistic that is. I'll find out when I get there.

Hope that helps a bit! You have loads of time to plan anyway, which is great! And it will fly past. ;)


3. Posted by wotthefiqh (Inactive 1447 posts) 11y

Hi Emily,
I'm trying to write a reasonably? sized doco about the 4 month trip my wife and I did through Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Cuba, Mexico and the USA. We went from very late January 2005 to end of May 2005.
It's for samsara2 who has the sheer luck of going to SA early next year.
When I finish the doco I'll send you it in a message.
I have some SA pics on my profile if you want to see a sample of SA and Cuba.
We are going back to SA as soon as we can kill the kids and board the cat (or should that be kill the cat and board the kids?).
Whatever, it is an awesome continent to visit, and six months would give you plenty of time to experience most of the SCENIC and CULTURAL sites.



4. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y

Anthony! That's so sound of you, thanks!

I really appreciate that;)

5. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 11y

I belong to 2 orgs that have web sites where travelers can either host those traveling to their country or vice versa, you would then have a lot of time to contact other members in South America that have lodgings available, message me for the urls. Otherwise try and get a travel partner, especially if you do not speak Spanish, petty crime is endemic in Latin America, and there are many suave English speaking con artists around, I have known women travelers to have been raped in Central America, and there is little they can do.

6. Posted by Nina Lopes (Budding Member 7 posts) 11y

Hi Emily

If you try to learn portuguese and spanish together you will certainly mix it all up.

These too language are very similar. If you learn spanish and speaks it very slowly here in Brazil, we will understand it just fine, don´t worry about it.

But, you are really young to travel alone, for sure. It will be better if you have someone to travel with.

Reserve money and time to know Brazil. Believe me, we are much more than Rio. Rio is wonderful, but the beaches at northwest are amazing.

If you need some help finding cheap places to stay, just let me know.

Good luck


7. Posted by Constanz11 (Budding Member 5 posts) 11y

Hi Emily,

The most expensive part of your trip is actually going to simply be the plane tickets. Going from there, travelling inside the countries is actually amazingly cheap. I just spent my gap year after highschool travelling, and mainly living in Lima, where I am from. I have travelled a lot and this gap year in Lima was amazing. No, it is just as safe for you to travel at 19 than any older age, but that doesn't mean you should not be wary.

· Be prudent, not paranoid. Paranoia will keep you home or, paradoxically, make you more of a target. Reasonable precautions will help reduce feelings of insecurity.
· Don’t fight back if you are assaulted. Despite the hero stories and the anger you are likely to feel if robbed, resistance is extremely risky. Better to just hand over your stuff.
· Be extra careful after dark. Might seem obvious, but most robberies occur around or after nightfall. In most Latin American cities, it’s best to take a taxi at night. If walking is absolutely necessary, stick to lighted areas or walk down the middle of the street (traffic permitting).
· Techniques: Pick-pocketing, opening bags, slitting bags or pockets with a razor blade
· Watch for: Tight, small spaces including crowded public transport, crowds, markets, and unexpected or sudden crowding or pushing.
· Don’t: Wear a wallet in a hip pocket or keep cash in outer pockets or loose-fitting pants.
· Do: Keep your cash where you can feel it. Front pockets of tighter pants (e.g. jeans) work best for spending cash. Use hidden pouches/pockets for larger amounts or vital documents. Don’t keep things in outside pockets of your bag or otherwise easily accessible. Best of all, leave stuff at home, the clubhouse, or in the safe-deposit box of your hotel. Do not keep all your money in one place on your body, spread it out and have an emergency stash, in a leg pouch for instance.

Partying and seeing natural wonders is definitely possible in six months. You know the usual places to see in Peru, which is actually number one in tourism in the world right now due to our wonders: Cuzco and Macchu Picchu. The best part about what you are doing is that you are planning it out early on, although a lot of what you plan wont go as planned, it is good to have a general plan.


it is a wonderful place and I have heard from my traveller friends that they have received nothing but good information from them.

Have a great trip,

[ Edit: sorry, no promos in the forum please. ]

8. Posted by EDAngeli (Budding Member 43 posts) 11y

Thanks everyone, you have all been fantastic. Have been doing some research but would like to know all your opinions on which are the best cities or sights in each of the countries I mentioned? At what time in the year is the Rio carnival? I definitely want to work my itenary so I can fit that in.
Lots of love, Emily

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