I'm travelling across South America from Rio to Lima. Probably through Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru.
Just wondering whether it's best to get some American dollars as well as other currencies?
Does anyone have any advice?
You could, because they're widely accepted, but I wouldn't. It's an unnecessary risk taking cash, better take a credit card as backup and stick to local currencies.
Cash is king... I would take Dollars with me, as you can never be sure if your credit card will get lost, stolen, eaten by an ATM machine, cloned, etc. ATM's are notorious for not working, running out of cash, etc.
It sounds like you will be in SA for a long time so I would not depend solely on plastic. Nothing worse then being in a foreign country with no way of getting access to your money.. You could always use Travelers checks as well...
My own experience with ATMs in SA is nothing but positive; they abound, and work almost always. Plus, cash money cannot be insured, and makes you more prone to muggings etc.
The middle way could be to take traveller's cheques, but opinions on their usefulness vary from person to person and from country to country.
Always take some cash in dollars or euros as a backup, but use your debit card to get out local currency in each country. ATM's throughout the continent sometimes seem to reject foreign cards for a few hours and you don't want to be stuck somewhere without cash and without a place to stay...
I had problems with euros in some countries ( Brazil, Chile), because exchange rate was not so good in hostels, restaurant, etc; then I had to go to banks or exchange money houses. Even though dollar is dropping with other currencies, I think it is better to pay things.