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Dealing with money in South America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Dealing with money in South America

1. Posted by AndySN (Budding Member 27 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Hi All

So, easy answer to this would of course be a combination of card and cash, small bills.
However, despite being a seasoned traveller, never done South America and can see it is slightly different to other areas due to issues of crime, remoteness etc..

Will be traveling 1+ years, so will obviously learn as I go, but specifically,

- max amount of cash best to carry with?
- Banks directly or ATM when in bigger cities?
- Ways to deal with cash at hostels etc?

I like to exercise regularly and would be a pain to carry my wallet all the time with cash, cards and passport.

Any tips or advice on best routines are warmly received.

Just on other thing too, do you really need an onward ticket for a country when flying in? As I am planning on a long term travel, one is never sure if you stay a short or long time (though of course within their usual 3 month timeline).

Thanks :-)

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Aug-2012, at 10:08 by AndySN ]

2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1851 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I had no trouble with cash or cards in South America. Hostels I used were happy with cash.

Having said that, petty theft is endemic there though the only place I have heard of actual robberies is Venezuela (though I had no trouble there). I have a small pouch which fits onto my belt which is also big enough to hold my passport.

Many do not realise that when abroad almost anywhere, you can be asked by the police or any other such figure for your passport and be expected to produce it. It can be an offence not to do so (like in Thailand).

No problem with onwards tickets. They might ask your onward plans but I cannot recall them asking mine at any time. Lots of tourists travel around by bus, train and plane in SA without hindrance.

If you plan on taking any flights in SA, book early and before arriving there as flights are expensive if booked there and late. Distances can be very great and roads not always the best so the bus goes slow so you can find yourself spending more than a day on buses at times.

Example. The distance between Flores and Guatemala City is 166 miles in a straight line. I could have taken a $60 flight but I thought you don't see much from six miles up and it isn't far so I took the bus. It took 12 HOURS.

3. Posted by AndySN (Budding Member 27 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Thanks Cyberia for your comments

Keeping cash and passport on you at all times is usually the best way to go, will just need to buy a good belt/system for keeping it under my running top too :-)

Good about the onward travel. I see that almost all countries want to know, but having a pre booked ticket is not for me. I have no idea where I am going to end up or for how long, but at least 1+ years in South America.

I know what you mean about distances. Living in Europe now and everything is close by, but lived for 3 years in NZ and in that area of the World you learn about distance. 100km can take all day to drive (with sightseeing and driving conditions). 12h bus rides right now sounds like luxury compared to my life here at the moment.

Thanks again

4. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 979 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

A couple of banks in Argentina were on PLUS but not CIRRUS, and that became a pain....but mostly, you're Golden. You're just paying through the news on usage fees.