In less than four weeks I’ll head to South America, just for a 3 week back packing trip to Peru, so here are four tips I wrote for myself and other travellers heading there:
This has to be one of the best tips for any trip – pack light. Pack your backpack, then take out half – and then some more.
In Peru you will experience different climates, so the best thing to do is pack for layering, rather than take up prime estate in your backpack with a thick heavy jumper. If it does get too cold, Lama Wool from the locals sells for cheap so this will not only save you money, contribute to local business and also leaves you with an epic souvenir from your climb up to Machu Pichu
As far as shoes are concerned I would go for two types: the good old hiking boots, and your trusted Havaiana flip flops. You will need to break in the boots before your trek, so buy them in advance and use them in your local area by going out on day long treks so your feet feel at home in them, besides who wants shiny new boots for a backpacking trip to the Amazon anyways.
The flip flops will be a handy survival tool because not only are they light to pack, but they are also ideal for wearing inside your accommodation, to give your feet time to breathe from all the hiking and trekking. If blisters do form, flip flops are the ideal footwear for your down time.
Talking aboiut trekking, take the essential first aid material – especially for two things: mossies and blisters. Get those bubbles covered and protected and remember: blisters are there to help you, so keep them clean and intact, then use your first aid antiseptic cream to reduce the risk of infection when they do eventually pop.
Plan, but don’t over plan
Planning ahead is not everyone’s favourite tip. I love winging it on these type of trips, however this time we’ve only booked 3 weeks and its vital we get the most out of them. Plan, but don’t over plan. Pick a list of 4 destinations tops and get them ticked off. Spend more than 2 days in each area to get to know it and chill out, remember it is a holiday after all. If we chose 4 places in 21 days, that’s a good average, and if we do end up time for one more, fantastic. Leave that one last trip on the back burner, and if you do manage to get to it: happy days!
Off season you do not need to pre book your activities and I would never recommend this anyway as prices online are often fixed. While there you can suss out a good sales shop and you can haggle for your excursion prices while getting a good feel for the guide that you will be spending days and nights with.
Prepare for altitude sickness
This can be a real downer on the trip, but if you do get sick, don’t worry it’s just part of the experience and in my eyes: no experience is bad. Trekking in the Andes will take its toll and if you are now used to the heights, altitude sickness might be a reality for you.
My first tip is to plan your trip in an ascending order – start off at the lowest points, so Lima in this case, then make your way South while gradually increasing the altitude over time, this way your body and mind have time to adjust and won’t feel a sudden gut wrenching change.
Meanwhile, if you get sick – get plenty of rest and don’t stress out.
Coca leaves, readily available in Peru, also help, so stock up. Chew on them or have them in your tea. These are illegal in the US, but don’t worry, ditch them as you leave Latin America
Hydration is another crucial natural cure, so drink plenty of water, and less sugar based products like sodas or energy drinks. Eat as much fruit as possible too as these are little bombs of water ready to help you. Eat a high carbohydrate diet before and during the acclimation periods.
Those are the simple methods, so for more on this head to wikihow:
Learn the language
It’s my final tip but it is definitely my favourite ever travel tips. I love languages and I do believe they are the ultimate tool for travellers. Going into a shop or accommodation and greeting the locals in their tongue will quickly win them over, and if you can learn the numbers you can use it to haggle the price right down. Chances are if they see you are making an effort to respect their own language and tradition they might be kinder to you while dishing out the prices. It’s not expected to know the dialects, but basic Spanish is a must, nor is it difficult to learn.
For this tip I recommend a kick start on www.duolingo.com, it’s where I learnt Spanish and I can’t wait to put it to practice. It’s a free easy to use tool and above all that: its fun!
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