10 things you need to know before travelling to South America

South America is a continent located on the south western hemisphere, with a small portion of the continent being located on the northern hemisphere. It is bordered by the by Pacific Ocean to the west, Atlantic Ocean to the east, Caribbean Sea and North America to the north.

The continent measures 17,840,000 square kilometers and is home to 371,090,000 who dwell in 12 sovereign states and two non-sovereign states.

If you intend to travel to South America, here is what you need to know.

1. Make sure you know some people on the ground - Like all new places you visit, you will need someone to show you around.

2. Make sure you have internet connection - You never know when you may need the Google maps or Wikipedia to research about something.

3. Life is a little slower - So you are used to having traffic that moves seamlessly, trains that are not over crowded, beaches that are spotless clean and clean policemen? Tame your expectations. Life is a little bit slower on the Southern Hemisphere.

4. Shed the stereotype - Latin America is not as dangerous as the western media portrays, neither are Latinos in different countries similar. Oh...and they are not drug dealers. They are a hardworking lot.

5. Learn to read widely and wildly. Relying on one source of information (read western media) can be misleading.

6. Keep to the beaten path - Where others have gone and feel is good is where you should go - unless of course you are a navy seal. If you are travelling to Latin America, visit where others have gone and come back.

7. If you are travelling on a lean budget, stay in hostels - The hostels is usually near to the center of activities such as nightlife, restaurants, and beaches.

8. Learn the local lingo - If you know your Spanish and Portuguese, you will need to know the local variation. This is best learnt from Taxi drivers, street vendors and bar tenders. You will never learn anything if you keep to yourself and your tour guide. Alternatively, you can download a language app to you smartphone if you do not speak Spanish or Portuguese.

9. Patience is a virtue - Many are times when your ATM card will not work, you will miss meals due to traffic congestion, a destination will not live up to its reputation and the customer service will be utterly rude. You need to be patient. South America is not a place to lose your cool. 'Your Rights' as you know them from your country do not exist here.

10. Beware! You might get smitten and stay forever - Unless you are a retiree who is out to have fun, you may want to keep reminding yourself you have responsibilities back home.

The destination sounds nice enough, right? Well, it is...although not quite like your country. It is a place where you will experience something different from what you are used to. Thus said, I hope you enjoy your trip.

by Kennedy Runo on 02/25/2014 in Escorted or Guided Tour