Ultimate Guide to Traveling Through South America

Alpaca overlooking ruins of Machu Picchu, Peru
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Traveling through South America is becoming the top of every seasoned traveler's bucket list. Whether it be mountain climbing, discovering ancient civilizations, or sunbathing on the beach, there is something for everyone. Make the most out of your trip by planning accordingly, packing wisely, and selecting the best locations suited to your interests. Here is a guide to everything you need to know to plan your trip!

01 of 06

Safety in South America

Cartagena old colonial style street
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Traveling in South America is generally safe but some cities are considered safer than others for visitors. It's a good idea to check with your embassy in that country to be aware of any areas you should avoid.

Keep in mind that many places that once had a bad reputation, like Colombia, are working hard to rebuild trust. In fact, Colombia has some great all-inclusive resorts that are very safe for couples and families traveling in South America.

02 of 06

Vaccinations and Travel Health

Landscape lake on a weekend
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Be sure to schedule a trip to your doctor or travel clinic with a detailed itinerary as different regions have varied health requirements.

If you find yourself in need of medication or treatment while in South America and you do not speak Spanish, it's always a good idea to reach out to your hotel concierge or ​hostel owner. South America has great medical options and offers most of the same medication that's available in North America, often at a fraction of the price. 

Plan well in advance as some vaccinations require more than one shot and in some cases, such as Yellow Fever, require a visit to an authorized clinic.

03 of 06

Passports and Visas

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You will need a passport to travel to South America. Many countries require passports to be valid for six months after arrival. Each country will have different requirements for entry and may require a visa in advance and/or a reciprocal fee.

04 of 06

Decide What to Pack

Holiday packing neatly prepared on bed
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South America is an enormous mass of land and the climate can change drastically between cities. While coastal areas are often quite humid, those in higher altitudes can be considerably colder, particularly at night. If you are traveling during the rainy season it's also important to plan accordingly.

For electronics, keep in mind that one adapter doesn't work for every country in South America so you should look for a universal adapter. If you forget or lose an adapter, most of the local markets have these for sale at inexpensive prices.

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05 of 06

Be Practical With Your Time

View of Cristo Redentor and airplane, Brazil
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Traveling through South America is not like Europe; while it may be easy to hop on a train between countries in Europe, it doesn't quite work the same way in South America.

Did you know Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and Argentina is the eighth? If you have only a week in South America it's best to choose one country, otherwise, you'll spend most of your time boarding planes which can be very costly.

With one week you can easily see lots of great things in Ecuador, Bolivia, or ​Southern Peru.

06 of 06

Trip Planning

Woman traveling in Buenos Aires

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Preparing and planning for a trip to South America can be overwhelming. Our guide to South America is a great resource for tips on packing, destinations, must-see attractions and much more.

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