28 Ways to Totally Blow Your Travel Budget in South America

1. Don’t do enough research on flights.
Your flight will be the most expensive part of your trip. You can save hundreds of dollars by taking flights that require several stops rather than non-stop and in some cases by taking airlines into countries neighboring your destination, then smaller national airlines or buses or trains to your final destination.

2. Bring too little or too much luggage.
Not researching the climate can mean you might end up purchasing things you already have at home and could bring with you such as jackets, hats and gloves. On the other hand, bringing things you probably won’t need (or won’t be able to use) like too much clothing, too many appliances (hair dryers, curling irons, shavers, cellphones that won’t work here) can add to your budget either at the airline counter (overweight luggage) or when you have to pay someone else to cart your luggage around while you’re here (taxi drivers, kids and bellhops at hotels and airports), or pay to store your luggage while you’re on shorter legs of your trip.

3. Use credit cards and travelers checks and don’t bring enough cash.
The surest way to waste money is to use credit cards. First of all, you’ll pay an extra percentage to use them in most South American countries (usually about 3%). Secondly, many places don’t accept them. Travelers checks are also exchanged (for an extra cost) in just a few places. Running out of money is another problem. If you have to have someone wire your money you’ll blow a big wad of cash!

4. Ignore great small hotels and hostels because they sound “unknown” or aren’t in your travel guidebook.
There are many small hotels and hostels that are clean, comfortable and provide good service all over Latin America. You don’t need to stay at a big expensive hotel. I’m not suggesting you put up with cockroaches, but unless you’re planning on spending a lot of time in bed or watching TV, how often will you really be in your room anyway? One of the best ways to find a cheap but good hotel is to get a personal recommendations so I strongly encourage you to visit travel forums and hotel reviews (and pay it forward – leave your opinions for someone else to benefit from if you’ve already traveled).

5. Pay way too much for food.
While you should always take precautions to ensure you don’t get sick, skip restaurants that don’t look clean, but don’t always dine out at the expensive restaurants. Choose restaurants that look great but are NOT in your travel guide. Most restaurants that are frequented by tourists adjust their menu prices for tourists and locals who choose to dine there do so knowing this. In addition, many travelers don’t try the local food!! Did you know that in many parts of South America foreign or international fast-food restaurants are a luxury and among the more EXPENSIVE options by local standards?

6. Don’t bargain.
In supermarkets and stores that have price tickets on their items you cannot bargain the price down. But in most open markets it’s a mistake not to. Vendors automatically increase the price as soon as they see you are foreign and EXPECT your first reaction to be a request for a price break.

7. Ignore open markets.
Latin America’s open markets sell EVERYTHING. Skip meats and cheeses, (they’re never refrigerated) and unbottled water and juices, but purchase fruit, vegetables, bread, butter, cookies and snacks, sodas, and more. Almost anything you find in a supermarket you can find here. You can also get sunglasses, hats and clothing, mosquito repellent, batteries, toiletries and many other things that are sold in supermarkets nearby for up to twice as much.

8. Go to tourist trap shops.
Latin America’s markets don’t just sell food. Skip the expensive tourist trap souvenir shops (most cost about 2-3 times more than they should). Even souvenir areas that look like open markets can be way more expensive than they should be because they cater only to foreigners. If you only see souvenirs and nothing else, it’s a tourist haven. Go to the open markets, buy from individual vendors who offer their products on the street, and you can get the same souvenirs at much lower prices. And be sure to BARGAIN (they will be surprised if you DON’T). You’ll be truly contributing to the most needy sector of our local economy if you do.

9. Ignore cool free sites or attractions not in travel guides.
Stay on the tourist path 100% of the time and you’ll waste a lot of money (and miss some really nice places to visit). Did you know many great museums and art galleries in South America don’t charge an entry fee? Have you checked out the hundreds of great local parks and plazas for super people watching and photo opportunities? Have you asked the LOCALs what’s great to see?

10. Pay too much for taxis, don’t take public transportation, don’t walk anywhere.
Many hotels have resident taxi services. Don’t use them. They charge 2-3 times what a normal taxi costs. Walk a few steps to the corner and take a cab off the street.

11. Bring the wrong appliances, electronics and accessories.
Electric power sources vary greatly in South America and from one country to the next (even within a country). Some use 220V and some 110V. You either have to bring adapters or be sure you bring the correct appliances for the region you will be traveling or living.

12. Don’t research proper documentation.
All countries require something of foreigners to enter (passports, yellow fever shots, letters of invitation, hotel reservations, and others). Having all the correct documents before you arrive will be a true blessing to your wallet. Getting them upon arrival can cost you more, waste your time, and potential end up getting you sent home if you don’t have the documentation you need.

13. Don’t leave copies of your documentation and credit cards at home.
Losing or getting your documents stolen can be a truly horrifying experience. Not having copies of them only makes it worse. Leave photocopies of your passport, medical records, airline ticket, credit cards and other important documents you carry in your wallet at home (and bring an extra photocopy with you). If you need to process new ones at your consulate, this will make it much easier and faster and usually less costly.

14. Don’t spend enough on your tour. Huh?
Well, believe it or not if you don’t properly research your tour operator, your cheap tour with a cruddy tour operator who doesn’t live up to your expectations and doesn’t deliver what was promised can end up costing you more in dissatisfaction than a tour that was a bit more costly to begin with but delivered on its promises. You’ll end up feeling cheated and like you wasted your money.

15. Don’t invest in travel insurance.
Nobody wants to get sick while traveling, lose luggage or documentation, have an emergency or accident, or have something stolen from them while traveling. But it does happen. Are these things EVER predictable anywhere?

16. Make way-too-expensive overseas calls.
There are many cheap or even free ways to communicate with people “back home” while you’re on your trip. Latin America has an uncanny number of super cheap internet caf├ęs that in many areas cost under a dollar per hour. Set up programs like Skype on your computer back home and use them while you’re here. In addition, if you research the best phone cards and/or cellphone rental or purchase options, and you can cut your budget way down. You can also use Skype without a computer.

17. Bring your own cellphone.
Check before you travel if your cellular phone will work in South America. Most of South America uses a completely different grid and type of calling system and many many many cellphones from many many many countries DON’T WORK HERE AT ALL. So investing in a rental cellphone or purchasing an international travel phone can actually save you money.

18. Don’t venture out enough on your own.
Some tours are hazardous or just plain too remote to take on your own but you don’t need a guide everywhere you go. With a little self-assurance there are tons of places you can visit without the need for guides, translators and tour operators. The same goes for those of you who are relocating to South America

19. Don’t research the laws regarding traveling with kids and pets.
If you travel with minors you must have special permissions and documentation, especially if only one parent is traveling with a child. Many a foreigner has been sent back home for not having a permission document from the other parent. Not having the appropriate documentation for your pet can result in expensive quarantine costs.

20. Don’t research our holidays.
One of the best ways to lose money while traveling is to arrive during national or regional holidays to find everything closed. While you might enjoy the festivities, you might not find a place to stay, banks or exchange houses may be closed, and you could end up either spending to travel somewhere else or paying for the only hotels available (the most expensive ones are the last to have vacancies).

21. Don’t brush up on your Spanish.
Investing in a few Spanish lessons, a good Spanish travel phrasebook, or getting FREE Spanish phrases for your iPod or other accessory can save you money in the longrun. How? You can potentially avoid paying for a translator (in many South American countries tour guides do NOT speak English or other languages). FURTHERMORE you can avoid feeling cheated in markets and stores or anywhere else you pay for anything if vendors see you know just enough Spanish to get by. If they assume you’ve been here a while they’re more likely to expect you to bargain.

22. Inadvertently (or purposely) break the law.
One way to get into MAJOR financial trouble is to commit a crime. Take a prison tour to purchase cocaine is a huge no-no. Buying illicit drugs or purchasing drugs or alcohol for yourself or anyone else anywhere is a crime. Getting in arguments or fights, participating in political rallies or demonstrations, being rude to police officers, trespassing on private property, disorderly conduct, attempting to cross roadblocks, injuring someone else while driving, or even if you are defending yourself from a thief, can all end you up in jail. Even if you are declared innocent and everything is cleared up eventually, it can take lots of time and money to get you out of your predicament.

23. Flash your money.
When you travel, carry your money in several different places at a time (some in your purse, some in each pocket, etc.) so you don’t have to take the whole wad out when you need to pay for something. Not only will this make you appear presumptuous, cause your vendor to feel cheated if you just bargained a price down, and make Latin America’s poor feel horrible in general, it’s a guaranteed way to be sure people will immediately increase their prices when you ask what the cost of something is. When you exchange your currency ask for small bills. It will make getting change easier and save you money in the long run as you won’t be perceived as “the foreigner with the big wads of cash for whom we should increase our prices”.

24. Look lost.
Not only will this automatically send out the message that you are a foreigner and should be charged more for stuff, it’s also dangerous. No matter where you are or where you go, even if you ARE lost, walk with purpose, stick to well-lighted areas. Only ask for directions from police officers, store owners, restaurants, or other establishments. Look like you’re lost and you may become a target for thieves and others who may purposely misguide you and you could end up having to replace your belongings. Look like you know where you’re going and you most likely will discourage their activities. But you would follow this advice anywhere in the world, wouldn’t you?

25. Carry huge expensive cameras in full sight.
Nothing screams “Tourist Coming!!!” more than your camera – and actually this goes for just about any camera. South America’s vendors are master tourist spotters. They can see you coming from miles away and the message rapidly spreads that you’re in the neighborhood. Vendors busily rearrange their products (with the most expensive on top or even hide cheap ones), and before you’ve arrived, they’ve already talked amongst themselves and settled on the higher prices they will ALL simultaneously offer you. Carry all types of cameras in a camera bag, take your camera out when you need to take your photo, put it back in the bag when you’re done, and you’ll save a lot of money.

26. Don’t set aside any money for emergencies.
It’s awful to get sick, have an accident, lose your belongings, or suffer a loss by robbery while you’re traveling. Blowing all your money at the beginning of your trip is not only unwise, it’s dangerous. You could end up needing to visit a clinic and having no money. Furthermore, having someone wire you money will add to the expense. In addition, making a lot of purchases at the beginning of your trip just means you’ll have to cart them around with you (or pay to store them) while you continue traveling.

27. Don’t be adventurous.
Some of Bolivia’s most beautiful sites and attractions are in remote areas, or regions where you won’t find all of the comforts of the first world. Be willing to forego some of the luxuries of 5-star travel so you won’t miss them!

28. The surest way to pay way more than you should for just about everything: look, dress and act like a tourist.

a) Wear geeky tourist clothes (the embroidered shirts or knit hats that don’t really look cool on anyone and nobody but tourists wear, the huge hiking boots even when you’re walking around the city, the alpaca sweaters only tourists can afford, the jeans that are so unwashed they could stand on their own, you get the picture).

b) Wear clothing that is inappropriate for an event or occasion. Nobody expects you to dress up when touring. But at restaurants, bars and clubs you may even find some don’t allow you to enter if you’re wearing inappropriate clothing (for example, some don’t let you in with torn or cut-off shorts, others don’t allow sneakers).

c) Speak a foreign language all the time, don’t make any attempt to use Spanish, and speak very loudly. Many South Americans are fairly soft-spoken and speak quietly amongst themselves in public places, buses, restaurants, etc.

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Things to Consider in Looking for a Perfect Travel Companion

Are you tired of singles travel and you like to start looking for a travel companion, then you never have to worry. There are different sources where you can find them. You can either go online where you can certainly find several travel partner websites, or you may simply go around your neighborhood and ask a new friend if he/she wants to travel with you.

Here are the different factors that you need to consider if you like to search for a travel mate:

Age

Do you prefer to have an older or younger travel buddy? There are different advantages and disadvantages of your choices. If you travel with a younger one, there is a huge possibility that you will get infected with his youthfulness and enthusiasm; there is more fun when you have a younger travel partner. However, you may have to content yourself with his fickle-mindedness and childish behavior. On the other hand, older people may have vast knowledge and even experience in traveling that you surely do not have any problem finding your way. They, though, may act more like a mother or father than a travel buddy. Better yet, why do not you go with someone your age?

Traveling Experience

If you do not like your travel buddy to destroy your mood with never-ending tales of his travel exploits, you may want to find someone who does not have any travel experience at all. What is more, you can explore new territories and experience together. Yet if you want to truly enjoy your travel and not waste your time trying to figure out what road to go to, what hotel to stay in, or how to mix well with the culture and attitude of foreign people, you better choose a travel mate who is very much experienced in traveling.

Sexual Involvement

This is better expressed as what you want to achieve during your trip. There are actually a number of males and females who like to find their perfect soul mate during travel. Thus, you have to consider how willing your travel partner is in engaging in a romantic relationship with you during or after the trip. You would not really like to offend someone with your flirtatious moves during the entire time both of you are on the road. Or else, you are bound spending the rest of your travel time in shame and constant fights with your travel mate.

Budget

This is one area that you should not forget in considering your travel friend. If your reason for wanting a companion during your travel is to have someone to share the expenses with, you surely have to pick one that is more than willing to do that. Most of all, he/she must be open as to what types of costs he/she is willing to shoulder and eager for any form of negotiation.

To find a travel companion that is perfect for you, go for websites that have Advanced Search option. This will practically allow you to choose the best travel partner based on the considerations or your criteria. After all, you would absolutely like to have the time of your life.

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The Importance Of Being Properly Insured When You Travel By RV

If you’re like most Americans, you believe that having insurance is important. In fact, it’s likely that you insure your life, your health, your car and your home. Insurance is a necessary hedge against the uncertainty we all face in life. Perhaps you even purchase flight insurance – as so many people do – just before you board an airplane. The truth is simple: insurance is important. And… you need to have it.

Purchase Insurance to cover all of your needs – and every Possibility – BEFORE you Begin your RV Trip. It’s easy to do… and it’s Affordable.

If you already own your RV, it is obviously insured and that means you have one less “new expense” to consider. If, however, you are renting or leasing the RV that you are going to drive on your trip, it makes perfect sense to buy RV insurance from the rental company. It will probably cost you a few dollars per day for each day of your trip or vacation, but this is one expense that you should not avoid. There are, of course, other insurance expenses that are just as important…

Protect yourself and your Loved Ones with Accident Insurance and, if necessary, Life Insurance, too.

Why… because you’re going to spend hours and hours traveling America’s roads. You may be a good driver, even an excellent driver, but others you encounter in your travels may drive recklessly. And that can put you at risk. Then, when you reach your various destinations and you spend time swimming, boating and engaging in other activities, you risk serious accident. It may not happen, of course, because you’re careful. But there are no guarantees. And it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You can Purchase the Insurance Protection you need from an Agent… or right Online

It’s easy to buy insurance… actually, very easy. If you deal with an insurance agent, call him or her and explain your needs. The short term purchase that you want will not be expensive, but it will be reassuring. Better yet, you’ll be able to “shop and save” by comparing prices from several companies. Consider that another benefit.

RV trips and vacations are great fun and it is certain that you and your loved ones look forward to them with eager anticipation. But, it’s always important that you plan for every possibility. That’s why insurance is so important. It can help you avoid financial distress if something goes wrong while you’re “on the road.”

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Pacific Palisades Book Club – A Sign of Intellect and Enjoyment in America

Book Clubs are all the rage in California these days and they are great places to meet wonderful people. In beautiful Pacific Palisades there is a locally well known book club that meets once per month at the local Starbucks there in the Village. The Eclectic Book Club is a concept created by Patrice the Founder. The club is an extension of her love of reading and need to share stimulating and interesting conversation.

One thing I love to do as I travel America is to meet interesting and well read people, then write about the best and most exciting things I learn. What a treat to see book clubs growing across America. You just never know when you will run across one. This is one of the neatest group of people I have discovered in my travels and they sure have a great thing going there.

What sorts of people join the Eclectic Book Club? Well, it is an eclectic group of all sorts of people from all different backgrounds sharing in a common cause. There is a core group of superstars that read nearly every book and others who read most or many of the books as time allows in their personal lives, yet all find a sense of enjoyment in the discussion.

Starting a successful book club is never easy as Patrice notes, and yet much of the success of the Eclectic Book Club she attributes to her core group and all the awesome people who participate. The Founder assures all new members that they are not a clique or monarchy and they vary the types of books as to not ever be tied to only one genre.

In fact, they assure all book lovers and members that they are “Lovers of books of all kinds, popular and esoteric, fiction and non-fiction, domestic and foreign.” And that “they are lovers of literary discussions without rules and boundaries.” Doesn’t that sound like the kind of group you are looking for in a book club – of course if you do not live in the area, you might like to follow their lead and set up a book club using the same basic mission statement and watch it grow. We need more Book Clubs across the nation, what a wonderful thing to imagine, a book club for people like you and me!

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Traveling America by Bicycle – The Best Way to Really See America

I had always wanted to see America. I mean really see it. What better way to see America than to hop on my bicycle and head across the United States? I finally took the plunge and decided to do a TransAmerica trip when I was twenty-two years old. I had been cycling for some time by then, and felt I was up to the challenge. But, I thought it would be even more fun to travel as a group, so I took a week long intensive camp/interview, and was hired by a cycling company to lead a trip from Williamsburg, VA to Astoria, OR.

A TransAmerican bicycle tour is not an easy task–physically or logistically. There was matters of food, drink, and shelter, just to name a few of the tasks. We also had to plan our route in advance because we did not want to suddenly find ourselves 30 miles from food or shelter.

Organizing the trip gave e a chance to challenge my leadership skills. Since I was the trip leader it was my responsibility to iron out the fine details of the journey. I found the planning of the trip exhilarating. I could picture the trip while I planned it; I imagined all of us on the road together, what were were likely to see, and imagined the people we would meet.

When we finally set out in late spring, I couldn’t help but think of the many others who had ventured before us. The Lewis and Clark Expedition and the families of settlers who bravely set out for the unknown with all of their belongings in their covered wagons. What an amazing feeling. If you are a bicycle enthusiast, and enjoy the thrill of spinning through the countryside I highly recommend a bicycle tour. Or, better yet…go the distance and bicycle across America.

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Wine Travel – America’s First Wine Country

America’s rich tradition of wine making began in earnest in the 1800’s, when European immigrants brought their skills to various unsettled areas of the country. A few decades before California and other west coast wine producing states were settled, many eastern and midwestern states had thriving wine industries. In the 1830’s, a group of German immigrants made their way to the Missouri river valley, west of St. Louis near the present town of Hermann, Missouri.

These early settlers noted how the topography and climate of the river valley resembled their European home areas of Germany and Switzerland. In particular, various grape varieties were growing wild on hillsides surrounding Hermann, prompting founding fathers and town leaders to encourage further cultivation and ultimately, wine making. After a few short years, the prolific grape crop merged with the settler’s wine making skills, and America’s first wine district was born.

After Prohibition, wine making became viable again, and since the 1960’s over 75 wineries have opened in Missouri. Situated on a 20 mile stretch, this wine district just over an hour from St. Louis boasts historic villages and seven wineries. Those who enjoy wine trails and wine travel are drawn here for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are award winning wines and spectacular scenery.

Missouri has long been known for deep, rich red wines typically produced from traditional grape varieties such as Norton and Chambourcin. Wineries in this area use these native grapes to develop award winning varieties of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Burgundy styles. But these wineries aren’t all about reds, as winemakers on this wine trail also produce clean and delightfully crisp styles like rieslings and chardonels.

A visit to the central Missouri wine trail usually begins with a visit to St. Louis. From St. Louis, travel west on Interstate 44 to Missouri Highway 100, continuing on Highway 100 twenty miles to the town of New Haven. This charming village is the eastern edge of the wine trail and is home to historic Robller Vineyard and Winery, which offers a spectacular view of the Missouri river valley.

Just west of New Haven and on your way toward Hermann is the Bommarito Almond Tree Winery, a family owned estate winery producing a savory award winning port, among other offerings. A few miles west is Bias Vineyards and Winery, situated on a 64 acre farm and featuring a microbrewery and winery, only the 2nd such operation in the United States. Be sure to try Bias’ River Blush Rouge, an easy drinking friendly blush.

As you reach the Hermann area, you’ll discover four thriving wineries offering the chance to try Missouri wine. Stone Hill, Oakglenn, Adam Puchta, and Hermannhof wineries all offer wine tasting, winery tours, and scenic views. Take time to savor the offerings at each. Among those we particularly enjoyed were Oakglenn’s spicy Chambourcin and Stone Hill’s Vidal Blanc. Stone Hill and Hermannhof are other must stops, not only for their fine wines but also for their historic settings.

The western end of the wine trail is punctuated by the picturesque town of Hermann, MO. This is a town you’ll really enjoy – historic architecture, local restaurants, and specialty shops galore. It’s a perfect place to spend the night and participate in one of their many local events, several devoted to enjoyment of wine. Also, for the fitness buff within you, Hermann is also known for its easy access to the Katy Bike Trail which winds through the Missouri river valley.

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Traveling America Cruises Style

Looking for a cruise that won’t break the bank and will ensure that you enjoy the best of travel? You don’t have to look very far as you can take advantage of the America Cruises experience that waits for you. America Cruises is a small ship cruise line that has you covered for over 9 destinations around the country like Florida, Maine, and Chesapeake Bay. And you don’t even have to suffer traveling with too many people which make the trip all that more personalized for you.

When it comes to travelers, America Cruises knows how to treat them best. It may be that you are only going around to places within the country, but the services, amenities, activities, and entertainment programs with America Cruises will have you believing that you are actually on an international cruise. This is the kind of experience that waits for you. An all-American crew just makes the trip even more worthwhile as you will not bump into any communication barriers.

Step on board and you will see what it means to truly enjoy an American Cruises holiday. You will get your hands on some of the best facilities that rival those of huge luxury liners. Their activities will also keep you wanting for more as you have fun learning about the different destinations that you are bound for. And if you just want to kill time and relax, then do it while watching life go by on the open deck or glass-closed lounge. You can even enjoy a dining experience that you would expect at a five-star restaurant as their well-trained chefs serve you up a menu that will keep your mouth watering for more.

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