5 Tips for Travelling to South America from Ireland

Whether you have been inspired by the stunning coastal scenery on view at the Olympics in Rio or a long held dream to see Machu Picchu with your own eyes, planning to travel to South America throws up lots of questions, especially at the moment. Planning a trip to another continent is loads of fun but it also takes some careful thought. We want to help by answering 5 of the most common questions that are asked about travelling to South America at the moment.

1. What do I need to know about the Zika virus?

One of the biggest concerns for those planning a visit to South America is the Zika Virus. It is spread by infected mosquitos and in rare cases can be sexually transmitted. The virus is very dangerous for:

  • Pregnant women
  • Women who intend becoming pregnant in the near future

As it is thought to cause babies to be born with underdeveloped brains. If you fall into either of these category, current recommendation is to avoid travel to South America. If not, it is still recommended that you avoid the virus to stop it spreading to other countries. This short video is a great guide:

Also be aware that many countries in South America have malaria carrying mosquitos. Don’t forget to discuss anti-malaria tablets and vaccinations with your doctor at least three months before you intend to travel.

2. What is the best time of year to visit?

This really depends on which part of South America you are travelling to. It is such a vast land mass that even the seasons vary across it. Although it is worth researching in detail, broadly speaking October to March is the warm and dry season in many countries. July and August are the low seasons and it is worth noting that many coastal resorts are closed during this time.

3. What countries should I visit?

This very much depends on what you would like to do. There really is something to offer everyone. If you love music, culture, history, scenery and nature they are all on offer in almost every country. From the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu high up in the mountains in Peru to the flamboyant colour, music and dance of Carnaval in Rio there is a vast range of fabulous things to see and do in South America. The trouble is likely to be picking what you want to see.

4. Do I need a visa?

The great news is, Irish citizens don’t need visas to visit most South American Countries for a period of 90 days once you are there for travel and tourism only however this, along with the points below are worth checking with your travel agent or the relevant embassy before you leave:

  • Your passport may need to be valid for a specified time after entry (often 6months but worth checking if it is close to renewal).

  • You may need to provide proof of onward travel – usually a ticket out of the country.

  • You may need to prove you have sufficient funds to cover your stay in the country.

5. What should I bring to South America

This all depends on whether you are backpacking in South America with the ‘roughing it’ that may entail or going on holiday. Our backpacking for beginners blog is worth a read if it is your first time hoofing all your belongings in a 20kg bag! If you are planning a more indulgent holiday the main difference may be fancier clothes! Here’s a checklist of some of our favourite things to bring on a tropical trip whether we are backpacking or not:

  • Quality suitcase or backpack
  • Long sleeve clothes to protect from mosquitos and the sun
  • Sun screen
  • Tropical strength insect repellent (don’t forget to shower it off at the end of the day)
  • Malaria tablets (if needed)
  • Silk sleeping bag liner (handy if you decide to camp or overnight in a hostel)
  • Mosquito net
  • Quality hiking boots and socks (there is so much beautiful scenery to see!)
  • Plug Converter
  • Chargers
  • A guidebook (in case the internet isn’t what you are used to)

We know this is only the tip of the packing iceberg, what else would you bring on a trip to South America?

It’s also worth remembering South America isn’t as safe as Ireland and medical facilities may not be what you are used to. To make sure you can access all the services you may need if something goes wrong while you are abroad, don’t forget to get a comprehensive travel insurance plan.

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