As of today, the Mr is off on a boy’s trip to Argentina to meet up with his best friend who happens to live with his husband in New York. I know how hard it is to be oceans apart from your longest and closest friends, so I am happy that Alec and Dominic get to have this adventure together!
Now, I am putting together this blog post because I was so impressed that Alec had packed for three weeks away in just a backpack and a carryon suitcase. Mr. Devine always has excellent travel tips to offer as well!
So, here is how he rolls… In case his main bag is over the weight limit and gate checked, all the important stuff will be carried in his new Samsonite backpack. The last backpack he bought was when we lived in Los Angeles and it has traveled the world. It even had one of those clip on holders for your cellular flip phone!!!! My last travel backpack was one from high school… Actually retro, not just retro-looking, but neither sturdy nor comfortable and certainly not safe to cart a laptop in.
The weather will not be much different than what we have at home now as he is staying in the Southern Hemisphere, but he is going to need warm clothes for the few days in Patagonia. So with the one pair of ski pants for the glacier hike stuffed into the bottom of his roller suitcase, he has just packed five days worth of outfits. They are staying at AirBnB locations throughout Chile and Argentina (except for Patagonia as there are none available) and made sure to book accommodation that had washer and dryer facilities. Not only was AirBnB cheaper than hotels in the area, there were many to choose from in the centre of the towns and all were modern and cool. One location is even offering a car they can use if they buy petrol! The only downfall in this sort of stay was that he had to pack toiletries (they make up the bulk of the weight) as they will not be getting little hotel amenities.
Some top tips for travels in South America:
Get your vaccinations! Update all the ones you have had in the past and make sure you get the ones you are missing…especially Yellow Fever. While the area is not considered high risk, you are required to have documentation upon return to Australia. You are also recommended to take anti-Malaria tablets just in case. Or just take Bug Spray and hope for the best like my stubborn husband. Some GPs can’t administer the Yellow Fever vaccination, so it pays to call ahead and ask. Alec went to a GP who specialises in Travel Medicine. Not only did they do the vaccinations required, but prescribed the proper medications he might need in case of various infections (malaria, food poisoning etc) he might get while in South America. It is best to consult with doctors who know the areas you plan on travelling around as they would be most up to date with what you might face. Remember to always travel with your prescriptions in their original packaging that shows your name as well.
Especially in light of the recent earthquake in the area, it is a good idea to officially register your travel details. Alec has registered on SmartTraveller.gov.au so that if there are any emergencies while he is overseas, the government knows how many citizens need help. Not from Australia? see if your country has a similar system. It is unlikely to be needed, but makes things easier in the case of if…
Travel insurance. Get it for all your trips by purchasing a yearly policy. That is what we do as a family so that for example, I am covered in Adelaide on Thursday and he is covered in Chile at the same time.
Take care of any visa or other arrival documents needed online before you go. Neither country has visa requirements, but they both have reciprocity fees. Like an airport tax, it is a revenue raiser for travellers. US citizens don’t have to pay the reciprocity fee for Chile. The reciprocity fee is only required if you enter the country by air as well, so on the way back to get to the Chilean airport, the guys are taking a bus over the border.
See if you can pre-book special meals online. Alec and Dom wanted to try something called Closed Door dinners in Buenos Aires. To avoid missing out, they have already made reservations. Sounds like a cool night out where chefs hold private dinner parties (sometimes at their own homes) for complete strangers!
Finally, look into the exchange rate and figure out how to get the most for your money. Alec got his Chilean cash here before leaving, but is taking American dollars to exchange for Argentinian pesos when he is there. He found out about a Blue Rate for money exchange where instead of going to a bank or traditional money changing bureau and getting 9 pesos to the dollar, you locate a place called a cave where locals trade money (US dollars and Euros) with a rate that is roughly 15 pesos to the dollar. Apparently dollars are more stable than the Argentinian peso, so locals like to hold their money in those other currencies. The papers print the exchange rate for these “caves” every morning. If you use your credit card over there or get money from an ATM it will be processed at the official bank rate.
Now, I look forward to getting photos and hearing stories from the road. I let Alec take the Olympus TG-3 with him, so no underwater photography from me until November. Sad considering it is already beach weather here in Melbourne!
I have another post brewing about why we like to travel separately as well as a family…