While I look back at my 2-month trip through South America there are a couple of major lessons that I have learned. One very practical, that I wish I had known before planning this trip. The other, a very large mind-altering lesson. I will start with the biggest practical teaching.
Practical Travel Lesson from South America
Since this was my first big trip I really didn’t know how much time to plan for each country. If I could do it over again I would’ve spent one month in each country, as opposed to two weeks. You might be thinking: “Well I’ve traveled in Europe a few days per country, two weeks sounds like a lot to stay in one place.”
Even in Europe only a few days per country doesn’t give you enough time. Not if you want to TRULY experience and enjoy the culture. However, when you are talking about a place as big and spread out as the countries in South America, even 2 weeks doesn’t allow you that touristy experience.
My goal when I started this trip was to travel for a full year. The more I talked to other traveller’s in South America the more I realized how many people were doing one year just in this continent alone. Although I am still committed to visiting more of the world, I am going to consider this carefully for my next continents.
Moving forward I’m deciding to take this new mentality over to Europe. I am going to slow things down and only do 3 countries for the 3 months I have. As I am writing this I have spent the last 3 weeks in Portugal. It has been an absolute treat, I feel as if I have gotten to see and experience all parts of this country. My last week here will be spent going back down to the Algarves, to a new city roughly 4 hours away from the city I loved the most, Lagos, at the beginning of my trip here.
Big Mind Altering Lesson from South America
You ready to here this thing that has truly blown my mind? Really, its a simple concept, but one that people have a hard time grasping.
Ready for it?
Don’t be afraid!
The one thing that has truly changed my perspective after visiting this continent is to not be so afraid of this world. People were constantly telling me to be careful and saying how dangerous South America is. Even the internet causes a bias in your own thoughts growing up.
Hearing news reports throughout your life, Facebook “news”, memes, etc. All of these things affect the way we think of these places that are different than where we live. These developing countries may not have the amount of money dedicated to firemen, police officers, law courts, and so on, but they are just as much a great society none the less.
Of course, with any place you have to be smart. However, I found that the locals everywhere have been extremely friendly with no issue of feeling scared or in trouble at any moment. Colombia was specifically wonderful because the locals were so proud to have tourists coming to them after years of that not being a reality. Check out my post about Cartagena Colombia Safety here.
Yes, things might look more run down than the streets I’m used to walking in Canada, but the difference is that everyone is outside enjoying themselves with their friends and neighbours, something I’m very unlikely to see in a Canadian neighborhood anymore.
The point is, there are so many beautiful things to see in not even just this continent, but this world. You can’t let your own bias or other people’s scare stories deter you from experiencing it. If I can change this stigma for even one person, it would make me undeniably happy.
In conclusion, you should realize that spending longer time in one country is a lot more worthwhile than rushing. My recommendation is to pick less places and stay longer in each place.
Secondly, don’t be scared away from a country because of your friends, family or fake news. Do your own thorough research before deciding not to go. There are so many amazing places in this world that have been deemed “unsafe” or “dangerous” when the people saying these things are spreading rumours they think are true. Guess what, bad stuff happens everywhere. Even in Canada!
Will be writing a part II and III to this soon! Thanks everyone and happy travels.
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