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I could be biased but a Travel Agency is one of the happiest places to work. Everyone is in a great mood because one of the most popular and fun activities is being planned. Someone is travelling somewhere. How good is that?!! In this case it’s a story of a young lady travelling to South America.
I clearly remember this day because of the emotions that came up for me not to mention the story itself.
Unlike my the dramatic emotions and physical re-action to the fear that I had when I thought about travelling to Bali, this was different because it was emotions that I experienced for her.
She was approximately 19 years of age and when she came into the agency she skipped across the room and sat at my co-worker’s desk. Her eyes were wide and she was smiling like she didn’t have a care in the world.
Her complexion was fresh and her long ponytail was ashen blonde. You could see that she’d been brought up in a clean and safe environment as it showed in her choice of clothing that was casual but well presented.
She came in wanting some information about travelling to South America.
Driving across North America
Her 2 female friends were currently driving across North America and it was about, at this moment, from my desk opposite to where she was seated, that my keyboard strokes slowed down and my ears pricked up.
As a mother of young adults, those maternal instincts encouraged me to lean forward to ensure that I would correctly hear all the conversation.
The young lady was saying that she couldn’t make it to the USA to travel with her friends but the 3 of them will be together to travel through South America as they had plans of hiring a car and driving across the continent.
It was about, at this time that those maternal instincts of mine started flailing – warning, warning.
Normally, I would’ve gone into detective mode and asked her some questions about her previous trips to South America, just to see how travel savvy she was.
BUT! The young lady was NOT my client so all I could do was just sit still and listen.
The questions that she was asking clearly showed that she had not travelled to South America but was keenly interested in getting some prices. What did concern me was she didn’t show any interest in asking about basic facts of the continent or any other requirements.
Apparently, my mouth was gaped open. I was mortified to think that someone would travel to a country and not know anything about it.
The world is the same
It always amazed me that so many people automatically assume that everywhere in the world is the same as Western countries.
I have South America on my to-do list but after researching and hearing stories of how life is there in comparison to home, I wouldn’t be hiring a car and not even if I was travelling with my other half.
To fly across the continent can take approximately 4 – 6 hours east-west depending on the departure and arrival points so to put it in persective it’s best to compare Brisbane to Perth or Miami to Los Angeles (5.5 – 6 hours).
A driving holiday will need a lot of time.
Back in the agency: To be courteous to my co-worker and to ensure I didn’t draw attention to myself, I sat there quietly listening as her story and ideas flowed. I could feel my heart begin to beat faster understanding what South America can be like especially for 3 young, non-Spanish speaking western girls with none or little travel experience.
I waited for the co-worker to give the girl some tips or advice, even subtle hints of what travelling there would be like but NOTHING! She just continued along the ‘sales’ path to hopefully close the deal and lock in a booking.
OMG! By now my heart was in my mouth and my pulse was racing.
These 3 girls need to be warned.
To myself, I’m saying; ‘Please don’t book today. Please don’t book today. Go home and talk to mum & dad first. Hopefully they’ll put a stop to it or re-direct her to somewhere safer.’
While it’s possible to drive in South America, each country is very different in regards to the rules/laws and unwritten laws. Plus the condition of the roads vary but the biggest concerning factor is all of them have personal safety as an issue.
Where you sleep and what Not to do is important to know.
Below is an extract of a forum from a couple travelling through South America and in this instance no amount of planning would’ve helped to avoid.
Chileans won’t let us leave
Hey Brandy2 (or anyone else out there who
knows), do you have any experience travelling by car from Arica in chile to Tacna
in Peru. My husband and I (both of us British) bought a car 8 months ago in
chile and we have been travelling through Argentina, Bolivia and chile with
ease. we returned to Arica to pick up the Padron (ownership document) for our
car, as it got lost in the post, and now the Chileans won’t let us leave to go
into Peru with our vehicle, although all our documents are correct.
they say it’s not allowed for foreigners to have a Chilean vehicle and cross into Peru with it, although its ok to go to Argentina and Bolivia.
Problem is we can’t go back into Bolivia as we have already used up our 90 days per year there and have even been to the Bolivian consulate to ask.
To make things even more difficult, the aduana (customs) office in Arica is on strike for 2 days.
It’s our dream to travel up through Peru to machu picchu and go on to Ecuador and Colombia before returning to chile with our car to sell it, but we are stuck here unable to go in any direction apart from back to Argentina. We really don’t want to backtrack and go the long way round south America by heading towards Brazil!
any help on this would be hugely appreciated, xx.
I’ve done some research and it seems that travelling to South America with a male person who’s mechanically minded, would help. In the case of these girls, the only thing that’d suggest is an Intrepid tour or a tour of some sort.
They could end up in a city where kidnapping is rife! I suggest to every young lady; watch the movie ‘Taken’ with Liam Neeson. It was based on happenings in France but it can happen anywhere.
Although the young lady was not given any travel advice or guidance by my co-worker, she didn’t book either nor return.
For me the lesson was: Walking around with your eyes shut or with blinkers on does NOT keep you safe.
One major reason for travelling is to experience this world and it’s differences between how we live compared to others so it’s in our best interest to learn the basics so we understand.
Ignorance is NOT BLISS.
Never ASSUME that everywhere is the same as home and in fact never assume in any part of our life.
Click here for other Travel Tips and Tidbits.
Read more Understanding and dealing with different culture, lifestyle, rules and necessary vaccination in the Americas.
I believe we could enhance experiences and lessen negative possibilities if we help each other whenever we can. I’d larv you to feel free to contribute your travel encounters or just Tips and Tidbits.
It can be as a guest blogger/writer or just email me with your encounters.
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