If you are a solo traveler, backpacker, or first-time planning to travel to South America but wondering what transport means to use, you are at the right place!
First, there are benefits and worst-case scenarios when it comes to tourist transportation in South America.
I remember when planning my trip to South America, my main worry was how I would travel safely for the next 3 months. So, as I wondered about the means of transportation to use, I also wondered about the ones to avoid.
So, I did some research online. Unfortunately, the information I got was only about 10% of what I was looking for.
In this article, I have shared my transportation experiences in South American, what I learned from the trip, and the best travel tips when touring South America. Additionally, I have listed the cons of the different means of transportation available.
But first, how do you get around South America? You can travel within South America through the following means;
- Rental car
Worst transportation means in South America
We will start off with the top worst means of transportation in South America.
Traveling by Bus in South America
It gets hilarious whenever I talk or share my experiences traveling by bus in South American countries due to the many humorous situations I found myself in. I learned to embrace and appreciate each of the experiences.
I made more friends on the bus and enjoyed the scenic views along the way.
However, the following were some of my worst experiences during my travels by bus in South America;
- Congestion. Some buses carried excess passengers while some lay in the aisles.
- Some rides were very bumpy. When traveling at night, it was very impossible to sleep.
I experienced brutal bus rides, especially when traveling for long hours. You will have to book first-class busses for comfort! That means you need to dig deeper into your pockets.
|I remember traveling by bus in Peru from Cusco to Mendoza via Arica, Calana e.t c. This was a 24 hours brutal trip. I wished I had booked a first-class bus.|
- Car sickness. Traveling by bus through the mountains in South America will most likely get you car sickness. But even if you don’t get car sickness while traveling, most likely your neighbor will. . .
Traveling by Taxi in South America
When it comes to taxis, I also had my fair share of bad experiences.
- Fake cash.
- I was scammed twice by different taxi drivers. I am not naive but I fell right into their traps just because I had never experienced such a level of scam.
- Overcharge. Some taxi drivers could charge more after realizing that you are a tourist.
- Language barrier. It was so hard to communicate with some taxi drivers.
|Make sure you only use taxis from trusted companies. Additionally, you can have the hotel/hostel where you are staying call a cab for you.|
Traveling by Train in South America
Traveling by train in South America can be great but;
- Their subways can get so congested at rush hour.
- Some can be very slow.
- Take extra care of your bag and wallet.
|I found Argentina, Chile, and Peru to have the most scenic views when traveling by train on my South American trip.|
Traveling by Plane in South America
If you plan to tour the South American countries, boarding a plane to take you from one country to another may not be a great idea.
Sure, this is the safest means of transport in South America, time-saving, and may save you lots of stress, but it still got featured in this list. Here is why I don’t recommend it:
- It can be expensive to travel by plane on your South American tour.
- You will miss some great scenic views.
|When planning for my South America tour, I realized that Columbia had very cheap airlines.|
Helpful transportation tips when Traveling to South America
- When traveling by taxi, always keep an eye at your destination via GPS or Google Maps. This is to make sure the taxi driver is heading to the right destination and is not taking you for a ride.
- When using public transport, always keep a closer eye on your luggage. But don’t be paranoid.
- When you are traveling by bus, DO NOT put your bag under the seat or on the bus’s overhead shelf. Keep it on your lap.
- Before you hail a taxi off the street, ensure you already know the price to your destination, the route and can speak and understand some Spanish.
- Before entering the taxi, first agree on the charge because in most occasions they don’t usually have a meter.
- Beware of the distractions at the bus stations to avoid loosing your luggage.
- Keep your wallet in your front pockets.
- Do not carry a lot of cash with you. And beware of fake cash. Always take closer look.
- Carry a spare credit card with you.
- When going on long distance trips, you can book cama buses (bed buses). Their seats can be reclined into beds. But, they also a bit expensive.