That seems to be what we found ourselves asking the Uruguayans of Montevideo mucho times. If we could rewind back the clock, we would probably had spent more effort trying to learn Spanish instead of binge-watching Unbreakable: Kimmy Schmidt (it was our award after long hours of packing up the house for this trip). Luckily the people in Montevideo are really friendly, so along with Tyler’s un poquito de español, we managed to get along pretty well so far!
Aside from learning to speak the land’s language, there are a few other preparations we felt had or would’ve made the trip a little easier:
1. Outlet Adapter – if you’re in any way in touch with today’s technology, you’re probably traveling with a shitload of gadgets like we did. For those who’ve been anywhere outside of the states, outlets are different and without an adapter you’re just stuck with a bunch of dead phones and laptops. Really, we should’ve known better but had forgotten about them during the packing frenzy. So avoid the mistake we made and get some (easily found on www.amazon.com) before leaving for your trip!
2. Toiletries – okay, you’re probably thinking duh, this is a given but there were some items that even I overlooked. Sure, this is after all a backpacking trip so we tried to pack light and in turn, disregarded a few things. Aside from the necessities (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant) what do you really need, you ask? Well you don’t need to bring these items but they will certainly make your trip more comfortable!
If you’re truly backpacking, then most likely you’re going to stay at hostels. Not all hostels are the same; some are nicer than others and some, well, are a pig sty. The one we ended up in Montevideo wasn’t extremely horrible but it wasn’t pristine either. It missed out on the following I considered essentials: toilet paper, soap of any kind, and towels ($5 rent charge). Avoid having to pay surcharges or hunt down these items in an unfamiliar country and pack them along with these other useful items: hand sanitizer, flip flops (for the shared showers), bug spray, locks (you’re living with dozens other backpackers so better to be safe than sorry), steripen (to purify drinking water), lightweight sleeping bag (just in case you don’t trust their sheets), laundry soap ($5-10 for the hostel/hotel to wash your load will add up, so you’ll find yourself doing laundry the old-school way), and guys stop reading here, tampons (you won’t be able to buy these anywhere here).
3. Foreign-friendly credit & debit cards – this is a MUST! You should never carry around a pocket full of cash while traveling. Take out only small amounts at a time based on your needs (especially when you’re traveling to multiple countries that use different currency so you don’t have pocket full of leftover change). A credit card without foreign transaction fees gives you the flexibility to charge large purchases while receiving a somewhat good exchange rate. There’s a list of credit cards you can apply for based on your preference but we’ve found Chase Sapphire and Barclay’s World Elite to give the best travel awards. For cash withdrawals, we love using Fidelity! Not only can you easily pull out the country’s currency easily, Fidelity will reimburse all ATM charges (which eliminates that as an additional expense). It’s truly been a lifesaver.
Again, this is based on our experience thus far so filter as you must (those who know me, know I am a little OCD). We do hope you’ll find these tips helpful for your travels!
Until then, stay calm and travel on.