Preparing to go
Consider how you will communicate while you’re abroad. You could activate an international call plan with your service provider, purchase a SIM card in Chile for a local number on a prepaid plan with a domestic company, or turn off cellular data altogether and just use your phone in wifi mode – although, if you are traveling solo, it would be a good idea to be able to call in case of emergencies.
Passport and immunizations
Make sure your passport is updated and you have any required visas, and necessary immunizations or vaccines in plenty of time before you leave. Chile is a very developed country; however, depending on where you go, you might need to get some shots. Check here for recommendations.
Get ready for a lot of kissing. To greet one another, Chileans kiss once on the left cheek. You’ll greet everyone in a group, so if there are 11 people, get ready for 11 kisses. Unless you are man greeting a man, then a handshake or hug is more customary.
Spanish is spoken throughout Chile; however, you should know that Chileans are known for talking quickly and having a distinct vocabulary, especially in the south. We recommend brushing up on your language skills before you arrive, and having access to a dictionary throughout your stay. Spanishdict is free in the app store and will be very helpful. Another tool is the Chilean Spanish dictionary, as what you hear might not be what you have studied. Since slang is very common in the south especially, check out the dictionary. But, generally Chileans are kind and will work with you and your Spanish abilities, however limited.
Lodging is a big consideration when traveling. Fortunately, Chile has a huge hostel culture (ranging from boutique to backpacker) so wherever you go, Santiago or south to the Lakes Region and below, you’ll be able to find a reasonably priced room. Staying in a hostel is a great way to meet other travelers and make friends on your solo excursion. Just be sure to check the ratings and only choose well established places, as traveling alone makes you more vulnerable.
For the most part, it is easy to get around Chile. In Santiago, the metro is most popular, and like most big cities this can be complicated. Study up on how it works here. Also popular in Chile’s cities is Uber – a safe, reliable, clear way to travel alone, as you give your destination to the driver beforehand. This leaves no room for miscommunication if your language skills are below par. If you want to travel from the north to south or vice versa, Turbus is a great, inexpensive option for extensive trips. Once you get to smaller towns, you’ll notice the multitude of minibuses. They take you from town to town for a few thousand pesos (a few USD) and are relaxed and not too hard to figure out. They have a route, but will drop you off whenever you say “acá por favor” (here please). Lastly, there are taxis and colectivos. Good for short trips in town, colectivos will pick up multiple people at a time that are wanting to get somewhere within the town limit. Taxis are a one-party service and are the most expensive way to travel in Chile.
Tours are a great way to see things safely, especially if you are traveling on your own. Available for any type of excursion, skiing in the Andes, winery tours, Atacama Desert, Patagonia, etc, they’re all there for a fee. Chile’s various tour services will be a great way to see places that you might not have been able to otherwise. Check out the best tours here.