Chile and Patagonia – Tammy Elwell (2013)

Before arrival
• Learn about area to know place names, modes of transportation, and local norms.
• Try to locate a local contact person through a trusted source, and establish communication with that local point person.
• Develop skills to listen to intuition and instincts. Meditation, yoga, and other practices help develop skills of self-awareness and self-listening.
• Share digital copies of passport and health insurance information with your emergency contact(s) at home. Talk with emergency contact(s) beforehand to establish a protocol for any health issue and how to deal with insurance.
• Consider registering with U.S. embassy, especially for lengthier stays. They then send you notices on any potentially risky situations such as national protests. In case of emergencies such as earthquakes, they know more or less where you are located.

When traveling
• Keep paper copy of passport with emergency contacts’ names and phone numbers written clearly. Include contacts from home and at least one person in local area. Keep this paper copy in wallet with small change.
• When possible, travel when rested and alert. When tired, consider paying to rest in a hotel and refresh before continuing travels.
• Blend in as much as possible and be aware of surroundings. If harassed, ignore the harasser and work to be equanimous and calm. Find a nice looking woman, and stick near her.
• Store cash in sock, sports bra, or money belt. Keep change and small bills for public transportation fare at hand. In the case misplaced or stolen, you still have bigger bills stored elsewhere. Store passport in safe spot, either on you or locked up.
• In buses, prefer mid-front seats since closer to bus driver assistant.
• In shared taxis, prefer front passenger seat since this most often has a working seatbelt.
• In Chiloé and other rural areas in southern Chile, foreign and national backpackers often hitchhike. If you choose to hitchhike, do so during the day with someone else you know and trust.
• In urban areas, find phone numbers for a radio taxi service and keep this number with you. In any case where you may be out late, or in the case there is no designated driver, opt to call the radio taxi and pay that service.
• In rural areas, public transportation tends to be scarce. Sometimes a bus or boat may be delayed due to poor weather. In these cases, know where you can stay, either in a hostel or with family members of a local you trust.
• Stay in tune with your inner voice and, if something seems fishy or dubious, listen to that instinct.
• Enjoy your experience!