Planning a trip to South America with your kids? Fear not—it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think. Follow these basic travel tips and tricks, and you’ll discover a side of South America for kids and adults that you’ll dream about revisiting again and again.
South America is huge. Once you’re there, there are so many different landscapes to explore, food to try, wine to drink and people to meet—and if you’re coming from far away, you might want to cram as much as you can into one trip. That said, try to break up your travel to make the experience of South America for kids much easier. For example, if you’re flying overnight from Miami to Buenos Aires, don’t land and immediately hop on another four-hour flight to Ushuaia, so that you can explore Patagonia. Stay a day or two in Buenos Aires so that your kids have a little free time, as well as time to adjust to a new destination and its time zone (if that applies!), and make your way to jaw-dropping Patagonia later that week.
Some kids are picky eaters, and there’s just nothing you can do about it. Fortunately, South America is known for its hospitality, so its people there are usually more than willing to help with any request you may have. Sitting down for dinner and don’t see anything on the menu your toddler will eat? Ask your waiter or waitress if they can make something simple that’s not on the menu. Now, don’t be too demanding—don’t ask for lobster mac n’ cheese at a tamales restaurant. But maybe a simple grilled chicken, rice or even some roasted veggies would be something your child is more willing to eat. (Also, don’t be afraid to try new things! If they can do it without pitching a fit, try and get your child to try something local. Among other things, South America is definitely known for its cuisine.)
Kids need adventure… otherwise, they get bored and cranky. Don’t spend all your time in old churches, on museum tours, or in lectures about South American art. Make sure you factor in some outdoor activities, like kayaking down the Amazon river, zip lining in Belize (if they’re old enough), going to Ecuador’s revered Zoológico de Quito, or even cruising through Patagonia’s fjords. And don’t stress about planning it, either! Reach out to Surtrek, and they can do it for you.
To make sure your kids don’t get sick as they adjust to new climates and foods, bring essential medications—like cough syrups, stomach medicine, Vicks, and even sinus spray—with you. If you think your child will need certain antibiotics, bring them in powder form, so that TSA doesn’t take them away while flying. Also, to prevent any chance of foodborne illness one you’re there, avoid all tap water and buy bottled water instead. Getting sick during vacation is no fun for anyone, so you want to do as much as you can to prevent it so that everyone in your party has a good time.
Private travel is more expensive, but if you can swing it, it will be much easier on your kids. Hire a private transfer to travel to other cities or go sightseeing. This is good for a number of reasons! First, you can tailor any travel to what your family wants. Second, you can stop and feed the baby or change a diaper at any time if you need to. And finally, you don’t have to worry about other travelers.
While it’s normal to have a little travel anxiety, don’t be too overcautious and ruin the experience. Always keep an eye on your child (and don’t be too far away!), but let them play with other children, interact with others, try new foods and participate in local customs. There’s nothing like experiencing South America for kids. Letting them have that experience will give Mom and Dad a little leeway to have their own adventures, expand your kids’ minds, teach them about the importance of exploring other cultures at an early age, and help you raise them as citizens of the world.