I am Daniela, a young lady from Portugal who has been living abroad for the past 6 years.
I studied in Portugal and France and after 5 years in Paris, I decided to leave the city of love. After studying, working and traveling so much to other European countries and others cities in France, I felt it was time to do something else. I stopped finding excuses not to leave and quitted my job, my apartment, my stable life AND I started the best adventure of my life: Traveling solo in South America!
My traveling was supposed to last for 6 months maximum but during the trip I realized I needed more time to visit the countries I wanted (in the end, I stayed 8 months).
I started in Brazil and spent two months there where I volunteered in a hostel (I found this opportunity in the Worldpackers website). This experience helped me a lot to understand the dynamics of South America and to be more confident to travel solo.
After the amazing beaches in Brazil, I went to Paraguay to camp with two unknowns I met on a bus and after that, I did a quick stop at Punta del Este, Uruguay. Uruguay was great and in part because of my couchsurfer (YES: I used couchsurfing website in South America and I never had any problem).
My next stop was Argentina! This country was my favorite and I hope one day I have the chance to spend more time there: people, food, monuments, and cities… From Tilcara to Patagonia, I stayed with friends, I hitchhiked, I slept on the floor, I danced Tango, I camped, and I hiked mountains. I lived fully in Argentina and I allowed myself to do everything I wanted; I fought against my fears and I think that is the main reason I loved Argentina so much.
Chile was next on my list! The Chilean Patagonia and the Atacama desert are amazing and they can not be missed. Then onto two weeks in Bolivia: the most beautiful country I have ever been. Although Bolivians are not the most welcoming people, their country is simply BEAUTIFUL. I am not just talking about the slat flats, Bolivia has a lot of beautiful places to visit.
I started Peru with the Inca trail and it is one of my best memories of my trip. Visiting one of the 7 wonders of the world is always a great experience but definitely the trail was the best part of the experience (apart from the moments I was super cold or my feet were super wet – not everything is perfect!).
Up up up and Colombia was my next stop. From the Amazonia jungle to the beach coast of Colombia, I could not be happier to be closer to the sea. Colombia was perfect. The weather is great most of the time, people are super cheerful and there are so many different places to visit that you never get tired (coffee area, jungle, islands, blue beaches, financial cities…). One month in Colombia was too short!
And because I thought I still needed to visit more, I jumped to Ecuador and explored the volcano’s road for almost two weeks. It was so cold there but I was truly happy in that moment of my trip (people in Ecuador are simple but super friendly with tourists).
To finish this long trip, I flew to Cuba and for two weeks I immersed myself in this country which seemed like it had stopped in time: no internet, no television, no phone for two weeks.
My trip was a non-stop travel with some volunteering projects and some friends and family around but most of the time I was just moving to one place to another and that can be very exhausting.
My best advice: sometimes we need to stop and rest to be able to enjoy the places, the people and the culture.
Budget? Money always depends on each person and habits. I had a 1000€ budget per month (sometimes I was spending more sometimes less). Hitchhiking, couchsurfing, camping, staying with friends and cooking often helped me a lot to manage well my budget.
TIPS: Free tours are a nice way to visit a country; Traveling with other buddies is often cheaper and easier to negotiate accommodation and transportation prices.
– The girl from the hostel where you are staying
– The boy sitting on the couch that has visited the place you are going
– The man from the restaurant downstairs…
The apps I used the most were Couchsurfing and XE currency to help me to find free couches and the official currency rates of each country. 😀
Any other recommendation?
- Have good heath insurance
- Be careful with your credit card and passport – be aware this could get stolen
AND: LIVE, ENJOY, HAVE FUN. We do not travel for a year very often so just be grateful for the experience and try to get as much as you can from it. You will love it and it will last as one of the best memories/ experiences of your life. In doubt, just do it!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
You can also find more details about my travels in my website: www.danielamatinho.com