October 28, 2018, 8:55 am
But since time travel hasn’t been invented yet, at least to my knowledge, I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you. Here are four things I wish I knew before traveling in Colombia:
I watched season one of Narcos before my first trip to Colombia, and while I told myself Hollywood depictions of Colombia’s past should not affect my perception of the country, I still was a little worried about my safety. Just enough to spook myself out of cool experiences or money-saving tactics while I traveled.
For example, I had heard taking a bus through Colombia was dangerous, so I took flights from each major Colombian city instead. Taking planes instead of buses set me back a lot of money and I missed out on seeing Colombia’s beautiful scenery. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be cautions while traveling – be aware of your surroundings, don’t flash valuables on the street and don’t look lost – but I wish I didn’t let Colombia’s past reputation dictate how I moved around the country.
I have taken years of Spanish classes and even minored in the darned language in college. Still, my plane landed in Colombia and I adopted a dumb look on my face for the majority of the trip. That’s because the type of Spanish used and taught in schools isn’t the type of Spanish used on the streets of any Latin American country – Colombia included. Instead of hitting the Spanish text books before my trip to Colombia, I should have been tuning my ears to the way people from different Colombian regions speak. I also should have familiarized myself with certain words only used in Colombia.
Check out this post about learning Colombian Spanish. There are movie and TV show suggestions, too.
I overpacked for my first trip to Colombia while simultaneously forgetting some very critical items. Here is a short list of non-clothing items you should pack during a vacation or trip to Colombia:
- Hand sanitizer – Soap is never guaranteed.
- Toilet paper – Using a copy of my passport as toilet paper wasn’t my proudest moment.
- Copy of passport – In case you run out of toilet paper. It’s also a good idea to make a copy in case something happens to your passport.
- Umbrella – Especially if you plan on visiting Bogotá.
I wish I would have left more time to explore Bogotá and its surroundings during my maiden trip to Colombia. I live in Colombia’s capital now, so I got to see everything I missed during round one. People don’t give Bogotá enough credit. It has several interesting (and free!) museums and historical landmarks, plus it’s a great hub for day tours such as a visit to a working coffee farm or a day trip to the beautiful Salt Cathedral in nearby Zipaquirá. I missed all those activities on my first trip because I only gave myself two days in Bogotá.
I hope my experiences and (fails) while traveling in Colombia can help you plan for an amazing trip. If you have any questions about traveling in Colombia or tours in Colombia, please let us know.
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