October 4, 2018, 7:03 pm
If you’re starting to plan a trip to Colombia and you reach out to Uncover Colombia online for help, you’ll probably be talking to me. I plan trips to Colombia for clients from all around the world. After making countless itineraries that include all the best spots in Colombia and from my own experiences traveling in this beautiful country, I’ve come across some pretty common mistakes folks make while prepping their adventures. Here are some of the most popular blunders tourists make while planning a trip to Colombia and how to avoid them:
Not Allotting Enough Time in Colombia
I get it, vacation days are scarce, especially if you live in the United States. (Shout out to Europe for giving so many vacation days!) I speak to a lot of people who want to go to five Colombian destinations in six days. Over-stuffing an itinerary usually means you’ll spend more time in airports than enjoying Colombia. Or perhaps you’ll be able to fit everything in, but you might feel rushed and exhausted.
Colombia is really regionalized and there’s not a great system to get from one area of the country to another besides domestic flights. Taking multiple flights during a trip to Colombia is recommended, but you just need to leave time for it. A good a rule of thumb is to allow yourself at least two nights in a major city like Cartagena, Medellín and Bogotá and give yourself at least one night in smaller pueblos.
Sticking to One Colombian Region
I know I just advised against cramming your schedule with a ton of Colombian destinations in a short amount of time, but you should also avoid only sticking to one Colombian region during your trip. Since Colombia is so regionalized, it will feel like you’re arriving to a new country, even if you only took a domestic flight. The Caribbean coast has tropical vibes, the central part of the country will make you drool with its stunning mountainous views, then you also have the Eastern Plains, the Amazon in the south and a cool beach-desert combo in the north. You might not be able to revel in all of these stunning areas of Colombia, but at least try to hit two or three.
Traveling During a Colombian Holiday
Colombia has so many public holidays, mostly in the form of 3-day weekends. I counted at least 16 public holidays in 2018. Things get a bit more complicated if you want to travel between mid-December through mid-January and the week leading up to Easter, which is called Semana Santa. During these time periods, more Colombians are traveling, hotels and flights fill up quickly and everything is more expensive. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t travel in December, January or around Easter, but you should just keep in mind that those are prime times when Colombians travel. You can see a list of Colombian holidays here.
Being Too Guarded
I arrived to Colombia as a solo female traveler with images of “Narcos” on Netflix and a Colombian soap opera called “Las Muñecas de la Mafia” (a guilty pleasure, don’t judge me) fresh in my mind. As women traveling alone, we have to watch our own backs and make sure we don’t find ourselves in unsafe situations. This can also be said for men traveling alone. So concerned about my safety my first couple of days in Colombia, I was way too guarded with friendly Colombians who just wanted to welcome me to their country. Eventually, I became more open to chat with locals and that resulted in so many opportunities to learn about Colombian culture, history and to see life through local eyes. In short, if a Colombian asks you to dance, say yes!
Planning a trip to a new country can be daunting, especially if you don’t speak the local language. We are here to help. Reach out to us and we will be happy to answer questions or book a fun tour in Colombia.
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