Our Self-drive Tips
Tailor-made Manager Ben Line draws from experience to give his top tips for anyone embarking on a self-drive holiday in Latin America: an extremely rewarding way to see the continent but also one that requires some forward planning!
- When picking up your car it’s worth checking it over thoroughly before you drive away. As well as the usual checks for dents and damage it’s a good idea to make sure your lights, indicators and windscreen wipers are all working perfectly and that the tyres are in good condition. Also make sure to check you know which side the petrol cap is on and what type of fuel the car takes!
- Before setting out on your journey make sure you have checked on local road laws such as speed limits, right-turn rules, roundabouts and so on.
- Carry some loose change for toll roads, telephones or parking.
- Before you go try learning a few basic direction-related words in Spanish:
|Derecha||Right||Todo recto||Straight ahead|
|A la derecha/izquierda||On the right/left||Atrás||Behind|
...as well as what the most important road signs mean:
|Despacio||Slow||Ceda / ceda el paso||Give way|
||Danger||Camino cerrado||Road closed|
|Alto / pare
||Stop||Sin salida||No exit|
|Peaje / cobro||Toll|
- In addition to the above, ensure you also have a phrasebook with you in case you find yourself in a tricky situation. You never know when you might need some help!
- Although not officially required, you might want to get an international driver's license just to be on the safe side. Valid for a year and available at the Post Office, it’s a useful piece of documentation to have, particularly for any road side police checks.
- Always fill up when in a city as petrol stations in some areas outside of the larger cities and towns can be few and far between.
- Road signs tend to be located just before the turnings they designate so driving at a slower pace helps not to miss them (especially on the motorways where slip roads can be very short).
- Roadworks are often not signposted ahead so be prepared for lane changes without much warning.
- If you find yourself on an uneven, unpaved or bumpy road, reduce your speed and take your time.
- For safety try not to drive too close to the edge of gravel roads.
- On dusty roads make sure you stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front to ensure you have good visibility.
- Although an unlikely occurrence it’s worth making sure you know who to contact in the event of an emergency (for example if you have booked with us, keep a note of our 24-hour emergency contact number). It’s also worth reminding yourself before you go of how to change a wheel, check the oil and fill up the radiator.
- If you’re on a long stretch of the journey make sure you have some food and water and ensure that your mobile phone is charged and topped up.
- For obvious reasons, don’t leave without checking you have a map and directions!
- Always keep some water in the car in case you need to fill up the windscreen washer or radiator.
- Relax, enjoy and take your time! The journey is half the fun of a road trip so make sure you leave enough time to stop along the way and take in the scenery.
Browse our Self-drive holidays.
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Real Latin America Experts
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant
Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.
Jim Ashworth - Travel Consultant
Jim first caught the Latin American travel bug in 2001 when he decided at the last minute to join a friend travelling around Central America – he hasn't looked back since.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Consultant
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.
Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.