25 signs you’ve been travelling for a while (South America edition)

  1. You’re super chilled about things like hostel bookings and buses, and play by ear about 95% of the time – i.e. just rock up and see what happens (also good for last-minute bargains)
  2. You’ve got better at haggling – in markets, hostels, last minute buses, and you might even have an established ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine with your travelling partner
  3. Your daily spend average has been sliced in half by living more like locals – eating in cheap local cafes with set menus, and taking local transport like tuk tuks, ‘collectivo’ buses or trucks that leave when full, cargo boats, hitch hiking or just walking everywhere!
  4. You travel independently almost all the time, and look snootily down your nose at people who take loads of tours
  5. You’re used to every local’s first question being ‘where are you from?’ and you respond to the nicknames ‘inglaterra!’ or ‘gringo!’
  6. You’re used to every traveller’s question being ‘how long have you been travelling’? Followed by ‘where have you been so far?’ Followed by the exchange of stories and tips..!
  7. You find yourself hopefully carrying around random cooking ingredients like garlic and salt, through countries where it’s cheaper just to eat out (we once had a ketchup sachet for over a month)
  8. You or your partner has probably grown a big bushy beard and a haircut Hanson would be proud of. If you’re a girl, you’ve probably stopped shaving your legs (or are doing so sporadically)… And what’s makeup?
  9. Your Spanish has probably become semi-passable and you can now have short conversations with locals on the day-to-day e.g the heat, the fact you’re travelling, you’re not married, and why you don’t yet have any children
  10. The young kids that you see everywhere on buses and around town had gone from a source of annoyance to a source of cuteness, and you actually feel more empathy than hatred towards mums now!
  11. You’re used to saying ‘hola!’ or ‘buenos!’ to anyone and everyone who crosses your path
  12. You’ve realised that most of the time, people don’t want to scam you and often they don’t even want to sell you something, they just want to talk to a foreigner! (Especially true further from big cities and in more ‘dangerous’ places e.g. Colombia)
  13. You’ve got re-packing your rucksack down to a fine art, and know exactly how to make it fit right
  14. You’ve learnt how to handwash your clothes (pants especially) in various compromising places such as sinks and showers with no plugs that you block up with plastic bags then get to work with the washing granules
  15. You’re onto your 3rd SD card in your camera (at least)
  16. You can now sleep on buses no problem (and also boats and mini vans… Basically anywhere with a seat)
  17. You really look forward to the free food on long distance buses and hope there’s free coffee on board
  18. You recognise at least 3 pop songs they play all the time on the radio (and the most popular ringtone)
  19. You’ve started fixing your holey clothes/shoes and broken zips rather than buying new stuff
  20. You don’t listen to the Lonely Planet anymore – they’re usually full of restaurants that have dropped their standards, pricey overbooked hostels, and a mad amount of superlatives. Is that village really the DEFINING colonial experience in Peru?!
  21. You know the South American car alarm off by heart and find yourself singing along through all of its different phases
  22. You also know the South American ice cream van jingle
  23. You can now joke along with locals in Spanish and feel pretty proud of it
  24. You can’t wait to get onto your next outdoor adventure – trekking, wildlife, jaw dropping natural beauty, extremes of deserts, geysers, jungle, lakes, craters, beaches – it all just seems weirdly normal now
  25. You never want to go home. EVER.