This is the English version of [PL] Przed wyjazdem na drugą półkulę

Visiting season is starting soon! First guest is coming to visit gringa just in few weeks. And more of them will be joining in the following months. So instead of playing the wonderful game of copy-pasting, I decided to write down some quick tips what should you do before such a travel.

1. It can be cold in Latin America (Chile)

We often joke that the locals are freezing their butts at 15C and have to take out sweaters from the closet. Sure, Us from The North have -20C during winter and “the things we’ve seen.” Sure. Just that we saw those things separated by an insulated wall, double-glassed windows and lots of humid air. 15C in Chile means goosebumps and shaking out of cold. That’s why taking an extra pair of pantyhose or a polar jacket won’t hurt you. And it might even save you from having a cold at 35C.

2. Learn a little bit of Spanish

But not too much, because Chileans will use their slang and other chilenisms originating from Mapuche‘s language. However if they see your shattered faces and blond hair on your head, there is a chance that they will start speaking slowly and a little bit more clearly. But don’t set your mind that you’re going to speak English here. No, no, no. Practically the whole continent speaks Spanish (Brazil speaks Portuguese, and your only chance for English are three little countries which are as mysterious as Bermuda Triangle for locals), so there is no pressure for learning other languages.

Personally I recommend playing a bit with Duolingo. Half of the course should be enough for basic tourist survival.

3. Take cash (dollars)

Or check how the table of interests looks in your bank when it comes to taking cash out from ATMs or using a credit/debt card (also check if your card has online or offline authorization, because you might not get to use it in the first place). In case of my bank (mBank) they charge extra 9%. It’s simply better to spend that money for entertainment here.

4. Pack a pen

Because you’ll have declarations to fill out on board of a plane, bus or whatever you use to cross the borders. You’ll probably get 2 documents to complete.

First paper is ‘tourist declaration, where you have to put your name, surname(s)[1], your job (or which career you took in the Uni), civil status, reason of the trip, where are you staying, etc. There are usually 2-3[2] copies of it. The 1st one is going to be taken right away at the airport during Immigration Control, while the 2nd – while leaving the country. And they won’t let you out without it. So DON’T LOSE THIS PIECE OF PAPER. Because if you do, then you have to visit PDI (Policía de Investigaciones de Chile). And not only they have lots of people waiting in lines over there, they also don’t speak English.

Second document is a customs-sanitary declaration. Apart from the usual questions if you’re bringing more than 10.000 USD in cash or did you pack your luggage on your own, you have to answer if there’s any food in your luggage (or anything that is of animal or fruit/vegetable origin). And now… SAG (Servicio Agrícola y Ganadero) is very touchy in the matter of what you want to smuggle through the border. If you have any food, then check a proper box in the declaration. If you don’t do it, you might be supporting Chilean Goverment with a significant fine.

5. Be prepared for some food seizure

Even if you declare that you have food, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be allowed to bring it in. So any sausages, hams, cheeses or apples will go for utilization. So the best think is not to take anything that has ‘seeds’ or has animal origin. Every luggage goes through X-Rays, there are dogs present, so be sure they will find the “contraband.”

To cheer you up I can say that cookies, spices and alcohol can be brought without any problems

6. And standing in lines

As in a true Latino country, people aren’t really in a hurry here  If you have bad luck, then there’s going to be more than one plane with foreign tourists landing at SCL (Chileans have a separate Immigration Control line), then you can be sure you have at least 1h of waiting for Passport Control. However sometimes, if there are lots of tourists and few Chileans, they put people to the other line. So pay attention!

But it’s not like you’re only be waiting in Chile. When flying out from Paris or Madrid, you’ll meet enormous amounts of people (and even take a metro within the airport :3).


[1]often the English “Middle name” is poorly translated. Check if it’s really name” Nombre) or surname (Apellido).

[2]more pages are usually when travelling by land. You leave one copy in the Chilean post, then 2nd in the Argentinian, 3rd is for leaving Argentina and 4th for the country you’re entering.