Have you ever thought of hopping a plane for spring break in Argentina? Maybe you want to study Spanish in Buenos Aires or learn the Tango in Mendoza? Too difficult, you say? No way, but there are a few things you need to know when traveling abroad. Take advantage of the following top five travel tips for your next trip to Argentina and make it an experience to remember.
1. PASSPORTS – Argentina visitors that are citizens of the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will require a passport for entry. US Passport applications can be obtained at http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html, with routine services taking up to 10-12 weeks from the date you applied. A Visa is not required for a tourist stay up to 90 days, for longer stays contact your local embassy for information. In the U.S. — Contact the Consular Section of the Argentine Embassy, 1718 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202/238-6460). For more information, try http://www.uic.edu/orgs/argentina. In Canada — Contact the Embassy of the Argentine Republic, Suite 910, Royal Bank Center, 90 Sparks St., Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5B4 (tel. 613/236-2351; fax 613/235-2659). In the U.K. — Contact the Embassy of the Argentine Republic, 65 Brooke St., London W1Y 4AH (tel. 020/7318-1300; fax 020/7318-1301; seruni at mrecic.gov.ar).
2. CURRENCY – The current exchange rate is 3 to 1 for the US dollar to the Argentina Peso. The Peso is made up of 100 centavos. Money is denominated in notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 pesos; and coins of 1, 2, and 5 pesos, and 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos. US dollars are widely accepted in Buenos Aires, but in the rural areas of the country pesos are the currency of choice and exchange locations are less abundant. American Express traveler’s checks can be exchanged at offices located in Buenos Aires at Arenales 707 (tel. 11/4130-3135), Bariloche, Salta, San Martan, and Ushuaia. Outside of these locations there are very few American Express exchange offices, so when traveling to remote locations be sure to plan ahead. Many of the hotels do not accept credit cards, so check in advance before you assume you can pay your bill that way.
3. CAR RENTALS – Argentines drive very fast in comparison to U.S. drivers and do not always obey traffic lights or lanes. The seat belt law is in effect, though few locals actually wear them. U.S. driver’s licenses are valid in greater Buenos Aires, but you need an Argentine or international license to drive in most other parts of the country. When driving outside the city, remember that autopista means motorway or highway, and paso means mountain pass. It is not advised to drive in rural areas at night as cattle roam free and are hard to see in the dark. Fuel is about $1 per liter, or $4 per gallon. Car rentals are available at Hertz, Paraguay 1122 (tel. 800/654-3131 in the U.S., or 11/4816-8001 in Buenos Aires); Avis, Cerrito 1527 (tel. 800/230-4898 in the U.S., or 11/4300-8201 in Buenos Aires); Dollar, Marcelo T. de Alvear 523 (tel. 800/800-6000 in the U.S., or 11/4315-8800 in Buenos Aires); and Thrifty, Av. Leandro N. Alem 699 (tel. 800/847-4389 in the U.S., or 11/4315-0777 in Buenos Aires). Car rentals are more expensive in Argentina with compacts starting at $50 to $60 per day, ask for special promotions.
4. ELECTRICITY – Electricity in Argentina runs on 220v. Most U.S. laptops run on either 110v or 220v, check yours to determine which one you have. A transformer and a European style adapter will be necessary for any other small appliances. While most luxury hotels will have these items for your use, some smaller or rural hotels will not. Cyber cafes called “Locuturios” are common in Buenos Aires and other major cities, where you can connect for an average of $1.00US per hour.
5. SEASONS – While those of us here in the Northern Hemisphere are used to the seasons that we have come to know, you must remember that things are in reverse south of the equator. The summer months in Argentina are December through February, perfect for a trip to Santa Cruz. However, Buenos Aires has a very hot, humid summer so it is therefore better to visit in the spring and fall (November or March). If winter sports are what you are looking for, then the winter months of June through October would be when to plan your next trip.
These tips will certainly give you a leg up when planning a trip to exotic Argentina. Traveling to a foreign county does require a little effort, but the experiences you will gain will last a lifetime. The world is such a global community that visiting and understanding another country’s culture only brings people closer together.
Argentina is waiting for you, use the tips above to plan a successful trip there today!