You’ve saved up enough vacation time and budgeted enough money to take a trip of a lifetime. You want to explore new cultures, but not feel too far removed from your own. If so, you may find yourself debating between a trip to Europe and a trip to South America.
Is a trip to Europe still a better choice than South America? Yes.
South America does have several things going for it:
A lower cost of living, which means your travel dollar goes further in most South American countries.
Two main languages – Spanish and Portuguese. If you speak either, you can travel through much of South America without running into communication problems.
More outdoor activities. What South America may lack in comfort and familiarity it more than makes up for in outdoor excursions and adventure travel.
However, Europe has some very unique traits that put it above South America as a travel destination.
Better Quality of Life
While your travel dollar may go farther in South America, the quality of life in Europe far surpasses that in South America. Through out Western Europe the water is safe to drink, eliminating the need for buying bottled water all the time. You may still want bottled water for the convenience, but you don’t have to worry about getting sick if you decide to drink from the tap. In parts of Eastern Europe, though, you may need to purchase bottled water.
It’s almost always cheaper to fly to London or Paris than it is to fly south of the equator. In addition to the nearly non-stop travel deals to Europe, flights within Europe are often dirt cheap thanks to a host of discount airlines. Flights to and within South America are often pricey and can put a sizable dent in your travel budget.
While parts of Europe may be experiencing financial difficulties or have striking workers, Western Europe is free from risk of war or political unrest. Some South American countries have been experiencing political upheaval – sometimes backed by military force. Be aware that Eastern Europe also has pockets of political instability.
If you enjoy hearing a variety of different languages, Europe is the place for you. The European Union has 23 official languages – and there are hundreds of other languages and dialects to experience as well. In South America, there are five official languages throughout the 12 countries: Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English, and French. There are also a number of indigenous languages as well, but the number of speakers is quickly dwindling.
Also, despite its larger number of languages, you are more likely to find an English speaking local in Europe than in South America.
High Speed Rail
Europe has high-speed rail stretching through most of Western Europe. It’s easy to get from country to country even on express trains or regional trains. South America’s train system leaves a lot to be desired. Only two countries have high speed rail: Argentina and Brazil. Getting from country to country in South America is much more difficult and takes much more time.
Petty crime occurs in almost every country. Whether you choose to backpack Europe or South America, keep a close eye on your possessions at all times and secure your pockets. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, Latin America is the most violent region in the world. Europe, on the other hand, accounts for only 13% of the world’s gun related homicides.
Whether your choose Europe or South America, you can’t go wrong. But take a chance, go for the diversity of Europe and enjoy a range of experiences you never thought possible.