Expedia Senior Retail Manager Nadia spent seven months in South America, travelling all the way through Mexico down to Santiago with her husband. She shares her top tips for an extended holiday and exploring the continent. Images by Neil Tuckwell.

1. Don’t try to do it all

We tried not to take any planes so we sometimes felt like we spent most of our time getting to the next destination. South America is a huge continent – pick a couple of things you really want to do and give yourself an opportunity to stay somewhere longer than planned. We were able to commit to an unplanned two week voluntary project in Nicaragua which was an unbelievable experience.

2. Leave room for spontaneity

Plan some of the trip but remember to give yourself the opportunity for spontaneity. There are places we didn’t expect to love. In Columbia there was a beautiful little town called Villa de Leyva we were going to pass through but we ended up staying. We rode horses through some of the most dramatic countryside with a local cowboy. It ended up being one of the highlights of the trip.

3. What to pack

For South America you need a wide variety of clothing. There’s a lot of areas of high altitude eg Bolivia, Peru, where all you’ve done is climb aboard a bus for a few hours and suddenly it’s pretty chilly. You don’t need your biggest winter coat, unless you’re heading to Patagonia or similar, but layers, a hat and something waterproof are key. Remember not to overpack. It may be a less developed country than where you’re from but you can pretty much buy anything you need. They do sell shampoo!