THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN VISITING BUENOS AIRES
Is it your first time traveling to Buenos Aires? This vibrant city has so much to offer. It's filled with history, culture, friendly people, and party vibes.
When visiting a new city it's easy to focus on the entertainment, places to visit and what food you will be eating. However, this blog contains more handy information in regards to preparedness. Here's a list of things you should take into consideration:
As in any large city, you should take basic safety precautions. Avoid walking in isolated areas by yourself, keep your valuables in a safe place, and please don't look lost even if you are. That could be a sign for a person with bad intentions to approach you. If you are actually lost or have a question for a local, act calm when approaching a person. I'm sure they will try to help you out. No need to panic or have a face that says "I am in crisis". In addition, some people decide to use a money belt when walking around town and keeping their valuables hidden. It's completely up to you!
Always travel prepared and informed. In Argentina, the power plug sockets are type C (two round prongs) and type I (3 uneven prongs). The standard voltage is 220 V, with a 50 Hz frequency. So, if you are planning on using a steamer like I did, make sure to not only have a power adaptor but also a power voltage converter handy. Common daily electronics like laptops, tablets and cell phones, are usually ok to use with a power adaptor. However, if you are planning on using appliances that require more power such as hair styling tools, I do recommend checking if your appliance has double input (100-240V) or purchasing a power converter.
Adding a tip to your server is common in Buenos Aires. The average is to tip 10% at restaurants, cafes, and bars. Some even tip their drivers or the delivery person. If you received a magnificent service, and if it's within your possibilities, tip a bit extra.
Inflation and exchange rate
Did someone say blue dollar? When I visited Argentina in 2022 my AirBnb host asked me if I had already exchanged my dollars and introduced me to the term 'blue dollar'. Let's put this in context. In many countries where inflation hits them quite hard, it's common for locals to store their savings in US dollars rather than whatever their currency is. That's the case for Argentina. The situation there is that due to the extraordinary high demand for the US dollar, the Argentinian peso has been depreciated even more. To the extent that government officials have limited how many dollars Argentinian citizens can legally purchase per month. All of this to get to the blue dollar. It's the parallel exchange rate created in order to purchase money outside of the government-tracked methods.
Where can I exchange my US dollars?
When changing whatever currency you have to Argentine Pesos, I recommend using the blue dollar rate, as you get more bang for your buck. You are able to exchange it in Western Union, local currency exchange houses such as Cuevas, even your AirBnb host is willing to exchange some money like mine was! Make sure to bring with you high denomination dollar bills that are "newer"/crisp and without a trace of writing in them, as some exchange houses can be peculiar and think the money is fake.
Spanish is the official language of Buenos Aires, so it's helpful to have at least a basic understanding of the language. However, many people in the city speak English, especially in tourist areas and hotels, so don't worry if you're not fluent in Spanish. Worst case scenario, miming usually works!
I honestly think the city is very walkable, so you'll enjoy some beautiful days and a fresh breeze (as long as you don't have dozens of buses driving by). For those earning in dollars, euros or a similar strong currency, taking Ubers is a great idea, since they're not expensive and it's a reliable transportation method. Beware! Traffic in Buenos Aires can be heavy, so it's best to plan your trips in advance and allow extra time for travel. Believe me, I barely made it to the airport on my way back. The subway aka 'Subte' is also a good option of public transportation in case you want the full living like a local experience.
What can I expect of Buenos Aires?
This city is famous for its vibrant nightlife, unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. You will realize this is a melting pot of different cultures and influences, with a strong European influence evident in the architecture and cultural traditions. On the negative side: pollution. This city relies heavily on buses which unfortunately -a good amount- are not well maintained and you can tell by the black smoke they release as they go. So, if you have a respiratory condition, I recommend you use a face mask while walking around the city. Your organs will tell the difference! On the positive side, expect to eat like a king or queen.
I hope you enjoy your time in the land of delicious dulce de leche, empanadas, tango and great wine! I wish you a memorable and unforgettable experience.