Pre-travel currency options
- The official currency of Argentina is the Argentine Peso, however, it's common to use US dollars when travelling in the country, and most hotels and restaurants will accept them. We recommend checking if US dollars are accepted prior to ordering anything. Please also check which currency your menu/services are priced in, as the $ sign is used for both US dollars and Argentine pesos.
- GBP and EUR are not widely accepted.
- Major credit cards are widely accepted in the main tourist areas and cities, and ATMs are prevalent, but please note that there may be a relatively low cap on the maximum withdrawal limit.
- You can access funds via 'casas de cambio' (money exchange booths) which you can use to exchange your money. Do not exchange money with anyone on the street – fake notes are often used.
The sign for the Argentine peso is $, which is easily confused with the US dollar sign – don't get caught out!
The official currency of Chile is the Chilean Peso. In Chile, everything is official and you can simply pay for items or meals by card or withdraw cash from an ATM. Some hotels may exchange USD for pesos in an emergency, but we wouldn’t recommend that you rely on it.
Things to consider
- Travellers' cheques are not advised for either country as they are hard to change and are given a very low rate
- Your card provider will charge you at a higher rate for making payments or withdrawals while abroad, so check the tariffs before you leave
- To avoid any extra charges you could consider getting a card you can preload credit onto
- ATMs are widely available in most major towns, but make sure you stock up before travelling to more remote areas
Argentina currently has a significant black market (known as the 'blue' market) for foreign currency, so travelling with and spending US dollars in cash is an absolute must. Most establishments will accept US dollars cash at a much better rate of exchange, saving you anywhere from 20-40%. You should still carry a small sum of Argentine Pesos (AR$).
While in Argentina, a rough budget of $30-60 USD per person per day for lunch and dinner may be helpful.
In Chile, $40-80 USD per person per day should suffice. However, this will obviously depend on where you choose to eat.
Tipping in Argentina & Chile
Argentina, particularly, is a very tipping oriented country, like the US. Tips are expected, so keep a stock of small denomination notes handy. In Chile, tipping isn’t quite as prevalent, but it's very much appreciated (e.g. for taxi drivers) and is certainly expected in restaurants.
Tipping on board your ship
Tips are not generally included in your cruise fare (some exceptions apply on the all-inclusive ships) so if you would like to tip the crew an approximate suggestion would be $10-20 USD per passenger per day on board. Your ship may provide its own guidelines on board.
It's very much at your discretion, however, the tips are generally divided up between the crew, including the wonderful but sometimes unseen housekeeping staff, as well as the restaurant and bar team. It is not expected that you would tip staff individually.
Tips are usually collected just prior to the end of the cruise and can usually be paid on a credit card when you are settling up your tab.
What our customers think of Preparing for Antarctica
Work on cardio in advance as hiking uphill in the snow can be daunting - the snow is dry and brittle and you often sink into the snow up to the knee. It takes a lot of energy and lung power to pull out of those spots and keep going up. Read the full review
Travelled: December 2021
Mike Walcher - USA
US dollars are much appreciated and bring a much better exchange rate! We wished we had brought maybe $40 dollars in ones. Those would have helped with tips and small purchases in Ushuaia and at the Buenos Aires airports. Read the full review
Travelled: December 2021
Mike Walcher - USA
Carry cash and don't rely on ATMs in Argentina. It is easier and cheaper to exchange USD in ARG for pesos than using the ATMs that limit withdrawals adn charge 10% for the privilege. We were able to get some cash but ended up borrowing a bit from traveling mates rather than spend to use the ATMs. Read the full review
Travelled: February 2020
Monica Scott - United States Of America
While being fit isn’t a prerequisite to travelling to Antarctica as it's a ‘soft adventure’, being fit enough to get the most out of the daily excursions will increase your overall enjoyment of the trip.
Being able to get on and off the rubber zodiac boats is crucial. A crew member will always help you get into and out of the zodiac, with a 'sailor’s grip' on your arm to provide stability. You must ensure that you have your hands free, so stow all cameras and walking poles. You can take them out against once you are securely seated. You will need to be flexible enough to take a deep step into the zodiac and for wet beach landings, you will need to swing your leg over the side of the zodiac and step down into the water. This becomes second nature after a few landings!
Once onshore, walking distances tend to be quite short as Antarctica’s physical topography precludes longer walks. Most landings typically require walking for less than half a mile, although the ground is typically uneven and can be challenging when icy, so a walking pole(s) can be very useful. You may be walking on snow or rocks. Watch out for compacted spots that can be slippery, and in deep snow do try to follow the tracks made by the guides (this helps avoid creating lots of deep boot holes that penguins can fall into).
During landings where there is the option to walk a little further, perhaps up to a ridge point for a panoramic view over an iceberg graveyard, you can choose the degree of difficulty. If you wish you can simply remain on the shore, contemplating the penguins going in and out of the water. Even if you don’t have mobility issues, we strongly recommend taking some time at the shoreline as this makes for fantastic photographic opportunities!
Crossing the Drake Passage
If you’re worried about seasickness when crossing the Drake Passage, it might be a good idea to plan ahead and by researching the tablets, wristbands and patches, and consider talking to your doctor. If seasickness suddenly hits whilst on board, your ship’s doctor will be able to prescribe medication. Please note that this may be at an extra cost.