The advice I got before I left for South America was very vague. ´Learn Spanish´ is already obvious, and unfortunately didn´t make it any easier to learn. And confirming the price of a taxi before you get in is something I do in England, let alone Peru.
I´ve been coming up with a list of things that would have been really, really useful to know before I started travelling.
1. Take a Visa credit card. MasterCard is accepted in a lot of places, but Visa is EVERYWHERE. This would have made managing money a lot easier.
2. Unless it´s Easter, you don´t need to book a room ahead. You just don´t.
3. When getting on a bus, always pack water, food, warm clothes, and all your valuables.
4. Watch your backpack being put on the bus, or put it on yourself.
5. Don´t forget about Couchsurfing events – a good way to meet local people.
6. If you get off the bus for a break, eat very quickly and never take your eyes off the bus. Look to other people for clues as to how long you will be stopping – although they might tell you a time, this is always, always, vastly overexaggerated.
7. Change all your local currency at the border. Yes you will get less than a perfect exchange rate, but it´s more than worth it not to drag a load of different currencies all around the place.