Travel Hacks for Exploring Barranquilla Colombia

A photo of a Colombian woman at a souvenir shop.
A travel itinerary isn’t the only thing you have to research about. Creative travel hacks are an absolute must.

Make the city your base. Barranquilla, Colombia, on the country’s Caribbean coast, is a busy industrial city. It’s a less obvious destination for visitors compared to picturesque Cartagena to the south and Santa Marta, close to Tayrona National Park, to the north. But accommodation and flights are much cheaper, and Barranquilla is only a couple of hours away from its more famous neighbors.

Colombia is fast becoming the highlight of many people’s visit to South America: it’s the new “it” spot to visit (and, it seems, to move to if you’re a digital nomad). Many people now spend weeks backpacking Colombia or vacationing here along the coast.

Barranquilla is nicknamed Colombia’s Golden Gate, because as an important port city it was the gateway for progress in Colombia: aviation, telephones, radio, trains, and fútbol all came to Barranquilla first.

On your trip to Barranquilla, a travel itinerary isn’t the only thing you have to research. Creative travel hacks are an absolute must as these little nuggets of knowledge allow you to have an easier time in a foreign country. So what are the necessary travel tips that you need to be aware of?

Colombian Culture

Colombia has been a victim of Hollywood stereotyping. Hollywood has painted Colombia as a haven for narcotrafficking and other drug-related issues. While we all know that there is a history of such, Colombia today is a thriving economy and a relatively peaceful country.

Colombians are a very social community. Expect to get to know and to be immersed in the Colombian culture right on the get go. They are very hospitable, most especially to guests. This is why Barranquilla is now becoming more and more popular as a tourist spot.

Colombians are generally seen as very positive people, described as having a “joie de vivre” (enjoyment for life). They tend not to linger on negative aspects and are often animated, charismatic and cheerful.

Both foreigners and Colombians themselves exclaim at their ability to make a party and celebration out of any situation. Indeed, the ‘rumbero spirit’ has become a recognizable national trait. This describes the Colombian people’s ability to enjoy the leisurely side of life under pressure and in difficult circumstances. It is often summarized as an attitude that says: “work hard to play hard”.

Travel Hacks

In this travel hacks list, we will list down some of the few travel tips and tricks that you will need to explore Barranquilla.

Use Public Transportation

Barranquilla has a comprehensive public transport system. Locals use public transportation to get around town mostly because it is affordable, which is why it is highly suggested that you take them too.

Taxi cabs are everywhere and they are also affordable at around $6. Taxis are often metered and regulated by the local government units. Ride sharing services like Uber are even more affordable at around $5.

There are private vehicles available for you to drive yourself around town but these are usually very expensive as the cost will not only cover the rental fee, but also other fees such as car insurance.

Dine Like Locals

The best way to experience the culture in Barranquilla, Colombia, or any culture, is through food and what better way to experience great food and to save money at the same time than to dine the same way locals do.

Street food in Barranquilla is quite inexpensive. Sure, some Colombian dishes are not entirely healthy, but they are extremely filling. In the countryside, you might even find meals for as low as $3! And mind you, those are world class meals.

Use ATMs to get local currency

The local currency in Baranquilla is the Colombian Peso. Now, you will be able to find money changing services at the airport and in the metropolis, however, a lot of these money changing services tend to have a low foreign exchange rate and will surely have an extra service charge. You’ll end up paying more and taking much less.

Instead, make use of your local bank’s international access. Major bank services these days are pretty much accessible anywhere in the world. Instead of using the services of money exchanges, consider withdrawing money from local ATMs.

This way the only fee you’ll be paying is the charges your banks place upon international withdrawals, but at the same time you’ll be getting the same exchange rates from the Colombian Central Bank.

Another tip is to withdraw the maximum amount. That way you only have to pay for the service charge once as the charges could go up to $6 per transaction.

Also, if your bank offers mobile banking, consider checking your account balance through your personal device as checking your account balance on the ATM is another charge.

Jog the jet lag away

This seems like a crazy idea. We all know what jet lag is like, right? We all just want to curl up in a ball and rest before our big adventure. A tip? You can always jog that jet lag off.

Well, you don’t necessarily have to jog, any other physical activity would do. Hike along the coast of Barranquilla, explore the street food, pretty much anything that will allow your body to move around. Trust me, this works and is way more fun than being on the bed for hours and hours.

Pack the Essentials

In order to make your trip to Barranquilla a stress free one, there are items that are an absolute must in your travel purse.

1. Cash

Barranquilla is a very cash based city. You can probably get away with cash-free transactions via credit card in established businesses such as malls, and you should take advantage of every opportunity to go cashless.

Public transportation, local food, and to some extent even the local hostels take cash only.

2. Insect repellant

Barranquilla, Colombia has some pesky mosquitoes and other insects. Bringing an ample amount of insect repellant will help keep you away from those annoying bugs, and will even help you get a good night’s sleep.

3. Light Clothing

Barranquilla is a coastal region so chances are the humidity will be high. Wear light and airy clothes to keep yourself cool.

Light clothing is also easier to clean and dry off. Doing this will help you save space so you wouldn’t have to bring your entire closet with you if you are planning an extensive trip to Barranquilla and neighbouring regions of Colombia.

4. Umbrella

Don’t trust the weather forecast. No, this does not mean that the weather forecasting in Colombia is bad. This means that the weather in Colombia varies by the minute. Even at the height of the summer, unexpected downpours still occur. Bringing an umbrella with you will allow you to continue your journey even while it’s raining in Barranquilla, Colombia.

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