Make your flight bookings as early as possible, because flight prices can shoot up (from a base of ~£600), especially in the high tourist season (Dec/Jan).
It isn't always possible to travel with your fellow observers, but email them in advance to try to coordinate as much as possible.
Your schedule permitting, consider giving a talk about your research: CTIO Colloquia
The least time you can spend in Chile: arrive in Chile the day your shift starts, leave Chile the day it ends.
A more sensible schedule: arrive in La Serena 2 days before your shift starts; travel to CTIO the day before your shift starts; leave Chile the day after your shift ends (staying the extra night in La Serena). This schedule still doesn't allow for more than very basic tourist activities, so try to add at least one more day either side to make the most of this beautiful country.
Make sure Ximena knows your travel schedule so you are sure of having a taxi when you get to the airport in La Serena, and place to sleep on the mountain. Also let her know if you have dietary restrictions (ovo lacto vegetarian is fine, anything more restrictive might be problematic).
If you are vegan, you can talk to the chefs and explain what you can and can't eat. They are extremely nice, polite, and professional, and will usually do their best to accommodate your needs. I (Andrés Plazas) have always found good vegan food to eat (even vegan empanadas once!).
Make sure you know your redmine ("Services") password.
Ideally also make sure you have a DESDM password, you'll need it to check the SN processing status [you might already have a password and not know it try the first 3 letters of your Services username + 77chips, e.g. HomerS -> Hom77chips ]
A week (or more if you are organised!) in advance¶
Read some of the documentation related to your DES role available from the redmine operations wiki (don't expect much of it to make sense, but by being familiar with some of it will make things easier when you start). Good place to start is the Overview of Daily Playbook
Use Erin Sheldon's Exposure Checker if you've never used it before - it'll help you understand what DECam images should look like.
Arrange (by email) with your run manager a time to meet on your first day. The default is to find them in the dining hall at dinner (but it'd be better if you are up in the dome by 4pm for the daily meeting).
Warn your bank that you are traveling to Chile, otherwise they might stop your card
If staying on the Recinto in La Serena, be aware that the Aura booked taxi drivers are excellent, but others in town might not recognize the name CTIO or even AURA. If you tell them its at Huanhuali and Juan Cisternas, they should know. There are some Spanish instructions on the CTIO webpage that you could print off. Also take the map (given to you when you get to the Recinto) when leaving the compound in case you need to show it to a taxi driver (also helps you not get lost if walking).