Staying safe while traveling in Latin America

I often get questioned about if I feel unsafe traveling solo and the same when it comes to traveling in certain countries. I never felt scared traveling in Latin America nor doing solo traveling. But I do understand that a lot of people feel that way. Therefore I have collected some tips & tricks about how to stay safe on the road in this part of the world.

Do not let your fears stop you from exploring!
  • Tell your family or friends where you are going to stay and when you go on a long-distance bus or similar.
  • Download your destinations on maps.me or any other app that is available on an offline mode. That way you can follow the way while in a taxi etc.
  • Do not tell taxi drivers (or similar) that you are traveling solo. If they ask, as they often do, then reply that you are going to meet up with a friend at your accommodation.
  • Use an everyday small bag that you can put around you and not just on your shoulder or hold in your hand while out on the streets.
This bag followed me wherever I went during my trip.
  • Carry your passport, money and credit/debit card in a money belt, underneath your clothes. Put a small amount of money in a wallet/pocket to reach easily when needed.
  • If you got an old phone laying at home, then bring it along as a backup and use that one instead of your new one where and when you feel less safe.

Both of these are also good to keep in mind in case you would get robbed. If so, then you could hand over your small wallet and your old phone. Hopefully, that would keep the robber satisfied.

  • Whenever I get to choose a seat on long haul buses, I always choose the window seat by the side where they load the bags.
  • Keep your small backpack in your knee on transports, especially during night buses. Putting it on the floor or above you increases the risk of getting it cut up or stolen while asleep. I slept with my backpack in my knee and wore a poncho over it. (It was both useful for safety reasons and nice since it gets cold on the buses).
Try traveling locally as often as possible. It is not unsafe.
  • Avoid arriving at a new place late evening or night time.
  • Use Uber instead of taxis. Or ask for a taxi from inside an airport or the hostel.
  • Use a waterproof cover for your phone so you can bring that and money into the water if you find yourself alone on the beach.
  • Ask the staff at the accommodation if the tap water is ok to drink and if there are places to avoid in the city etc.
  • Use a refillable water bottle with a filter. (Obviously buying bottled water works too, but this is better for the environment and your wallet).
My Water-to-Go bottle was also a successful purchase.
  • There is no need to appear like you have a lot of money. Leave your potential jewelry and nice watches, brand clothes, etc at home.
  • Bring padlocks. They are super useful for lockers in hostels and to lock your big bag while in hostels and on transports.
  • Use a cover over your big backpack when traveling from one place to another, to avoid that anyone would put anything illegal in it after you have been packing/looking through it.
Invest in a backpack cover. It is also both fun and safe to join other travelers on the go.
  • I do not go out party much at all anymore and avoid being intoxicated on my solo trips. During my 9 month trip, I had about 3 nights out. That way I avoid being out by myself in the night. And I also get more out of the days. 
  • Learn some Spanish. It is really useful being able to speak to locals and they tend to not trick you then.

All of my recommendations might not be very new to you but I hope they somewhat can be helpful to at least one person out there who is thinking about, but too scared to, travel solo or/and in Latin America.

@mk.elisabeth

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