I recently got asked if I felt safe traveling alone as a female in South America. The answer is yes but here are 5 tips I use for staying safe as I travel.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings. I know this may seem obvious but it really is the most important thing. When I’m traveling, I always pay attention to the type of neighborhood I’m in and where all my belonging are. When in Spain, I actually caught a pickpocket one time because I was paying attention. I’m not saying this is possible all of the time but try to keep your belonging in front of you and safely hide valuables such as money & your passport in an inside jacket pocket or some other secure place.
- Research. This recommendation may seem a little strange but it does help. Especially in South America, the larger cities tend to have rough neighborhoods (as is typical with most large cities) so I will do research about which neighborhoods are safe before I go there. This helps me make sure I am staying and traveling only in the safer parts of town. If you are visiting a less secure neighborhood, I recommend going in a group and ideally with a local.
- Don’t draw attention to yourself. Sometimes this is easier said than done… especially when you are tall with blonde hair living in South America, but there are ways. Some tips I have are: don’t wear a lot of jewelry, try to dress as the locals do, watch the volume of your voice (please avoid the loud, obnoxious American stereotype), and don’t be drunk wandering around the streets. These may seem obvious but a lot of people don’t follow these “rules” while traveling.
- Meet people. While it isn’t feasible to be with another person 100% of the time while you are traveling, you can try to make friends and meet other solo travelers. For example, I recently took a trip by myself for 2 weeks. On the second day of my travels, I met another solo backpacker and we decided to travel together for 8 days. This was a great option because I didn’t have to worry as much about my safety!
- Don’t Carry a lot of Money on You. Again, this seems pretty logical but I carry only what money I need for that day. The rest of my cash I leave in the hostel lockers or in my apartment. I also recommend having a few dollars in an easily accessible pocket so If you do get robbed you have money that can be easily accessed without having to go through the rest of your belongings. This also helps when you are buying snacks in the street or something along those lines because you aren’t puling out a big stack of cash.