Traveling Safely in South America
We’ve all heard about South America in the context of safety, crime rates etc. But is it really that dangerous? Is there anything to keep in mind when travelling to the continent and what can you do to stay safe during your travels? This article will show you the most important tips and tricks for your adventure.
Not gonna lie, most of these tips are obviously going to be common sense. General safety tips also apply in South America. For example, don’t stay out late, especially not alone and drunk. To the best of your abilities, try to blend in with locals and draw as little attention to yourself as possible. If you’re traveling alone, let people know where you are heading for the day. Use a working (and charged) SIM card and phone. And so forth.
What else can you pay attention to when traveling South America? Get travel insurance. This will not only help you if something gets stolen, but also in case of sickness. Better to be safe than sorry. Also: Know the language! Even if you know only a couple of phrases, they will help you to orient yourself. And in case of emergency, you can even ask people for help.
When strolling through the streets, pay attention. Do not expect drivers to recognize your rights as a pedestrian.
If you’re using taxis in South America, there are a few things you can pay attention to. First of all, try to distinguish official taxis from fake ones. To be on the safe side, let your receptionist at your accommodations or someone from the restaurant you’re eating at call a taxi. Then you can be sure that it’s actually going to be an official cab.
Don’t get into a taxi when someone else is sitting in it already and also don’t let the driver pick up another client when driving. Of course, agree on a fixed price before you go anywhere! Ideally, you will have already checked out your route before the trip as well, that way you can show them that you’re prepared.
When using busses, keep an eye on your luggage. Do not leave it on the overhead shelves, since it can be taken from there in the blink of an eye. Always keep it in front of you or on your lap. The same goes for restaurants or anywhere else: keep your bag on your lap. Not next to you, not on the table – on your lap.
Regarding money, do not carry around large sums of money, and when using an ATM, make sure no one is watching you. After withdrawing money, try to bring it to your accommodations as soon as possible.
In general, you should never take more stuff with you than you actually need. Leave everything optional at your accommodations, especially valuables! Don’t show off your phone, jewelry or whatever else. Keep it hidden or leave it at home. This, again, goes along with the tip about blending in with locals: Try not to be such an obvious target.
When traveling to South America, be up to date. Stay informed about recent political developments at your travel destinations and consider the levels of safety when there is political unrest in a country.
As far as your everyday life is concerned, inform yourself about common scams. Are there any weird tricks that are often used to distract and then jack people?
Now, traveling safely doesn’t only mean to keep all your material goods safe, it also means to stay healthy. For sunny regions, especially near the equator, remember to protect yourself from the sun! Use sunscreen and sunglasses.
Furthermore, check if there are any specific vaccine requirements for the countries you want to visit. Especially in South America, it is advisable to get a yellow fever vaccine. For certain regions, it might be clever to take some anti-malaria pills as well. Another tip: stay away from stray dogs, you never know what sorts of diseases they might carry around – even if they look cute.
Last but not least: you might not be able to drink the tap water in certain places. Of course, always check local information. But be prepared to buy water bottles at least every now and then.
In general, be aware of everything going on around you and be sensible. You don’t have to be afraid, but have a healthy dose of skepticism, whenever things are surprising or suspicious. Now, if you are looking for further helpful articles about traveling safely, I highly recommend the following article by Sundried Icicles. Stay safe and stay healthy!