Traveling as an independent woman through South America is an empowering and courageous experience. For the most part, I like to give humanity the benefit of the doubt and express to an eager woman looking to travel independently that there is nothing to fear. I have been living abroad for five months and I have not been the victim of any significant danger or threats along the way (knock on wood).
I have however, had many friends that unfortunately have been the victim of petty crimes, thievery, and precarious situations that could have resulted in something more serious. If you are a woman and planning on jumping ship and traveling solo by yourself through South America, there a few precautions you should take into consideration.
Be Wise, Blend in
This is a funny one especially for those arriving from progressive westernized countries that support and salute the essence of ¨standing out¨ from the crowd and harnessing your inner eccentricity. I can empathize; at home the bizarre outfits that my friends and I wear are often a main attraction for passer-byers and out-of-towners that are not familiar with our local quirky style.
I chose, however, to surrender these outfits before my arrival to South America, as to not attract any more attention that I was already prepared to receive. Blending in, is one of the best ways to stay safe while traveling as a woman through a foreign country. Flashy accessories, clunky cameras, and those glitzy animal-printed leggings you love are great at home, but will make you stick out like a sore thumb and a perfect target for criminals. You don’t have to divulge your wardrobe completely of personality, just be conscious of how the people around you are dressed and show respect by tailoring your wardrobe accordingly.
Don’t walk alone at night
If you are staying in one city or town for longer than two weeks you may start to get comfortable and take your chances by walking around at night. I highly advise against this, as most robberies and harassment occur at night against tourists. Always, always, always, travel in a group, or take a taxi. Taxis are really cheap in South America, in most countries you can get around for 5 dollars or less. If you are on your way to a bar or on your way back from a bar late at night, take my advice, and take a taxi.
Carry the Equivalent of $10 U.S dollars
Most criminals that roam the streets looking to target tourists are seeking something of value. Money, cell-phones, computers, they want something that can be cashed in quickly. Out of my friends that have been robbed, it has happened quickly and without any type of physical hounding. If you don´t have something of value to give your perpetrator, sometimes they can become aggravated and seek something from you physically. This is where it can get ugly. Therefore I always recommend, carrying the equivalent of $10 U.S dollars of foreign currency in your pocket all times. This money will act as a deterrent, and hopefully dissuade the offender from harassing their victim on a physical level.
*I am by no means a professional when it comes to giving self-defense advice while traveling abroad. These are opinions exclusively expressed from my own personal experience traveling as a woman in South America.
How do you take pre-caution while traveling abroad in South America as a Woman?