Fearless and Free: 10 Tips for Safe Solo Travel Latinas Part 1
If you were to listen to the World News or your tia, you would never ever go anywhere. According to both of them, every place on this planet is extremely dangerous for you to travel to as a Latina solo traveler. I know this can cause some anxiety, but I want you to keep in mind that the World News survives off of selling ad space, so they need viewership, and your tia (or other family members) wants you to be safe. What do you think will keep people glued to those screens?
Ensuring personal safety is a top priority for every traveler, especially solo female travelers on their first solo trip. As your internet big sis, I do not want you to be intimidated by the size of this list (I will eventually cover close to 50+ tips in 5 different articles); I want you to know that this list can easily be summarized as “do the things that you normally do at home to keep yourself safe.” You should be fine for the most part.
Yes, this list is extensive, but it will provide valuable safety tips to enhance your journey and help you make informed decisions while exploring new destinations.
What I don’t want you to do is end up overthinking your decision to go on your first solo trip over your fear of lack of safety.
Is safety important? YES!!
Should you let the idea that places outside of your comfort zone (or away from home, your family, or significant other, etc.) are not safe stop you from seeing the world?
Amiga, we are not letting fears stop us from living our best lives.
Keep in mind that eventually, you will gain experience on your travels, and these tips will become 2nd nature to you:
Research local customs and cultural norms beforehand
Researching a few things about the country you will be traveling to can save you time and headaches. Sometimes we just want to “wing it and hope for the best,” but ignorance is not always blissful. What to research? Check out this blog post for more details.
Share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member
You can use an app or go old school and print it out for them to have on hand. Here is a list of items I include in a folder for my family to have while I travel solo. Full transparency: I have only done this for my longer trips because I expected to travel for over three months. It only contained the first few days because I don’t plan every hour of every day of my trips.
Choose accommodations in safe and well-reviewed areas
I will read as many reviews about a place as possible. I avoid staying at a hostel on Hostelworld with less than a 9.1 rating or a hotel with a 4* rating on Google and other websites. I always check for security ratings or mentions of a lack of safety. Yes, I stay at hostels sometimes. As of now, this is how I keep my travel costs low and am able to travel longer. I also stay at Airbnb and other accommodations. The only type of accommodation that I will not use is couchsurfing because, personally, I don’t feel safe in that type of scenario.
Dress to respect local traditions
Amiga, I am not here to police the way that anyone dresses. Just know that if you plan to visit places of worship for any religion while traveling, they will usually want you to cover your shoulders and that your clothing should be below the knee. Some places may even ask you to cover your hair or face. You may be turned away from visiting these sites if you don’t comply with the dress code. I always carry a shawl and wear pants or long skirts to visit places of worship and temples.
Avoid displaying expensive jewelry or valuables
Displaying valuables is one of the easiest ways to draw unwanted attention to yourself and one of the easiest safety risks to avoid. In Colombia, we have a saying about “dar papaya.” The literal translation would be “giving papaya,” but the real meaning of this phrase is that if you make it easy for someone to steal from you or for you to be their target, then you give them papaya (a sweet opportunity to do so).
So how to travel with expensive gear such as drones, cameras, laptops, etc?
If you must bring them, don’t use a bag that screams “expensive camera equipment”. Opt for a more inconspicuous bag or insert that doesn’t draw attention.
Also, ensure that your expensive gear is insured or covered by a travel protection warranty. This way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re financially protected in case of theft, loss, or damage.
Some travel credit cards offer this as a benefit. Here are the cards I use and their benefits.
In addition to insurance, make sure that you constantly backup your pictures and videos while traveling. I do it once a day while traveling. If you lose your phone, camera, or laptop, you will have only lost one day’s worth of memories.
Carry a dummy wallet with small amounts of cash
Some people are expertly skillful at having their hands in your pockets. Pickpocketing happens worldwide, and I will not single out a specific location.
You will have limited your loss if you keep small amounts of money in a dummy wallet and it gets taken.
Be cautious with revealing personal information
If the conversation comes up, I will typically not mention that I am solo traveling except with people that pass my vibe check. If my gut tells me otherwise, I will lie and lie and lie. I am suddenly on my way to meet my husband, my guy friends, my brother, my dad, etc. Always a male. I have learned that some men will have more respect for an imaginary man than your simple “no” or “not interested” response to their advances.
Stay in tourist centers or well-populated areas
On your first solo trip, I recommend staying in the center or close to the tourist areas. Why?
First, tourists and locals often frequent these areas, creating a sense of community and safety. Being in popular tourist areas or city centers usually means there are security measures in place, such as surveillance cameras, increased police presence, and enhanced safety protocols. The last thing a destination wants is to be in the news for something negative.
Staying close to tourist areas can provide convenient access to essential amenities like transportation hubs, accommodations, restaurants, and tourist information centers. It ensures that you have easy access to assistance, should you need it, and can easily find your way around with the help of fellow travelers or tourist guides. While these areas may offer higher safety and convenience, you should still consider other safety precautions. Trust your instincts, maintain situational awareness, and always follow your gut feelings when it comes to personal safety. Rest assured that as you gain more experience and confidence in solo travel, you can gradually explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and discover hidden gems.
Trust your instincts and avoid suspicious situations
Listening to your gut helps you steer clear of scams and fraudulent schemes that may target unsuspecting travelers. If something seems too good to be true or raises suspicions, it’s wise to exercise caution and investigate further before committing to any offers or transactions. Remember, your instincts are there to protect you. If something feels off, it is essential to listen to that inner voice and make choices that prioritize your safety and well-being. As you gain more solo travel experience, your instincts will become sharper, and you will become better at assessing situations and making informed decisions.
Don’t leave your drink unattended in public places
I don’t recommend doing this anywhere in the world. Either finish it or bring it with you but never leave it unattended and then drink out of it again.
Fear should never hold you back from living your best life. The world is full of wonders waiting to be discovered, and you have the power to create extraordinary memories.
The world is yours for the taking, and I’ll be right here, cheering you on every step of the way.
Safe travels, amiga!
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