Tips. Staying Safe
When visiting any country in Asia or Latin America, it’s important to bear basic security measures in mind to avoid having to live through an undesirable experience. At the same time, it’s important to avoid stigmatising an entire country as being less secure than others when it’s clear that good things and bad things can happen to us wherever we are.
In general, the main cause for concern in Asia and Latin America is petty theft. The following is designed to ensure that your visit to Latin American be a richer experience for having taken the advice on board. Nothing more. It’s certainly not designed to deter you from visiting.
Avoid wandering around with lots of cash in your pockets. Only carry the amount of cash you think you’re going to need and keep your change separate from your notes, so that you don’t have to get out all of your money when paying for small items here and there. Remember where you’ve stashed your money, and avoiding searching all pockets when paying for something. In general, be smart and look as though you have everything under control at all times.
It’s also a good idea to check that any money you change — if not with a bank or one of the currency exchange booths at the international airport — that the money you have been given is authentic. There are lots of people who will gladly give you a great exchange rate for your hard currency, but the sources aren’t always trustworthy. Inflation is an issue in many Latin American countries. Most operate with an official exchange rate, and a “blue” or “black” market rate at the same time.
Always trust the advice of locals who are looking out for you. If you’re staying in a hostel, hotel, or with a host family, take their advice about where to go during the day and night and which places of the local area to avoid visiting alone.
Avoid wearing clothes or accessories which might draw attention, or which might make you stand out from the crowd. It’s not a good idea to go screaming, “Hey, I’m a tourist and I’ve just arrived,” just because of the things you’ve decided to put on that day. Be smart. Blend in. Wear what other people in the local area are wearing and avoid generating unnecessary attention. Decide whether or not you really need to be wandering around with a gold watch or a pair of Armani sunglasses during your stay.
Take your photos and then return your camera or your phone safely back in your bag. It’s not a good idea to go wandering around these streets in Latin America with a large, expensive camera hanging from your neck. It’s easier than you think for someone to take it from you, even in the middle of the day.
If you like to party, or dine at restaurants, always keep your belongings close to you. A bag or jacket hanging on the chair behind you is an easy target. Look after your things with care and attention and you’ll experience a series of wonderful evenings from the moment you arrive until the date of your return.