Just hinting at taking a solo trip to Latin America often gets hisses of disapproval and gasps of pure shock. “By yourself?!” somebody will repeat, eyes bugging out of their skulls. “Do you even know how dangerous that is?” And while these remarks, more often than not, come from a place of love and genuine worry, it gets to be unnerving. Sometimes it’s even plain exhausting! After a while, I learned to just nod with a forced smile plastered on my face and let them get it out of their system.
And while the possibility of danger is not something to take lightly, it is something you can easily lower. Do people get robbed everywhere? Yes. Is there more sketchy activity in Latin America than in Australia? Yes. It is true, however, that Buenos Aires (heck, Argentina in general) is much safer than some other countries in Latin America, so don’t get squimish if you want to travel to Argentina solo.
Here are some tips to reduce the chance of anything happening while you travel to Argentina solo:
1. Hidden Treasures
If you have a money belt that can go under your shirt, use that to hide your cash, cards, passport, cell phone, etc. I used to stick my thin valuables into the waistband of my jeans and make sure it was invisible by my shirt or jacket. You can also hide money in your shoes, in your bra for ladies, and always divvy up your money; half in one place and the other half somewhere else. There are also amazing new travel inventions such as zippered scarves, which have big enough zippered pockets to hide money, credit cards, passports, etc. without any lumps or bulks.
2. Don’t let money be seen
It’s something not thought about too often, but take out your money only right before you are about to pay for something, and extract the smallest amount possible. For example, if you’re buying a 12 peso candy bar at a kiosk, don’t whip out 300 pesos and sort through them right then and there. Also, whenever getting change back, stay where you are and put it back in your wallet or purse before leaving. Don’t walk onto the sidewalk still fumbling with your money, and the same goes for ATMs.
3. Walk along main avenues at night
Whether you’re walking back to your hotel or even to the bus stop, try to walk as much as you can along the larger, well-lit avenues even if it’s a block or two out of your way. There’s usually always people walking along these avenues late at night and it will make you feel much more at ease. There’s even a new smartphone app out called The Companion, which virtually walks you home. If there’s a change in your pattern (if you start running, get pushed, etc.) the app sends an alert to your friend or family member. You then have 15 seconds to push a button that says if you’re okay or not. It can alert officials if you need them and even turns your phone into an alarm device.
4. When in doubt, keep walking
Robbers have various tricks (like this) for getting your wallet or iPhone 6; some of them involve them stopping you to ask for something (like directions). Don’t panic, 90% of the time people really are just asking if you know where the stop for the 37 is—I’ve asked for directions more times than I can count. However, if your Spanish isn’t up to par and it’s nighttime, just keep walking. It’s better to appear rude than to be without money.
5. Dress to fit in
No, I’m not saying you have to throw out your personal style and that you have to pretend to be Argentine for your trip (because heck, foreigners can have huge advantages here sometimes). Do keep in mind that when it’s 60 degrees out, it’s considered cold here, and your sandals (no matter how cute) will be regarded as tourism apparel. Argentines are generally put-together and fashionable. Get more details on how to dress like a local here.
These are tips not only specific to Argentina, as they’re applicable anywhere in the world. It’s a great idea to travel to Argentina solo, as it’s a bit more westernized and more advanced than some other Latin American countries. Don’t be afraid to throw on your backpack and hop on that plane!