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Safety in South America

Aug 1, 2008
Between the awe inspiring sights of Peru, the brilliance of 'Carnaval' in Brazil and the sense of adventure in Argentina, South America has a huge amount to offer travelers of all ages and experience, but many are put off by the dangerous reputation the area has. The truth is that the majority of travelers have their trip and come back with no bad experiences and a selection of unforgettable memories. If you're still worried though, and South America travel insurance on its own isn't enough to make you feel safe, follow these South American travel tips to minimize the chances of anything going wrong...

Setting off and Arriving

- Get your South America travel insurance sorted out well ahead of time - this will also cover you against cancellation.

- Make sure you arrive in the day time

- Don't take an unmarked taxi!

Checking in to your Lodgings

- Even if you're on a tight budget, don't take any chances on your safety in South America - if it looks insecure, spend that bit more

- Bring a doorstop with you, to block your door from the inside

- If possible, try and get a room near the stairs or lift.

Valuables

- Keep valuables hidden, and leave your jewellery at home - or at the very least, the hotel safe

- Keep your camera out of sight unless you're using it - don't just hang it around your neck.

- Keep your money and passport in a hidden bag under your clothes

Your Safety in South America

- Be constantly aware of your surroundings - people not paying attention are far more likely to be a victim of crime

- Dressing like a tourist will encourage crime. Dress like the locals where possible, and don't appear the wealthy tourist.

- Do not accept drinks from strangers, and be constantly on the lookout for people trying to spike your drink. Keep your hand over your glass and don't leave it unattended.

-Be aware of people trying to distract you - pickpockets often work in groups, so while one is chatting to you, you may have another going through your things

- Depending on which area of South America you're heading to, have some Portuguese (Brazil) or Spanish (most other places) phrases in memory in case you need help, this is also an invaluable South America travel tip for getting directions and communicating with locals

- Pay special attention to suspicious motorcycles - motorcycle robbers work by travelling behind you, snatching valuables and vanishing into traffic.

- If you are mugged or robbed, don't resist - your possessions are replaceable, and many criminals will injure or kill if you put up a fight

South America Travel Tips for Single Women

- Walk with purpose - confident people who know where they are heading are less likely to be targeted

- If you are getting unwelcome attention, pretend to know less Spanish/Portuguese than you do. Some women find wearing a fake wedding ring can help.

- Don't give out your hotel's name or show your room key to anyone.

Stay in Touch

- Arrange your itinerary before you go and leave a copy with friends or family in the UK

- If you're planning on staying in South America for more than two weeks, register with the local UK embassy - if a search is needed to find you, this will be who the authorities contact.

- Keep in regular contact with friends and family - make use of email, text messages and phone calls...

If anything, you may find these South America travel tips puts you off travel, but really you shouldn't let them! Travelling in Brazil, Chile or Argentina is a life changing experience, and most people travel there and back without problem. Get decent South America travel insurance, be vigilant and practice a little common sense and you'll have the time of your life!
About the Author
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of Journey's Travel. Their commercial travel insurance website, Insuremore, offers South America travel insurance for families, singles, children and skiers with free cover against acts of terrorism and a quick and easy online claims feature.
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