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Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

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Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

Ok so I am doing Europe and the US, and then I'm off to do South America on my own for 6 weeks! I have never travelled on my own before so I am really getting nervous about safety!

I have a GAP tour booked for three weeks @ the end but I'll be on my own in the beginning. I am so close to cancelling is this normal or should I trust my gut :(

I am irrationally panicking over bus crashes, kidnappings etc. Hahha I know it's ridiculous but still.

London, England
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for Solo Travel
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1. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

It is not ridiculous or irrational to have fears. Our fears can be what make us take proper care of ourselves and others, but if we let our fears control rather than help us we lose too much.

I can't speak for others, but everytime before I set off on a trip alone I have moments of being convinced that it will be a disaster, psychologically or physically.

So far, my fears have been wrong and the trips have been great.

I am not suggesting that you ignore your fears, but that you harness your feelings to look into how fact-based your fears are and how you might be safer.

In your place, I would have a good look at relevant Lonely Planet Guides, the Thorntree and the local TA forums to see if there are areas that should be avoided and ways to make your trip safer.

As a woman travelling alone, it may be better to think about something like Couchsurfing (used with discretion) as a way of keeping costs down rather than staying in the cheapest lodging.

I'm afraid also that getting blotto is not an option when travelling alone safely, whether you are male or female, but you know that already.

It sounds like a wonderful trip and you will have a great time.

Edmonton, Canada
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2. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

I recently did a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. I was intending to do group tours through both, but the Cambodia tour got cancelled so I ended up doing it on my own (first time I have traveled by myself without a group). The Vietnam portion was first so I was really nervous leaving the group and heading off to Cambodia on my own (I too am female).

To help me feel less scared I usually book a transfer from the airport to my hotel (even when I am travelling with a group), for some reason I did not do this in Cambodia but made it there safely anyway.

I also prepared myself for any scams that may come my way by reading up on them here on TA, a tuk tuk driver did try to tell me the National Museum was closed at noon and that I should go see some other sites with him until it opened again.

When I started to feel a bit lonely I booked myself on to a group day tour, these were usually to things that would have cost a lot of money had I done them on my own.

Trust me, its less scary once you are there.

Red Deer, Canada
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3. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

Hi catspat. When are you heading to South America? I totally know how you feel as I'm planning to go there but cant seem to pass the first hurdle - book the plane ticket! I was initially going to go on a GAP tour but their itinerary isnt the best fit for me. I want to be in Rio de Janeiro by NYE in time for the Reveillon.

My tentative dates are Dec 23-Jan 11 starting from Buenos Aires ending in Rio via Iguazu Falls.

New York City, New...
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for Yucatan Peninsula
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4. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

Not to make generalizations, but Latino people are very polite, friendly and helpful. Latino men are the only ones who will get up for pregnant or older people on the subway!

I travelled all over Mexico, Central America alone - and Peru. Have never had any problems. In Peru, I was on a small group photo tour, but we had a lot of down time and I wandered around alone a lot. People will try to sell you things relentlessly (made Cambodia seem like amateur hour) to the point of annoyance, but I never felt at risk. Then again, I dont walk around dark deserted areas alone. I always ask the women at the hotel where I should avoid walking.

This seems obvious, but sense is not common:

Travel with gear you can keep in your control at all times. A backpack or rolling carryon with a day pack. The older, more beat up the bag the better - you want to minimize attention to yourself. And, the more crap you have, the more you have to watch in bus stations, etc.

Dont leave your bags unattended, or dangling off the back of a chair (I see this all the time in NYC - these people must want to go home with their own personal NYC robbery story).

Use a money belt.

Another thing to consider is the way you're dressed. Not so much provocative to men, but you dont want to appear to be a ho. When you get in trouble, you go to women for help - and they're less likely to help a women they consider inappropriately dressed. I would constantly notice women on buses in Thailand scowling at the way (no offense!) Australian tourists were dressed.

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5. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

Always, safety first. I've written a lot about safety on my blog: Solo Traveler.

There's a post called 5 Safety principles - these are essential solotravelerblog.com/category/solo-travel-sa… .

Then there's another with 50 safety tips - these are by me and the readers of Solo Traveler. Lots of information there. http://solotravelerblog.com/travel-safety/

And another on Reflections of a Woman Traveling Alone - solotravelerblog.com/women-traveling-alone/

I hope they can be of some help.

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6. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

Hi Catspat

I'm in the same boat....I have travelled alone before but my upcoming trip to South America alone is freaking me out! Yet I know I wanna do it...somehow! I just keep reminding myself that before every solo travel- I have freaked out, imagined the worst, kept my guard up, and been ok as soon as I got there...

When are you there? I'm going Nov/Dec...if interested in company wit a fellow Sydney-sider, lemme know!

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7. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

go on it will be fun and its quite safe, i went to Peru for 4 weeks alone, and was ok. i did book some tours, but all my evenings and some days i was alone, doing all the things and seeing the places i wanted too. i also did the Inca trail(with a guide of course)

so relax and have fun :-)

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8. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

From my point of view, yes, I think it's reasonable to be freaking out a little bit because Europe, US, and South America as a 1st solo trip is a HUGE deal.

I'm used to traveling solo but have learned the ropes (so to speak) and gotten my travel savvy on, with easier trips of shorter duration, say going to Amsterdam or Venice, for example. Or beach vacations in Mexican resort cities or Hawaii.

I believe a person should trust their gut, but I can't tell if you mean that you would cancel the trip or go ahead with it by that statement.

Minneapolis, MN
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9. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

Don't freak out and don't cancel...but do be smart when traveling alone...I always:

1) Let someone know where I am at especially if it deviates from my original plan.

2) Always have contact information on you of who to contact in case of an emergency.

3) Always have contact infromation for your countries embassy in the country you are visiting.

4) Always make two copies of you passport..leave one with your emergeny contact and take one with you. If you lose yours it is much easier and faster to get a replacement if you have a copy.

5) Same if traveling w/ credit cards...two copies one @ home and one with you....also make sure you have phone numbers.

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10. Re: Solo female in South America: FREAKING OUT!!!

South America and your freaking out. i have just booked and paid for a plane ticket to Middle east. 30yr old Sydney male who has never left Aus and now im travelling alone to Jordan,Syria, Israel. big time freaking out.