Solo Female Travel in Latin America – Safety Tips For Women

A common question seen on many travel forums is “how safe is it to travel to X (one on the Latin American countries) as a solo female traveller?” It is fully understandable why travelling alone to Latin America can seem an intimidating prospect, particularly if you are a woman. However, women who have already been to this region of the world know there is no need to post this type of question. All of the countries in Central and South America are generally safe to visit as a solo female traveller. There are, however, some areas that pose a risk and these should be avoided.

Many of the large cities in Latin America have areas that aren’t particularly desirable and you should stick to the main tourist or modern parts of these cities if you visit them. This includes all of the major cities in Central America (i.e. Belize City, Guatemala City, Managua, Mexico City, Panama City, San Jose, San Salvador and Tegucigalpa). There are also certain parts of South American cities that should be avoided such as Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Sao Paulo in Brazil, and Caracas in Venezuela. As with the large cities in Central America, stick to the touristy areas and you’ll be fine. You should also take care when visiting particular areas of certain countries such as in Colombia and Venezuela. For example, it isn’t a good idea to hang around the border regions of Colombia or travel to obscure, off the beaten track destinations. Although Colombia and Venezuela get some bad press they are both relatively safe to visit if you stick to the top tourist destinations mentioned in reputable travel guides. If somewhere is mentioned in a reputable guidebook, it is almost certainly safe to visit.

This leads to an important point in the discussion. It is very easy to get paranoid about visiting certain countries and cities but this is totally unwarranted. Remember, it’s only certain parts of these countries and cities that are best avoided, just as certain parts of cities in Europe or North America are best avoided. In fact, travelling around most of Latin America is far safer, and more pleasant, than travelling around many parts of Europe or North America. Additionally, as Susan Griffith rightly points out in ‘Travelling Solo as a Woman in Asia’ “there is a pernicious mythology surrounding the lone female traveller, whether it be as a hitchhiker around Britain or a traveller in Southeast Asia. Many people instantly exaggerate the perils and dwell on a single woman’s vulnerability. Often this doom-ridden response is just an excuse for their own timidity of spirit.” Don’t get paranoid: the countries of Latin America are no more dangerous than many other countries in this world, and in reality you are more likely to encounter problems in some European countries or North American states.

Referring back to the classic question seen on travel forums (i.e. how safe is it to travel to X as a solo female traveller) it is worth mentioning the responsibilities and abilities of the individual. Safety is inherently linked to knowledge and experience. Whenever planning a trip to Latin America or anywhere else in the world, it is absolutely essential you do your research. Try and find out as much information as you can about the country or countries you wish to visit. Travel guides such as those produced by Lonely Planet and Footprint will help you decide which places you want to visit and those you might want or should avoid. The internet is also an invaluable source of information and there are many websites dedicated to the concerns of solo female travellers. We often hear people described as being ‘streetwise;’ if the definition was applied to travel rather than the urban environment, some travellers could be easily be labelled as ‘travelwise’ (i.e. having the shrewd awareness, experience, and resourcefulness needed for survival in a difficult, often dangerous overseas environment). Travel experience (particularly in the third world) goes a long way in ensuring safety. This is because people with extensive travel experience evaluate risk more effectively and size up situations more successfully. Thus, it’s fair to say that overall safety is partly dependent on the qualifications (age, knowledge and experience) of the person posing the question.

To a large degree safety is simply a case of being sensible and staying alert. For example, flaunting items such as expensive cameras, jewellery, or mobile phones is likely to attract opportunist thieves. Similarly, putting your day pack on the luggage rack of a public bus rather than keeping it on your lap or by your feet is asking for trouble. The key message here is don’t take any unnecessary risks. You might fancy a late paddle on Copacabana beach (Rio de Janeiro) but any guidebook will tell you not to visit this area after dark. You might want to hit the bars and clubs in Quito but leave your valuables in your hotel. You might want to get drunk in the nearest disco but don’t try walking back to your hotel late at night. It’s all a matter of common sense really.

The main issue for solo female travellers is the threat of sexual harassment from local men and even male travellers. While male travellers might be a problem on occasions, you need to be aware of the culture differences between Latin American men and those from your own country. Machismo attitudes are fairly widespread among Latin American men and it is advisable to follow local practice and take your cues (i.e. how do local women deal with prolonged eye contact, etc) from local woman if you don’t want to be the object of curiosity. Appropriate dress and conduct will attract less unwanted attention from the local men. It is a sad fact that many local men view Western women as promiscuous. This impression is largely due to how some women dress. Acting drunk and a bit wild is also bound to create the sort of interest you are trying to avoid. You need to balance your sense of adventure with an awareness of cultural differences. It is also important that you listen to and trust your instincts. If you are in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable as a woman, you need to follow your instincts and leave.

Most countries in Latin America are well established on the ‘gringo trail,’ hence, there will always be opportunities to hook up with other travellers. This will greatly reduce any hassle you might get. This should not deter any woman from travelling alone as this can be a rewarding and empowering experience. There is probably nothing more satisfying to a solo female traveller than knowing she forged her own path.

While it’s true that there are specific concerns for female travellers, the risks that are out there shouldn’t stop you from hitting the road. There are thousands of solo female travellers currently exploring Latin America and you could be one of them.

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Frugal Travel Tips For Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech can be a bargain for savvy tourists. The two must see’s in Marrakech, Djemaa el-Fna and the Souks, are free. Frugal even if you can’t resist making purchases.

The landmark I use to orientate myself is the tower of the Koutoubia Mosque. The tallest in the city, it can be seen from anywhere near the Medina, the old city.

The Food Stalls At Djemaa el-Fna

From the tower of the Koutoubia Mosque, the Djemaa el-Fna is only a couple steps north.

During the day, this square is filled with dancing monkeys, orange juice carts (2 Dirham – approximately $0.54 U.S. – for a glass of orange juice – note: a common “trick” on tourists is to charge extra if you wish no ice, remember this is a hot country with little portable refrigeration, ice is at a premium to the plentiful oranges), and other entertainers.

But the real action starts at sundown. The food carts come out and so do the bargains. The posted prices are usually for the locals, expect to be charged a higher price if you don’t speak the language, especially if you don’t want to haggle. Still you can get a bowl of the famed chick pea based harira soup for 2.5 Dirham (approximately $0.69 U.S.). The round loaf of bread commonly eaten with this soup can be purchased for 1 Dirham ($0.27 U.S.).

The Souks

The Souks are a maze of little shops situated right beside the Djemaa el-Fna. These stalls can be confusing and enterprising locals will insist that paid guides are needed. Unless you’re looking for a specific stall, they’re not. If you get “lost”, simply walk in one direction until you exit.

The Souks are one of the best places to get souvenirs including fabrics, leather shoes, and tajines (the cone like clay dishes used to prepare local cuisine). For spices, the grocery stores are a better bargain. For best deals, haggle. It’s expected by shop keepers.

The Menara

You may be tempted to visit the Menara, another free site. We saved the taxi fare and trekked out there by foot. We were disappointed. It consisted mainily of a giant pool of stagnant water with one small shell of a building. The building charges an admission fee.

Unless you have a burning desire to see olive groves or a common teenage hang out site or have too much time on your hands, spend your energy exploring other more interesting areas of the city.

Marrakech is a wonderful, fascinating city filled with exotic sights and smells and tastes. And with proper planning, it doesn’t have to break your travel budget.

Travel Tips for the Deaf and Mute

A well-planned trip can go awry at any time due to miscommunication. While travel issues can easily arise even when a traveler believes that he or she has taken care of every aspect of the trip, these issues may be a bigger challenge to those who have inherent communication problems due to speech and/or hearing impairment. However, do not let the daunting travel stories of deaf and mute people discourage you.

You can plan a dream holiday alone or with your near and dear ones simply by planning a few months in advance and keeping a few important pointers in mind. Most of the travel tips for deaf and mute provided in this article are just common sense. To begin with, you need to decide about your travel destination. You can choose to go to any place you wish to visit and enjoy a memorable holiday experience as long as you plan it well.

Selecting the hotel

Once you have picked a location for your travel, you need to make your hotel reservations. This requires doing your homework well. You need to find the top disabled-friendly hotels in the place of your visit and check the list of facilities and services that they offer for the physically challenged. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that was passed in 1990, hotel accessibility should comprise a number of facilities fordeaf and mute guests as well. These include visual alert devices for various in-room amenities such as telephones, alarm clocks, and fire alarms.

Since hearing impairment is an invisible disability, you need to tell people about it to make them aware of the same. You need to do the same while booking a room in a hotel. You should mail the hotel manager, intimating him or her about your disability and requesting him or her to provide you detailed information about the special facilities available such as TDD units and closed-caption televisions in the room.

It is highly recommended that you choose to stay in a room on the ground floor, so that you can get out quickly in case of an emergency. In addition to that, you should ask the manager about the check in and checkout times at the time of making a booking and request the manager to mail you the booking confirmation code on your email id. In addition to that, you can request the manager for any special assistance that you may require during your stay in the hotel.

Flight tickets and traveling arrangements

It is extremely important that you inform the flight reservation person about your hearing impairment at the time of booking your tickets. This way he or she can arrange for a person who knows sign language in case those services are required any time during security check or boarding the flight. Most top airlines offer TDD service that allows deaf and mute passengers to communicate with others via text messages that they type on a keyboard. Keep these tips in mind while planning a vacation.

Helpful Tips To Plan A Superb Weekend Getaway

Most of the travelers avoid planning anything for a short getaway because they think they would have to put too much money into only a short break. This is not always true.

Let’s begin with why you should plan a getaway. Firstly, everyone needs a break every now and then. This helps us to stay positive, experience new surroundings and refuel our energy. Since a long vacation is not always possible and might take a longer time to happen, a weekend getaway is the perfect solution to it.

Here are some tips that would help you to plan a perfect weekend getaway!

1. Begin to Plan

This tip is especially meant for the travelers who delay their plans. Wish to enjoy your holiday? Everything is in your control. You just need to plan right for the trip. This is the hardest part of your getaway, and if you get it right you are likely to have a successful trip.

There will be plenty of fears that will probably let you down. Lack of time, too high costs and thoughts of failure are common. Condition your mind to get over these. Repeat in your head that it’s possible to get it done.

Confused about the destination? Simply pick up a map and begin dreaming. There is so much you can possibly do in this world.

2. Keep Your Plans Less Complicated

This is very important for a getaway. You need to keep your plans simple because you wouldn’t have a lot of time. If you are confused about the destination, focus more on the activity. Do you wish to hike or surf? This helps you to pick the destination easily.

There are a few things to keep in mind here. Staying local is always a great idea when you are planning a weekend getaway. This is because long travel time is seldom any fun and you wouldn’t have time for all the other fun.

Most of the times, you need a weekend getaway because you wish to relax in new surroundings. Choose a destination away from all the chaos!

3. Budget Travel

A getaway helps you save money in a lot of ways. This can be your chance to stay at the premium hotels and enjoy the luxurious side of travel.

There’s just one secret to luxury travel here; be flexible with your plans. If you can afford to be flexible, there are many ways you can save on a luxury trip. There are plenty of last minute deals on the internet that will help you to save big even if you are not the early bird when it comes to bookings.

While you book, do not forget to compare the packages to get hold of the best ones.

For your plans to be successful, it is very important that you keep them realistic. Keep in mind the limited time and prepare a travel itinerary accordingly. This ensures you enjoy a splendid weekend getaway!