Compared to the past, Colombia has become a much safer place to visit. However, just like any country, there are dangers that you need to look out for. Traveling solo can add to the number of dangers that you may face, so you need to make sure you are extra vigilant and cautious during your trip. To help you stay safe and to ensure you have the best time, here are some essential tips and rules you should follow and stick by during your travels.
Be Street Wise
Don’t do anything to make yourself an easy target. This includes walking around the streets at night with expensive technology, such as an iPhone or fancy camera, on show and don’t leave any bags open or unattended on public transport or in public spaces. Just make sure you are aware of the impression you are giving of while you are traveling around and always keep an eye on all of your belongings. If you need to get money out, always check ATMs for tampering. Also, watch out for fake ‘plainclothes’ policemen. A legitimate Colombian policeman will never ask to check your passport or for money. If they do, then demand to talk to a uniformed police officer.
Be Careful at Night
Always take a cab at night, even if you don’t have to walk very far. It would be best to get any taxi through an app, such as Uber, Cabify or Tappsi to ensure you have a safe, insured driver. If you don’t have any data on your phone, then you should ask the hotel, restaurant or bar you are in to order one for you. Street robbery often occurs once It gets dark. This is because some of the busiest areas in the day go extremely quiet at night, making it a perfect scene for street robbers.
Learn Basic Spanish
Possessing the ability to speak Spanish won’t stop you from being robbed but having the skill to communicate with some amount of confidence can come in handy. It puts you at ease and can deter other people from taking advantage of you as a foreigner. It also comes in handy when traveling around because you can communicate with the locals. If you don’t have time to learn Spanish before your trip, you can learn during your trip. There is a well known school in Medellin called Baselang, which will be able to help you.
Stay Aware When Intoxicated
Several media outlets exaggerate the prevalence of spiking, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. To avoid being a target, always keep an eye on your drink, cover it if you are walking in a crowd, and never accept a drink from a stranger. Illegal recreational drugs are also something you should avoid at all cost. If caught, you can get you in a lot of trouble with the law. Also, many random street sellers will be set-ups for robberies or kidnappings.
If you are unfortunate enough to encounter a robbery, just accept your fate. Putting up a fight tends to lead to a lot more violence and regret. It is a good idea to carry a decoy wallet around with you. Fill this with smaller bills and pointless cards (such as loyalty cards). The majority of thieves want to be in and out as fast as they can, so a decoy wallet can protect you from many problems.
As long as you remain wary and streetwise, then traveling alone can be just as safe as traveling with others. Just don’t do anything stupid, don’t take risks and insure all of your expensive items. Researching the crime rates in the areas you will be traveling to will also help you know what to look out for.