Safety and Emergencies - Travel Safety

Your highest priority should be travel safety when you visit Latin America, closely followed by having the trip of a lifetime.

As a foreigner you will stand out and as such be a target for thieves and tricksters, so keep your wits about you at all times.

NEVER show off your wealth in public and try not to withdraw too much cash at any one time from the cash point. Whilst the people in Latin America can be incredibly friendly and generous, they are also very poor in comparison and rich foreigners are prime targets for theives.

Travelling Alone

Latin America

If you are travelling alone, leave a copy of your planned itinerary with friends or family and ensure you follow up with them every few days so that they know you are safe and well. If they do not hear from you, they will know that something has happened.

Recommendations from fellow travellers or your hotel or hostel receptionist are a great way to find out which areas to avoid. They will also be able to provide an insight into which restaurants to try out, bus routes, etc and how much they cost.

When travelling by taxi, use reputable companies and negotiate the price in advance as it is not uncommon for taxi drivers to add a hefty 'tourist supplement' to people with a map in their hand and a lost look on their face.


Before you travel, ensure that your travel vaccinations are up to date. Make a photocopy or scan of your passport to leave behind and take a copy with you and keep it separate from your original passport. It is also a good idea to make a paper list of your most important contacts and phone numbers, including phone numbers of emergency services for each country you visit.

Most travellers also recommend making notes of the serial numbers of electrical devices they take on their trip and having photographs of their items, in case of any need to make an insurance claim.


Latin America

Tap water should not be drunk throughout much of Latin America. Care should be taken when ordering drinks with ice and you should check higiene conditions when purchasing Latin food from street vendors.

Water purifying tablets are useful when heading to villages and tablets for stomach upsets may be needed until your stomach acclimatizes to the local diet and natural bacteria.

From April to November 2009 swine flu was a serious health threat in Mexico with the relatively quick outbreak of the disease causing a lot of disruption and fright. In the event of any similar scenario during your stay in Latin America, follow the advice of the authorities and learn what the symptoms are. If you suffer from any symptoms, ensure you get medical attention quickly.

Remember: Although you are on holiday, safety must be your priority.