Read our top tips for staying safe while backpacking around Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
* Never travel at night
It’s always best to travel during the day – especially when crossing borders or arriving in busy bus terminals. This gives you time to find a hostel and get your bearings.
* Make sure your taxi is authorised
Look for the driver’s I.D and agree a price before you get in. Lock the doors once you’re inside – it’s not unheard of for muggers to jump in next to you at traffic lights.
* Don’t carry an expensive handbag
Be wary about getting money out in public places and use an inexpensive bag that you can wear across the body so it’s not as easy to snatch. Take enough money for the day and leave your passport and wallet in the hostel.
* Be careful where you withdraw money
Where possible, withdraw cash from inside a bank. Cloning cards is a common occurance in some places so avoid using cashpoints in dodgy areas and don´t go near them at night.
*Don´t fight back
If you´re unlucky enough to be targeted by thieves, stay calm and cooperate. Never resist or fight back and give them everything they ask for. Don´t be clever by giving them the wrong pin number – it’s simply not worth it.
* Cover up
It’s fine to wear tiny shorts to the beach – but make sure you dress respectably in large towns and cities. Otherwise you’ll attract unwanted attention – not something to be doing when you’re travelling alone.
* Don’t leave valuables in your backpack
You’re usually asked to leave your backpack under the bus on long journeys so carry anything of value (such as passport, wallet, credit card etc) with you. Don´t put your bag under the seat as it can be taken (or cut open) when you’re sleeping. The best thing to do is put your passport and cash in a money belt under your clothes.
*Trust your instincts
Look around you – if shops are boarded up and there’s not much street lighting, leave immediately. Even in broad daylight you are an easy target. Don’t wander into quiet areas on your own and if you ever feel vulnerable get straight in a taxi.
TOP TIP Some girls carry pepper spray with them for protection. It may seem a little extreme but if you’re getting hassled by anyone it will give you time to make a swift exit.