5 Tips to Stay Safe as a Solo Sister in Central America

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

We can be strong, independent, bold, fearless, streetwise, and sassy. But we're all familiar with that creeping sense of unease whenever we have to walk alone at night. As kick-ass as we might be, it’s okay to acknowledge that the world can be a dangerous place for a woman on her own, and to take measures to protect ourselves from risks. 

We've all seen those news articles of girls who've had to face danger in unfamiliar places. It's certainly not something we want to happen to us or to our loved ones. So the best thing we can do to protect ourselves is to be aware and do our research to stay safe before we start our adventure.

Central America is just one of the regions where a woman travelling alone will stand out, and may find herself in sticky situations. But this in itself should not deter you. To ensure that you feel empowered rather than afraid, here are a few tips to live by if you decide to go on that trip...

Panamanian Couple at Red Frog Beach, Bastimentos - Bocas del Toro, Panama

1 Don't Confront Cultural Differences

The feminist inside of you may hate to acknowledge that equality has yet to reach much of the world, but travelling will soon convince you of such a notion. Much of Central America is still riddled by 'machismo'. It's unavoidable that you will get cat calls and a few illicit offers.

Sadly, such attitudes are deeply entrenched into many Central American cultures, and you may well find yourself in the company of overbearing conversationalists, whistlers, and catcallers. However, as much as it may rile you to do so, it's not worth reacting. Your best defense is to simply walk away and remove yourself from the situation rather than call attention to the perpetrators.

Nosara, Costa Rica

2 Dress Modestly

Central America is often viciously hot, so expecting solo female travellers to walk around in long sleeves and trousers to appease delicate male sensibilities would be nothing short of ridiculous. Indeed, you'll find that most women at popular tourist destinations are wearing bikinis and sarongs. But where this is not the case, you may find it prudent to cover up a little more. Although you're not obliged to do so, most seasoned female travellers agree that it significantly reduces the amount of unwanted male attention that you're forced to endure. Use the local ladies as a yardstick, and you should do just fine. Try to blend in as much as you can.

3 Pack Only What You Are Comfortable Losing

It's pretty obvious that you should leave that expensive necklace that your grandmother gave you for safekeeping. And try to bring a generic laptop or cellphone, not your Macbook or Iphone. If you can leave that eye-catching DSLR at home, do it. Your belongings can only be a burden to you, especially if you need to move around a lot, so try to pack light.

Latin America2

4 Don't Walk Alone at Night

Sadly, walking alone at night in any country poses risks to women that men never have to contemplate, and in Central America, these are heightened still further. Female-oriented sexual violence is particularly rife in urban areas such as San Jose, Costa Rica and Antigua, Guatemala, so even if you're only travelling a few blocks, it's still a good idea to call a taxi. After all, what does a little extra money matter when weighed against your safety?

5 Don't Resist Muggers

Being mugged is an absolute violation, but if allowing it to occur prevents further violence against you, then it's well worth the cost. If someone approaches you when you're by yourself, demanding that you hand over your belongings, acquiesce and walk away as quickly as you can.

Travelling to Central America is not without its dangers, but for those brave enough to face them, it can offer moments of pure enchantment, exquisite natural beauty, an intoxicating culture, and memories that you'll never forget. Know how to stay safe, and you can enjoy it to its fullest, untouchable, empowered, and independent. Why not contact a company like Exodus today, and start planning your adventure?

Have you traveled alone in Central America? Please share your personal safety tips in the comments!

About the author:

Danielle has backpacked through Southeast Asia and Latin America alone and with friends. She is currently writing her travel memoir about her experiences. Europe is next on her list.

Photo Credits: Chris Goldberg and Love the Search

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