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Should I travel solo in Guatemala???

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I'm considering studying abroad for several weeks in Quetzaltenango (Xela) Guatemala at a school called Sol Latina. I'm a little concerned about my safety as an African American female traveling alone, as friends and family have expressed concern and have informed me that tourist tend to be targeted for crime when leaving the Guatemala City airport and throughout Guatemala. Please give me any suggestions, safety precautions I should take and experiences you can share that may help me to make a decisions as to if I should take this trip or not. Also, if anyone is familiar with the Sol Latina Spanish School in Quetzaltenango, I love to hear your experiences with the school and host family as well.

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    Since safety questions come up a lot I'm reposting my response from a previous thread below. Obviously not everyone agrees with this list - some prefer cities and travel to party, for example - but it helps me feel safe when I travel and that's a good thing.

    I travel in Central America every year. Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with one or more of my kids and/or my husband, sometimes with a group in tow. I don't feel overly paranoid but have never had a problem and would like to keep it that way.

    Here are my concessions to safety when I travel in Central America:
    :: I avoid the big cities as much as possible
    :: I don't "party"
    :: Where recommended I take specific transportation (ex: Hedman Alas in Honduras, avoid chicken buses on the mountain runs in Guatemala, take taxis after dark)
    :: I know where I am and where I'm headed and make major transitions with plenty of daylight left
    :: I don't wear jewelry (not even my wedding band) and try not to flash camera equipment or money around
    :: Some trips I carry a “throw down wallet” with an expired card or 2 and the day’s cash in it
    :: I keep important documents and cash under my clothes (except what I need for shopping, buses, etc. for that time period) and keep close watch on my things, especially in crowded places and when I’m tired
    :: I ask locals about safety in an area - evenings, hiking, etc.
    :: I travel really light so I don't feel vulnerable getting my bag off and on buses, shuttles, etc.
    :: I continue to build skills in Spanish (doesn't apply to Belize)

    I wouldn't expect your gender, age, or race to make you less safe as long as you keep your wits about you. I don't know that particular school and I know Xela has a lot of fans, but I prefer a smaller town on Lake Atitlán for my annual Spanish study trips - I'm just not much of a city person and Xela is the 2nd largest in Guatemala. Let us know if more questions crop up or you'd like additional recommendations. ¡Buena suerte!

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    I don't know the language school, but let me put in a plug for Quetzaltenango. It may be the second largest city in the country, but it is so much smaller than Guatemala City that it has a "big small town" feel. The center of the city is quite pleasant and has kind of a student vibe. There are some good restaurants and a lot of great cafes.

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