Need Travel Advice for Women Traveling Alone.

Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 09:06 AM
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Need Travel Advice for Women Traveling Alone.

Hi,
I am a 28 year old woman and am planning a 3 week trip to Buenos Aires, AR & to Cusco, Peru in Oct/Nov & will be traveling alone. I plan on taking some spanish courses during the week with a reputable school but will be exploring more of the cities on my own during the weekends and at night. I am not a virgin traveler, I moved to New Zealand when I was 20 yrs old by myself & also backpacked through Europe for a few months alone for a few months as well. I always felt like these were rather safe countries to travel alone though! Even though I have traveled before on my own, I have always been a little more timid about traveling in South America alone. Also my family & friends have also started to fill my head with all these horrible scenario's & it's really starting to worry me & I have actually been thinking about canceling my trip.

If there are any women out there that have traveled to South America alone, particularly through Argentina & Peru (Machu Picchu) could you please advise me on what your experiences were like and if you felt safe?! Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I am also looking for a good tour company to do a 2 day trek on the Inca Trail if you know of any as well! Thank you so much for your time!

Kate
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 10:12 AM
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Well meant advice from people who have never been where you are going should be greeted with a smile and ignored. One can dredge up horror stories for any country in the world. Yes, you are slightly more vulnerable being a woman alone, but thousands of women travel alone to South America every year.
In Argentina you have to watch out for petty crimes of opportunity, pickpocketing, bag snatching, short changing and such. Take radio taxis at night simply to not wander into the wrong neighbourhood. The long distance buses are excellent and perfectly safe. Overeating is the worst case scenario in Buenos Aires.
In Perú you will be moving in the same direction as many other tourists. It is easy to link up with others to share costs and enjoy the sights together. Keep your day pack on your lap on buses, not under the seat or on the rack above you (voice of experience)and choose the most expensive bus companies for long distance trips. Petty crime as in Argentina, maybe a tad more. Worth it to see Cusco and Machu Picchu though. Llama Path is good for Inca Trail but you may not find a space now.
In short, don't do things local women don't do, remain aware of your surroundings, link up with other travelers. For goodness' sake don't cancel....go!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 02:04 PM
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There are many single tourists traveling between Cusco and MP. I think the main advice is to reserve a hotel ahead of time and to ask them to arrange a pickup at the airport for you. If you haven't already locked in your itinerary, I advise going directly to the Sacred Valley, not only is the altitude lower, the towns are smaller and perhaps less intimidating. You can visit Cusco after you see MP, you will be acclimated to the higher altitude and also less chicken!

If you are going thru Lima (which is most likely) I would recommend arriving late at night and just staying at the airport and taking the first flight to Cusco. The Lima airport is quite nice, if you fly LAN they are pretty much open all night, you can check your bags thru and hang out at the gate, where everyone will have passed thru security and have a ticket.

If you want to visit Lima I would do it after Cusco/MP and also follow the advice on taxis and how to dress on the street. Just use normal big city precautions and relax!

If you know the trick of wearing a wedding band sometimes that can distract some unwanted attention.

General advice in Peru is to not wear flashy jewelry, watches, also an Ipod or laptop can make you a target, I would not travel with one.

I carried only cash for the day, in several places like front pocket, shoe, and (ahem) the favorite place of grandmothers.
Be sure to wrap the money in some plastic wrap so it doesn't get wet, or you will have trouble spending it. I did not carry a purse. I had the type of backpack with one sling that you can carry in front of you.
mlgb is offline  
Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 02:24 PM
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Money Belt everything of value there

Choose top hostels like www.loki.com

Buddy system if possible

www.insuremytrip.com

www.travel.state.gov.com review countries for heads up

Buy VIP seats on buses safer

Overall safe if careful
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 02:25 PM
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www.lokihostels.com

www.travel.state.gov

sorry for typos...
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 03:21 PM
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Thank you all!!! Great advice, exactly the final push I needed to book this! Also Llama path looks great, can't believe I didn't find that one before! Thanks again!


Oh & something else I was wondering was what clothes to bring. Shouldn't I dress somewhat nice (jeans & nice shirt/jacket) to avoid looking like an obvious tourist? I always feel like it's more obvious I'm not local when I'm dressed down. This is definitely more geared to being in Buenos Aires of course!

Also unfortunately I am going to be bringing my laptop with me because I will be using it to study but is there lockers/storage available in Cusco to store my personal belongings? Thanks again!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 03:59 PM
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I wouldnt worry to much about being alone in Latin America, especially since the countries and destinations you've chosen are amongst the safest. Besides there are LOADS of travellers doing the same route as you so it'll be easy for you to make some travel buddies! In BA there are loads of ways to meet other foreigners - organised pub crawls, Spanish courses and areas which are particularly popular amongst travellers such as Palermo Soho. For the pubcrawl there's a really fun one that leaves Plaza Armenia (Palermo Soho) on a Tuesday and Thursday - it goes to the best bars and there's always a really nice crowd, I did it with my sister and it was great! For Spanish classes, I'd go somewhere like Buespanish, tou get free coffee, internet, there's a library where you can use all the Spanish stuff, its a really nice atmosphere, very flexible courses and the teachers are great!
About dressing down I wouldnt worry too much, most girls in Argentina really dress down, its not common to see a pair of heels, and besides they people all very open minded so I doubt they'll judge you too much. With your laptop if you get a decent place to stay you should be able to leave it in the safe or behind the reception - rememeber that for them their reputation goes a long way to getting them new customers!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 04:29 PM
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I think they will know you are a tourist no matter how you dress but I think dressing down is a good idea. It was very casual in Peru, especially for a young person.

I would not use the laptop in public view, maybe just in your room and check that the hotel has a secure place for it..and bring a lock, back everything up (especially photos do not just download them and then delete from the camera, use some flash drives or extra memory cards). Oh, and bring lots and lots of camera memory & maybe an extra camera battery especially for Peru!

BTW your chargers should work there.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 06:01 PM
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mglb,

My flight will arrive in Lima a 9:55pm. Do you think it'll be easier to just spend the night at the airport until the next morning for the connecting flight to Cusco? I would have to stay up the whole night, right? Would it be too much of a hassle to jump into a cheap hostal in Lima for the night and then get back to the airport the next morning? Thanks.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2009, 06:16 PM
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Chances are it will take at least an hour to clear immigration and customs. There are a lot of international flights that arrive at night.

So it will be about 11 pm, if you have a flight at 5:30 am then you should be checked in by 4:30 am

It is NOT worth it in my opinion to take a cab into LIma Miraflores where most people stay, it takes about an hour each way in heavy & intense traffic. So you will get there at midnight, and have to leave at 3 to 3:30 am.

However there are some cheap hotels near the airport (I didn't do this) & there is also an expensive Ramada right at the airport.

Actually a lot of people do sleep, the seats allow you to stretch out. You'd want an eye mask at least. If you can check your luggage thru then you'll be okay to sleep in the terminal at the LAN gate. Probably half the morning flight will be doing the same, there are security guards around. You could ask a friendly person or two to make sure to wake you up if you are sleeping thru your boarding call.
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Old Sep 4th, 2009, 02:47 PM
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Don't dare to cancel that amazing trip! I cannot say a lot about Peru, but regarding Buenos Aires you should be careful like in any other big city. Regarding using your laptop in public, I wouldn't recommend you do that however, there are many people (specially women) who use it in several cafés in the Recoleta and Barrio Norte district.
You shouldn't stay in San Telmo district, this is a very nice, pinturesque neighborhood but it's always quite deserted and not as safe as Recoleta, Barrio Norte, Palermo or downtown. There are many houses with 'uninvited' guests (what we call okupas)
In my opinion Recoleta and Barrio norte are the best districts to stay at. I don't know about your budget, but in case you are looking for B&B you should then consider Palermo Hollywood area, accommodation such as Home, Bobo, Nuss, Malabia House, The Glu.
About clothes, people will know you are a tourist no matter how you dress. My advice is not to wear expensive-valuable jewelry, take radio taxis, use money belt, keep money in small denominations since it's a little difficult to find them in our city, don't exchange money at the airport, if you do so do it at the Banco Nación in EZE, they have the right exchange rate.
Regarding the Inca Trail, why don't you contact WOW Argentina? They are a young couple of travel agents who have been in the business for several years and know a lot about Perú, Brazil, Chile, and of course Argentina. I have guided many people who arranged their trips to Argentina and Perú with them and were really pleased with their service.
link: www.wowperu.com.ar

I hope this is useful info! Have a nice trip!
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Old Sep 14th, 2009, 05:09 PM
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I too am a veteran traveler, but when I decided to come to Peru. I did my research on travel agencies and had them set up an interary for me. My spanish is extremely limited and to me it was worth making sure there were as few comunication snafus as possible. Travel can be exciting enough as it is. To me it was worth a little extra cost to have some one arrange all of my travel: bus tickets, plan tickets, hotels, and most importantly having a driver to pick me up at every single airport or bus station. While I initially wasn´t sure about the value of the drivers, let me tell you it has been priceless. (I am still in Peru at the moment) To know that some one is safely going to take you to where you need to go when you see a sea of drivers viaing for your business is a relief.

I tend to be cautious by nature, but a no point have I felt unsafe. I walked from the main square in Cusco to my hotel several times after 8:30 pm and felt safe other couples were worried at 6 pm. So it is subjective. There are basically 2 streets in Agua Callentes so it is a bit difficult to get lost or feel afraid. The whole town knows each other and the tourist is their life blood. They will look out for you (they may over charge you, but they won´t mug you)
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