June 23, 2024

Solo Travelers Are Sharing Their Best Tips For Visiting Latin America

Recently, I asked the BuzzFeed Community, “What advice would you give to people who are planning to solo travel in Latin America?”

Here are 19 tips and recommendations for solo traveling in Latin America:

Some responses are also from this Reddit thread by u/TheMakeUpBoy and this Reddit thread by u/zbr13.

First, here are some travel hacks and general advice for visiting Latin American:

1.“Just spent 12 years in Nicaragua. Best advice: learn Spanish, learn Spanish, learn Spanish!”

dora the explorerdora the explorer

ejb3work

2.“Generally, I’d recommend keeping a picture of your passport on your phone, as police sometimes stop to check you’re not overstaying your visa.”

woman at the airportwoman at the airport

Yiu Yu Hoi / Getty Images

u/UnconditionalMay

3.“I spent 10 months in South America and just over a year in Central America and had an amazing time. Take a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter so you can fill up from any fresh water source and have safe, clean drinking water — you’ll avoid getting sick from drinking dodgy water, save money from not buying bottled water, and reduce plastic waste too!”

woman drinking waterwoman drinking water

Leopatrizi / Getty Images

“Aside from that, take your time and enjoy!”

clairesturz

4.“Theft in hostels wasn’t uncommon, so lock your shit up.”

person zipping a suitcaseperson zipping a suitcase

Erdark / Getty Images

u/UnconditionalMay

5.“I found the best advice was from either hostel staff or other travelers I met along the way.”

person checking into a hotelperson checking into a hotel

Hispanolistic / Getty Images

u/UnconditionalMay

6.“I traveled South America solo as a female over land and air, from Argentina to Venezuela through Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and Ecuador. Leave your valuables at home. Blend in. Be polite to everyone. Don’t act like a tourist, pull out maps, have your bulging wallet in a pocket, or wear a bum bag.”

person taking a photoperson taking a photo

“I kept a credit card in a hidden pocket (cargo pants pocket near the shin), enough bus or taxi fare to get home in another hidden or zipped pocket, and the smallest amount of cash to pull out for drinks, food, small purchases etc. Any rearranging of pockets was done in the toilets unseen.”

u/Truantone

7.“Just remember, people are people wherever you go, and people in Central and South America are extremely warm and friendly. Don’t be afraid to use what Spanish you know. If you run out of Spanish, just smile and communicate with your hands and eyes. They will smile and help you.”

people getting picked up at the airportpeople getting picked up at the airport

Prime Video

— u/craig_j

Now, here are tips for visiting specific countries and cities:

8.“Peru was more difficult to travel around in. Driving anywhere via bus will take a while due to the mountainous roads. We flew to most of our destinations to save time.”

mountain views from the planemountain views from the plane

Artmarie / Getty Images

u/Bubba_Junior

9.“I travelled as a solo female in Peru for a month and didn’t feel unsafe. I was also a bit nervous about transportation, so I opted to use PeruHop, which is a hop-on/hop-off bus service that runs from Lima down to Arequipa and back up to Cusco. I found it took a lot of the stress out of trying to get around, plus they helped book hostels and activities.”

cityscapecityscape

Christian Vinces / Getty Images/iStockphoto

u/brigidsbollix

10.“I stayed in Havana, Cuba in a ‘casa particular’ [a private accommodation, similar to a bed and breakfast], which was kinda neat because you got the hostel crowd staying there, but you also get to see the locals more. In my case, it was a whole family who ran the casa particular.”

old buildings in havanaold buildings in havana

Cultura Exclusive / Getty Images/Image Source

u/SolidardadLibertaria

11.“Tour buses can be reserved from one of the fancy hotels in old Havana. I took one to Viñales, but you can also take a taxi colectivo [share taxi] out there too.”

people on a tour buspeople on a tour bus

Elojotorpe / Getty Images

u/SolidardadLibertaria

12.“Costa Rica lacked good public transportation. Our first trip, we took shuttle vans that we reserved beforehand, which was $20–$50 for each leg. I would highly recommend avoiding that and renting your own car.”

person getting out of their car by the oceanperson getting out of their car by the ocean

Kryssia Campos / Getty Images

“Most things are spread out quite far, so driving is nice.”

u/Bubba_Junior

13.“In Colombia and Ecuador, try to get your hotel or restaurant to call for a cab rather than hailing one on the street.”

hotel front desk on the phonehotel front desk on the phone

Hispanolistic / Getty Images/iStockphoto / Via Getty

u/craig_j

And now, here are some recommendations for places solo travelers should visit:

14.“I’m very biased because my mom is from there, but Quito, Ecuador is a wonderful city to visit! There’s so much to do, and the food is delicious (and relatively cheap!). You can easily get around on the bus for 25 cents or less, or use taxis, which will run you $5–10, depending on how far you need to go (sometimes even less) and are usually safe.”

person with a city behind themperson with a city behind them

F.j. Jimenez / Getty Images

“For women, if you feel safer using an app instead of taxis, try DiDi. It’s the equivalent to Uber. I found it easy to use.

The city is massive — seriously, don’t underestimate it — but a few places I’d recommend are the Virgen del Panecillo monument (easy to get a bus there) and the historic center, which is full of beautifully preserved churches & historic buildings that you can tour solo or with a guide (available in English) for $30 or so.

There’s also a teleférico [an aerial lift, similar to the Disney Skyliner] and museums with free days — just check in advance. Last summer, I even went to an adorable classic movie theater that I’d never been to before, and it was amazing! Sadly, I don’t remember what it’s called, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

There’s also the Mitad del Mundo attraction with exhibits of all the regions of Ecuador, great food, and souvenir shops.

Lastly, don’t forget to check out Baños. It’s a short drive out of the city, also accessible by bus, and has so many options for outdoor adventures (zip lining, swing that goes over a cliff, bike trails, waterfall, etc.). As with anywhere, be mindful of your items and of your surroundings, especially try to be careful when using your phone (grip it tightly, don’t be obvious, keep it in an inaccessible location), and you should be fine.”

yourfavoritebibliophile

15.“Don’t count out Guatemala! Hike an active volcano, explore Mayan ruins, and chill in Antigua.”

volcanovolcano

Cavan Images / Getty Images/Cavan Images RF / Via Getty

u/TinKicker

16.“So, I have to speak up about Honduras. From Belize, you can drive to a city called Omoa. Then you take a ferry to the Bay Islands. Google them; they’re amazing and super cheap.”

picnic tables in the water shaded with straw umbrellaspicnic tables in the water shaded with straw umbrellas

Pola Damonte Via Getty Images / Getty Images

“If you make it down here, you won’t want to ever leave.”

u/aubor

17.“Visit Peru! You must come here! You have Lima, the Latin American capital of gastronomy. Then, you can visit Arequipa, which is really beautiful, and you cannot leave Peru without visiting Cusco (including Cusco City, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu). Believe me, you won’t regret! And it is very cheap for you that will come with euros.”

city view of perucity view of peru

Christian Vinces / Getty Images/iStockphoto / Via Getty

u/dianavg12

18.“I am a solo female traveler. I never felt unsafe in Mexico. I am in Mexico City right now.”

view of mexico cityview of mexico city

© Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

“The culture, music, food, museums, and parks are so rich.”

u/laureire

19.And finally: “I went to Costa Rica as a solo woman specifically because it’s one of the safest countries in the Americas. The experience was better than home.”

waterfallwaterfall

Matteo Colombo / Getty Images

“I highly recommend the Guanacaste area during low season.”

u/egusisoupandgarri

If you’ve ever solo traveled, what tips and recommendations do you have for visiting your favorite destinations? Share your answers in the comments!

Some entries have been edited for length/clarity.

Join BuzzFeed in celebrating Latine Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15.

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