In about 10 days I will be leaving the comfort of the USA to travel South America for 6-8 months. I plan on starting in Colombia, and making my way to ecuador, peru, bolivia, chile, and argentina. I AM GOING ALL ALONE! With the trip so close, I am getting super nervous about my safety, my sanity, and my ability to trust the people i meet along the way. Over the past few months leading up to this trip I've been inundated with crazy stories and concerning information that has- much to my dislike- put a damper on my adventurous plans.
I guess my question to you all is... how do you see it- a female, fresh out of college, traveling on her own? Is it safe? Am i going to make trust worthy friends? This is by no means my first time in Latin America, but it'll be my first time without a real "plan". Any advice would be gladly accepted and most respected.
In 2011, I traveled alone in Peru and in Buenos Aires for the better part of two months. As a male, I did not have the additional safety concerns that you possess.
What you are doing is great--I wish I did it at your age and am thankful I was able to do a shorter version at all. I traveled without a plan too--my one-way ticket was booked only the day before I departed, from Australia.
You are bound to meet people in the cities. I spoke no Spanish, but anyone educated will speak English.
Just as a suggestion try to stay in "safe" places. Even though I have not extensively travelled through S. America I can say that Chile is quite safe, If youre in Santiago try to stay in Providencia or Las condes. If you go towards the south of Chile, in most towns downtown places are good enough. Try not to miss the northern Patagonia, Chiloé and the lake district are incredible, althought it rains a lot during the winter months so try to get there before april (and the days shorten a lot in winter, the sun sets around 5pm). In Lima, Peru try to stay in Miraflores or San Isidro..
Still have friends in Chiloe so I can give you a few tipps if your going over there.