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1. Posted by sportboy (Budding Member 22 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

Hi there
I am an 18 year old male from london. After talking to my mates, i am now fucking scared of going to South America because of the threat of gangs, being beaten up and general things like that. Is it as bad as they say?

2. Posted by AndrewGW (Full Member 42 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

If you're scared of gangs, being beaten up etc in London then no, don't go but if you are relatively happy walking around most places in London then SA isn't any different - keep your head on your shoulders, don't get pissed as a newt and do somthing stupid, don't flash the cash etc etc...

Any big city anywhere in the world will have it's trouble areas - find out through research and talking to locals on arrival where to avoid and where it's "safe"...

After 17 years traveling through 30+ countries, most of them "developing nations", and now living in Panama, I feel more unsafe when I go back to the US or Canada...


3. Posted by Kingwindle (Respected Member 302 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

i'll join your club sportboy, excuse the awfuk pun. The biggest thing that I am scared about is the language barrier, its a very quick way for the locals to realise that we are 'gringo's', and then may get targeted becuase of this. As I also live in London i know there is trouble everywhere, but its just the fact that I am going travelling for the first time ever, and I will be in a totally different country that! I'm sure we both will be fine because you only hear the bad things which take publicity, (muggings etc) but think of the scores of people that actually travel there and come home having the best time. I'm focusing on this aspect to calm me down, have a good time!


4. Posted by huntdaisy1 (Full Member 66 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

Just don´t wear watches, etc and show cameras - you should be fine if you look like a poor traveller - that is my plan. Take minimal money out with you in the cities and you will be fine. I have done peru, bolivia, argentina and am on my way to brazil - Nothing has happened so far and i am a girl on my own. Just got my fingers crosssed about brazil but just going to stick to what i said earlier - have fun.

5. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

One of the safest things is to lock yourself in a room, and stay at home

6. Posted by remarcable (Respected Member 335 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

Gotta agree with the rest. Do your research... you will be fine. Like any other 2-3rd world country, you may have some desperate people. Keep your cool, don't be an ass, and don't flash your things..u will be alright . The people of latin america are cool peeps.


7. Posted by barrito (Full Member 45 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

On the same tack as Kingwindle. I am in Paraguay at the moment. Their language is Guarani with Spanish as their 2nd language. Apart from the odd person English isn´t an option.

I am full of admiration for the young who travel S. america without any Spanish.They seem to find hotels , negotiate airports & buses with ease. I would find it so stressful. An example was the airport at B. Aires. The tv screens and staff at the gate told me that this was the gate for Asuncion flight. After a while I noticed people seemed to be wandering off. I asked in Spanish if the plane was loading only to find the gate had been changed . The tv screens still read "Asuncion". Scary. An American couple would still be waiting if I hadn´t told them.

8. Posted by Brasil77 (Budding Member 3 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

While there is no surefire way to avoid confrontations in other countries or even in your own neighberhood following the below advice could help you stay safe.

1. The easiest way to locate a "gringo" is by there clothing. My wife and I(we live in Brazil) can locate foreigners in the malls or on the streets not by their skin color but by their apparell. First try avoiding using socks. If you really like socks either use pants over them or use ankle socks. Big white socks are an easy giveaway. Rsearch what South Americans wear. Usually women use light skirts, jeans or black dress pants with high heels and small tops. (Remember apparell for nightclubs is more formal in Brazil). Men usually use jeans or light cotton pants and button down shirts. Finally(I just saw a foriegner using this at a mall two days ago) NO sandals with socks!! Also no Hawaian shirts, kakhai pants or shorts or safari-like hats. These are a dead giveaway.

2. While most foriegners (European and American) are whiter than Brazilians, there are many white Brazilians particularly to the South. However, if you are very white and have rosy areas, like around the cheeks, you may want to do a little tanning before you leave.

3. Don't worry so much about the language. No one can learn every language of the countries they want to visit. However, knowing a few simple phrases like "thank you" and "please" will be well appreciated by locals and it is a good way to break the ice when you pronounce the words wrong. Laughing at yourself shows you are relaxed and easy to get along with. You can look for classes at local colleges or use CD's that you listen to and learn the language. *Remember in Brazil we speak Portuguese not Spanish

4. One of the other easier ways to locate foriegners is when you see a person using a back pack. Unless someone has a school shirt on, no one uses a back pack. Try avoid using one when you are well-establised in a city. If you are traveling from city to city, you may need to use one but remember smaller is better.

5. As many others have already mentioned be careful with cameras, cash and jewelry. If your going to beaches, such as Copacabana never take your jewelry, take very little cash for food or drinks.

6. Like one other member mentioned avoid bad areas. Research the place your going to. Like I said Copacabana can be dangerous. Also don't walk through favela areas without a native. Otherwise you are a walking target.

7. Finally make friends with people that live in the area you are going to. By the way where exactly are you going? A native's knowledge of local customs, language and areas is invaluable. Do not try to be too independent.

Maybe I scared you a little bit, but don't be. Remember the chance of being hurt or robbed are rare, however the above things will help you be safe.

Good luck.

Boas Viagens!!!!!

9. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

I travelled around Argentina, Chile and Bolivia in 2003 with a little Spanish (click here to see my guide to "essential Spanish"). I was wearing socks and carrying a backpack (and a guide book!), so was probably easily identifible as a gringo, but didn't run into any problems.

Bus stations scare the heck out of me, and I try and get out as soon as possible on arriving, but otherwise felt fine. I seldom felt unsafe, even in Buenos Aires, even at night among the poor sorting through the garbage.

Generally, people were nice and helpful. In fact, the people were less pushy and scheming then most of the Caribean destinations I have been to that are more heavily touristed.

If trouble breaks out (as it did for me in Bolivia), the key is to stay out of the way. If you see gangs starting something up, then walk away. Don't wait around to watch how it turns out or (god forbid) try and get involved.

It's an amazing destination.


10. Posted by michellemm (Full Member 109 posts) 15y Star this if you like it!

[quote][quote=Brasil77]The easiest way to locate a "gringo" is by there clothing. [quote]

hahahahah!!!! this is sooo true!!! The way you described, I could imagine a foreigner walking by the beaches in Rio...

Brasil77 is thoroughly correct! Try to look as native as possible, you'll be just fine...

And something very important: the worst thing that can happen to you is being robbed. If you do, just hand your things to the stealer, don't try to fight or grab your is less important than your safety... (I'm not trying to scare you! )

So, if you take the precautions, you will have no problems and, like the rest of the people who visit Brazil, will fall in love for this wonderful and cheerful country!