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How to Stay Safe While Traveling in Mexico, Central America, and South America

When I tell people I’m going to Mexico, their immediate response is: isn’t it dangerous? Sure, it’s dangerous, but so is Dallas, so is L.A., so is New Orleans. But what I really hate to see is this fear ruin your chances of traveling south of the border. So, I’ve compiled 11 ways to stay safe according to two bonafide experts: myself and Elio, my Venezuelan friend from Caracas (the most dangerous city in the world). Click the play button to hear me talk about these tips. 

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Avoid Gathering Crowds

If you see a bunch of people suddenly gathering in a crowd, turn and go the opposite way

Avoid things that seem odd or out of place

Elio specifically mentioned SUV’s; however, I would recommend you avoid people, places, or things, that seem like they don’t belong in that area.

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If you're being followed

Notice if a group of people is following you. If so, change your route. If they persist, get into a crowded area or into a restaurant, and you can always call an Uber (yes, Uber exists south of the border).

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Walk with confidence

Look people in the eye. Fake it till you make it–act like you know what’s up. Sometimes I’ll walk around daring people to mess with me. In my head of course 🙂

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Petty theft

If someone offers to show you a trick, keep walking. Remember, thieves work in groups so someone will need to distract you. Keep your bag within your line of sight in really crowded places. 

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Keep it low key

Don’t be that tourist–the one screaming in English, flashing  money and a cool new iPhone. And definitely don’t be the person wandering about wasted while singing the Star Spangled Banner.

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What to walk around with

I recommend bringing about $25 in cash and a credit card. Leave the majority of your money at home and definitely leave your debit card at home. Also avoid wearing flashy jewelry!

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Avoid alleys

I mean, duh, right?! Don’t be tempted to follow people who claim to have something “just over there.”

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Don't walk alone at night

 Again, duh! I recommend never walking alone at night in any country. 

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Kidnapped?

Let me just say Elio, whose cousin was kidnapped twice, says that being kidnapped as a tourist is highly unlikely; however, if you somehow find yourself in this situation here are his tips.

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Have a friend keep tabs

Before I left the States, I shared my location with my family via the Find My Friends app. That way, they can keep tabs on me.

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And finally...

Most of our fears are made up. If you pay attention to your surroundings, maintain confidence and awareness, and avoid making yourself a target, your chances of being robbed or taken advantage of go down considerably.

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I hope Elio and I have qualmed some of your fears and imparted some useful tips! Enjoy the wonders south of the border!

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