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10 Things to Know Before Solo Travel in Colombia

Updated: Apr 25

Are you thinking about traveling to Colombia? Wondering if Colombia is safe for solo travel? If you’re like me, you may have heard many great things about visiting Colombia. Gone are the days of Pablo Escabar; Colombia has worked to boost tourism and make the country safe. But if you are a sole female traveler, (or really anyone), be sure to read these 10 things before you go to Colombia!


church in guatape colombia

 

1.Get the Name Right: It’s Colombia, not Columbia. I am embarrassed to say I was way too old when I discovered this. It’s a major sore spot for locals, so be sure to brush up on your spelling.


2. Safety Precautions: While Colombia has made significant strides in improving safety, it's essential to stay vigilant, especially in crowded areas and at night. That being said, Colombia is not an episode of Narcos, and many locals are welcoming.


3. Research Regions: Different regions in Colombia have varying levels of safety. Research and stick to well-traveled areas, especially as a solo traveler. Tourist areas can be a double-edged sword – they are typically safer during the day because of the increased police presence but can be more dangerous at night as the area becomes a target-rich environment.


4. Learn Basic Spanish: Knowing some basic Spanish will help you navigate and communicate with locals more easily, enhancing your travel experience and safety. You may be surprised by the lack of English in South America. But take heart, Medellin is one of the best places to learn Spanish. The locals are very forgiving when you are practicing the language. Feel free to make mistakes!



5. Transportation Safety: Use reputable transportation options, such as registered taxis or rideshare services, and avoid traveling alone at night, especially in remote areas. You may notice that taxi and Uber drivers warn you to close the door gently. Foreigners (especially us Americans) tend to slam our doors because they are heavy and sturdy. Don’t upset your driver!


6. Bring Layers: The weather can change drastically depending on the various regions in Colombia. From the higher altitude cooler climates in the mountains, to the extreme coastal heat in Cartagena, to the frequent rains during the wet season, it’s important to back layers… and a raincoat!


7. Secure Accommodations: Book accommodations in safe and well-reviewed hotels or hostels, preferably in central locations with good security measures. I would encourage you to find places with 24/7 security or gated entrances.


picture of tayrona national park water with the palm trees in the foreground

8. Respect Local Customs: Familiarize yourself with Colombian customs and cultural norms to show respect and avoid unintentional offense. Colombians are quite friendly, even to strangers. You will often hear, “Hola, Como estás?” It’s polite to respond, even with just a smile.


9. Money Safety: Carry only necessary cash and use ATMs in well-lit and secure areas. Consider using a money belt or hidden pouch to keep valuables safe. The U.S. Embassy recommends if you are approached to simply hand over any cash and valuables. I have experienced no issues, but it’s always best to be on your guard and carry as little valuables as possible. Unfortunately, credit cards are not always accepted and often come with a 5% convenience fee, so some cash is necessary.


10. Trust Your Instincts: If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, trust your instincts and remove yourself from it. When traveling in the evenings, be sure to stay in well-lit areas. Stay in groups if you can, walking with others from your hostel or tour groups.

 

Remember, solo travel can be incredibly rewarding, but safety should always be a top priority. With proper planning and awareness, you can have a fantastic experience exploring Colombia as a solo female traveler.

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Guest
Mar 21
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

such SMART tips! Thank you!

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Guest
Mar 20
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Excellent recommendations. Thank yoi

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Guest
Mar 20
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.
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