Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to find myself alone in Argentina. I know! The question on everyone’s tongue is: “Is Argentina Safe for Solo Female Travelers?” I am happy to say, despite the concerns of my mother and most people aware of my plans, the worst thing that happened to me was being stranded by a beautiful lake in Patagonia. (There are worst things, right?)
After a misunderstanding with a bus driver, I missed my stop to go kayaking. It took me a while to realize I was lost. Once I figured it out, I tried my best not to freak out. I had a gorgeous, mountainside lake all to myself – I wanted to enjoy it! My bliss was cut short, though. I soon realized that not only was I stranded, but my phone was about to die as well.
With no return buses or schedules in sight, I forced myself to subdue the crater-like feeling in my chest. I had been in some serious binds before, but never like this. Alone on a strange but scenic road, I trudged along for nearly two hours before finding a hotel. I remember forcing myself to enjoy the scenery while trying think of anything besides the fact I was alone in a strange place. Thanks to a friendly Australian couple, I was able to get a ride back to my hostel before dark, but I still cringe thinking about all the ways that scenario could have gone wrong.
Like many other young people, I sometimes prefer to ignore the risks of the world around me. It’s not that I want to – I’m actually a fairly cautious person despite what happened at the lake. I’m not naive either. I know there are plenty of people out there who can and would hurt me, rob me, or worse. My fears of encountering these kind of people are always in the back of my mind – whether I’m at home or abroad. So far my instincts have mostly been right, but I realize one misjudgment can have grave consequences. People I’ve met along the way love to point this out to me. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me if something’s “safe” for girls. As if I weren’t already aware of the safety concerns that women face every day.
Unfortunately, they have a point and their concerns are impossible to ignore. But if I fixate on my own vulnerability and shift all my attention towards the uglier aspects of our world, how will I (or any of us) ever lead a life worth living? Our planet, that can be threatening and volatile at times, demands to be experienced. There are mountains to climb, places to see, and people to meet.
When I decided to travel long-term earlier this year, my friends were all busy with jobs, school or relationships. I wasn’t willing to put my own dreams on hold simply because I didn’t want to go alone. And neither should you.
Sadly, there are some corners of the world that women should avoid visiting alone. To answer the question, “Is Argentina Safe for Solo Female Travelers?” I can say that yes it is. I’m happy to say I left Argentina without incident and had a fantastic experience! Though many travelers (of both genders) can not say the same. Robberies are common. At times force is involved. But most of the instances that I heard of only involved pickpocketing. According to the most recent United Nations Development Program report,
Argentina ranks number one for most robberies in Latin America. This certainly doesn’t bode well for Argentina’s tourism industry, but if you have your heart set on dancing in Buenos Aires or hiking through Patagonia, please don’t let this bs a deterrent. Just be smart and vigilant. Stay aware of your environment and the people around you.
I’ve visited a lot of major cities, and I felt safe in Buenos Aires. Per my usual standards, I did not walk around alone at night and I was careful with my cell phone in public. I also only carried cross-body bags and seldom carried more than a few hundred pesos (10 pesos is less than $1 USD.) I left my debit card at home, as well as my passport and anything else I couldn’t live without. Fortunately, these measures were only precautionary and nothing noteworthy happened to me. Yet, a friend of mine had her iPhone stolen in broad daylight and yet another friend was robbed at gunpoint with her dad. Meanwhile, I was fine as a gringa with a tendency to bee bop.
Aside from avoiding certain neighborhoods and practicing basic safety precautions, there’s only so much you can do to protect yourself in any city. Shit happens, it’s inevitable. Whether we are home or traveling, it’s out of our control. So, why let something you can’t control stop you from following your heart? When I encounter problems, the locals were always friendly and eager to help. If travel anxiety rears its ugly head, friendly Australian couples or sympathetic locals tend to come out of the woodwork. Maybe this is another naivety, but most travelers will probably agree that traveling alone tends to leave one mesmerized by the kindness and generosity of strangers.
So, is Argentina safe for solo female travelers? Well, I always felt safe there! I would say my poor Spanish skills left me feeling more vulnerable that my original safety concerns. When dealing with strangers in Argentina, be prepared for the difficult language barrier if you don’t speak Spanish. So, if you don’t know much Spanish, I highly recommend you take a survival course before visiting Argentina!
However, sexual harassment is pretty much guaranteed if you’re a female traveling alone in Argentina. Regardless of what I was wearing, not a day passed without receiving unsolicited feedback on my looks. Usually, it came in the form of compliments or whistles. Other times, I had no idea what the remarks were. Those were times I was glad not to understand Spanish.
Within a week, the constant barrage of “compliments” became overwhelming. To escape unwanted attention, I wore sunglasses to avoid that awkward eye contact and wore headphones of the very large “don’t talk to me, I can’t hear you anyway” variety.
If you’re a woman interested traveling alone to Argentina and stumbled along this post by searching “is Argentina safe for solo female travelers”, I hope you’ll keep Argentina in your travel plans. I won’t sugar coat the fact that Argentina isn’t perfect, but nowhere and nothing is. But, I would rather lose my cell phone or wallet to a pickpocket than forgo experiences out of fear. Be smart, be safe, be aware, but don’t forget that fortune favors the brave! ¡Buen Viaje!