Argentina Journal Solo Female Travel

Is Argentina Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

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. 

Argentina Safe for Solo Female Travelers

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. 

Argentina Safe for Solo Female Travelers - me in bariloche

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Leighann
    October 13, 2015 at 4:25 am

    I found your blog earlier today via Pinterest, and I’m a huge fan! I think I’m a little too old for some of your adventures but I enjoy reading along…there is so much for available to your generation, it’s not fair for us grannies 😉 Be safe!

    • Reply
      Sandy
      June 4, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      You’re not too old! There are lots of opportunities for us grannies out there. There are volunteering trips to Thailand, language schools with homestay programs, check the internet for them. I stayed in Cusco with a family and went to Amigos spanish school for 2 weeks as my first solo trip after my retirement. Met wonderful people and had great experiences. Try it!

  • Reply
    Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine
    October 13, 2015 at 9:44 am

    What an interesting post. I had been dreaming of solo tripping to Argentina, but lots of people were telling me that I wouldn’t be safe. Granted, that’s what many people say about ANYWHERE if you bring up solo travel. But I agree with you! Bad things can happen anywhere you’re in at any single time. If you do your best to stay cognizant of what’s around you, be prepared, etc…you’re doing the best you can! I believe you shouldn’t shut out a huge part of the world because of reports like these. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to live in Philadelphia right now!

    Good post!

    • Reply
      Allison
      October 13, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Thank you, Amanda! It’s always good to hear from you. You’re right, a lot of people seem to have reservations about women traveling alone in general, whether it’s to NYC or Buenos Aires! I hope you can make it to Argentina soon, minus the ticket costs it’s actually a very affordable (and fun) place to visit!

  • Reply
    Liz
    October 19, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I have traveled solo in the past and my friends have always imagined the worst scenarios. Of course, I thank them for their concern, but I share your sentiment: there is so much of the world out there that we can miss if we always fear. 🙂

    I felt kind of panicked as I was reading the first part of your post. I haven’t been stranded yet, but I hope I would be able to have a clear and hopeful mind like you did.

    Thanks for this account! Will keep it in mind should I travel to Argentina in the future. 🙂

  • Reply
    Lorea
    May 19, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Hi!

    Loved your post — I’m a 22 year old female looking to travel solo in Buenos Aires over the summer and your post made me excited, albeit aware/conscious of safety, about traveling to Argentina. I’m thinking about staying at a hostel to meet people with similar purposes and was wondering what you did for lodging?

    Thanks!

    • Reply
      Allison
      May 24, 2016 at 1:10 am

      Hi Lorea! Glad to hear you liked my post! You will love Buenos Aires, it’s absolutely wonderful! For lodging, I stayed in an AirBnB. However, I would definitely stay in a hostel if you’re looking to meet people!

  • Reply
    janet
    February 8, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Leighann, I’m 55 and just returned from a month-long solo trip to Morocco. I have no plans to stop anytime soon. NEVER TOO OLD is my motto, so I hope you’ll let this inspire you to get out and go if you are still walking (and it’s true that the huge amount of stairs in Morocco DiD almost do me in… :).

    Allison, thanks for this! I’m wondering how and where you are now that it’s 2017…?! I found this because I’m considering Argentina as my next destination. thank you for the information and inspiration! Indeed, I’ve always had some tricky moments wherever I’ve been but in the end there are always those I consider my “angels” who somehow swoop in just at the trickiest moments and rescue me with their kind care.

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