Tips to Be Safer When Traveling

Are you planning to go on a vacation to Central America? Get hold of the safety tips you can use for traveling.

a. Passports in the Black Market: Did you know that an American, Canadian or European passport goes for $ 60 – $ 120 on the black market? Well to renew them you will have to pay the same. So to avoid problems and unnecessary expenses keep your original in your hotel and always carry a copy. In Costa Rica and Guatemala is totally cool. Everyone understands. And if they don’t, tell them that your passport on the black market can be bought for $ 60 and they’ll back off.

b. Safety Tips When Traveling in Guatemala: The Central American countries have a bad reputation, but don’t get paranoid. Here is some advice on how to avoid being robed:

1- Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home,
2- Don’t carry purses, camera bags and phones or carry them close to your body,
3- Take along only as much cash as you need,
4- Carry a photocopy of your passport, leaving the original in your hotel safe,
5- At night stick to well-lighted and transited areas.

c. Register Your Trip to Guatemala And Feel Safe! It is highly recommended to secure your trip to Guatemala City by hiring, for a super low price, the Tourist Police. Security escorts for tourist groups and security information are available from the Tourist Assistance Office (ASISTUR) of INGUAT (the Guatemalan Tourism Institute). INGUAT’s ASISTUR division has 24-hour/seven days per week direct telephone numbers for tourist assistance and emergencies. These are (502) 2421-2810 and (502) 5578-9836. The fax is (502) 2421-2891. Requests should provide the itinerary, names of travelers, and model and color of the vehicle in which they will be traveling. You can arrange all of this before heading to Guatemala. INGUAT may also be reached by its toll-free number within the United States at 1-888-464-8281 or contact INGUAT by email –

d. Register Your Trip: The US government has a great new feature that EVERYONE who is traveling must take full advantage of! Travel Registration! From now on, no matter where you travel to in the world, head to the Travel Registration section of the US Department of State website and register your full trip!

This way if there is any sort of an emergency, they know exactly where you were and can assist you better. All you have to do is give them your travel dates. All the places you are staying or plan on staying and the names of other people you are traveling with. Your passport number is also important. And don’t forget emergency phone numbers so they know who to call – Just In Case!

e. Blend with the Crowd: In other words don’t dress like a tourist. If you do you become a target for scams and theft.

f. Emergency Number: Luckily for us travelers in Costa Rica the emergency number is 911. The great thing is that they speak English and are quite helpful. So whenever you visit Costa Rica all you have to do is to learn the address of the hotel you are staying at the Costa Rican way.

g. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend (or Worst Enemy): This is another plain and simple tip. Don’t bring your jewels when traveling to ANY Latin American country. Leave them at home!

h. How to Keep Your Money Safe and Dry: Men travelers have you ever been on vacation having a great time on the beach or the pool and suddenly you remember that your wallet is still in your pocket? I know that it can rally ruin you day so when I found this great product that will allow you to keep your documents and money safe in those cases I thought you might want to know. It is a waterproof wallet that you can find in almost every scuba dive shop.

i. Guys Get A Mugger’s Wallet: Anywhere you go there will always be thieves. So to avoid them why not carry a ‘mugger’s wallet’ when travelling. So in case of an emergency, you can surrender it easily. In it you can carry a big bill in front and a half-dozen or so smaller bills behind, along with your photo ID library card, some other papers, hotel coupons, etc, for bulk.

j. Eat Safely When Traveling To Central America: So you are traveling to Central America and concerned about what foods are safe to eat? Here are some suggestions:

1- Any foods that have been boiled are generally safe, as well as fruits and vegetables that have to be peeled before eating. Avoid eating uncooked or undercooked meat.
2- You should also stay away from foods that require a lot of handling before serving.
3- You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t drink the water in some countries overseas. This is why: Water supplies in developing countries are not treated in the same way as water supplies in developed countries. I would suggest you drink only bottled water when traveling. Unless you are in Costa Rica, here water is safe

k. Women: A New Use For Old Pantyhose: I learned that airports can be an easy place for others to prey on unsuspecting travelers who are unfamiliar with their surroundings. So cut off a leg of an old pair of pantyhose and put the money/credit cards in the leg then tie the leg around your waist underneath loose-fitting clothes. But always keep a small amount of money in your pants/skirt pocket for necessary expenses or in the hopefully unlikely event that a stranger demands money.

Marina K. Villatoro is an expat living with her family and traveling in Central America. Follow these safety tips when traveling to central America.