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5 Things That Surprised Me Most About Traveling Solo In Latin America

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There are many misconceptions about traveling solo in Latin America.

I spent the better part of a year in Central and South America, and there were many things that surprised me about traveling solo in this part of the world.

I've traveled to 11 countries in Latin America, spending anywhere from a few days to a few months in each country.

Here are the most surprising things I discovered while traveling solo in Latin America:

Woman in Cartagena

1. It's Safer Than You Might Expect

One of the biggest misconceptions about Latin America is that it's extremely dangerous and you'd be crazy to travel there alone, especially as a female traveler.

Of course, you should still exercise caution while traveling in Latin America, and there are definitely certain areas to avoid. You should also be vigilant about common travel scams (which can happen anywhere in the world) but overall, Latin America is much safer than you might think.

Young Female Tourist With A Backpack Watching A Waterfall In A Natural Setting, Costa Rica, Central America

2. It's One Of The Most Diverse Regions In The World

Since most countries in Latin America have Spanish colonial history and speak Spanish as the primary language, you might think that the region is very homogenous.

But far from being a monolith, Latin America is actually one of the most diverse regions in the world. There is a rich history of indigenous culture that stretches from the Aztecs and Mayans in Central America to the Incans in South America (and many more.)

In Latin America, I've surfed in tropical beach destinations, explored historic colonial cities, discovered ancient ruins deep in the jungle and high in the mountains, hiked volcanoes, and experienced otherworldly desert landscapes.

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A stunning photo of Peru's most popular attaction, Machu Picchu, a 15th century stone citadel perched on the top of a mountain.

3. It's Perfect For Solo Travelers

I've traveled extensively in Latin America and Europe by myself, and by far, I've found Latin America to be better for solo travelers.

The backpacker trails of Central and South America draw lots of long-term travelers, so it's easier to meet people and make travel friends. There are lots of great hostels in Latin America too.

In most countries in Latin America, the tourism infrastructure is well-developed and it's easy to organize activities and tours where you can also meet other travelers.

Woman in Nicaragua

4. It's Great For Digital Nomads

Latin America may not be the first region of the world you think of when it comes to digital nomad hotspots, but it's actually one of the fastest-growing destinations for remote workers.

Both Central America and South America have tons of great cities that are perfect for digital nomads who want to enjoy a lower cost of living and still be in the same time zone as the United States.

Some of the best places for digital nomads in Latin America include Antigua, Guatemala, Quito, Ecuador, Medellin, Colombia, and Panama City, Panama.

View of Medellin Colombia

5. It's Very Helpful To Know Spanish

Finally, I was surprised by how much you really need to know Spanish in some parts of Latin America. I was lucky that I had studied Spanish for years in school, but I encountered many travelers who struggled because they didn't speak a word of Spanish.

While you can get by not speaking any Spanish in popular tourist destinations, it's really helpful to know at least the basics. It becomes even more useful if you plan to travel around Latin America long-term or go off the tourist trail.

I spent several months studying Spanish in Guatemala, which is a great way to learn Spanish quickly. It's extremely popular, so there are dozens of Spanish schools to choose from in places like Antigua and Lake Atitlan, and it's also very affordable.

Archway in Antigua Guatemala

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Friday 16th of June 2023

Thank you for your article. I have been traveling around Latin America for many, many months and also find it to be safe, provided you use some common sense. Very good to know it is similar for a female traveler. Would be very interested in more of the comparison with Europe. Hope to head to the Mediterranean area soon.