11 safety tips for traveling in Colombia

By IMPULSE Travel | Jan 2, 2019
Safety Colombia

Many worry about safety when travelling in Colombia. However, taking a few precautions you can enjoy a stress free vacation. Colombians often use the expression “no dar la papaya”. Literally, it translates to “don’t give the papaya”. It refers to using common sense to avoid putting yourself into situations where you are an easy target for robbery.

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1. Keep an eye on your belongings

Make sure to not leave your suitcase, backpack or bags unattended in public spaces. It’s best to stay close to your luggage or rather carry everything with you at all times.

2. Wear your backpack in front of you in crowded spaces

During your journey through Colombia, you will most likely visit crowded tourist attractions and might also travel in packed buses. Be careful there and wear your backpack in front of you. This way, you will be able to identify thievish intentions before you end up missing anything.

3. Be aware of your surroundings

The key is to listen to your gut! If a situation seems weird, an unknown person approaches you or gets too close into your personal space - trust your instincts and go back to areas where you feel safe (e.g. with more people). Should you really find yourself in a situation where you get robbed, please hand over what is asked of you - your well-being is worth so much more than money or a phone.

4. Do not wear expensive jewelry visibly on the street

Do not show off precious and expensive necklaces, watches or earrings, they could be snatched from you. Usually, you do not have to worry about wearing inexpensive jewelry or fashion jewelry. If you still want to wear one of your more valuable pieces, we recommend to conceal it in public spaces.

5. Evaluate your surroundings before taking out your camera or smartphone

Depending on the area this could be perfectly fine, in other places it might not be such a great idea e.g. in crowded areas. If you do get them out for a picture, text or call, constantly scan your surroundings and, if needed, store them away again.

6. Use a small backpack and remove airline tags from it

This way you won’t be immediately considered a rich tourist who can afford to travel. Also, a smaller backpack gives the impression that you don’t carry a lot of things with you and thus are not a lucrative target for robbers.

7. Ask the locals for safe routes, and dangerous places to avoid

As a traveler you can definitely trust the locals when they say an area is not for you or when they recommend a certain route - after all, they live here and have the street-smarts. Even if a recommendation might take longer or cost more money, do not go against it - better safe than sorry!

8. Get your cab via call, smartphone app or in authorized taxi booths

You do not want to get in the first vehicle that offers transport without checking if it is an authorized taxi - after all you want to end up where you intend to go. Good Taxi Apps are Tappsi, Easy Taxi and Uber. If you want to take a regular cab, go for the authorized taxi booths in front of shopping malls, airports, and bus terminals.

9. Do not carry all of your money and cards with you

Before going on a trip, estimate how much money in cash you will need and only take this amount with you. If you take a credit card with you, take one with a smaller balance. Leave the things you don’t need in the hotel safe. If you do have to take all your things with you e.g. on to a new location or your trip home - don’t put all money and cards in one bag. If it gets stolen everything will be gone.

10. If you leave popular tourist destinations, avoid exploring by yourself

It's intriguing and exciting to discover the destinations of a country that are off the typical tourist routes. To avoid negative experiences, hire a guide when you're leaving popular destinations. The locals usually have a pretty good idea of where you can or can't go. Especially if your Spanish knowledge is limited, this will make your trip easier and safer.

11. Use your common sense

Generally, this is the essence of all the points mentioned above. These tips are not only for traveling through Colombia - they will help you on all your travels. All these tips are very straightforward and simple, so it will be easy to implement them during your journey - and you can enjoy your vacation in Colombia without worries!

IMPULSE wishes you happy travels in Colombia!

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Written by IMPULSE Travel
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