TRAVEL TIPS

Got robbed in Antigua last night, they stole my $900 phone. Going no phone for 6 weeks, NEED TIPS.

I’m on a motorcycle trip from Mexico to Argentina, and although I’ve heard about cases of robberies in Latin America, I didn’t think it would happen to me… but as I was walking in Antigua late at night alone on my phone, 3 motorcyclists surrounded me, about to start hitting me, and letting go of my phone was the only thing stopping a brawl and all of us being hurt. So, I’m taking this as an opportunity to travel the old school way… by asking strangers and locals how, where, and when to do things. Also will be using paper maps, Spanish English dictionary, and all communication with friends and family just one time a day on my laptop. Any tips to ensure a safer journey? I’m doing this solo and will be riding into El Salvador Tuesday morning.



View Reddit by nomadicproject89

17 Comments

17 Comments

  • Jaqqarhan

    You can just go to a mall and buy a $100 android phone. It won’t be fancy, but it will have access to google maps, google translate, chat apps, email, web browsing, phone calls, etc.

    Going “old school” may be a nice challenge for backpackers, but not when you are working online and need to be connected to your work and clients.

    El Salvador has the highest murder rate of any country in the world, so my advice is to not walk around alone at night.

  • WhatYouThinkinAbout

    In Latin America in general, never go out at night alone. When the locals empty the streets, it is good sign you should not be in the streets either. There is a reason the locals are all inside.

    Like you are planning, it is a good idea to talk to the locals to know what zones (areas of cities/towns) are safe to go into. There are plenty of gang controlled areas in cities and some towns. You really, really, really do not want to accidentally stumble/ride into one of those. Even the police avoid some zones. In some places you NEVER go out at night; in others you want to be in by a certain hour and others you just need to be careful.

    Do not show or flash visible wealth. That $900 phone is 4+ months wages for some, so avoid flashing money and expensive items even in public places during the day (i.e. coffee shops and malls). Realize you can be targeted and followed if you flash something expensive. Getting robbed in a parking lot after you leave a mall is not unheard of. Buy a cheap watch, do not wear jewelry and avoid things like cameras hanging around your neck. Nice clothes are fine.

    Take some money, say equal to $50, put it in your back pocket and leave it there for emergency only. If you ever get robbed, you do not want to get caught with nothing or the thief may not believe you and become hostile. Cooperatively and quickly offer whatever you have on you. A typical thief just wants your valuables and to leave ASAP. Make it easy for them and bravely run away after. Remind yourself that whatever you lose is cheaper than a hospital bill for getting stabbed or shot.

    Money belts do not work. A thief will likely stick their hand down around your waste looking for one.

    If you do go out at night (say for a party), take only what is essential with you (i.e. the money you want to spend + the $50 in your back pocket). If you do need to walk streets at night, stay on the ones with people and open businesses (night clubs or stores) even if its a longer route back home. In tourist areas at night, there are likely a couple petty thieves walking/riding around looking for tourists on foot in secluded areas. If you need to go down a quiet street, walk fast and stay out of view as much as possible. Avoid quiet streets with people standing around for no reason.

  • Patrickm8888

    Compound a dumb decision which resulted in negative consequence with more dumb decisions which could lead to more negative consequences just to score some kind of points, sounds dumb.

  • PersonalUniversity

    A cheap android and bluetooth earbuds for navigation will go a long way. You do not want to get stuck somewhere you shouldn’t be, especially with all your belongings. And definitely not at night. Stay safe out there. It is bad enough in Mexico, and keeps getting worse the further south you go.

  • JoCoMoBo

    >Any tips to ensure a safer journey?

    This one reason I carry two phones. If anyone tries to mug me they get my iPhone6….

    >So, I’m taking this as an opportunity to travel the old school way… by asking strangers and locals how, where, and when to do things. Also will be using paper maps, Spanish English dictionary, and all communication with friends and family just one time a day on my laptop.

    That’s going to work well when your laptop get’s stolen as well…

  • pixelcamo

    Self navigating with a map in the transparent pocket of your fuel tank bag (if you have one) is totally doable. In alternatives you could find a way to stick notes on your bike where you could easily read them.

    But maybe just for safety a 15 dollars dumbphone is something good to have.

  • cacdemarco

    Has anyone ever been robbed, and then merrily decided to continue off into a place like El Salvador? It’s like Frodo just not giving up on that mountain no matter how much shit is thrown at him, and why, so he can get to a blisteringly dangerous volcano? Good luck <3

  • bigbux

    Try the overlanding subreddit for travel tips. There’s actually two dudes that left the US a few months ago and drove down, currently in Ecuador I believe. There’s also a Panamerican highway group on Facebook to check out for advice.

  • reduser80

    As others have said, just pickup a cheap android phone for now. It’s insane not to travel with one if for no other reason having GPS access and not wasting time getting lost.

  • username_159753

    > So, I’m taking this as an opportunity to travel the old school way… by asking strangers and locals how, where, and when to do things. Also will be using paper maps

    That’s how I drove around the world in 2012, Europe to South America. Just make sure you don’t one persons word for the correct direction. Ask 3-4 people and take the average 😉

    Sorry to hear about your robbery, glad to hear you got out unscathed. A phone is just a phone at the end of the day.

    > Any tips to ensure a safer journey?
    Speak to people, helps if you have good Spanish. Find out areas to avoid. But end of the day, it is just a case of the wrong place at the wrong time and you cannot let it worry you. Obviously avoid inner city barrios, but then again, we met a local who was from one of those areas who said they knew a good mechanic so we went in with them to what was a very bad area, but as we had the local with us we were fine, the mechanic was good (and cheap) as long as we could stop him start drinking too early in the day lol.

    Best of luck and enjoy, would love to do it again, but with 3 kids now is unlikely

  • Gordo-Gringo

    Ya, it can happen anywhere man. I got robbed in Roma, in Mexico City on Monday. By two cops in Uniform, at like 7 30 pm. Got my laptop, cellphone, took all my cards, even took my smokes. Oh well, already bought replacements and am on my way to Medellin on Wednesdays.It´s hard not to be bitter but such is life. I get to get on a plane and leave and they will still be Mexican cops. I heard roma was very safe so I wasnt worried about being out after dark with valuables. A mistake I will not be making again. How is your bike trip going otherwise? Im heavily considering buying a bike in Colombia and riding down to see my cousin in Fitzroy, the mountain in Argentine.

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