The American continent has everything to offer to its travelers : with over 25 countries spread on over 10,000 miles, there are as many landscapes, cities and cultures to discover as one can imagine. From the extreme cities of the United States, to the Mexican beaches of the Caribbean, the Inca ruins of the Machu Picchu in Peru or the beach soccer fields of Rio de Janeiro, its diversity could be overwhelming.
Depending on the country you’re visiting, safety advice can change a lot : North America is much safer overall than Central and South America. SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources to offer some advice to people travelling in the region, but always check the latest news coverage before travelling to America to get the latest safety advice.
Apart from petty theft, the greatest threats that tourists face in North America are traffic accidents.
Some regions and countries of Central America are known for some high crime rates and drug / gang activity, especially in capital cities. It is best to avoid night buses to prevent highway robberies. Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica are safer than Honduras, Guatemala (which has the highest crime rate in Americas), El Salvador, and Belize. The passage to Central America to Colombia (Darien Gap) is very dangerous as it is controlled by drug-smuggling militias.
In South America, the tourists are very welcome but can be targets for petty thefts or rarely kidnappings. Parts of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela should be avoided. Travelers should have an increased attention in Brazil and Bolivia, and in large cities like Buenos Aires or Santiago de Chile.
In all cases, common safety advice should be followed:
Carry as little cash as you can
Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket
Beware of individuals who act strangely and who try to divert your attention in order to steal your belongings.
Pay special attention while seating on restaurants and café terraces, when you are withdrawing money from ATMs or near tourist attractions
Never keep your mobile phone or wallet on the table of a café or restaurant.
Don’t wear expensive jewellery in an ostentatious way
If an attacker tries to snatch your bag, don’t try to stop them as you will risk being injured
Protect your personal belongings at all times, especially your ID and passport. Petty crime, like bag snatching and pick pocketing, is a serious problem around touristic areas and on public transport.
For more details, see country specific advice or take a look at our travel articles.