You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two

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I am sitting here at the airport in Santiago following a successful two week trip in South America where we visited both Colombia and Chile. We had a great time. (Internet is slow and thus why there are no pictures!)

Colombia and to a lesser extent Chile bring forth negative feelings in Americans. Most people’s reaction when they found out that we were visiting was to tell us to, “Be safe!” It was as if we were traveling to a war zone.

Before going, I had a good idea of what to expect in these countries. After all we have backpacked through places like Guatemala and never had any issues. All I can say now that it is over is that WE NEVER FELT UNSAFE AT ANY POINT DURING OUR TRIP nor did we expect to.

This morning Shawn Reece and I went on a three hour hike through the maze like hills of Valparaiso, Chile. The walk felt as safe as when I stroll through my own neighborhood. (As in it felt SAFE!) Similary in Bogota last week my family and I spent several days walking around including one where we walked 28,000 steps through many different parts of the city. (Thanks Fitbit!)

There are areas of Las Vegas or any other city that I simply wouldn’t spend much time in. Of course the same goes for Bogota, so why is everyone so afraid? As my dad always says, “Prior proper planning leads to prevents piss poor performance.” Know where the bad areas are and avoid them!

So that brings me to this post’s title. As I was talking about this subject with my son yesterday, it brought me back to the only time I have felt unsafe while traveling in quite some time. Do you know where I was?

Since I hate to leave people on the hook, I was in Dallas just about a month ago. Specifically I had just left the Hyatt Regency in Downtown and was waiting to board a train towards the airport. Three people approached me asking for money. While two stood in front clearly trying to cause a distraction, the third stood behind and slowly approached.

Luckily I noticed this age old tactic and protected my possessions. Thankfully the train pulled up almost immediately and off I went to safety. There I was, an experienced traveler, in Dallas, in the USA, in daylight and I felt UNSAFE! Never did I feel that way in Guatemala, Colombia, Chile or just about any of the 60 countries that I have traveled to.

The moral of this story is to always BE SAFE! Always use common sense when traveling and know your surroundings. Criminals can be anywhere and Downtown Dallas can be just as unsafe as Bogota. If you travel proactively then there is no reason not to see places like Colombia and Chile. By the way they both are fantastic. So fantastic!

Have you ever been “warned” by your friends and family about somewhere that you are traveling? How have so called “dangerous” places been in your experience? Do they live up to the hype? Let me know!

Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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  1. Just got back from a 11 day tour of Peru. Between the counterfeit money, the dire threats of pick pockets and fake cab drivers who rob you- we had none of these issues but did have a wonderful time. The people are all very nice but very poor. My best friend’s daughter enjoyed Peru so much so wants to come back and study here and experience the 4 day hike/trek to Machu Picchu.


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