“Is it safe to travel to Argentina?” This is a question that I often read in travel forums or Facebook groups. I’ve read it many times but I was never able to answer this question about my own country.
One of the reasons I decided to blog in both English and Spanish being from Argentina was that I wanted non spanish speakers to read about Argentina from a local perspective. I wanted to share how beautiful my country is. I wanted to show underrated places. I wanted people to visit Argentina.
So when people ask if it’s safe to visit Argentina, what can I answer? I should be answering it’s safe. I should be answering Buenos Aires is as safe as any other big city in the world like New York or Madrid. But the truth is I can’t answer this. Today, Buenos Aires is not as safe as any other big city. Today it’s not enough to just move around the tourist areas or to not leave your personal belongings unattended. You need to be more cautious than that if you don’t want to be robbed. And even if you’re cautious, you can still get robbed.
In Buenos Aires you may get shot for a cell phone. You may get shot for a car. Or for money. Criminals rob or kill because they can. Because they know the justice in this country doesn’t work. They prefer to take the risk, because the odds are in their favor.
At 25 years I’ve experienced more than 5 robberies. In 2012 my house was robbed. When we entered the house, everything was destroyed. Everything my parents had worked so hard for, gone. In 2013 I saw how my father was pointed with a gun in front of my house to rob his car. The last robbery was just yesterday. Same situation again. My father’s car was robbed at the door of his house. Robbed at gunpoint.
You know what’s the worst part about this? I feel lucky. I thank my father wasn’t shot. I thank my family wasn’t inside our house the day it was robbed. We are lucky we are still alive. In Argentina, or at least in Buenos Aires, getting robbed at gunpoint is a normal thing nowadays. Every month I hear a friend’s cell phone was stolen. You see how people are robbed and even killed every day on the news. It’s not even news anymore, it’s a regular thing. We have get used to it.
I’m from the generation that grew up having to be more cautious that our parents were. I never played on the streets like they did. I never had friends “from the neighborhood”. Since I’m a teenager I’m aware of my surroundings. I walk the streets without using my cell phone (at least I try to). I text my mother every time I arrive at a place. I avoid walking the streets at night.
How can I answer the question “Is Buenos Aires safe?” if I’m not even safe in my own home?.
I love my country and I want tourists to visit it. I want to answer my city is safe to travel, but I can’t. I can’t just ignore the things I see in the streets everyday and tell you you just have to be more careful than other cities.
I can’t just talk about the beautiful things about my country. I can’t just write a post about “Tips for staying safe in Buenos Aires” and not tell you about the times I got robbed.
I’m sad to write and share this post but I can’t just ignore the reality when it affects both locals and visitors. Just a few days ago a swedish tourist was violently robbed in downtown Buenos Aires and lost his leg because of the attack. I’m not even speaking about femicides. What can I answer to a girl who wants to travel alone to Argentina?. I want to answer it’s a great country to travel solo but I can’t. I want people to visit Argentina to go back home with a smile on their face and not with an amputated leg.
While we are not the most insecure country in the world, the cases of insecurity increase every day. We could be worse, yes. But we could be better too. The day I can answer if Argentina is safe to travel without remorse, I’ll now we’re on the right track as a country.
For now, if you’re a traveler and want to visit Argentina I tell you: you will make friends here, you will visit incredible places, see stunning landscapes and eat the most delicious food. Visit Argentina. Visit my country but know that robberies are a common thing and it’s not enough with just “being careful”.
If you get robbed, please do not resist. Give your cell phone, your wallet or whatever but don’t resist. Stay on the tourist route and avoid visiting unsafe areas.
I hope one day I can answer “Yes, Argentina is safe to travel” and you feel as safe as I did when I visited your country.
For tips on Safety and Security in Argentina visit the US Department of State page with recommendations for visiting Argentina: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Argentina.html
If you have any questions about Argentina, you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on the blog.