Within in South America ‘gringo trails’ won’t take you to Venezuela. In comparison to the rest of the continent, Venezuela is off the beaten track. It doesn’t have the travel infrastructure, the safety measures and welcome approach that other countries may have. Yet do not be fooled, Venezuela is incredibly beautiful. You have everything here, from paradise-like islands, incredible mountain tops and a vibrant Latin culture.
If you are taking the chance to travel Venezuela, then I’m sure you’ll want to take some precautions. It’s not just like rocking up and going with the flow, things in this country take a little more time.
I’ve recently travelled the country, and unlike other places across the world I’ve travelled, I took some precautions to make sure I wasn’t under any additional threat. At the moment, Foreign offices have recommended tourists not to come in certain parts. Right now there is political turmoil there and currently has double the death rate of Iraq.
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Dress as much like a local. Instead of the infamous singlets and flip flops, and females wearing hot pants ‘because its hot ‘, change these to pants and trainers. It helps blend in to the crowd and not be the so obvious traveller.
Don’t wear a watch or jewelery. This was what I was told by locals. I had a $2 cheap-ass sports watch from a market in Brazil, even then I didn’t wear it. I didn’t see many locals with a watch on wherever I went. Small precaution but worth any more hassle.
Network with people . I spoke to a lady who ran a big shop in Caracas bus terminal. Spoke to her, even flirted harmlessly. She got a friend to take me to my hostel in a taxi for cheap and was safe.
Try and travel during the day. Night travel can always seem a little more sketchy, make sure if you are going somewhere, get the early morning bus. You can get your sleeping Z’s back when you arrive at your next destination.
Don’t go out at night unless with locals who know the language. Not much English is spoke in Venezuela, so you don’t want to be out at night trying to haggle with taxi drivers or others it puts you way more in danger.
Plan the trip ahead. Make sure you have addresses and accommodation booked and if possible at an English speaking place. Even getting a taxi in Venezuela, you have to flag them down. They don’t look new or part of a company, so you want to be asure of yourself asoon as you request where to go.
Time to use your tan!
This may sound a bit silly and not easy for everyone, but if you can try get a tan or a little one before hand, then get one. I was a tanned tone and I think it helped as people may think you are more of a Latin American descent.
Carry some local currency with you. You will have probably heard you can exchange US Dollars for a mega amount on the ‘black market’. Well, just keep some Bolivar on you too, who knows when you might have to pay an unseen payment. Dollars are crucial over there.
Dollars are Gold Dust
Change your US Dollars in a Hotel or Pharmacy like shop. Don’t do it on the street, it’s for all to see and sometimes you will be there longer than you anticipated.
Maybe not fashionable
Buy a pack pouch and hide it under your belly or pants. If in the case you did get approached to hand over something, you can hand over whatever you feel to keep in your pockets, maybe some cigarettes and some loose Bolivar. Keep the important items in the pouch.