South America Living

How to Research and Prepare for your Trip Abroad

Santa Fe, Colombia

You may want to read first: Is it Safe to Travel to South America?

Here are some websites available for you to use to research the concerns outlined below prior to your trip or extended stay. These are general resources. A location should be researched independently and thoroughly online. Traveling to Brazil? Do a Google search “Brazil & Safety“.

Guidebooks can be a good resource as they cover basic safety issues and provide background information on the country. But do not rely solely on information from a guidebook as it may be out-of-date. As well, it is not an adequate way to prepare for a trip abroad when traveling with children.

Traveling with Children? Read: Safety Tips – Traveling to South America with Children

Health, Food and Water Safety

  1. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention located at: Enter in the country you are researching and you will find information such as travel notices in effect, vaccinations that may be needed and much more. They have general sections on all aspects of travel and safety including International Travel with Infants and Young Children.
  2. MD Travel Health located at: Again, enter in your destination and you have a wealth of information at your computer-laden fingertips such as: Recent outbreaks, pregnancy and travel, medical facilities for the country, food and water prevention, etc. They have a ‘Special Needs’ section that covers topics such as diabetic travelers, kidney patients and Traveling with Infants and Children.
  3. Lastly, conduct an independent search using the name of your country and key words such as ‘health risks’, ‘travel alerts’, ‘traveling with infants and children’, ‘safety for women’, and others relevant to your trip and personal circumstances.

Personal Safety for Adults and Children

  1. U.S. Department of State website located here: Has general information as well as country specific information. Many topics covered in their section Tips for Traveling Abroad.
  2. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website located here: Travel warnings, country profiles and much more.
  3. Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) website located here: For families planning on driving on their trip, gives road conditions and risks for over 150 countries.
  4. Do a web search for online newspapers covering your destination. Conduct an independent search also using the name of your destination and key words such as ‘crime’, ‘armed robberies’, ‘kidnapping of foreigners’. Kidnapping and abductions are rare, but for some destinations may be a risk such as certain areas of Colombia.

Relative Safety of the Country or Location

  1. Check the U.S. Department of State and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada websites listed above. Another similar resource for Britains traveling abroad is the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) website located here:
  2. One World – Nations Online website. Travel warnings are located here:

Want to Live in South America for an extended time or move there permanently? Check out our FREE online Living Abroad Guides.

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Photograph by Vanessa Lowien, all rights reserved.

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