Canadian travelling to El Salvador
January 11, 2019 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Inexperienced traveller... I guess I'm going to San Salvador, El Salvador next week. What to do/expect?

I was asked to go to San Salvador for work for a week. I am at baseline an anxious traveller, and tend to dislike international travel so I've only ever really been to the USA and Cuba.

I will be going with coworkers who have gone before and meeting El Salvadorian colleagues there. I have heard it is safe provided I don't go to any of the bad neighbourhoods or act like an idiot (no being alone at night, no flashing cash, etc) so I think I can probably get over the anxiety and go. Part of me is excited for the opportunity.

However, I would feel a little better if I knew more what to expect or had tips on how to prepare. I will also ask my colleagues, of course. But general tips for international travel are welcome, and I would especially appreciate more specific information on San Salvador, El Salvador, or even Central America if you have direct experience with those areas.

(May be relevant: I am a pasty white 30yo woman, and I will be the only woman on this trip among all my colleagues because lol tech industry.)
posted by one of these days to Travel & Transportation around San Salvador, El Salvador (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was in San Salvador about 5 years ago, when el Salvador was considered the most dangerous country in central America. I was fine. Follow the safety advice and have your hotel call you taxis instead of catching one on the street. The bus system is decent as well.

Since you're going with a group I think you'll be fine. Almost everyone I met spoke at least some English and they were all very invested in taking care of me and being nice to counteract the bad rap their country gets.

I live in a "dangerous" city in the bay area. I follow the same safety advice in my own neighborhood as I would in san Salvador. I was fine by myself traveling all over central America for 5 years, in all kinds of cities and rural areas. Just be aware of your surroundings and take reasonable precautions. Have fun!
posted by ananci at 2:36 PM on January 11, 2019

I think it's an exciting opportunity for you; international travel is a great way to grow, and if you have colleagues down there who can help steer you in the right direction, that's a good advantage.

If learning more about potential problems will calm your anxiety, you can check out the Government's official warning here. (If learning about potential problems stokes your anxiety, then don't click the link.)

One thing that you should be aware of as a 30ish woman is the risks from Zika virus; El Salvador is considered an area of moderate risk, but this is particularly worth thinking about if you are or might soon be pregnant. That said, the risk of Zika is relatively low and has been declining.

Make sure your passport has more than 6 months left on it; I keep mine in a waist belt under my clothes when travelling. I also keep at least one credit card and my driver's license in a separate place from my passport and debit card, so if one of the two get lost there's still some way to prove who I am and to get more money. It's good to have some cash on hand when you arrive, so you don't need to worry about getting more right away. Luckily, you can get US dollars easily at home. If you can learn a few Spanish phrases, that's always a gracious thing to do.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:07 PM on January 11, 2019

Haven't been to El Salvador but I do a lot of international travel for work (including Central and South America, travelling in the Middle East as I type this) - echoing the comment above that you'll be fine.

Some general suggestions I'd offer:
- Learn a few words of Spanish. Might not be needed (esp since you're traveling with colleagues who know the area) but locals do really appreciate the effort. This goes for anywhere.
- Safety-wise, common sense applies. Don't flash belongings, leave wallets/phones/etc sitting out, etc. I'd also recommend not hailing taxis on the street - if you need one, get it through your hotel. If you're at a good hotel, odds are the car they provide is way nicer than the local taxis anyway (my hotel in Peru provided a Mercedes, was reasonably priced too!)
- Embrace it a bit! Try some new foods, enjoy the nice weather (it's like 80F in San Salvador this week and its January!), take some pictures, etc.
posted by photo guy at 8:37 AM on January 12, 2019

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