I often receive questions here on my blog about traveling Colombia. I do my best to answer any questions I get and that’s usually the last I hear from them. But recently an old Army buddy of mine reached out to tell me he’ll be in Colombia soon. Although he is Colombian, he hasn’t been home in decades. A lot has changed since the last time he was here, and naturally he had some questions. I’m sure he asked his family as well, but he may have wanted an outsiders opinion on certain matters. So I thought I’d start compiling a list of tips for traveling Colombia that I could keep up-to-date and share with everyone.
Colombia Travel tips
In several Latin American countries, money is a huge issue. Not in Colombia! If you want to bring cash and convert it here that’s perfectly fine. However, most of us don’t want to be carrying around loads of cash. While you will pay an ATM fee and possibly fees from your bank, ATMs are generally safe to use here. Just stick with any of the major banks like BanColombia or Davivienda and you’ll be fine. Check with your own bank before you come to see what they will be charging. There are occasionally difficulties using foreign credit cards here, so I recommend using cash and Debt Cards.
I’m not going to drive deep into this issue. Security in Colombia runs the gambit from amazing to horrible. Towns like Jardín are some of the safest places I’ve ever been. Yet there are other parts of Colombia I just won’t go without a fully armed fire team. Even trying to cover Medellin alone would be impossible. I’ve been jumped in Medellin twice now in the downtown area, luckily winning both of those situations. But there are other parts of town where I feel perfectly safe and have never had a problem. So the typical rules apply. Go in groups whenever possible, especially if you don’t know the area. Keep important belongings in front pockets or purses that seal closed. Don’t go flashing money around and be aware of your surroundings. Anything more than that and I might as well start writing a book.
As far as Colombia travel tips go, this may be a big one. Unlike some countries where certain types of clothing are simply unacceptable, there are no cultural sensitivity concerns here. However, it’s really something that you need to pay attention to if you want to be comfortable. Many times people come here to Medellin, the city of eternal spring, with only clothes for spring weather. Then they decide to take a weekend trip to someplace like Santa Elana and are stuck freezing. Or a trip to Santa Fe and are burning up. Try to figure out where you’re going to spend most of your time and plan for that, but keep a bathing suit and a jacket on hand even if you don’t think you’ll need them.
Read my earlier post for more information on the weather in Colombia.
If you’d like more information, check out this Q&A I did with Sarah Shaw before she came to Colombia.
Sound Good? Ready to visit Colombia?
If your Spanish is a little rusty check out my review of various Spanish learning tools.
Please comment below if there are any other consideration you would like to know about.