Is carrying around my laptop in a backpack every day safe in South America?


#1

Hello everyone, I usually carry my laptop in my day backpack, walk around the town in my home country (Poland) and work in coffee shops / shopping centers, other quiet places I find or like.

My question is, how would carrying around my laptop on myself every day around the town work in practice in those places in terms of safety in South America.

I prefer to travel by a city communication than taxis and like to walk around too, but my concern is that I will get blatantly robbed with a gun or knife in a side street and lose my whole backpack with a laptop.

If anyone living in those cities could share their experience about how likely this situation is to occur, as obviously being white and foreign will make me stand out in the first place.


#3

I would say to be careful. South America is a region with endemic corruption and pick pocketing is common. The safest countries like Chile and Uruguay still suffer from this though in a smaller scale.


#4

I am from Brazil and I don’t recommend to carry your laptop all the time, because is very common thieves take your backpack even using a gun. Leave it “at home” in a not obvious place and always locked. However, I also recommend always to have some money for thieves, because if you don’t have anything is worst.


#5

Yep my friend was in a small town/city in Peru and ended up alone at night after she left some friends at a bar… someone came up and mugged her at knifepoint and stole her backpack- the only thing she really had in it was her tablet but it’s quite hard to replace these sorts of things in most South American countries. At night and/or alone is not wise. But really depends on the place. I’m in Buenos Aires and it’s unlikely someone would try to steal my backpack during the day which is when I’d be going to and from home and a cafe…


#6

Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it. It depends on the city also. But at least in Ecuador (where I’m from) if thieves see a European guy with a backpack they assume he has money, a camera or something of value in it.


#7

skarabox, it’s true that carrying a laptop with you can be somewhat dangerous in Latin America. I do think you should put the whole thing into perspective though. First, the kind of coffee shop you would use to work efficiently is usually located in more policed areas, the majority of the time in malls. Second, there are millions of students who travel to their university by public transportation each day, most of whom carry a laptop these days. I suggest you adapt your routine to the situation (for example make sure you wrap up well before sunset and take a registered cab home) rather than go to the far extreme. In 2013 I listened to the dozens of warnings from friends (most of whom had never travelled there) and was without my computer for 10 weeks in Lima, Peru. After 8 days I bought an overpriced tablet cause it simply didn’t work. This year I carried a Mac in a cotton bag around Cartagena, Colombia day and night for half a year and was fine. I hope this helps.


#8

Hi @skarabox!
I hope you’re fine. I personnaly never travel to South America and never had this experience of thieves. But, I have seen recently a discreet bag that can be useful for you I think :slight_smile: It’s like a slim bag for your laptop only and you can wear it beneath your pullover or jacket. Here is the link: https://www.betabrand.com/unisex-ultra-thin-laptop-backpack.html.
Apparently, it’s too warm in South America to wear a jacket but why not trying it :wink:


#9

I was nervous about walking around with my 2k+ laptop in some more “urban” places. I bought a cheap looking shoulderbag for about 10 bucks, that I wear cross-wise over my left shoulder. This makes the laptop hang under my right arm, which would make any attempt of grabbing it a pull rope contest. I don’t think people generally expect a 2K+ laptop in a 10$ bag you can buy on the street. (probably 2$ if you know how to haggle)
Also, I am a tall man. That might help. If you are not in that situation, plan accordingly. Hauling around a 15 inch macbook pro when you don’t really need it, is a hassle. Consider buying a cheap-ass chromebook or netbook. The psychological cost of worry is just not worth the technological benefits most of the time.
Have you considered insuring it? My laptop is covered under my standard travel insurance that costs 100 bucks a year. All my writing is in the cloud and I have a physical backup in a Shipito warehouse with all the songs I have written.


#10

2 years ago I got my laptop stolen at a gas station outside of Buenos Aires. It wasn’t violent though, I stopped at the gas station together with 2 friends, all our laptops were in the trunk inside backpacks. When we got out of the car one of us must have forgotten to lock the rear door, two went to use the toilet and the third went to the gas station shop. The time window during which nobody was at the car must have been <1min. Apparently during that 1min some guy went into the car and managed to get to the trunk by putting the rear seat down, took the first laptop from the first backpack he saw, and disappeared.
Obviously nobody at the gas station has seen anything, despite some guys standing outside all the time.


#11

Hi, what travel insurance plan are you using? Most that I have looked into only cover the laptop for a maximum of $500.