travelling with teenage girls/safety??


Apr 7, 2008
Looking forward to our 1-month visit to Buenos Aires in July. It's my wife & I, our two girls (ages 19 & 16) and their 2 girlfriends (same ages as our girls). The older girls will probably want to venture out at night, go to clubs and that sort of thing. IS IT SAFE? Any particular nightclubs/dancing that we should make sure the girls avoid? We'll be in an apartment in Recoletta. Are clubs close by?

Any suggestions or comments for Dad?
There are boliches (dance clubs) near by. There are also several "night clubs". You do NOT want to send your daughters there. They are basically brothels, but I think the patrons take the girls out of the club to a second location rather than the way it was in the old west.
The 19 year olds will most likely go out Friday & Saturday nights until 7am. The 16 year olds will want to as well and will probably be able to get in most places without having an ID that says that they are 18. You might not be ready for it, but it is pretty normal for 16, 17, & 18 year old high school kids to stay out until breakfast and then head home to sleep until 2pm.
Last year I met an American woman whose husband works for the World Bank down here. (She's an environmentalist or something.) They had a daughter that was 17 and a son who was 16. They lived in Olivos, but their daughter would go out to the boliches all over Buenos Aires until 7am and they didn't think much of it. It's just the way it is down here.
I would suggest that if you let the 16 year olds go out with the 19 years, make sure that they all stick together. Other than that, get cell phones while you're down here so that you can text each other to know where everyone is.
- Get everyone's cell phones unlocked in the States (or wherever you are from)
- If the phones are GSM, Movistar offers a chip for 12 pesos (last year's price) and then you buy cards at Kioskos to put money on your phone for a pay-as-you-go plan.
(Other phone companies are Personal & ???. I think that at least one of the companies down here works with the same network as Sprint/Verizon, but I'm not positive.)
Napoleon is right, especially about the cell phones. Also teach them very basic survival spanish (castellano) phrases. And if you know someone (local) that can take them, even better. Good luck. As anywhere, there is always safety in numbers.
Napoleon, Matty thank you so much!! So, just to be clear the "boliches" aren't the brothels; rather, you're saying avoid "night clubs," right??
I wish I had asked about the cell phones earlier. Just today, I reserved phones through Altel. It sounded like a pretty good deal. $49 per phone for the entire month, they give us local numbers, with 100 minutes included, each minute after that is $0.30 per minute. They deliver the phone to our apartment on the day we arrive.
As far as speaking Castellano, unfortunately, while I speak it fairly well, my daughters and their friends know next to no Castellano whatsoever. That makes it a bit scarier.
I will absolutely instruct them to stay together. My wife and I probably won't be able to sleep while they're out.
I remember going to Buenos Aires when I was a teenager. We used to go out all night. It was fun, but basically quite innocent. The worst thing we did was to smoke cigarettes. The people my age at that time were generally well behaved. Much better than their American counterparts back home. Drugs were rampant in the US and almost unheard of in Buenos Aires. That was a long, long time ago. I'm assuming times might have changed a bit, so I'm hoping the boliches aren't places where the girls can get into a lot of trouble. They're pretty good kids.
Any other words of wisdom?
Nearly everyone in Buenos Aires 20 years old and younger can speak some English. Many are close to fluent.
- Lock your doors when you are in the taxi. (I always forget this and I've been lucky so far, but I've been told to do it by locals. Not just tourists.)
- When giving directions, give the cross streets, not the address. THEN, when you are close you can give the address and/or the name of the restaurant/ boliche/ store...
- Always pay for a taxi with a bill (or bills) that requires less than AR$10 in change. If you pay with a AR$100 bill, there is a better than 50/50 chance that one or more of the bills in the AR$10/AR$20/AR$50 category is counterfeit.
- There is a good possibility that with no Spanish, the girls will probably get overcharged at least once by a taxi. Either the meter will be going too fast or the route that they take will not be the shortest/fastest route. The good thing is that you might lose out on a whopping US$2.35 if you get really screwed.
- Tipping is not required, nor expected. In fact, if you pay for a AR$9.35 cab fare with a AR$10, you might even get AR$0.75 back from the driver.

Breaking a AR$100 bill is like pulling teeth with wet fingers. It's nearly impossible. So you should employ a few tricks.
1) When taking money out of an ATM, withdraw AR$190 instead of AR$200. Or maybe even AR$190 twice instead of AR$400.
2) The banks are only open 10am-3pm M-F.
3) You can go in a bank, wait in line, and ask to break one AR$100 bill. When doing this, ask for AR$10 in "monedas". There is a coin shortage in this country and if you don't do this, you might be forced to buy than you want at a Kiosko just to get a Coke, pack of gum, box of mints...
4) Tipping at restaurants is basically exactly 10%. Down to the moneda. And that's only tourists. Locals tip in the 3%-7% range. (I recommend 10%.)
That's all for now.
Excellent tips Napoleon, however i've spent a year in BA, my wife is from BA and together we've never seen a counterfit bill. I am sure they do exist and it is wise to be viligent, but (IMHO) a 50% chance of receiving one sounds high.
One time even a bank gave me a counterfeit, thru the ATM. But what can you do? It is what it is and you just take the lumps with the gravy, so to speak.
Ron in my opinion, nightclubs here are a lot safer than any ive been to back in Ireland, the binge drinking culture we know of doesnt exist here and up to 7am there will still be a fair amount of people and traffic in the streets.
One bit of advice i would suggest, is when they are returning home to ensure they get a "Radio Taxi". 80% or so of taxi's are radio taxi's and you can flag them down in the street no problem, just dont flag down a taxi without any company logo. I have an Irish friend who has been living here a few years now and that was the advice he gave me. There is like a mafia/gangster thing within the taxi world, and he has heard stories of people getting taken off-route and being forced to give over all their money.
Other than that your kids will have a great time partying down here.
Hey Ron

A lot of what people have said is great advice. I have been living here for 5 months now and although I am a bit older than 19 I love the night life. My spanish is so so but good enough to get around. Although they are more 'main stream' places, the crobar and pacha are great places to go - albeit a little off the path from recoletta - but security is good.

The tip about a radio taxi is definitely essential. Some taxis have cards and of course all have numbers. It seems stereo typical - but i have had the best luck with older cab drivers not ripping me off than the younger ones. Also - have them carry cards of where they live (just not the exact address - i tend to use the closest corner). I have found it very difficult at times to communicate to a cabby my address because I have an accent.

A local is always your best bet - hit up boards such as this one (as I am sure there are some others that know where to go and where not to). The SAE (south american explorers club) has access to organizations and relationships with some places here. They can surely point you to the more reputable places to go. You can also see what the expat connection has going on. They from time to time organize late night out events.
I would say the most danger they face is from the traffic. This is true whatever age you are, although younger people tend to drink more and so have a little less care on the streets.
Last year a group of schoolboys from Wilmslow were here with their teachers and one was killed by an off duty policeman. The thing is just to be aware take care and know the risks.
If you have any worries use a remis, they are pre booked and every driver is logged onto the job, so if ( god forbid ) someone went missing you would know who was responsible. Locals actually use this service to collect their kids. You would have the added advantage of knowing when they are comming home.