I am an 18 year old female, graduated last year and decided to take a break from school, now me and two of my friends have thought about taking a long backpacking trip from somewhere in central america to argentina. i lived six months in costa rica and am very comfortable with the language and the culture there but none of us know were to begin our adventure. what do we need to buy and how to get started? is it safe? is it worth it? i'd love some advice on what to do or where to begin, i feel clueless. thanks a million
Be aware that you will be by far the youngest traveller in the crowd; if you're comfortable with that, I'd say that SA is just as safe as anywhere else, if you observe the usual cautionary measures that are mentioned in each guidebook. In your case, I'd be particularly cautious when crossing borders and travelling to remote areas such as national parks etc. Most bad things happen there rather than in cities.
Six months is a long time; there's various other threads which contain lots of good advice re itineraries. I would only urge you not to fly while on the continent, but do everything by ground transportation instead; that's the best way to ensure that in some decades there will still be destinations like SA left to go to...
have fun planning,
Is it worth it? Of course it's worth it. If you do your research, read about the dangers and scams and whatnot, and take all the nessesary precautions while there, then the risk factor is quite low. Go, relax and enjoy yourself. Don't worry, you won't be the only tourist down there - far from it.
But how to get started? It funny because alot of first time travellers seem to think that there is some long complicated proceedure that you have to go through in order to get out on the road. But there isn't, you just have to go. But there are a couple things you need to get sorted.
1) Where to go - Do some research on the net (as you are doing) and figure out exactly what places it is that you want to go. Look at alot of pictures to see what interests you. I would recomend the website www.trekearth.com which has endless photos from all over the world and is great for deciding where to go. Once you've figured that out, head to a library or bookstore and browse through travel guides like Lonely Planet or Rough Guide. Read the practicle chapters which is great for telling you costs and logistics of travelling in a country. Don't overlook things like weather, visa requirements, and most importantly, available time and budget. Where you go will greatly depend on these things. Do not get over ambitious, with only 6 months in such a large region, you will have to pick and choose. You are not going to see everything between Central America and Argrentina. With that you should be able to plan a very rough itinerary of the places you defienlty want to and can logically visit.
2)Once you've figured out that basic stuff, your next thing is to buy plane tickets. Look at flights on the net and visit several travel agents. At this stage you may also have to rework your itinerary because your ideal flights may just not be available to you, or are unaffordable.
3) Go to a travel clinic and get your vacinations. Start this as early as possible. If you have none to start with, you sometimes have to return for several boosters and may take a few weeks. Don't forget to leave lots of money for this too, it can be really expensive.
Once you've done these three things, you are pretty much ready to go. The rest is simple little things like sorting out how to carry your money, buying a backpack, deciding what to pack and all that jazz. All that stuff is simple though and can be thought about as you plan the rest. But concentrate on the first three things first.