Personally, if it's your first big trip out of the US I would dump the idea of camping entirely and budget for hostel accommodation.
Your backpack will be waaay lighter and simpler, your nightly accommodations will be easy and inexpensive, your logistics will be waaay more straightforward and you'll be meeting lots of other travellers in the very same boat. Also, there's the question of safety... here are lots of places in Central/South America where you can't camp anyway.
Honestly, there's no downside to hosteling over camping for your first big trip in Central/South America.
sugarcrush, fantasizing about smuggling your handgun from the US into Mexico for personal protection is NUTS, period. Honestly, it's difficult to even be polite in my response... this American thing about taking your guns with you everywhere you go is crazy...
And yes, certain parts of Mexico are very dangerous, same as some parts in almost all countries everywhere on earth. Some basic research coupled with common sense and street smarts is crucial for any trip anywhere, including Mexico.
Thanks, cheers. Just curious, and thank you for being polite.
Cheerst, I cannot thank you enough. Your information will greatly help on my trip and for planning. Thank you!
By the way, diasaurus, http://www.gotrekkers.com/mm5/merchant.mvc
Hope that helps!
Marcus, there's a very defined Gringo Trail through Mexico, Central and South America. Backpackers have been travelling through there for decades so the usual tourist sights are not difficult to research and the guidebooks (Lonely Planet, etc.) cover the area very well. There are inexpensive hostels... pretty good buses... cheap food... lots of fellow backpackers... all the stuff you need for a fun, safe, affordable and fulfilling trip.
There is also loads of opportunity to get off the beaten path... still lots of places that see very few foreign visitors where you can really feel like you're away from everything and everyone.
There's also cool options for alternative travel routes... for example, how are you going to get from Central America to South America? Google "Darien Gap" and you'll see what I mean. It's crazy. (Almost everyone flies around the Darien Gap but there's several other ways to hopscotch down the east coast via boat/hiking where you'll never step into an airplane.)
First thing for you to do... get to a library and check out a bunch of guide books.
I agree with Terry completely. The options for lodging can vary a lot from country to country. I know you want to camp but that isn't always practical or safe everywhere. You can usually fing Gringo type hostels in most countries, but I would use them sparingly. Sometimes you get lonely on the road and would like to have a few beers with other travellers and pick up some tips about places to see but, if you are minding your budget they can be expensive. There are usually residenciales or even rooms for rent in private homes which will cost a fraction and you will be able to interact with locals. Camping often requires your own tent and you can get tired of lugging one around. Campgrounds often charge by the site, not pp, and can be expensive for one person.
Anyway, you will see all this for yourself. You will also get bored sometimes, tired and homesick. Everyone who has travelled goes through it. But you will also get bitten by the travel bug (hopefully no others) and see amazing sights.
Cheers, I am interested in learning more about these gringo trails. Is there a website or specific book to find more about these? I am just really trying to do as much research as i can before i leave. I definitely will take advantage of the locals information and learn everything i can while im there but as the same time i want to try to study as much as I can beforehand. As for as the trails off the beaten path i guess there wouldn't be much that you can tell me about them, but they will be something I discover when the time comes. The Darien gap is one area that I have researched pretty extensively but am still looking into. I have looked into the boat rides and such as i prefer and believe i will do that as opposed to flying. I also believe? and correct me if im wrong but i believe there is the opportunity to cross on foot? If that is true I would be more than excited to do that. Thanks again!
Femby, Thanks i appreciate the insight. I feel like i have already been bitten I wish that i wasnt reading or researching all this stuff behind a screen or a book but breathing the air and talking to the locals. But i guess my time will come soon enough. Thanks!
Markus, the Gringo Trail isn't a specific route, it's simply a general term referring to ALL the common places throughout Latin America that are visited by foreigners. Almost everything in the usual guide books will be on or near the so-called, "Gringo Trail."
No, you can't do the Darien Gap on foot.
Start by reading this.