Trip feedback? Central America 2018/2019

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Trip feedback? Central America 2018/2019

1. Posted by going_places (First Time Poster 1 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

so im 18 years old I live in British Columbia Canada I've never really been outside Canada much and have never travelled alone but I'm planning a solo trip to Central America this December-febuary. since I have 0 travel experience I was just wondering if anyone can give me any tips. I plan on landing in San Jose Costa Rica and imediatley going to Jaco and stay there for a few days then starting the journey up to Antigua Guatemala. so what is the best way to get around in Central America?, what are some things I need to prepare for/ bring, what are some ways to make the trip the most cost efficient and if anyone has any tips for a first time traveller in Central America please let me know.

2. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1084 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Four years ago we did a similar trip in reverse, starting in Mexico and working our way down overland to Panama. There's plenty of public transport to manage this quite easily but the situation in some of these countries has changed over the years and recent developments, especially in Nicaragua, suggest that you might want to reconsider travelling through this area.

As an eighteen year old travelling alone, abroad for the first time, I'd suggest you look somewhere easier for your first back-packing trip; perhaps South-East Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia). If you can link up with other backpackers doing any similar circuit, you'd probably find your trip, easier, safer and more fun.

If you really must travel through Central America, consider Monteverde, Arenal, Puerto Viejo and Tortuguero in Costa Rica, Ometepe and Granada in Nicuaragua if you decide to go through there, Copan Ruinas in Honduras and, as well as Anitgua, Lake Atitlan, Tikal and Rio Dulce in Guatemala.

Enjoy your planning! :):):)

3. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1047 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

From Costa Rica you'll have to traverse Nicaragua to get to the other parts of Central America, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Problem is that Nicaragua currently is in turmoil; and many of the businesses that cater to tourists, including restaurants and accommodations, remain closed. While many people continue to shop in the morning for necessities, by evening the streets are deserted. Several hundred people have been killed by police and paramilitary forces that roam the streets supporting the government. Many barricades have been set up in communities; and government forces have been tearing them down.

I traveled with a friend and a guide for 45 days this summer in Central America, beginning in Managua. It certainly was exciting; and we weren't fearful. But we were careful (avoiding photography in certain places); and taking detours to avoid clashes between citizens and paramilitary forces. In one place, we joined a convoy of vehicles to cross a river, avoiding the bridge where fighting was about to take place. At one paramilitary checkpoint, our vehicle (including our bags) was searched for weapons by gunmen wearing ski masks.

It would be to your advantage to know Spanish as you'll need to ask people about the current situation in places you want to visit in Nicaragua. For example, we had planned to visit Leon, but decided to detour to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, after learning that residents were digging trenches to stop paramilitary forces from entering; and that the hotel where we had reservations was closed; and that alternative hotels also were closed.

I'm accustomed to travel in troubled lands; but since this is your first trip overseas I'd recommend you avoid Nicaragua.

I agree with Borisborough that Southeast Asia would be an excellent choice for a first trip overseas. The region is one of the easiest and least expensive to travel in. The cost of flights to Southeast Asia from Vancouver is about the same as flights to Central America. Go to this Web site to check: https://www.google.com/flights

Please also see this link before planning your trip: https://travel.gc.ca/

[ Edit: Edited on 15-Sep-2018, at 12:14 by berner256 ]

4. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1141 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I am incredibly irked that someone would push you away from CA. A great place to travel. It's late in a day of...er... socializing.....for me, and so I need to respond more completely tomorrow...But please hold to your idea. They're good travellers....But they're wrong.

[ Edit: Edited on 16-Sep-2018, at 00:43 by Piecar ]

5. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1047 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

An 18-year-old who admits to zero travel experience ("never really been outside Canada much"), on a "cost efficient" budget needs to be aware that traveling in Central America isn't like traveling from British Columbia to Alberta and Saskatchewan.

As someone who frequently travels to troubled lands (against the advice of his government and others), I usually don't advise someone not to go. But he or she needs to be aware of the current situation on the ground in Nicaragua -- and elsewhere -- that can affect health and safety.

As a traveler, I like having options. And laying out an alternative to Central America is not unreasonable. I am not attempting to "push away" anybody from traveling to Central America or anyplace else. If he or she is determined to go, fine. But there are other options that this newbie traveler (going_places) might not be aware of, such as Southeast Asia. As I pointed out in my earlier comments the cost of flights to Southeast Asia from Vancouver is about the same as flights to Central America.

I leave Wednesday for a two-month trip to the Himalayas, visiting some remote areas. If -- after I return -- going_places still is interested in visiting Nicaragua and Honduras on the way from Costa Rica to Guatemala I can contact my guides and friends there who can provide helpful and timely advice.

[ Edit: Edited on 16-Sep-2018, at 04:44 by berner256 ]

6. Posted by JenniferWhite (Budding Member 22 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

If you stop in Panama, let me know and I can help you around to visit the best places.

7. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 1141 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

CA is A great entry point to world budget travel. It is well travelled by packers and good on costs. It's close to BC and cheap to get to. Sure there are dangers, but there are dangers in SAE too. CA is a good travel option. I was just there three months ago.

Guatemala is a great place to pick up some Spanish on the cheap. Honduras is still perfectly viable as a scuba destination. Nicaragua can be travelled without straying into contentious areas....and Managua doesn't need to be visited at all. Panama is lovely and I haven't heard any horrible stories about Belize. We have an airline doing screaming deals to GUA and theres always the Cancun option to enter the region.

When a traveller comes to the site and says " I'd like to go Here." And one says...." No no no. Go here.".. I would say that's dissuading.

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Sep-2018, at 15:59 by Piecar ]

8. Posted by Teoni (Respected Member 587 posts) 4w 1 Star this if you like it!

If you feel Nicaragua is too complicated to deal with an alternative might be to start somewhere north of Nicaragua instead of Costa Rica and perhaps replace them with Mexico.

And I don't think anyone is trying to dissuade the OP but perhaps make sure the OP has thought through all the available options. If the OP responds we can then tailor our responses accordingly.

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Sep-2018, at 18:06 by Teoni ]