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Driving through Central America - Help, advice and thoughts?

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Driving through Central America - Help, advice and thoughts?

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1. Posted by craiga (Budding Member 9 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi All,

I am considering/planning a trip starting late Feb next year. I live in London t the moment, but intend to drive from to New York to Miami, Portland, LA and then through Central America to Costa Rica or Panama. This will form a part of a round the world trip into Asia as well.

With this in mind, I have experience of the US, however, very little experience of Central America other than Mexico.

I would like some advice on whether it's practical to drive through Central America? Any thoughts on things to definately avoid?

This trip is partly to visit places to work on a photographic body of work and would certainly need to meet people and families in each of the countries. I speak very little Spanish, but am trying to learn some at the moment, do you think this may be an issue?

All ideas and comments very welcome.



2. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

If you want to meet people outside the tourist trade you'll need better than basic Spanish and good comprehension skills, also to negotiate paperwork crossing borders.

I don't see any issue driving through Central America-the roads are full of cars, trucks are older and often slow but not overwhelmingly so.

3. Posted by rpbroz (Budding Member 15 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,
I have been living in El Salvador and have meet many travelers doing the same trip. It is quite possible and should be a great experience. If you want more specific information about El Salvador please write.

Have a great trip and if you make it to Suchitoto, look me up at my cyber or restaurant just ask for El Gringo(Roberto)

[ Edit: Sorry, no promos please. ]

4. Posted by craiga (Budding Member 9 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hi Roberto, Sam,

Thanks for replying, your help is much appreciated.

I have also been advised to take a look at these websites as well (thanks to dbloom)



[ Edit: Edited on Nov 23, 2007, at 1:15 AM by craiga ]

5. Posted by craiga (Budding Member 9 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Does anyone know or has heard of any issues with visas for travellers?

I have researched visa requirements for English accessing Central American countries and I did not see any that required visas prior to arrival.

The UK foreign and commonwealth office website has some very useful information about each country and has some advice on visas as well.

6. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

UK Citizens do not require visas anywhere in Central America. Punto.

7. Posted by Adrock (Budding Member 55 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Me and my buddy drove through south america earlier this year and it was fine. You should avoid driving at night if you can in some areas. Lock your car and park it in a safe place, mostly common sense. At the boarders you need to have it registered for the country your driving through. All that is, is a little paper work and a small fee. Speaking spanish down there is pretty important especially dealing with boarder crossings and cops ect.. Other than that it is pretty safe, so go for it and enjoy your trip.

8. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Adrock is right, and go with a companion just in case you encounter any problems. If you have less than basic Spanish skills and are alone it can be very stressful. Avoid driving in large cities whenever possible, an online friend from Italy last year joined the hospitality club project I belong to and drove his van from USA to Brasil, where he is staying now, ------- wrote a bloq with some very useful information, of course, he spoke advanced Spanish. Also another reason to take along a travel companion/driver is in case of a mechanical breakdown, especially in a remote area, never leave the vehicle abandoned overnight on the road, never volunteer your itinerary or give out the address where you are lodging, to inquisitive strangers, keep a low profile.

9. Posted by albertrale (Budding Member 2 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Driving in a foreign country is a big no-no. First of all, you are subject to the rules and laws of the country you are visiting. A simple fender-bender could result in jail time. There is plenty of public transportation. Be cautious about traveling alone as opposed to group travel, especially Central America.

Dr. Travel,

Moderator comment: Personal and promotional website addresses are not allowed in the open forums. Please see the Forum Rules. Thank you.

[ Edit: Removed website address. ]

10. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 10y Star this if you like it!

Hey "Doctor Travel" Thanks so much but in my case you are 21 years too late with your "Expert advice", besides driving in Europe in the early 1980s, in 1986 a few months after relocating to Central America, I drove my own vehicle down from New York USA to Guatemala, of course I paid some "mordida" in Mexico enroute, everyone driving through at that time did, I drove my vehicle, with four major overhauls almost 15 years mostly in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, some 500 excursions escorting single, couple or triple travellers between 1986 and 1992, no major problems with exception of occasional mechanical failure or flat tires, always someone around to help. Of course I had national plates, know my way around, "expert" on our language, including slang and indingenous dialects, culture and customs. I sold my car in 2001 and got more than paid for it in the USA.

Anyone driving through Mexico and Central America visit 99DaysToPanama dot com lots of info. on camp sites, people and places, border crossings and more...

Driving in Latin America is not for the faint of heart, for sure, it's for the true adventure traveler

Duh, Doctor Travel, well thanks again for the advice? (mandate)????????