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Traveling through Central America

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Traveling through Central America

1. Posted by BernieMac (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Hey Guys,

my girl-friend and I are planning a trip to Central and South America for about 4-5 months. We are thinking about going from Mexico through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica down to Panama. We want to take a flight then from Panama to somewhere in South America may be Peru or Chile and travel to Argentina.
Before we want to plan our exact itinerary I’ve got a couple of questions. Is the time enough for all those countries or should we focus on less countries. Do you have any suggestions on must-sees or some handy tips for those countries? What would be a rough estimate of the money we need per month?

Thanks for your replies


2. Posted by bezehbeh (Budding Member 8 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I have the same idea planned. I am from Canada, thinking of leaving around Oct 1....
2 months backpacking!!
You MUST check out Belize, Ive heard its pretty cool!!

Lemme know if you have any info I might need, I want to hit up all the countries down to Panama, or else do the reverse trip.. starting in Panama..

Post 3 was removed by a moderator
4. Posted by dids1 (Budding Member 4 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Me and my boyfriend are planning a similar thing to kick off our gap year, only in reverse starting in Argentina..... from spking with a few people who've done it, they tried to do it in 2-3 months and wished they'd spent longer there instead of moving onto to somewhere else!..... 4months seems to be the most popular option.

Let me know if you spot any gems along the way that are a must see!

5. Posted by vanessa (Travel Guru 257 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

i think that 4-5 months would b enuf for Central America only. If u want to take South Am too - you should cut off few places in C. America. It's bigger then it seems on the map, roads are so-so, transportation is slow and u have too much to see in the way.
From all mentioned Guatemala alone needs about a month - it has almost all types of activities, nature, and things to do there.
Honduras is must if u r diver, if u just pass there - u may visit couple of places, like Copan ruines. Honduras and El Salvadore are nice, but u dont miss the world if u dont stay there.
Nicaragua is adorable! Nicaragua has everything that Costa Rica has, but for 1/3 price. If u look for American-Friendly place, then take Costa-Rica better. Depends of your priorities.
I wasnt in Panama, but it counds interesting place too. Im not sure that it's "must".
In South Am i'd choose Peru, Equador and Argentina.
But distances are HUGE there, and u cant take everything.
that's a prob. - need to make decidion.
And Brasil - it's thing alone. Very big country, very interesting, very very everything - but i think to go to Brasil - u need go ONLY to Brasil, nothing else.
Good luck and enjoy your trip!

6. Posted by fraluchi (Full Member 130 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

To make a budget you should define the type of accommodation you intend to find, the number and quality of meals (or self cooking) you prefer, as well as the type of transportation you think to use.
So basically the question would be "what does the shoestring amount to".
There is another way to look at it: we do not spend more than x $ a day for accommodation, food, transportation and out of pocket expenses. And most of the time you can do your trip, investigating on the spot, making concessions/evaluations.
But the main restriction is: "we don't have more than xxxx dollars to spend" And live on rice and beans?

7. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Yes Bernard, you have time, book all your flights in advance from home, round trip with stopovers, one price, flights within Latin america are super expensive, use a consolidator specializing in Latin Travel, ask Mr. google
or if starting in Central America, and offer coupon flights and serve both Central and South America, join their Facebook groups for special fares and information, all have 1 800 toll free numbers in USA and Taca now flies direct Canada to C.A.
Between countries or long distances in countries in South America are teh first class buses a/c with wc, safe
On second class buses, especially in touristy places like Costa Rica and Ecuador get a chain for your pack or luggage. Petty theft is endemic in Latin America, really!!!!!!

My primer for first time travelers

A primer for those traveling/volunteering/possibly relocating to El Salvador, Guatemala and the rest of Central america for the first time.

...will send by private message

8. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 979 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

DBloom has a lot of knowledge... The man is unimpeachable in many many areas.
...But I disagree with booking your flight to SA before you leave your home. You can achieve a ticket online for cheaper as you travel. Just keep looking. It's been my experience that there will be a golden window where you get the flight for far less than you expected if you DON'T book before you leave...And, of course, it leaves you flexible to do what you want as you go.

... and if it doesn't work out to your benefit, you could get to PTY and just take a quick flight to Cartagena and realize that this is the country you wanted to be in, in the first place.


9. Posted by dbloom (Travel Guru 586 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Piecar is right. Although you need to do your homework on land while traveling and keep up with specials, if going to Brazil, which is size of continental USA, there are many budget flights within country. However, when on the road, if you do not bring your own laptop, be careful using your credit and never your debit card number on public computers, Cybercafes , located everywhere in Latin America, worse comes to worse go to a travel agency recommended by locals/travelers in any city or popular destination or to the airlines offices once you have found a special. If you do travel in Latin America with laptop, ipod, cellphones and digital cameras and take buses, always keep these items hidden (except when on the first class bus or luxury bus that has wi fi), never take them to beach or crowded market places if you are alone, electronic items, along with cash and passports are valued items for thieves. When traveling with valuables, always stay in lodging place with safe, locker or lock box, bring your own locks for emergencies, both male and female travelers should utilize pants with 'inside' pockets' for passports, cash, cellphones, airline and 1st class bus tickets, digital cameras, etc. on second class and 'chicken' buses.
PS when using ATMs (Cajeros) outside of banks, in Malls in the capital cities or large towns or in Gas Stations, always bring a friend or your travel companion and always refuse assitance from overly friendly strangers, of course you know never give your PIN number to anyone, including bank employees!!!!