You picture the humongous landmass that makes up Canada, the USA, Central America and South America, and you’d be a fool to not want to travel to at least one or two of the regions which make up this part of the world. Of course, for your mainstream travel, most people look at Canada and the USA, but Central and South America should not be ignored.
For many years, I only ever really thought about South America as a destination, with countless countries making up this mysterious and wild part of the world, however don’t make the mistake of thinking that nothing lies between South America and the USA, because this compact and easily travelled part of the world, making up Central America, is brimming with sights and culture to explore.
Like anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t advise just grabbing your passport and heading off without a bit of pre-planning. Central America isn’t particularly dangerous, but there are of course safety aspects to think about, and you need to know about these risks before you go.
Think about where you want to visit
Backpacking means freedom, right? But it’s worthwhile at least having a vague idea of your route. Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua are all possible to visit and then if you fancy it, you could even continue north to the USA, or south to South America. It’s your choice, but do think it through first!
How are you going to do it?
Backpacking is the best and most varied way to move about, and transport is possible throughout countries.
Listen to advice
Check travel advice on different countries and borders BEFORE you go, and keep checking this whilst you’re there. You can grab a free wifi spot quite easily and check government websites to do this. Listen to advice and judge it accordingly – people don’t advise against travel for no good reason!
Keep your valuables safe, or preferably at home
Pickpockets and street crime is a problem in Central America so don’t travel dripping in jewellery or show off your fancy iPhone at every available opportunity. Keep things locked away, don’t go out in the day with a lot of cash on you, and make use of hotel safes etc.
Learn the lingo
Its worthwhile learning some basic Spanish before you travel, as this will help you in getting around etc. I’m not suggesting you become fluent, as many people will speak English, even if it is broken, but you’re likely to get a more positive response if you do at least try – and that’s part of the experience too of course.
Check the weather
Before you go, and with your route in mind, be aware of differing seasons and whether your choice of destination, or destinations, have wet and dry seasons.
Check visa information
This differs between countries, and of course depends on your country of origin. Check your Embassy website for up to date information, and if you do need to apply before you travel I’d really recommend doing this in good time, as it can be a waiting game in some instances