8 Things to Know When Traveling to Central America

by 22 Feb 2019Where to go next?

By Adam Durnham.

Many people are drawn to the calmness of the Caribbean Sea on the east coast of these countries, others to the tempestuous waves of the Pacific on the west. Whichever you prefer, in Central America beaches are an amazing travel territory. And there’s much more to see between both coasts.

Have you considered sand boarding down a steaming volcano? Exploring a cloud forest? Watching the sunset in ancient Mayan ruins? Or even hiking through a thick jungle? All this is possible in Central American countries: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Regardless of your preferences, a trip to Central America can be a great way to get away from it all.

1. Analyze the pros and cons of each country

If you want to enjoy but still save some bucks, you’ll be able to do so by simply analyzing the countries you choose to travel in. For example, Costa Rica and Panama are among the most expensive in the area, followed closely by Belize.

By analyzing the pros and cons, you might see that the other options in the area: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador might be just as fun without making a big dent in your budget.

2. Consider your accommodations

You will find plenty of options around these countries, however, there can also be a large price difference between hostels and hotels so take that into account when planning your route, or you can simply download Holiday Swap and find your desired and affordable accommodation.

3. Enjoy local produce straight from the source

Do you enjoy Guatemalan espresso at your local coffee shop or Costa Rican chocolate while you’re at work? Well, these are the places where those delicacies are born.

Reaching out to local entrepreneurs since they offer budget tours of the coffee plantations and cacao farms so you can get some free tastings and enjoy the experience.

4. Think about your safety

Use your common sense, remember these are unknown countries for you. Make sure you only travel using registered taxis, stay updated on the latest warnings and advice, follow local’s advice, keep your valuables concealed and try not to be out alone in remote areas after sunset.

5. Be ready for border crossings

Central America is not just one country so you’ll need to cross the border when getting from one country to another. If you’re not prepared, this might become a nightmare, due to its long queues, checkpoints and other annoying perks. However, if you prepare and remember that each country will have its rules, fees and so on, you can have everything ready by the time you get there. This will make everything much easier.

6. Fly, as much as possible

If you have a tight itinerary, consider flying from country to country to make the most out of your trip. Distances might seem short if you take a quick look at a map, however, getting around can take quite some time due to the area’s geography. Flying might be the best way for you to get from point A to B in little to no time, with minor delays. However, if you prefer the scenic route, feel free to take buses but take into account that crossing countries might take up to 15 hours and this happens during the day, so by the time you get to your destination, it’s straight to bed.

7. Skip the capitals

If you’re truly short on time and want to enjoy as much as possible (and maybe even fill your Instagram account with amazing shots of amazing places), simply skip the capital cities. Capital cities are heavily populated and full of traffic. So even though they do hold some culture and value, they’re not as mesmerizing as the places you can find in the countryside.

Surprisingly, there are many direct flights from US cities to rural paradises such as Roatán in Honduras and Liberia in Costa Rica. You won’t even have to get through the concrete jungles to have a great trip.

8. You can travel alone

There are multiple places where you’ll need to think twice before even considering traveling alone, especially women, but Central America is surprisingly not one of those. It’s a small area so it’s rare that you’d end up completely alone in a remote place. You can also see many local and foreign women out and about on their own so you’re not likely to stand out and be at risk. There’s also no dress code so you’re free to relax and enjoy.


Adam Durnham is a guest contributor for Holiday Swap.

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