Resources

  • Planeta (www.planeta.com) Regional articles, events, reference material and links, with an emphasis on sustainable travel.
  • The Tico Times (www.ticotimes.net) Based in Costa Rica, a long-standing online newspaper covering Central America news and culture.
  • Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/central-america) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Top Tips

  • Learn as much Spanish as you can – even just basic phrases. It can't hurt, and it might very well help you bond with the locals.
  • Pack half the clothes that you think you'll need: laundry service is cheap in the region.
  • Visit local mercados (markets) – not just to eat fresh food cheaply, but also to sample a lively slice of local life.
  • Be aware that Belize, Costa Rica and Mexico are significantly more expensive than other parts of the region. The cheapest places to travel here are Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
  • Relax and bring a good book everywhere; Central Americans are rarely in a hurry and it helps to go with the flow.

What to Take

  • Phrasebook
  • Flip-flops or sandals
  • Hiking shoes
  • Poncho or rain jacket
  • Binoculars
  • Bug repellent with DEET
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Driver's license (if you plan to rent a car)
  • Field guide of local fauna and/or flora
  • Batteries and chargers
  • Flashlight or headlamp

What to Wear

Locals rarely wear shorts when they're not at the beach. Bring lightweight pants or skirts and tops with short sleeves.

Dining and nightlife can be formal in the capital cities. Bring proper dress shoes (or sandals for women), and pants and a dress shirt for men or a skirt or dress for women.

A fleece and lightweight shell are necessary for the highlands. For hiking, long sleeves and quick-drying pants will help keep the bugs away.

Pre-departure Checklist

  • Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your arrival date.
  • Check the visa situation and government travel advisories.
  • Organize travel insurance.
  • Check flight restrictions on luggage and camping or outdoors equipment.
  • Check your immunization history.
  • Contact your credit card company to see if your card includes car rental insurance.