From the Panama Canal to the Mayan ruins of Guatemala, the Andes, the Amazon and everything in between, Latin America has something for everyone, breathtaking views, friendly locals and delicious food in unexpected corners of the globe.
To help you prepare for your upcoming adventure, or perhaps inspire you to embark on your own journey, we’ve gathered a few tips for traveling around in Central and South America.
Plan in Advance
From your flight to your accommodations, as well as all the good stuff you can expect upon arrival, don’t leave your Latin American adventure up to chance, do some research — get the best deal on flights, and set a loose itinerary in place.
Additionally, some countries may require a travel visa, so be sure to find out if one is needed before jumping on that great airfare deal or booking a non-refundable hotel room.
Learn Some Spanish
Being able to speak a bit of Spanish is sure to come in handy. Not only will it improve your experience during your stay (no matter what country you end up in), the locals will appreciate the extra effort, rather than the cringe-y stereotype of the loudmouth foreign visitor. Sure, you’ll come across some communication issues, but why not ease the process. You might even make a new friend or two, or even decide to stay. Here’s a look at some Costa Rica real estate, if you’re serious about making the move down south.
Make Sure You’re Physically Up to the Activities
Across Latin America, whether you’re in Mexico, Costa Rica or as far south as Chile and Argentina, expect to be moving around a lot if you want to get the full experience. In addition to planning your trip, make sure you’re physically fit enough to run after a bus, walk in high altitudes or able to enjoy activities like surfing, swimming or hiking.
In addition to physical fitness, you’ll want to look into whether you need to get vaccinated for malaria or yellow fever well in advance.
Understand the Climate
Latin America is vast, and has a diverse landscape filled with every kind of weather imaginable. If you’re backpacking across all of Latin America, be sure to pack warm clothes for mountain climates, as well as some summery garb (and plenty of sunscreen) for those days spent along the sunny coast. Do your research, but prepare for some unforeseen changes – one thing is for certain, you can’t count on the weather in no matter what country you should find yourself in.
At the end of the day, planning will save you some major headaches, but when you’re on your trip, flexibility may be the key to exploring the country, or countries you visit like a local. Keep an open mind and say yes to something unexpected—you may just get a taste of the Amazonian rainforest you weren’t expecting, or entry into a new friend’s home—adventure lies ahead, and you’ll want to take advantage!