Central America Travel: Variety is the Spice
Your Central America travel should be as eclectic as the cultures and landscapes freckling the region. To put it all together, get some help from the Web. You'll find sites dedicated to each of the region's seven countries, as well as advice and shared experiences from other travelers. Whether you prefer to keep your itinerary open-ended or you want to book everything in advance, the Web can enhance your experience of Central American tourism. We've selected some sites to help you get started.
In a word: vibrancy. Perhaps more well-known for its brutally war-torn past, Central America has ... read more »
Political unrest and violence have largely subsided in Central America, but traveling the region still demands common sense and vigilance with regards to personal safety. To prepare yourself, be aware of government warnings and of crime rates, particularly in El Salvador and Honduras. Try to become familiar with the recent history of the countries you plan to visit, as most Central American nations are young democracies still trying to figure themselves out.
- Government agencies online are a great help in preparing for your travels. You'll want to take care of the paperwork and other official stuff as far in advance as possible to give yourself ample time to pack and plan your itinerary in the weeks leading up to your trip. Plus, you'll be relaxed and free to roam once you arrive in your desired location.
- Consular Information Sheets, provided by the U.S. Department of State, provide crime information, statistics, and safety advice. This may help you decide which locations to avoid (or to be especially careful traveling through).
- The region is Spanish-speaking but you'll find many English-speaking locals in tourist-heavy areas of Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama. Regardless of where you travel, however, it will be beneficial to know some basic Spanish.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
provides "Travelers' Health Information" for all countries. Find out about any travel notices that may be in effect, become more aware of diseases in each country, and learn how to prepare for and remain healthy during your trip.
The U.S. Department of State
's "International Travel" page informs you of passport and visa requirements, and tells you everything you need to know before traveling abroad, including health and safety warnings, family and children's issues, and embassy registration.
The U.S. Department of State
"Background Notes" pages for every country in the world can be linked to from here. Facts about land, people, history, government and political conditions are given, as well as economic activity and foreign relations.
provides historical background and details the natural resources, language, religion, and economic development of Central America. This overview can help you begin to distinguish the unique qualities of each country in the region.
The Latin American Network Information Center
(LANIC) is maintained by the Latin American Studies department at the University of Texas at Austin, and provides a base from which you can link to information about each Central American country. LANIC is separated into sections including academic research resources, politics, the environment, arts and culture, human rights, and more.
To learn Spanish...
provides beginner and intermediate online courses in Spanish with a tutor and interactive features. Lessons are free, fast, and entertaining.
has a language school search engine that helps you find schools throughout Central America. You can read essential information about each school, and link to school Web sites to make an informed choice.
is a publication focused on cultural travel, international living, and work and study abroad. This article by travel writer Volker Poelzl offers thorough advice about Spanish-language study in Latin America, and provides links to schools.
For students ...
The International Student Travel Confederation
offers the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), the only internationally accepted student ID card. With it, you'll be eligible for discounts and benefits in 106 countries. On this site, you'll learn more about the card and find out how to get one.
You can fly in from the United States relatively easily and inexpensively. All seven countries have ... read more »
You don't have to rough it-but you can. Tourism is strong and growing across the region, which ... read more »
You can travel around the region cheaply, and there is a good chance that your ride will be ... read more »
The Web can give you a taste of a destination before you go, and one of the best ways to prepare ... read more »
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