7 Things to Consider When Planning Your Trip to Latin America
With Latin America covering such a broad range of activities and cultures, trip planning for adventure travel is a necessity. While visiting this part of the world without any pre-planning can be thrilling, it can also be daunting and it may lead you to miss out on unique experiences and must-see attractions. In order to fully enjoy the culture and activities on offer, you should consider a few essential factors before you embark on your adventure holiday.
Here are 7 things to keep in mind when trip planning for your upcoming active trip in Latin America
Your Fitness Level
Latin America is perfect for travellers who crave constant adventure and want to be involved in its many outdoor activities. The region offers a wide variety of experiences, including hiking, rafting, horseback riding, volcano boarding, zip lining and more. In order to get the full Latin American adventure experience, visitors should lend their attention to all of the amazing adventure activities on offer! One thing to keep in mind, however, is your level of fitness, as some of these activities can be strenuous. If you’re a casual adventurer, we recommend lighter activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding or perhaps a walk in the rain forest, but if you’re a thrill seeker, you can enjoy activities like white water rafting, canyoneering, zip lining and volcano hiking!
The Duration of Your Trip
With there being quite a few countries, varying cultures, so many activities in Latin America, we would suggest not less than a week. If you wanted to take in the full Central American experience from Mexico all the way to Panama we would suggest you need at least 6-7 weeks, but it all depends on how fast you want to move. Panama is a relatively small country for example. Internal flights are not very expensive so a week in Panama alone might be sufficient. Mexico however, has so many different areas, and it is such an enormous country, even 2 weeks may not be enough. When planning a multi-country trip it depends on which countries you wish to combine and how you wish to travel between the countries (see Transportation below). For trip planning purposes we suggest writing out your must-do experiences and must-see places and charting them beside your available vacation time for the trip; you may find that it is a better plan to make two or more trips to properly see everything you wish to and not dilute your Latin American experience if you are short on time.
The Timing of Your Visit
Depending on the type of activities you wish to undertake, Latin America is generally good to travel to all year round. April to August, will be very hot in low lying areas, hurricane season runs from June/July to September/October, and rainy season due to climate change really does vary. We should also point out that when we say ‘rainy season’, that potentially means afternoon storms and rain from around 3pm until early evening and it is tropical rain so it doesn’t necessarily mean it is cold. Keep in mind that the generally the higher the altitude, the cooler it gets. Mexico City as an example is cooler from November to February while it is still very warm in Playa del Carmen.
Proper trip planning also includes checking out what events or festivals may be happening during a particular time. Depending on what is happening you may want to ensure you are attending at the right time or perhaps even avoiding a certain area. See “Mexican Festivals – Are they for you?” as an example.
Joining a Tour vs Going Solo (Who You’ll Be Travelling With?)
Another factor to consider when planning your trip to Latin America involves the decision to either join a guided group tour or choose to explore the destination on your own. Yes it can be done solo, but generally speaking, it is safer travelling with a group throughout many countries in Latin America. Each country has their pros and cons with regards to safety, we suggest checking with your government travel advisory site or a trusted travel advisor before making your decision.
If you are time poor but still want to visit several places and wish to fill your days with adventure travel, make sure to join a guided tour, where expert tour operators will lead you off the beaten path as well as handling the logistics of getting you between places. By joining a guided group tour, you’ll meet other like-minded travellers, gain local insights and be able to explore the wonderful hidden gems of Latin America without wasting any times handling the logistics.
Equipment & Clothing
Before you head off onto your active trip, you’ll need to consider what to bring with you. If you’ll be out and about exploring and enjoying outdoor activities, you’ll need proper shoes and apparel. Here are a few suggestions for your pack:
– Depending on activities, a backpack or hybrid (wheels and backpack)
– A good pair of shoes or boots for volcano/rain forest hikes – must be broken in!
– Water shoes with a good non-slip sole
– mosquito repellent
– comfortable, weather appropriate clothing
Transport in Latin America varies greatly. Sometimes safety plays a factor so before getting on that local bus, check with the locals to ask how safe it might be for you. Luxury buses are also available throughout Latin America. Internal flight prices are coming down and in major cities there is UBER which is an inexpensive way to move quicker, for shorter distances.
Distances Between Locations
Distances in Latin America are vast and tend to be underestimated by many tourists from other parts of the world. When trip planning for this region, it is essential to consider distances before you embark on your trip. If you’re planning to visit multiple destinations, we recommend researching average travel time between cities and add extra for unexpected delays.
The distance may look short on a map, but it all depends on the quality of the road and many other factors.
When it comes to trip planning, especially for an active trip, you’ll need to factor in your available spending budget. An appropriate budget would need to keep in mind costs related to travel/transportation, hotel, meals, activities, and regular everyday expenses. Ensure you have budgeted for proper travel and medical insurance for your trip as that small cost is much better than a huge unexpected medical bill.
When it comes to adventure travel, it’s essential to consider all these key factors to plan your trip properly. By spending time doing so, we guarantee you’ll have a fun-filled holiday that will allow you to experience the ultimate Latin American adventure.