Central America is a true jewel of the world. Home to some of the oldest civilizations in the history of…forever, Central America can amaze you from all points of view. It can be gorgeous, it can be surprising and it can be a true life experience in its full right.
However, like with everywhere else in the world, you will have to make sure you stay safe if you want to travel to Central America. How to do that? Here are some essential tips for the travellers adventuring themselves to this beautiful part of the world:
Do your homework
And really take your time for it. There are certain things that simply work differently in Central American countries – and they do differ a lot even within the same geographical area. For example, taxi colors can differ from one place to another, and so can traffic and driving legislation (if you plan on renting a car, for example).
Furthermore, researching the least friendly neighborhoods (and obviously avoiding them!) is always a good idea. Last, but definitely not least, remember to do your homework on local customs and beliefs. For example, photographing children without their parents’ permission can be dangerous because in some rural areas, travellers are believed to have kidnapped kids – so you should do everything in your power to stay out of trouble.
Pay attention to pickpockets
Unfortunately, Central America is not fully safe when it comes to pickpockets (but then again, most crowded places aren’t). Therefore, you should at least consider carrying a “throw wallet” (a wallet filled with outdated cards and just some money, so that you avoid being stolen the actual IDs, cards and money you’re using on your trip.
Don’t swim in the ocean
This largely falls under the first tip, but we felt the need to emphasize it. Some Central American beaches can be really dangerous, so it’s essential that you research beforehand. Furthermore, if you are travelling alone or with just one other person, leaving your bag and valuables on the beach to take a swim can be dangerous because it will make for an easy target for robbers.
It does sound like a silly tip of advice, but speaking at least a bit of Spanish can get you out of some pretty nasty situations. Take some time to learn the basics before leaving home, so that you are not caught by surprise when you arrive at your destination.
Follow your gut instinct
This is a golden rule for every single traveller out there, regardless of the destination they may pick: follow your common sense. You have it for a reason – so listen to it whenever something sounds or feels fishy. Things that are too good to be true are almost always untrue, dark alleys and walking alone (or in very small groups) is never a good idea no matter where in the world you are and, in general, avoid listening to “local opinions” that are nothing like you’ve previously researched.
Yes, use your common sense and, obviously, don’t forget to enjoy the gorgeous beauties of Central America!