How to Travel in Latin America

Two Methods:Preparing for Latin American TravelGeneral Advice for Traveling in Latin America

Latin America comprises Mexico, Central America, the Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean, and all of South America. Because of the great diversity of cultures, historical attractions, and recreational activities, traveling in Latin America is popular for both short-term tourists and long-term budget travelers. This guide will prepare you for your trip with instructions on getting ready for the voyage, tips on the main attractions and possible itineraries, and advice regarding transportation and accommodations during your Latin American travel.

Method 1
Preparing for Latin American Travel

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    Ensure that your passport is up to date. All Latin American countries require passports for entry (Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil also require tourists visas; these can be purchased at the border).
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    Choose departure and return dates that coincide with the season during which you wish to travel.
    • Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America have a relatively stable climate throughout the year. In southern South America, winter occurs from approximately May to September and summer is from December to March.
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    Arrange vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, as these are more common in Latin America than many other regions of the world.
    • If you will be in rural areas with a large concentration of mosquitoes, as in the rainforests of Central America, get a malaria vaccination.
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    Decide if you want to see all the main areas of Latin America or only select regions.
    • In general, traveling in Latin America entails moving from north to south or vice versa, given the geography of the region. Common itineraries include moving from northern Mexico south to Panama, going from Venezuela or Colombia north to the Caribbean countries of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and going south from Colombia to Argentina or Chile.
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    Choose at least one city and one major attraction to see in each country you visit.
    • This will help you travel across different regions and give you a basic itinerary. Some of the most popular destinations in Latin America include Buenos Aires in Argentina, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru, the rainforests of Colombia, and the beaches of Costa Rica.

Method 2
General Advice for Traveling in Latin America

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    Select methods of transportation based on the type of activities you wish to explore.
    • For cultural or urban tourism, it is best to fly between major cities, as bus routes are slow and unreliable. Options such as the Mercosur Air Pass and the Visit South America Airpass allow travelers to fly around Latin America at reduced rates.
    • For budget travelers, bus travel is easiest and cheapest, and will allow you to reach more remote areas.
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    Consult tourism agencies, locals, or other travelers before heading to high-risk areas such as rural Colombia or El Salvador.
    • Although most areas are safe for travelers, there are pockets where it is inadvisable to visit or stay.
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    Select accommodations based on reviews and advice, not only price.
    • Because air conditioning, hot water, and meals are less common at hotels and hostels in Latin America than in other regions of the world, it is best to investigate details and included amenities ahead of time.
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    Research the price of border fees and transport costs before beginning each leg of your voyage.
    • It is common for police, border guards, and bus and taxi drivers to attempt to overcharge.


  • If you are planning on staying in higher-end hotels, book well in advance. As luxury travel is less common in Latin America than in other areas of the world, options are more limited. Budget travelers, on the other hand, should be able to find accommodations with little prior planning.


  • When learning how to travel in Latin America, understand that renting a car is not the best method for travel between countries. Because most companies will not allow you to return a car across borders, it is best to use public transportation or planes whenever possible. If you wish to see sites only accessible by car, hiring a guide is often nearly as cheap as renting your own car.

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Categories: South America | Central America & Caribbean