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10 Ways to Budget Travel In Central America

Updated on October 13, 2011

In today’s world of declining dollar value and huge markups in airfare traveling abroad might seem a little out of reach for most people now a days. But, I have found some wonderful travel tips that I would like to share with you that just might help you stretch that dollar a little further when traveling abroad to Central America.

1. Apartments vs. Home stays

Most traveling locations in Central America there are different ways to provided accommodations for yourself or traveling companions. Most home stay options will provide you anywhere from 1- 3 meals a day. This is the perfect option if really want to save some of the cost on lodging and meals while on your trip. Also there is the option of a apartment or residence for those that are going for the exploring, traveling, volunteering or just enjoying the scenic beauty of the city that you are staying in. This way it will save money by being able to by groceries because there will be a cook in kitchen although it does take a little more discipline on your side to make the saving worthwhile.

2. Consider the Cost-of-Living

Make sure you do your research on the cost of living in the country that you are going to. Look up the type of currency that they use and find out what the local exchange rate is for that country. A lot of Central American Countries use the American dollar along with the own currency so exchanging will not always be needed. But, if you plan on visiting the mountains or beaches away from the major cities foreign money may not always be accepted. Make sure you do research on the cost of living in the areas even if you got a great deal on the flight. Things like train fare, bus fare snacks, activities ect.. can quickly eat into a already tight budget. Also taking a pre planned destination route in the country you are visiting can help you avoid the higher cost of tourist traps but on the flip side provide you a better experience of the culture you are visiting.

3. Flight and In-country Transportation

Prior to booking your flights make sure you check with all the major airlines that fly to that destination. Sometimes you can get a better deal by buying your ticket through a discount website but a lot of times buying from the airline directly can save you even more. Also look for airports within fifty to 100 miles from where you live sometimes flying from another airport can save a bundle. Also remember to pack light those extra shoes can stay home since you may need to pay extra at the airport for those extra bags. Laundry service is usually a little extra but if still in a major city there are laundry mats about. Also try to fly during the non tourist seasons usually you can save hundreds just by going at times when there are fewer travelers to your Central American destination.

When you are traveling in the country try to fly into major cities and use their public transportation or local chicken buses for you adventures. Flying into smaller not so well known airports can be more expensive. Taking that two dollar taxi ride might save you 15 min but taking that 25cent bus ride might be easier on your wallet. Also be aware of your surroundings gringos are easy targets on public transport at night. When in doubt check with your local concierge or host family about any questions or issues.

4. Don’t Combine Too Many Locations

To really get the most of our experience try not to take many small trips with very little time stick to your cities location if you’re only going to be a couple of weeks. If you want to see other parts of the county as well make sure you plan well and have enough time to soak in everything you experience. So if by picking a home base and taking smaller day trips you will learn more get to know your current area better and be able to form easier relationships with the people around you. You will always be surprised but what you are not stopping and seeing when taking your time.

5. Travel in a Group to Save

If you’re thinking about Volunteer programs or a extended month or so stay, get your friends to come along! Mini-groups of 3 or more save 10% and then you can split cab fares and guidebook costs. This is a wonderful way to save cost and also enjoy your new adventure with someone you know. Which Is always more fun than the solo adventure.

Budget travel in the summer sun of central america
Budget travel in the summer sun of central america

6. Visa and Entrance Fees

While planning your trip and your destination make sure you check with the local embassy for information on visa and entrance requirements it can save a lot of hassle when you get there and don’t have the right visas filled out. Also check for any taxes on goods or services that you may need to pay either on arrival or departure.

7. Package Deals

Check in with different airlines, hotels, and tour operators to see if there are package deals that you can get into on your trip to Central America. These can offer a wide array of culture immersion that you might have a harder time locating. This way you know exactly what you’re paying for ahead of time and can budget better for it. Although they are on a schedule and free time is nice but sometimes free time can be more expensive.

8. Live Like a Local

The best experience is to start and think like a local of the country you are visiting. Don’t go to the flashy loud club or popular tourist spots. Check with your concierge or host family if you’re staying with on some of the regular spots that are visited by them. You’ll most likely get a more authentic experience and have more fun for less cost. If you are bringing a friend on your trip try out your new found language skills on the real locals in a café or a tourist free area.

9. Blogging and More

You can keep a daily journal with pictures and your experiences by opening a free blogger account. Not to mention the others who have done this for their own trips they can be a valuable resource in where to go and what places not to go to help keep you safe and more money in your wallet.

10. Consult an Expert

If you are still in frenzy and don’t know where to begin and you have little extra money you can always hire a trip analyst to plan your trip accordingly. These are people for a small price will do all the research and planning for you after consultation takes care of your visas and arrangements. These professionals can save you time and money while planning your trip and help you get over the hurdles and red tape that sometimes accompanies obtaining the right visas.

But, after all is said and done remember to enjoy your trip take lots of pictures to be able to tell your grand kids and let me know how it went. You can Visit any of my Central American websites for other tips and tricks or if you are interested in learning about a particular Central American countries culture traditions, history or living. You can visit, or any other country from the links on the right of those sites. I would love to hear from you so please share your experience.


Submit a Comment
  • Mandeeadair profile image


    8 years ago from California

    Great advice! Thank you!

  • LRobbins profile image


    9 years ago from Germany

    Great tips!


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