11 Travel Tips For A Safe Trip To Central America

a. Passports in the Black Market: Did you know that an American, Canadian or European passport goes for $ 60 – $ 120 on the black market? Well to renew them you will have to pay the same. So to avoid problems and unnecessary expenses keep your original in your hotel and always carry a copy. In Costa Rica and Guatemala is totally cool. Everyone understands. And if they don’t, tell them that your passport on the black market can be bought for $ 60 and they’ll back off.

b. Safety Tips When Traveling in Guatemala: The Central American countries have a bad reputation, but don’t get paranoid. Here is some advice on how to avoid being robed:

1- Leave expensive jewelry and watches at home,

2- Don’t carry purses, camera bags and phones or carry them close to your body,

3- Take along only as much cash as you need,

4- Carry a photocopy of your passport, leaving the original in your hotel safe,

5- At night stick to well-lighted and transited areas.

c. Register Your Trip to Guatemala And Feel Safe! The US Gov’t recommends you secure your trip to Guatemala City by hiring, for a super low price, the Tourist Police. You can arrange all of this before heading to Guatemala. Security escorts for tourist groups and security information are available from the Tourist Assistance Office (ASISTUR) of INGUAT (the Guatemalan Tourism Institute). INGUAT’s ASISTUR division has 24-hour/seven days per week direct telephone numbers for tourist assistance and emergencies. These are (502) 2421-2810 and (502) 5578-9836. The fax is (502) 2421-2891. INGUAT may also be reached by its toll-free number within the United States at 1-888-464-8281 or contact INGUAT by email – asistur@inguat.gob.gt. Requests should provide the itinerary, names of travelers, and model and color of the vehicle in which they will be traveling.

The normal fee is 50 quetzales ($ 6) for a few hours, 200 quetzales ($ 26) if you have them for longer and they need to be fed. 400 quetzales ($ 50) if you have to keep them overnight. Plus you have to pay their gas.

d. Register Your Trip: The US government has a great new feature that EVERYONE who is traveling must take full advantage of! Travel Registration! From now on, no matter where you travel to in the world, head to the Travel Registration section of the US Department of State website and register your full trip!

All you have to do is give them your travel dates. All the places you are staying or plan on staying. Other people you are traveling with. Your passport number. And don’t forget emergency phone numbers so they know who to call – Just In Case!

e. Blend with the Crowd: This is a pretty simple one don’t dress like a tourist if you don’t want to become a target for scams and theft.

f. Emergency Number: Luckily in Costa Rica the emergency number is 911. The great thing is that they speak English and are quite helpful. So all you have to do is to learn the address of the hotel you are staying at the Costa Rican way.

g. Diamonds are a Girl’s Worst Enemy: This is another plain and simple tip but very important for your safety. Don’t bring your jewels when traveling to ANY Latin American country. Leave them at home!

h. How to Keep Your Money Safe and Dry: Have you ever been on vacation having a great time on the beach or the pool and suddenly you remember that your wallet is still in your pocket? I know that it can rally ruin you day. This great product will be very helpful to help you to keep your documents and money safe in those cases I thought you might want to know. It is a waterproof wallet that you can find in almost every scuba dive shop.

i. Guys Get A Mugger’s Wallet: Anywhere you go there will always be thieves. So to avoid them why not carry a ‘mugger’s wallet’ when travelling. So in case of an emergency, you can surrender it easily. In it you can carry a big bill in front and a half-dozen or so smaller bills behind, along with your photo ID library card, some other papers, hotel coupons, etc, for bulk.

j. Eat Safely When Traveling To Central America: Are you traveling to Central America and concerned about what foods are safe to eat?

1- Any foods that have been boiled are generally safe, as well as fruits and vegetables that have to be peeled before eating. Avoid eating uncooked or undercooked meat.

2- You should also stay away from foods that require a lot of handling before serving.

3- You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t drink the water in some countries overseas. This is why: Water supplies in developing countries are not treated in the same way as water supplies in developed countries. I would suggest you drink only bottled water when traveling.

k. Women: A New Use For Old Pantyhose: I learned that airports can be an easy place for others to prey on unsuspecting travelers who are unfamiliar with their surroundings. So to avoid being robed you can cut off a leg of an old pair of pantyhose and put the money/credit cards in the leg then tie the leg around your waist underneath loose-fitting clothes. But always keep a small amount of money in your pants/skirt pocket for necessary expenses.

Marina K. Villatoro, lives in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for the past decade. She has traveled all over these areas with her family and now she loves to organize vacations to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip!