Traveling in Central America is not the same as traveling in any other part of the world.
So take a look at this tips that will help you when going on a road trip:
1. Pull over if the car breaks down
This is an important tip. Central America is not the best place to just pull over and wait for someone to help you out with your car if it breaks down for two reasons: As friendly as people are in these countries almost no one stops to help people on the side of the road because it's a quite common trick used by kidnappers and if someone does stop unless you speak Spanish no one will understand you. So take some time to check the engine of your car and make sure it is ok before you go on a road trip.
2. My advice is to pack some food to save some time and money
This takes me to the next tip. I always recommend trying the traditional food of the places you visit. But I also recommend being careful about where and what you eat because no one wants to get sick in vacation. In Central America it is easy to find street stands and small rustic restaurants, as well as some great well know restaurants. But if you are on the road what are the chances of finding a restaurant right when you get hungry?
3. Eating in the car
This one is a short tip that might sound silly, but I find it very useful. Eating in the car means that there will be garbage in the car afterwards. Plus I'm sure none of us would think of littering the beautiful Central American scenery. So take some garbage bags with you to avoid the mess.
4. Open your windows
If your air conditioner is on, the engine uses more gas so you have to spend a little more money. So if you're on the highway you should keep the windows open to get some fresh air and save money. But in the case of cities I will have to recommend keeping the windows closed. The reason for it is that Central America's big cities have their share of crime and you wouldn't want to be robbed as you wait for the traffic light to change to green.
5. Use the scenic roads
Most Central American countries have highways and secondary more scenic roads. So to avoid a stressful ride along a crowded highway enjoy the beautiful sceneries that these counties have to offer.
6. Swap drivers
This is a general road trip tip. Take turns when driving. Driving can be tiring and a bit stressful and if just one person does all the driving for hours it can cause an accident. Plus no one wants to spend the entire trip behind the wheel.
7. Watch the sun
Central American countries are very close to the equator so the sun heat is very strong and you can get sunburned. Even when you are inside the car, it doesn't matter if the car has tinted windows if you don't have sunscreen on you will get sunburned.
8. Fuel up
This is a basic one: don't wait until gas is on empty to start looking for a gas station. The reason for that is that in some Central American highways you might not find a gas station for long distances.
9. Plan unexpected stops
When planning a road trip always take unexpected stops in to consideration. Because some highways or roads in Central America only have one track on each way. That can cause waiting in the traffic. Plus they are constantly being fixed so even if the highway has more than one track on each way you will find traffic jams. Plus bathroom, eating, refilling and gas stops take some time.
10. Bring a map
GPS is great but in these developing countries roads and highways are always changing. Plus these devices make mistakes. So just to make sure you don't get lost always bring a real, actual, paper map to Central America, one that doesn't talk to you.
Written and contributed by Marina K. Villatoro