Latin America is undoubtedly one of the favorite travel destinations for many people, from around the world, who want what to confirm all that they have heard, and marvel with the culture and the most beautiful landscapes, that is why it is not uncommon to meet people backpacking Latin America any given time.

Latin America is composed of Mexico that geographically is located in North America, all the countries that make up Central America and the whole  South America (with a couple of exceptions), and although the countries of Central and South America are very different; for this guide we wanted to highlight some similarities in the traveling ways, stressing that the diversity of climates, and the gastronomic diversity makes it an endless place to backpack. It would be almost impossible to have a complete guide, and do justice to all the this place encompasses.

Get ready, It is quite an adventure what awaits you while backpacking Latin America

NOTE:If any linked article of this post is not yet in English, you can always find a translate option to all our posts in the top of the right column. This includes 7 other languages as well.

1. North and Central America.

Costa Rica, Backpacking Latin America

In Central America, the possible route is almost drawn by itself. Either you travel north (from Panama to Mexico) or viceversa. To visit all the countries of Central America and Mexico, we advise you to at least have a time plan that considers three to four months, taking into account that a well-planned route only in Mexico can take you almost half a year to travel.

Mexico, Belize and Guatemala or Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua are often bundeled. Costa Rica and Mexico are two perfect countries to start a journey, especially for any inexpert backpacker. This leaves Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala  as more suitable countries for experienced travelers; although that does not mean that you should not venture to visit them.

2. South America.

In South America, the routes are of course rated according to where you start. The best countries for beginning your journey would be Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, in addition Brazil that and its extensive territory, where you can find differences in both sides. In the Andean states of Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, the backpacker already has an important challenge, not only because of the state of the roads and the significant differences in altitude of the places where you can have traced in your route, but also the transportation is often inadequate.

Other option for a starting point should be the route that is made through the Chaco from Paraguay to Bolivia.

3. Seguridad.

If you travel backpacking in Latin America, you may be overwhelmed with the many warnings from locals and foreigners alike. The fact is that Latin America for the most part is no mores dangerous to travel than the rest of the world. However, you should pay attention to some key things:

  • Do not go alone at night. This is really important in Latin America. Walking in a group, especially during the night, will be the best way to stay protected.
  • Learn the language of the country, at least some basic phrases (Spanish, French, English or Portuguese)
  • Study before adventuring in big cities which neighborhoods you should avoid.

4. Weather.

Impossible to make a real forecast of the climate in a place like Latin America, since there is a huge diversity of climatic zones, from the pine forests, deserts of infinite sand dunes in Mexico, the rain forest of Brazil and the glaciers of the Andes and Patagonia.

In general, while backpacking Latin America, Central America is the most comfortable in the winter months. From November to March is the dry season, with the east coast of the Caribbean, which differs significantly from the west coast of the Pacific.

Due to the great extent of South America, probably all known climatic zones exist, so you can find everything. The north with Colombia, Venezuela and the “small states”, is tropical warm and the proximity to the equator provides a lot of rain.

In the Andes it is very cold, especially during the winter months. Remember that seasons are different ion the southern hemisphere. Winter under the equator is June to August.

The extreme south of Chile and Argentina have an adequate temperature to visit from November to March.

The clothes you pack, of course, depend on when you go, where you go and what you want. Since this will depend on your route, and what countries you visit, it is advisable that once the route is drawn and defined,  do not deviate from it to avoid creating a need for unwanted expenses in clothing.

5. Travel expenses.

Prices vary a lot from one country to another. There are regions where travel and life can be super cheap and others that have a considerable high cost. Of course, you can also live economically in the most expensive travel countries, saving in some things here and there, and alleviate the expenses. The MeL’s team considers that for a backpacker, on average, they should expect to spend approximately USD $ 40.00 per day.

  • Low cost countries: Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Paraguay.
  • Those considered slightly more expensive: Mexico (depends on where), Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and Uruguay.
  • And those considered expensive: Belize, Costa Rica, Chile, Brazil, Argentina

Relevant links: 7 Ways to Travel without Paying Accommodation, or Almost Nothing.

6. Payment methods while backpacking Latin America.

Credit and Debit card are the favorite way to cover your expenses. Even traveler checks, since the currency is not the same in all countries, although it is always advisable to carry some cash.

Relevant links: 5 Tips to Avoid Robbers in Your Trip.

7. Traveling by plane.

Latin America has enough air infrastructure to cover all of your destinations, although some countries do not require the cost of a flight due to their size, others are huge and flying could save you some valuable time.

Remember that air fares in general have no relation with how expensive is the country you are visiting, therefore the prices are practically identical to any other part of the world.

Relevant links: 7 Tips to Save on Your Air Fare.

8. Land and public transportation .

In Latin America you mainly travel by bus. Buses connect the entire continent and are the main means of transport. There few (but often spectacular) rail routes, but they are scarce.

Buses are available in all price ranges. Especially in Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, even luxury buses with recliners. But in the Andes or in much of Central America, the buses do not have many amenities, and they are many times full to the last available space. Do not be surprised in some places you have to share your sit with a traveling hen.

Of course, you can rent a car, however, it is generally advisable to travel by public transport because it is cheaper, somehow safer and  convenient.

Hitchhiking is also possible, but not necessarily common for backpacking  Latin America.

Relevant links: Tips for traveling by hitchhiking.

9. Preventive vaccination and medical care during the trip.

South America has as an entry requirement in several countries; you have to be vaccinated against yellow fever. At the time of entry. If you want to know in which countries it is an indispensable requirement to get this vaccine you can do it here: CLICK HERE

Is important to always consider that in large cities, medical care is guaranteed at all times. The farther you go, the less likely you are to receive medical treatment quickly.

A travel insurance is a must while backpacking Latin America.

10. Beach tourism during your backpacking Latin America adventure.

In Latin America you can find thousands of beautiful beaches. In Central America, for example, most countries have equal access to the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The coasts are beautiful and in many places there will be almost no people. The Pacific side on the other hand is perfect for surfing. There are some access points, such as Pavones in Costa Rica or Playa Maderas in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua.

In Central America, diving is especially common on the Caribbean side. Like the Blue Hole in Belize, even snorkeling can be practiced a lot. Of course, it is possible while backpacking Latin America to do great beach tourism everywhere and the possibilities are almost unlimited.

11. Mobile communication (SIM card).

Mochilero en Latinoamérica, mochilas


For the backpacking Latin America, is very easy to buy a SIM card in each country. You just have to find a store and you can get a prepaid line in each place. Also,  in each country you can add more time and data as you need it.

An international SIM card option: CLICK HERE

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