This is what you need to know

Do you want to go backpacking in South America? Or do you prefer to travel to Central America? You have probably a lot of questions during your preparation about safety, transportation, costs, visas, and destinations. In this article, you will find all information about backpacking in Latin America and I provide you with useful travel tips. I am a Latin American travel expert, and love to help people to travel to Latin America, a continent that stole my heart forever. The need for adventure has always been inside me. I have had amazing journeys full of culture, nature, and adventure. Backpacking through South ‚Äď and Central America is generally very safe, cheap, and above all, amazing. There are plenty of things to discover. With tons of unique experiences and hidden gems.

Safety in Latin America

I want to start with the topic of `safety in Latin America’ because Latin America has the image of being an unsafe part of the world.¬†Especially if you have to believe your government’s travel advice. It`s always marked as a yellow area where you need to take high precautions levels while you travel. Or even with red areas still to be avoided.¬†Don`t be alarmed by the information that you read on those websites. Latin America is not the Wild West, the level of safety is not so bad in reality and I have never felt unsafe for a moment.¬†Of course, you have to watch your belongings and stuff like that. But is this not something you have to do everywhere in the world? From the first moment when you arrive in Latin America. You will quickly discover how helpful, friendly and hospitable the people are. In my opinion, they are the most heartwarming people in the world. By following a few simple rules, the risk of theft/aggression is very low. Are you planning to follow a language course in Latin America? And you want to be sure about safety? I carefully selected the best language programs. I know the Spanish schools and destinations myself, and also the red areas in each country to avoid. Don`t worry, I would not send you there. After you complete a booking, I will also give you more travel tips and information about safety. Because your safety is our highest priority!

Traveling by public transport

Traveling in Latin America can make you exhausted. You can use the famous chicken buses which run all over Central America. These are old school buses that they have painted with a nice color. But bear in mind. The chicken buses are anything but comfortable. If you are lucky, you will have a seat. I love those rides. Because it`s always an adventure. But you can also take a minivan. For which you can arrange tickets at your hostel or a travel agency. These are more convenient but a little bit pricier. For long distances, especially in South America, there are more luxurious long-distance buses. Don`t forget your sweater or a blanket during the bus ride. Because they like to put the air conditioning on. Or you can take the airplane. But it`s better to avoid them if you want to save on budget. In the cities, there are of course taxis (also Uber), or in some countries, there are tuk-tuks, which you sometimes share with other people.

Visas in Latin America

For almost all nationalities there is a visa on arrival for every country in Latin America.¬†This means that you will receive a visa upon entry into the country.¬†However, you must check the visa requirements of every country you will be visiting with the local embassy, consulate, or a reputable visa handling company such as ¬†visalink for the most up to date visa information before you travel. So luckily, in most cases, you don’t have to arrange anything in advance.¬†They can, however, ask for an exit ticket. This is an outbound flight ticket with which you prove that you are going to leave the country within the duration of your visa. Most countries in Latin America give you a 3 months visa.¬†This can of course always changes so check it carefully.¬†It`s also required that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after entering the country. Make sure you also get all your travel vaccines, for your health, and as some countries will check a vaccination card on arrival. Depending on where you are coming from.

Language in Latin America

Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Latin America, except Brazil where they speak Portuguese, Belize where they speak English, and some smaller places like Suriname and French Guyana.¬†If you plan a backpacking trip in Central America or South America, I would recommend you to learn Spanish and travel.¬†Because most people don`t speak any English. Of course, you don¬īt need to be completely fluent. But all you need is a base to start with. You will be surprised how much more fun your backpacking trip will be! Your traveling will be better and easier when you can connect with local people. Like asking the directions on the street, having a small conversation with that friendly lady selling fruits, etc. I know this from my own experience. I also know that it can be difficult to find a good Spanish school. There are many popular destinations to learn Spanish in Latin America and many schools to choose from. Use, therefore, our course finder to select your perfect destination and find the best Spanish school based on your preferences. You will find language trips in all imaginable categories with the best adventures and free volunteering work.

What to pack for your trip?

As a former backpacker (guess I still am) I always recommend traveling as light as possible. But I know many travelers struggle with what to pack. Especially in Latin America, because it`s home to many climates and different circumstances. For that reason, you need something for the days at a beautiful beach but also the adventures when you are going to climb a volcano or mountain. Where it can be a bit cooler. If you book a trip with us. We always inform you about the seasons. Because traveling in dry and rainy seasons makes of course a difference. But with this pack list for your backpack, you will be in any time of the year prepared for your backpacking trip.


  • Airy clothing. Like light blouses, tops, shirts, shorts, dresses.
  • Long pants and long-sleeved shirts
  • Rain Jacket
  • Sweater
  • Swimwear
  • Underwear
  • Socks


  • Hiking shoes
  • Normal shoes
  • Flip-flips or sandals


  • Travel documents (valid passport and flight tickets)
  • Camera
  • Debit and credit card
  • Emergency cash (few US dollars which you can exchange at any time)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent with DEET
  • World travel plug
  • Easy day pack
  • Headtorch
  • Travel sheet
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet bag and toiletries
  • Medicines

Budget backpacking Latin America

Backpacking in Latin America is generally cheap. Not as cheap as Southeast Asia but still a lot cheaper than Australia, Europe, Africa, and North America. Some places are a bit more expensive like Costa Rica and Chile. But on the other hand, there are countries like Bolivia and Nicaragua, which are dirt cheap. On average I would say, that you have to count on a monthly budget of about 1500 euros. You can do it with less. But with that amount of money in mind, you can do every excursion you want. You don`t need to budget for the `more expensive trips` like the Galapagos Islands or visiting San Blas Islands. About Spanish lessons, they can be found cheap in Latin America. Do you want to have guaranteed the best deal? Check out all the language programs that we offer. Because we have a best-price-guarantee with the language schools. It doesn`t cost you anything extra.

Need help?

In this article I have described what you should know for your backpacking trip through South America or Central America. But we have many more tips ready for you. Send us a message right away on WhatsApp and let`s talk about your interests and learning desire. I can help you find the right travel destination and language program that suits you! 

Do you have any tips that are not mentioned in this article? Let us and other students know in the comments!

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