Central America: To tour or not to tour?

(November 2013)

For anyone who is a regular reader of my blog (hi mum), you may remember that way back in December 2012 I set myself a ‘travel wish list’ of places that I wanted to visit in 2013.

First up was a post break-up trip to what is widely known as ‘the most romantic city in the world’, Paris. (In hindsight perhaps not the best choice but we had a fab time all the same!)

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Then I grabbed my fix of sunshine in April during a work trip to San Diego.

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Followed shortly after by a yoga retreat in Spain, a long weekend in Marrakesh and not to forget, an amazing week volunteering in a local school in Ghana.

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Some would say that I’d had a fairly travel-packed year, but for the eternal wanderlust, the itchy feet can never be truly scratched and so I set about booking one final trip for 2013, to Central America.

Planning, research, stressing, more research

Now typically I’m more of a DIY kinda girl when it comes to travelling. I like to buy the travel book, research a few travel sights and of course, some travel blogs, but then I like to place the notes aside and see what happens when I arrive.

However, my research told me that 23 days wasn’t all that long to explore seven countries and with my flights already set back in September (I like to book early to get a good deal), I was a little worried about just how much travelling I would need to do in order to not only see everything I wanted to see, but also to make sure that I would get to my departure airport in time for the flight home!

(23 days)  London-Cancun-(overland)-San Jose-London

You see, although I LOVE travelling, I actually hate all the moving around and packing / unpacking bags that it can sometimes involve. I’ve learnt from experience that the places I’ve enjoyed the most have tended to be the ones I spent the most time in – Bondi, Byron Bay, Dubrovnik and San Diego (in case you were wondering).

So, with that in mind, I looked at my options:

  • Option 1 – Book a Bamba Bus experience, enabling me to ‘hop on and hop off’ the local transport and taking in all of the major sights along the way. The only issue with this was that with my time frame, I’d literally be hopping on & off every single day…not ideal.
  • Option 2 – Book a tour through Gadventures or STA Travel, which would hopefully take in the countries I most wanted to see (Mexico, Belize and Nicaragua in my case) and also solve the hassle of sourcing accommodation, worrying about whether I’ll meet anyone and also the very real fear that Central America might not be all that safe for a female solo traveller.
  • Option 3 – Rock up in Mexico and hope for the best!

Decisions, Decisions!

Whilst option 3 did really appeal at one point, I figured with 3 weeks rather than 3 months to make my way across 7 countries, the sensible option might be option 2. However, this decision wasn’t made lightly…

Will I hate being told what to do if I go on a tour?
Will I miss out on meeting other people?
If I do it on my own, will I struggle to make friends when I’m moving around so much?

Ahh, so much to consider!!

The thing that finally made my decision for me, was talking to a travel blogging friend of mine, Scott.

“Lauren, you’re thinking about it too much. If you had to make the decision right away, you’d go with your gut instinct”. 

I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the gist of what he’s saying, and  he was right, booking the tour left me feeling relieved that I didn’t have to worry about all of the minutiae and I could instead focus on looking forward to all of the experiences that would be coming my way in just a few weeks’ time.

Both Gadventures and STA travel were really helpful in helping me find my ideal tour and advising me on the best mode of travel (and I even managed to wangle a 10% discount which always makes me a little more favourable towards them). Eventually I decided to go with the Mayan Sun Southbound tour, booked through STA.

Mayan Sun Southbound

The tour will take me on a 16 day adventure from Cancun to Antigua (taking in all of the major sights along the way) and I’ll also have the comfort of knowing that accommodation, transport (and hopefully a group of future travel friends) are sorted, so now I can sit back, relax and decide what to do with my remaining week in Costa Rica!

Budget Travel in Costa Rica?

Once the tour ends, I will be taking a flight from Antigua in Guatemala over to San Jose, Costa Rica. With just seven days to kill, I’m already stumped as to what areas and sights to prioritse, because let’s face it, they all look amazing!

Top of my travel wish list would have to be the following:

Arenal Volcano

Arenal volcano

Tortuguera (to see the turtles)

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Monteverde (Cloud forest)

Monteverde

But can I afford to do them all on a budget of just $50USD per day? You (and I) will find out in a couple of months

3 thoughts on “Central America: To tour or not to tour?

  1. Pingback: Central America: When in Mexico! | Only Chasing The Sun

  2. Pingback: Magical Marrakesh | Only Chasing The Sun

  3. Pingback: The year I fell in love with London | Only Chasing The Sun

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