Help me make an Itinerary
September 13, 2012 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Help me with my travel itinerary! I want to spend 3 to 4 weeks in Central America and I have the following options! More inside.

These are the flights I could take. Pick and mix as you please.
The cheaper the better, but I need to know how to get to my return flight - and if that involves ANOTHER expensive plane flight then it's probably not a good idea. I'm open to travelling by bus and by ferry.

-Im young and would like to be able to party but i also want the occasional cultural experience. I would like to travel around as much as possible and preferably not stay in a single city longer than 4 days.
-Bonus points if I can see as many countries as possible along the way!
-I've lived in Mexico so I know the usual precautions in countries like these, but if theres anything specific to a country I should know, then please tell me.
-One thing I was thinking about is a Bus ride from Mexico to Panama (stopping along the way)
-The Puerto Rico return flight is the cheapest, bonus points if you can make an itinerary with that.

Frankfurt - Puerto Rico (San Juan) 259 euros
Frankfurt - Cuba (Holguin) 310 euros
Frankfurt - Panama City 359 euros
Frankfurt - Tobago 379 euros
Frankfurt - Montego Bay (Jamaica) 390 euros
Frankfurt - Mexico City 459 euros
Frankfurt - Barbados 419 euros

Return flight
San Juan (Puerto Rico) - Frankfurt 199 euros
Varadero - Frankfurt 260 euros
Rio de Janeiro - Frankfurt 260 euros
Havana (Cuba) - Frankfurt 280 euros
Montego Bay (Jamaica) - Frankfurt 280 euros
Freeport OR Nassau (Bahamas) - Frankfurt 320 euros
Los Angeles - Frankfurt 380 euros
Bahamas - Frankfurt 380 euros
GDL/MEX (Mexico) - Frankfurt 420 euros

I also found these (unrelated) flights, so if anyone can vouch for these then please tell me :)
Frankfurt - Maledives (Male) 329 euros
Maledives - Frankfurt 300 euros

Frankfurt - Seychelles 300 euros
Seychelles - Frankfurt 330 euros

Phew..that was a long post. Thank you to anyone reading it and I hope to hear some interesting replies!
posted by freddymetz to Travel & Transportation around Central, LA (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've read this several times and I'm confused. I'm sure you know that most of those locations are not in Central America, right? So this is making me think you're maybe looking at really specific dates where those are absolutely the best deals, and you're hoping to parlay the good deals into a Central American trip, even though you're not necessarily landing in/departing from/really all that close to Central America itself?

If so, more specific dates would help folks help you with specific prices, because most (any?) of those places are not going to have ferries to Central American points, so it'll come down to however much it costs to hop from your Caribbean point over to Central America (which would likely negate the savings from not flying into Central America in the first place).

I'd suggest the Mexico City to Panama trip, personally. A bus ride from Mexico City to Panama is doable - you'd probably want to take an ADO or OCC bus (80 euro or less, 24+ hours) down to Tapachula, where you'd catch the Tica bus for the rest of your trip (100 euro if you were going straight there). Apparently the Tica route doesn't go through Belize, though, which is a pity. Since you have quite a bit of time, you could go to Chetumal, Mexico, instead, and bus down to Belize from there, then over to Guatemala to pick up the Tica bus when you were done in Belize. I've been through the Yucatan, Belize, and Costa Rica over a period of several months and have heard quite a bit about Guatemala and Panama from friends and relatives, and I'd say they are all places worth spending a few days in. Word of warning - the side roads in Costa Rica tend to be *horrible* so public transportation takes at least twice as long as you'd expect if you want to try to go to a cloud forest or something off a very major road. I have no personal knowledge of Honduras, Nicaragua, or El Salvador, but a friend who used to live in Costa Rica says El Salvador is the only place her family refused to spend the night when they were taking family road trips. I'd do a little extra research before taking off on my own there.

As far as specific destinations, it really depends on your favorite type of activity. I've been trying to hit every major Mayan ruin in the whole area, but I know that's not everyone's cup of tea. I also liked the Cayes in Belize for just general diving/snorkeling/sailing/hanging out, the turtles nesting on the beach in Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cloud Forest and volcanic hot springs in Costa Rica, and going to the preserves at midnight to try and see jaguars and other wildlife in Belize (with an appropriate guide). Oh, yeah, swimming in the cenotes in the Yucatan was also worthwhile (though not technically Central American). I've heard the northern parts of Panama in the forests where they grow the coffee are the prettier parts, but have no specific recommendations. In all of the countries where I have the most experience, I didn't think the cities were the best parts at all, though, so we may have vastly different definitions of "cultural experiences."

On preview, you'll have to flip that itinerary backwards, and go Panama->Costa Rica->Nicaragua->El Salvador->Guatemala->(possibly Belize)->Mexico City, since you don't have Panama City as a departure point.
posted by wending my way at 9:21 AM on September 13, 2012

I've spent tons of time traveling through Central America (I write about it), and yeah, most of these locations are very, very far apart (and not part of Central America -- the only place technically part of the isthmus is Panama). Mexico to Panama is possible in 3 to 4 weeks, but that's a long distance to travel with tons you'll miss. not that it's not worth it! but be prepared to spend a lot of time on buses. on my last trip to Costa Rica, I met a Norwegian couple who'd just traveled that same route in that amount of time, and were exhausted. (but happy!)

I second taking Ticabus for longer distances. Belize is a favorite of mine, but Ticabus doesn't travel there and it's out of the way enough that you'll probably want to skip it. (any way you could fly into Guatemala City? how much will it cost traveling from Mexico City to Guatemala with border fees? is the difference worth it?)

via Ticabus's main routes -- I recommend checking out the Tikal ruins in northern Guatemala, and Antigua/Lake Atitlan/Chichicastenango in southern Guatemala, near Guatemala City; possibly the Copan ruins in Honduras (I adore The Bay Islands, but you won't have the time); Granada and San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua; and pretty much anything in Costa Rica, though I'd probably recommend Monteverde, then skipping Ticabus and heading to the Caribbean Coast (Tortuguero, Puerto Viejo), and traveling to Bocas del Toro, Panama via Sixaola. Boquete, if there's time (and oh, the Kuna Yala!) but you'll probably only have time for Panama City. luckily it's fantastic, my favorite Central America capital.

also beware that Honduras is super sketchy right now -- the US Peace Corps pulled all their volunteers -- and Guatemala and El Salvador aren't the safest places lately, either. do your research.

feel free to memail me for any other details!
posted by changeling at 9:46 AM on September 13, 2012

Thanks for your info, yeah I got a bit confused about my geography, sorry about that! I've seen Belize already so that's not a priority of mine.
posted by freddymetz at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2012

« Older I didn't cheat. SO thinks I did. What happens now?   |   Boobfilter: Help me get rid of my not-so-lovely... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.