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The Route - Central America 2022

While I am busy writing up my “How to” guide to planning epic adventures with kids, I thought I would share our route intentions for Central America 2022. Central America is a wonderful slew of jungles, delicious food, temples, beaches, tequila and volcanoes. There’s a lot of life, a lot of fiesta, and a lot of fun to be had and neither me nor my husband had ever been to the region. We fancied something totally different and with the birth of our third child and the advent of shared parental leave, we felt it was now or never for this epic adventure.

After deciding on the region (set by parameters such as how long, what time of year, how much it will cost etc) we did our classic devouring of the Lonely Planet Shoestring Guide to the region, and then moved on to specific countries. We developed a hit list which broadly included:

  • Regional cooking class

  • Cenote swimming

  • Whale spotting

  • Turtle nesting

  • Barrier reef snorkelling

  • Chocolate farm tours/chocolate making

  • Volcano trekking

  • Coffee plantations

  • Local Villages/cottage industries (tortilla making, tequila distilleries etc)

  • Rainforest hanging bridges

  • Caving

  • Swim some waterfalls

  • Horse riding

  • Lizards/sloths/night safari

  • Garifuna culture/drumming school

  • Mayan Temples

We then marked them roughly on a map and began the devilish details – how to get from A to B and how long that takes. For us, all our trips for the past 7 years have involved at least one baby/toddler who has a lunch time nap 12ish-2:30ish. This has since always become our ideal travelling time as it avoids the hottest parts of the day and gives us a clear divide between morning and afternoon activities, which helps us feel les overwhelmed when cramming stuff in. If A-to-B are longer than 2-3 hours travel time, we will schedule a stop somewhere but shoehorn the bulk of the driving into our children’s routines. Makes the driving much more pleasant for us parents when they’re asleep!!

We always produce a detailed itinerary, specifying a morning and afternoon plan HOWEVER we do not book much in advance. This affords us a realistic budget for accommodation, entrance fees and tours etc. and knowing what we can feasibility fit into the route and time available, but provides the flexibility of staying somewhere a little longer if we love it or someone gets ill, or leaving a place earlier if it sucked. We also tend to wipe a day’s agenda completely every 3-4 days to allow the kids to just swim, draw and play games. We’ve been known to frequent the odd Asian softplay or role play centre to give them some chill time once a week at least.

Central America Itinerary
Download XLSX • 13KB

There is always inevitably some part of the trip where it makes more sense to do things in a specific order, either a train timetable or a flight schedule dictates what method or direction to travel. We found the planning of central America much harder than any previous trip. There were many occasions during the research stage where it appeared we could only approach a region in one direction where ferries one way were at much more sensible times for example. These nations just aren’t as linear as Vietnam or Thailand for example and with no trains, terrible road conditions and great distances it was much tricker to plan, but we managed it. Below is the final resultant plan (this trip was originally 10-12 weeks long and extended into Panama and covered more ground in Guatemala and Costa Rica but in the end this is what our jobs dictated we could have). I can’t wait to find out how much we deviate or stick to the proposed agenda!

Countries: 7

Total distance (excluding intercontinental flights): 5,729 km

Total budget: £10,000

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