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Old 09-23-2015, 11:10 AM   #1
2014 30' International
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Traveling through Mexico

I want to drive to Panama but am very concerned about driving through Mexico.
Is it safe or do you travel in groups. What are the dangers or pitfalls? Is there a particular route that is tried and true?????

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Old 09-23-2015, 06:51 PM   #2
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Mexico is the least of the risks, you could stay on the toll roads (cuotas), and be pretty safe, but then there is Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; lawless places all. Mexico gets sketchier the farther south you get, with active insurgencies in Chiapas and Oaxaca. Search the site, there are pretty detailed threads from a couple years back.

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Old 09-23-2015, 08:26 PM   #3
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I spent considerable time during the past 25 years working in Central America in both cities and countryside. The safest countries were Nicaragua and Costa Rica. I was never uncomfortable in either country, although just like the U.S. there are places one does not go, particularly at night or alone. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are very dangerous. I would not travel in those countries without an armed native bodyguard and there is still danger of kidnapping. Hard to believe but I've never been to Mexico so I have no perspective.

I would not drive from the U.S. to Panama alone with an RV. I might do it in a caravan with security. There is safety in numbers.

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Old 09-24-2015, 04:30 PM   #4
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I travelled extensively throughout Guatemala in the past year with a group of language students by private van and boat. I visited many thriving businesses owned by Guatemalans and expatriate Americans, national parks, and other attractions. Nowhere was there a sense of danger; nowhere were we warned to turn back or go home. To put it in perspective, my own personal assessment of the danger from criminal activity in Guatemala is about the same as in the USA. You can get carjacked in any American city, or any Guatemalan city. I feel like saying you are in much more danger from the lunatic drivers in Guatemala than in the USA, but the truth is, we drove more than 1,000 miles over several weeks in Guatemala and never saw a wreck. So while they may drive like lunatics, they may be paying more attention to their driving than we do.

That said, I would not drive my Airstream through Guatemala, anymore than I would drive it through New York City. Their "rules of the road" are quite different from ours, plus you would really stand out. I had to show my guide a picture of my Airstream before she even knew what I was talking about. While a van of language students sort of blends in and probably is a low-value target for criminal activity, an Airstream might attract more undesirable attention.

I can't speak to the other Central American countries, other than Costa Rica, which I believe to be safe.

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Old 09-24-2015, 08:13 PM   #5
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Okay, well that and what I read on the internet makes me rethink how
I would travel to Panama City. Thanks for all your expertise, it is much appreciated.
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Old 09-24-2015, 08:48 PM   #6
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Drive the toll roads in the daytime, don't travel alone, at least one person fluent in Spanish, and stay at medium priced hotels.
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Old 10-14-2015, 06:48 AM   #7
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How about a barge trip. If you go by land, the insurance companies offer ransom insurance these days. It's serious. I know of one claim they paid out on. The man was returned weighing 85lbs.
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Old 10-15-2015, 06:30 AM   #8
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Decided against anything but flying to Panama after careful consideration of all
your comments. Thanks for all the input, it really helps to hear from people who
have done this before, or know of someone who has.
Keep well. :0)
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Old 10-16-2015, 06:44 AM   #9
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Make sure you eat at the fish market in Panama City for the freshest seafood. Amazing cerviche. I also like the restaurants in the Bristol and American Trade Hotel for fine dining. It is a great country.

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