03 Mar

Planning the Trip

Costa Rica has been on Travis’ bucket list of places to travel to for some time now.  The allure of incredible weather, surf beaches and rain forests is hard to resist.  It didn’t take much to convince me! We’ll spend the next 3 months driving from Oakland, CA to the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, camping and sleeping in our 4Runner Bruno along the way.

Here is roughly what the route will look like:

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First stop will be the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix to get a leg up on the paperwork needed to cross the border.  We’re hoping to visit with my Aunt Anna & Uncle Hans, Torontonians who generally spend the cold months in sunny Arizona.  We’ll see if we can make that work, since they are currently back in Canada visiting their beautiful new granddaughter!

Once we cross into Mexico, it will be a straight shot (long driving days and very few stops) until we reach Puerto Vallarta, where Travis’ uncle Doug, Herb and brother Nathan, Cindy will be with us for a full week in the sun.  My feelings are that this will be a big milestone for us.  If we can handle that first week on the road, it’s all gravy from there.

After leaving family, we meander inland through Guadalajara, Leon, Puebla, and Oaxaca, camping along the way.  We’ve read about some really great camp sites recommended by other overlanders and are excited to check them out and make some friends.  Puerto Escondido on the coast will be another week-long stay, with hopes of Spanish classes and surf lessons. We’ve even splurged and booked a room at a house to let Travis stretch out at night.  The last Mexican highlight before heading into Central America will be San Cristobal de las Casas.  I’ve heard nothing but great things and seen beautiful pictures of this colonial town.

Then, after spending about 45 days in Mexico, let the border-crossing adventures begin!  2 weeks in each of Guatemala and El Salvador:  volcanos, surfing, exploring the towns, markets and people. In Nicaragua we’ll spend about 20 days, visiting Leon, Granada and camping on Isla de Ometepe – a volcano island out in the middle of Lago Nicaragua.  Finally we’ll cross into Costa Rica for 5 months of downtime in a house on the Nicoya Peninsula.

The general idea is to conquer the west coast on the way down and the east coast on the way back up to the US, which will start in December 2015. Sign up for email alerts or find Freedom with Bruno on Facebook. When the mood strikes, we’ll share our thoughts, finances, photos and more! If all of this tickles your fancy, melts your butter or flips your pancake, we’re happy to share in our adventures with you!

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  • Doug

    It has been fascinating following your journey. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Amanda

      As always, thanks for reading Doug!

  • wkreese

    I’ve been contemplating a Pan American highway trip for some time, but I’m worried about the Mexico part of the trip. How was it, what precautions did you guys take while driving through and how worried were you while driving? Looks like an awesome adventure. I’m currently about to embark on a Mongolia Charity Rally from Germany to Mongolia this June.

    • Amanda

      Germany to Mongolia sounds incredible! There is so much information available online, other blogs and people’s routes through the different countries. We really got a lot out of the *free* ebook by bloggers LifeRemotely.com about overlanding Central America and Mexico, aptly titled “Don’t Go There. It’s Not Safe. You’ll Die.” We found Mexico no different than the rest of the countries we’ve visited so far. Research on the US State Dept. website indicated that the Mexican states closest to the US border had higher crime, so we stuck to the toll roads and didn’t deviate or sight-see much in those areas. iOverlander.com is extremely helpful for finding places to stay recommended by other drivers.

  • Sounds like a great trip, hopefully a safe one. I used to travel in Mexico quite a bit, but no longer do. Be sure to brush up on your Spanish, if you are not already fluent.

    • Amanda

      We did a few Pimsleur audio courses while commuting to-from work, but the real lessons really began once we crossed the Mexican border and were fully immersed!