First ever backpacking trip to Central/South America for 9

Posted on January 18, 2016 | in Travellers Questions | by

Hi All

29, year old male from Australia here (Sorry in advance if this is really long!)! I have been planning/paying off debts/saving money for 3 years to go on a 9-12 month backpacking trip around Central & South America! Ive been able to pay all my debts off, have a little cash left over and as if the have stars aligned I was recently made redundant from my job which I was planning on quitting anyway! My redundancy will be giving me a huge cash boost and basically funding my entire trip + more so I am extremely excited for whats to come!

I have so many questions about doing this now that I am nearing it all as I have never backpacked or traveled solo before! I dont have an itinerary and dont plan to make one, I have just done some research on a few countries I am interested on visiting and made a list of the things I want to do and see there. How and when I get to those places and do everything will be left to destiny!

Countries I plan visit (in rough order):

Guatemala (starting in Antigua and hoping to attend Spanish school to begin the journey!)
Costa Rica


Backpack – I plan to travel as light as possible and dont think I will be doing any wilderness backpacking . I was thinking something like a 60-65L with a day pack. Is that too big? What sort of features are important to look out for in a backpack? Can anyone recommend a brand/model and some websites that ship internationally? Id like something that can be opened up from the middle of the pack and not just a front loader type of backpack.

Clothes – Ill be spending most of my time in hostels and beaches but I will definitely be doing some hiking (Ive never hiked before) in different climates (Inca trail, Amazon treks, Patagonia to name a few). Are there any key pieces of clothing I cant leave home without? Best ideas for the following:

Hiking shoe ideas? I was looking at Salomon brand hiking shoes (not boots)
Is there an all climates type of jacket to look for?
Socks/undies/shirts/towels/bedding? I was also looking at this for a casual travel jacket, thoughts?:

Tech – Ill have my iPhone 5s with me and iPad Mini 2. My biggest concern is choosing a camera. Im looking closely at the GoPro Hero+ but am torn between that and the Hero+LCD. Has anyone had much background with all of these working together and whats the best idea? Ive got an IT background so capable of using anything.

Medicine – Other than vaccines that Ill get before I leave, is there anything I should take that would be of great help?

Security – Recommendation on padlocks/something to secure money whilst walking around etc.

These countries are not on my list, are any of the countries really worthwhile checking out?

El Salvador
Venezuela (skipping because Ive heard its really dangerous)
French Guinea

Additional questions:

Are there any really helpful sites that can tell me about traveling between countries via bus or air?
Best months to do the Inca Trail & Patagonia?
Whats the best & cheapest way to get from Guatemala to Nicaragua?
Is Cuba/Jamaica cheap and worth while checking out whilst I am close by?
What are some worthwhile Amazon treks/tours to look into?
Has anyone had background with Ayahuasca and can recommend a safe and reliable Shaman to see?
Scams to look out for?
Cheap Galapagos Island tours to look into that I must not miss?
Any good backpacking guides/sites to recommend?

I know there are a lot of questions so thanks for taking the time to read all this and answer whatever you can 🙂

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