Now that Nicaragua is gradually overcoming some of the rampant myths about it being a third world country with third world resources, many solo travelers are starting to get over their fear factor and make the journey to one of the hottest destinations in Latin America. Here are 10 things you should know if you plan on travelling to Nicaragua solo.
- Solo travel doesn’t necessarily mean traveling alone. Many solo travelers are retirees and surprisingly you will meet up with other solo travelers here and often meet up and travel with others for a period of time. Age doesn’t matter much.
- A good price for airfare is possible. Flights from North America to Managua tend to be a bit more competitive and most budget fare websites can snag you a great deal…with a little time and patience. Another good idea is to sign up for airfare alerts. Many of the flight search engines have them.
- Being Safe with Strangers-Be proactive. If you’re unsure of yourself, ask for help. Standing around looking dazed will not get you where you want to go and it may get you noticed by the wrong people. There are a few opportunistic criminals that prey on foreigners. It’s unlikely for you to choose to ask the wrong person for information so, go ahead, smile and ask for help. If you are lost and need help try going into a local business like a lawyers office or pharmacy for assistance rather than wait for someone to approach you. On the side of caution, NEVER give out any personal information to strangers like the hotel you are staying at.
- Travel Light. By packing light you are in control. Travel through Nicaragua is much easier if you are more mobile. Because you can handle your luggage yourself, you’ll also save money by taking buses rather than taxis. And you become less of a target than someone who has a large suitcase or multiple bags.
- Know Where You Want To Go Know what your main focus is and identify the places you just have to get to. Then use this information as you plan your routes. Do you like adventure hikes, the beaches or walking through and experiencing the colonial cities?
- Accommodations Will Make The Difference. Nicaragua has everything from 5 star properties to quaint hostels. If you want to better your chances of meeting other travelers you might want to opt for a nice hostel. While some of the hostels are for young people wanting to party, many are wonderful places to stay if you want a more laid back atmosphere that includes people of all ages. For some, people solo travel is all about solitude. But for others, you should look for opportunities for meeting locals and other travelers. Your choice in accommodation will greatly affect your ability to meet fellow travelers. Choose Hotels with casual lounges, or hostels with common rooms and cafes. Also check out B&B’s where everyone shares breakfast… all perfect places to meet and chat with other travelers, and possibly spend a day or evening together.
- Safety Issues. Generally speaking Nicaragua is one of the safest countries to travel through in Central America. But like anywhere else you travel you should exercise caution and make safety a priority. Whether you’re staying in a hostel or a hotel, B&B or a resort, you can check out the safety before making a reservation to confirm that it is in a safe area. Is the area buzzing or is it in a sketchy neighborhood? Ask about the security at your preferred lodging. Is there front door security? If in a hotel with multiple floors ask if people have access to all floors or just the floor that their room is on? Is there a deadbolt on your door? Is there a safe in the room? If it’s a hostel, do you have a locker in your room? Do they offer one ? Most of all, limit your night time activities if you will be unaccompanied. Especially avoid frequenting bars late at night as you don’t want to be wandering the streets alone in unfamiliar territory.
- Language. Spanish is the official language in Nicaragua and all street signs and other public signs will be in Spanish. Knowing basic Spanish such as asking for directions etc will greatly increase your chances of navigating through the country much easier.
- The People. Nicaraguans are very warm and friendly people. Within the country you will meet a wide range of people and you’ll find even some customs vary from municipality to municipality. When people learn that you are traveling solo they will want to make sure that you’re, safe, and having a good time… and they’ll often go out of their way to make it happen. The Nicas love to laugh and work hard to make a good lives for themselves, whatever that means in their context. But always remember they walk, talk, dance, joke, work, play… differently. Wealthy or poor, Nicaraguans are proud, of their culture. Despite its controversial politics and history they are proud of their culture and where they come from.
- Talk to Fellow Travelers for Advice. Other travelers are a great source of information. As you travel and explore the country you’ll also meet other travelers and spend time with them. Talk to them and, see the country you’re exploring through their eyes and culture,
Keep in mind though every person and every travel situation is different. Your safety, satisfaction and fun traveling solo are your responsibility alone. But you will be sure to have an amazing experience as a solo traveler once you Come and Meet Nicaragua!