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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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Old 12 Jan 2011
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Good stuff GatoMonte

I agree about the Guia Roja (Mexico), that was the most accurate set of maps I used on my trip. There's a bit of Guatemala included in the Guia, though the map is a bit... optimistic in spots. The winding, muddy dirt road through the mountains from Rio Dulce to El Astor is listed as a paved highway...

Maps can be tough to find, but they are out there. I began by looking in a libraria in Coban, when I asked for a map they gave me a fill-in-the-blanks classroom map of Central Ameraica!

I was able to pick up a International Travel Map of Central America in Antigua, Guatemala, that was detailed enough for the most part.

I agree with GatoMontes, get your maps ahead of time if possible.

When it comes to la policia I found that being confident but respectful worked for me. I always said "good afternoon, how are you, nice day" etc. in Spanish. Never had any trouble.

At borders you do have to brush off the tramitadores pretty quickly. Again I found playing it cool and confident worked: "No, no thanks, it's cool, I've been here before" in Spanish. There was one border, leaving Nicaragua into CostaRica where I was told - by BMW riding locals - that the helper/tramitador was required. Still not sure about that one.

This website helped immensely when it came to knowing how border procedures were supposed to go: Drive the Americas
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Old 17 May 2011
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Just to add, in Mexico you can find Guia Roji maps in most any OXXO, Sanborns and Walmart as well as many other fine establishments! Happy travels!
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Old 23 May 2011
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Indeed, there is one border where two officials work the parking lot to get people with a vehicule through the border, but it turns out these are not "helpers", but in fact employees of the government. It is confusing as you get there, because none of the other borders offer such a service. I'm not 100% sure, but it probably was the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border.

I did not look for a map while i was in Mexico because i got one in California. Good to know that Oxxo carries them. Oxxo is like a friend when traveling in Mexico
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Old 2 Apr 2012
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How To Get HUGE digital maps for free

Recently I discovered how one can save Google maps at ANY size they want. I made a giant 300dpi image for my wall at home, and I intend to save large maps of each country in my iPhone for when I leave. This way I can access Google maps but without the need for internet. You can view these images using your photo library. Here's a link to how to do it, and some tips:

Google Maps Hack: How To Save Large Maps - Video
  • 'Editor' is the same program as 'Notepad' in Windows. It just lets you type in stuff, like a super-basic form of MS Word.
  • 'Link to this page' can also be found in the panel to the left of the Google Map. It's right up by 'get directions' and looks like a chain link icon.
If you have any issues, let me know and I'll help out.
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