Planning Your Trip To El Salvador: A Beginner’s Guide

Volcanoes in El Salvador
Volcano at El Cerro Verde National Park.

El Salvador is a beautiful country, and one that’s popular with travellers. Stats show that in 2021 alone, El Salvador attracted well over a million tourists, showing that it’s a favourable destination for holidays and getaways. If you’re planning a trip to El Salvador this year or next, then you might want to know what kind of things you’re in for and what you should do to prepare. Here’s how to plan your trip to El Salvador as a total travel beginner (but don’t worry, seasoned travellers can learn from this too)!

Plan travel well ahead of time

It’s important to make sure that your travel itinerary is ready long before it’s time to go. Any changes to the schedule can then be dealt with ahead of time, meaning you won’t cause yourself any undue stress or worry closer to the time. Book any flights, ferries, or taxis you need weeks or even months in advance if possible, and make sure you’ve got a contingency in place if any of your travel plans change or become unavailable. The last thing you want is to be scuppered by something as simple as travel plans.

Make sure you’re well-rested

It sounds silly, but making sure you’re well-rested before you travel can have positive effects. Research by Betway casino shows that meditation, self-care, and watching comedy movies are some of the best ways to ensure restful and uninterrupted sleep, so try and make sure you do at least one or two of those things on the night before you travel. If you need to sleep on the plane, try to select a comedy movie or something you’ve already seen from the in-flight movie selection.

Try to travel off-peak

Since El Salvador is a popular tourist destination, that means tourists will be clamouring to visit during peak times. As you might expect, Christmas, Easter, and early summer are the most popular times for tourists to travel to El Salvador, so if you can, try to book your trip away from these times. Early autumn and late spring are great times to travel, so if you’re able to get the time off work, you might be able to beat the tourist rush by booking around these times.

Keep your US dollars

Most places in El Salvador recognize the US dollar as their official currency, so if you’ve already got some dollars to hand, then you don’t need to convert them. If you’re travelling with euros or pounds sterling, make sure to convert them to dollars before you go. It’s also worth noting that El Salvador is one of the only countries in the world to recognise Bitcoin as legal tender, so if you’re a cryptocurrency enthusiast, your crypto should be good in the country as well.

Try the hiking trails

El Salvador is full of beautiful, natural forest trails on which to go hiking. It’s definitely worth wandering off the beaten path (metaphorically, of course; don’t actually do this, as you might upset guides or local authorities) and not just sticking to the major cities if you travel to this beautiful country. Don’t be alarmed if you see your guide hacking through the undergrowth with a machete, either; they’re just well-equipped for the path on which they’re taking you!

Keep things respectful

Like many countries in Central America, El Salvador has something of a mixed recent past. A civil war ripped through the country in the 80s and early 90s, and there will be many locals who have memories of that time or have family members who suffered through it. Make sure you wait until locals are ready to talk about those events if you’re set on discussing them, but if not, just don’t bring it up; you don’t want to accidentally unearth painful memories.

Watch yourself in San Salvador

As El Salvador’s capital city, San Salvador is a bustling metropolis, a hub of trade and commerce. However, it’s also unfortunately subject to gang violence, so it’s important to make sure that you’re careful. Stick to well-populated areas and stay away from some of the bigger gang hotspots in the city. For the most part, popular tourist destinations will be policed and you won’t need to worry about being caught in gang crossfire, so keep to areas your guide tells you are safe.

Try to be discreet if you’re LGBTQ+

Sadly, El Salvador is one of the countries in the world that doesn’t have the most positive view of LGBTQ+ individuals. As such, you’ll need to do a little more research about where you’re staying and where you’re travelling to if you are LGBTQ+. Some hotels and areas are more receptive towards LGBTQ+ individuals than others, and some residents of El Salvador don’t take kindly to seeing LGBTQ+ folks out in public, so unfortunately, you will have to be discreet if you’re travelling with a partner and you’re not straight.

Hurricane season could scupper your plans

El Salvador plays host to hurricanes throughout summer and autumn, so you need to make sure that you incorporate this into your travel plans. Note that some routes or paths might be inaccessible during hurricane season; flooding could mean that you can’t go on certain walks, for instance. Talk to your hotel or your travel agent about what preparations you might need to make for hurricane season; if you’re traveling in winter or spring, you should be OK.