Hi! My name is Dave Hanson. I took a trip to Central America in April 1997. During a two week vacation my friend and I visited twelve different Mayan archeological sites, visited a number of museums, and traveled through three countries. It took ten aircraft flights, ten hotels, four rent-a-cars, and a river boat ride to see everything I wanted to see.
When I first decided that I wanted to see the ancient Mayan sites I started researching which sites would be the ones I wanted to visit. I narrowed down my list to a half dozen major sites and another half dozen minor sites. I then looked for package tours that would meet my needs.
I could not find a tour that went to all of the sites that I wanted, or even one that came close within a two-week time period. I also noticed that most of the tours were geared for the average tourist, and not those with serious interest in the ruins. The tours either wasted time relaxing in resort towns like Cancún, or else they moved at a slower pace than I wanted. I only had two weeks of vacation from work (actually 15 days), and with 12 sites to visit I needed an aggressive schedule.
So it was decided to make the trip without being part of a tour. I read books on the sites, and researched how long a visit would be needed in each region, how I could get there, how long it would take to get to the next place, etc. I then laid out a sample itinerary that estimated flights, car rentals, overnight stays, and other basic details. I took this to my travel agent, and we re-worked it based upon the actual availability of flights to the cities I needed on the days I wanted.
When the schedule finally fell into place we made the flight and car rental reservations, and started on the longer process of hotel reservations (not all hotels could be reached by phone). I also began studying Spanish again (I had a class in high school 20 years previous). My friend and I spent evenings watching documentaries on cable TV on the Maya, going over travel books, and studying a Maya site CD-ROM that really helped us know what to expect.
Much to everyone's surprise the trip occurred pretty much as planned. There were some minor problems with flight cancellations and illness, but we kept to the aggressive schedule and saw virtually everything we had planned to. We were expecting to run into more problems than we did, but we were lucky that nothing major came up, and flexible enough to handle the minor issues.
The trip was one of the highlights of my life; not only because I saw a lot of interesting places that I had only read about, but because for the first time I did a trip on my own without having to be a part of someone else's tour. It was an awesome experience.... one that I would recommend to anyone. I learned a number of things before and during the trip that any future traveler to the area might wish to know. So I put together this website to give these tips to those who are thinking of taking a similar trip.
Use the Contents at the left to guide you through this site. Thanks for visiting!
I can be reached by emailing me here.