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Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?

Wollongong...
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Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?
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My partner and I will be driving our van all the way down the US, through Mexico, and then into Central America for the next couple years. We are really hoping to do some longer treks and climbs that would take us away from the van for several nights, but are also very nervous about leaving our entire home/car/life unattended!

I've backpacked very extensively through South America, but not spent much time in Central America. Still, having a van changes EVERYTHING and we're growing concerned about potential theft at trailheads, either of the contents of our home (which are insured, but still) or just driving the entire van away (a bit harder to replace).

We've looked into anti-theft safety measures, but the real question is: does anyone have general advice on where to leave their van for a week while hiking? Safe to do so at the trailheads? Should we try to leave it at a hotel?

Thanks in advance!

-Brooke

6 replies to this topic
Bethesda, MD
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1. Re: Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?
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Find reliable secure parking to overnight your vehicle.

Wollongong...
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2. Re: Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?
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In your experience, is that easy to find? Not having been to Guatemala with a vehicle before, I just don’t have a sense for whether that kind of parking is readily available in town..

Bethesda, MD
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3. Re: Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?
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It's been a while since I drove a car here, but you're likely to find a place in most towns. Pretty much any town with a hotel will have their own space or a place to recommend for visitors.

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?
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A couple of older women acquaintances made the trip from the US to Guatemala in a camper van about five years ago. They were robbed at gunpoint somewhere in southern Mexico, but except for the financial loss they were otherwise OK. They seemed to view it all as an adventure, but I think they were lucky not to have been harmed or worse.

With the current unrest and criminality in Mexico and C.A., and especially in Honduras and Nicaragua, I'd be wary about undertaking the kind of trip you're considering. However, if you do decide to do it, be sure that you're aware of all the requirements for bringing a vehicle across whatever borders you will cross. And as advised above, if you will leave the van for any period, plan on paying to park it where it will be secure.

Buenos Aires
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5. Re: Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?
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I can tell you that both Xela and Antigua, jumping off points for several hikes, etc., have plenty of paid, secure parking lots and business is slow so prices could be negotiable. One lot near me in Antigua charges 100Q for 24 hours and 50Q for 'la noche,' however that is defined. The lot is fully enclosed and the good lads there have shotguns. Possibly more for a van, though. You do NOT want to park your van, or a rental vehicle, overnight at ANY trailhead in Guatemala.

Edited: 03 September 2021, 03:12
Wollongong...
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6. Re: Safe to leave van overnight while hiking?
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Jackson,

Thank you SO much for that information, that is really helpful! We weren't sure whether paid parking was common in Guatemala, but it sounds like that will absolutely be our best bet if we decide to embark on an overnighter.

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