Driving the Pan-American Highway: The Ultimate Road Trip

Did you know that there is a 19,000-mile highway that spans from the northern tip of Alaska down to the bottom of South America? Few people know about the Pan-American highway, but it is the longest road trip in the world.

If you dream of going on the ultimate road trip, it doesn’t get much better than this! The Pan-American highway goes through 14 states, hundreds of cities, plenty of landmarks, and allows you to experience many different cultures.

Do you want to learn more about driving the Pan American highway? If so, keep reading to learn how to plan the road trip of a lifetime!

Pan-American Driving Route

The Pan-American Highway is a 19,000-mile series of roads that spans 14 different countries. The highway covers the entire length of North and South America. Because the road is so long, some people choose to stick to one continent and do half the trip.

The Northern part of the trip starts in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. From there, it travels down through Alaska, into Canada, and then across the United States.

There isn’t a designated Pan-American route in the United States, so there are a couple of different routes you can take. Once you get through the states, you continue south towards Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Once you get done exploring Panama, it is time to head into South America. In South America, you will drive through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. The Pan-American Highway ends in the town of Ushuaia, Argentina.

Trip Highlights

Because you will be driving over 19,000 miles, you are sure to encounter so many highlights. Most people get off the beaten path when driving the Pan-American highway to get more unique experiences.

Because there are so many highlights, it would be impossible to list them all. Here are some of the major ones you can expect to visit during your trip:

In addition to these highlights, you also will travel through numerous cities, several national parks, see many volcanos, and meet interesting people along the way.

How Much Does the Trip Cost?

Are you wondering how much an amazing trip like this will cost? If so, there is no exact answer. How much money you spend on the Pan-American highway will depend on your accommodations, food, and the activities you do.

While some people travel the Pan-American highway living on less than $1,000 per month, others spend several thousands of dollars each month. It all depends if you prefer to rough it or travel in luxury.

If you want to cut down on your monthly expenses, the best vehicle for the Pan-American highway is a campervan. This will give you a place to sleep each night and allow you to cook meals instead of eating out.

Before traveling on the Pan-American be sure to work out the financial details. Make a budget that works for you, and then stick to that budget. If you can’t afford to do the entire highway at once, remember that you can always break it up.

How Long Does It Take?

How long it takes to drive the Pan-American highway will depend on the person. While some people complete the entire journey in 9 months, it takes others several years.

It all depends on how many miles you want to travel each day, the activities you want to do, how long you spend exploring cities, and if you take any major detours.

If you are working on a tight timeline, choose a start/finish date and stick to the schedule. If you don’t have a deadline, you can take your time as your budget allows.

How to Cross the Darian Gap

One of the trickiest parts about driving the Pan-American highway is crossing Darien Gap. Even though the Pan-American highway is the longest road trip, there is a section of the journey that you cannot travel through by vehicle.

That section is the Darian Gap. Darian Gap is located at the border of Central and South America. There is no road through this area due to environmental and political concerns.

So, how are you supposed to get through the Darian Gap if you can’t drive? The best way to do it is to ship your vehicle and fly on an airplane to the other side. You can expect to spend a couple of thousands of dollars on shipping your vehicle.

While hiking through the gap is possible, it’s not recommended. You are likely to encounter unmarked trails, dangerous animals, treacherous mountains, and sketchy people.

Trip Safety

If you tell someone that you plan on traveling the entire Pan-American Highway, they may express some concern. There are parts of Central and South America that have high crime rates, such as theft, kidnapping, and drug-related crime.

While there are dangers along the way, you have a better chance of staying safe if you pay attention to your surroundings. Always keep your belongings in sight and be on the lookout for trouble.

You should avoid isolated and dimly lit areas, don’t bring or wear anything expensive, and keep your passport somewhere safe. Because you are traveling by vehicle, it also is important to have an extra tire, car insurance, and basic tools in case you break down.

When you are traveling through these areas, be sure to watch for updates and travel advisories. The last thing you want is to be unaware of a dangerous situation. If there are notices to avoid traveling in an area, listen to them.

Are You Ready to Prepare for Driving the Pan American Highway?

If you are thinking about driving the Pan American highway, you are in for a journey of a lifetime. Between snow-capped mountains, volcanos, and colorful cities, the Pan-American Highway is the ultimate road trip.

Did you enjoy reading this article about planning a trip on the Pan-American Highway? If so, check out the adventure category to learn about more fun adventures.

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