Book Review of the Week: Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

If you've been around the internet for a while, and peruse travel sites, sooner than later you'll discover a treasure - Tim Leffel's extremely addictive travel blog, and his site, the World's Cheapest Destinations. These sites are pure gold for travelers (and armchair travelers, still in the planning stages). Recently, Tim came out with a new book (with co-author Rob Sangster), entitled Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America. This couldn't be more timely for us, since we've been writing articles about several places in Central America and can't wait to get there.


Tim Leffert


Luckily for us, Tim was kind enough to sit down and talk with us about his new book...

WE: Please tell us a little bit about your new book, Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America.

TL: It's essentially a planning guide that will "teach you to fish" instead of trying to give you listings of every hotel and restaurant you should consider in the region. It covers everything you need to know--from gear to safety to destination highlights--in order to have a successful trip that will give you the most for your budget. It is focused on Mexico and Central America, which happen to present some of the best deals in the world right now, especially for Americans who don't have to go very far.

WE: Why did you decide to write this guidebook?

TL: My co-author Rob Sangster and I have both put out books on independent travel and wrote for some of the same magazines. We felt there was a hole in the marketplace for this kind of book and the ones out there that attempted to cover the whole region didn't do a very good job in our opinion.

WE: What other books have you written?

TL: My first book was The World's Cheapest Destinations and I'm getting ready to start a third edition of that. I also wrote one called Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune: The Contrarian Traveler's Guide to Getting More for Less. I've co-authored one business book too and been a ghostwriter on a handful of others.

WE: What is your favorite place, in Mexico or Central America?

TL: I actually have a little beach house in the Yucatan, on the coast near Merida, so I guess that's one of my favorite places. I also loved Tikal in Guatemala, but I've had some great times snorkeling in Panama and Honduras too. Plus it's hard to beat Costa Rica for eco-sensitivity and adventures.

WE: What areas are most friendly for families?

TL: Costa Rica is very family-friendly and is well equipped for tourists. Mexico is easy too, though maybe a little too easy: parts of it are just satellite beach resorts of the U.S. it seems. But I've taken my daughter to a lot of lesser-known places in Mexico and to several places in Guatemala. Unlike me, she's never once had any digestive problems! Overall though, Latin America is very focused on the family, so once you get out of the cities it is easy to get around as a family and find things to do.

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

TL: We're going through a lot of flux in the travel industry and costs are rising quite a bit for airfare, so it is really important for people to question old assumptions and try something new. Fortunately, there are still plenty of places in the world where your dollar will really stretch and you can do almost anything you want after arrival without sweating too much over money. Be flexible and look beyond the obvious to have a much more enriching travel experience.

WE: Thanks so much, Tim! I am excited about your new book, and am glad to recommend it to our readers.

To find out more about the Traveler's Tool Kit: Mexico and Central America, and to purchase it, please see


All photos courtesy of Tim Leffert.