x – Alternative Spring Break 2015 Trip Logistics
There are a number of things to consider prior to embarking on the Play360 trip to Guatemala. Here are some tips and suggestions to aid you in your pre-departure planning.
HEALTH & SAFETY
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
PASSPORT AND VISA
All international travelers must have a valid passport to enter Guatemala. All of the information in your passport must be up-to-date and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your travel. No Visa is necessary to enter.
You should book a flight into La Aurora International Airport, in Guatemala city (GUA). Vayama.com often has good deals on international flights.
Participants will arrive at the La Aurora International Airport in (GUA) Guatemala City on Saturday March 14. We ask that you arrive before 2pm. We will provide transportation to the hotel and we will arrange lodging for you for that night. We can arrange day trips for anyone who arrives early (at your own expense).
We will depart in the morning on March 22nd. We will arrange transportation to and from the airport in Guatemala City. Once you have made your flight arrangements, please email us a copy of your itinerary: email@example.com
Guatemala is a beautiful part of the world to explore. If you plan on arriving early to adjust to the jet lag or extending your stay to explore we can connect you with a Guatemalan travel agency to help you make travel plans. We can also help you make reservations for extra nights at the guest house where we will be staying at in Guatemala City, if you would like. Just let us know and we can send you more information on the room rates at the guest house and contact information for a travel company.
You may want to consider purchasing additional travel insurance for your trip to Guatemala. This can provide you protection in the event of certain types of trip cancellation and is available through numerous commercial insurance companies.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Our priority during the trip will be keeping you safe and healthy. In the initial days of the trip we will go over some fundamental precautions to help you stay healthy and safe during the trip.
This information will be kept confidential and is gathered to inform Play360 leaders of your medical history in the event that we need to assist you in obtaining medical care. In case of illness or injury, Play360 will administer first aid and/or take you to medical services. The cost of these services are your responsibility.
We request that all Play360 participants obtain medical insurance prior to our trip to Guatemala. Check with your health insurance company to see what is covered with regards to travel on your current plan. We strongly suggest that all Play360 participants purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance in addition to any medical insurance you may have or purchase. Please note that medical insurance is different from travel insurance. Some companies offering medical insurance with emergency evacuation include MedEx (www.medexassist.com) and MedJet Assist (www .medjetassist.com/).
Also, if you take any prescriptions, carry them in their original containers, clearly labeled. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing all medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity.
We recommend that you visit a travel doctor specialist at least 8-12 weeks prior to your departure to learn about vaccinations that are advised for travel to Guatemala, as some inoculations take weeks to gain efficacy and this will give you time if you need a number of vaccines and want to consider spreading them out. The travel clinic at IU is a great resource. Refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/guatemala for more information and up- to-date advisories regarding vaccines. Your travel doctor will also be a great resource in determining what vaccinations you may need depending on your health and immunization history, the areas of the country we will be visiting, and our planned activities. Please be sure to let your travel doctor know that during the Play360 trip you will spend most of your time in the city of Quetzaltenango. In addition to vaccinations and medications, there are several ways to decrease your susceptibility to certain foreign diseases. Please follow all recommended guidelines described to you by your health-care provider.
Safety is our number one priority, however all international travel has risks that you should be aware of. For US State Department information on Guatemala see: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/guatemala.html
We recommend that you make copies of your important travel documents (passport) and leave one copy at home with your emergency contact, and bring two copies with you to Guatemala. We will hold on to one copy for you so you can have the actual documents and a copy in separate locations. It is also advisable that you notify your emergency contact of all your travel arrangements, including flights and your departure and arrival dates.
Although Guatemala is a comparatively safe destination, it is important to be an informed traveler and pack your sense of street smarts. You don’t need to feel paranoid, but you should keep your wits about you. We will discuss more day-to-day safety considerations during the initial days of orientation as a group. We will also send you a packing list prior to departure, but we ask that you do not bring expensive jewelry or unnecessary electronics, to reduce the risk of theft. Play360’s insurance does not cover the personal property and equipment of participants; you should check with your own insurance providers to ensure your personal property and equipment are covered against loss, theft or damage.
The currency in Guatemala is the Guatemalan quetzal. Many banks in Guatemala City have ATMs that accept credit and debit cards. You can also exchange money or travelers checks at banks in Guatemala City. However, traveler’s checks can be difficult to cash. If you choose to bring traveler’s checks you must also bring the receipts, as these and your passport, are required by most tellers to cash them. We do not advise carrying a lot of cash with you. It is a good idea to notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel dates to avoid your bank assuming that international charges are fraudulent claims and putting a hold on your credit card.
Guatemala is in the Central Time Zone. You may experience jet lag the first couple of days in Guatemala. To lessen the effects of jet lag, it is advisable to try to follow normal sleeping and eating patterns of your destination upon departure from home. Jet lag is often experienced more on the return journey. Also, staying hydrated during your travel will help your transition.
Calls to your home country can be made with the purchase of a calling card, rates will vary. We will do our best to provide you with the opportunity to use the internet to send and receive emails at least once or twice during the trip. The guest house we will be staying at does have Wi-Fi and computers with internet access but please be advised that the internet is not as reliable or as fast in Guatemala as it is in your home country. Also, we do ask you to be fully present on the trip and keep in mind that your days in Guatemala will be busy and you may not always have access to a phone or computer.
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What will I be eating?
We will get to try traditional Guatemalan food, but there will also be some Western options. We will do our best to accommodate other dietary restrictions. There will be an opportunity for you to inform us of these on a pre-departure health form. We carefully choose restaurants and chefs that prepare safe and healthy food.
Is the water safe to drink?
We do not recommend that you drink the tap water in Guatemala without treating it first. We do provide clean water for the group at the guest house, camp and worksite but we also recommend that you bring water treatment drops (such as Aqua Mira) as a back up. Your packing list will have additional details on water treatment options. We will also discuss health and safety measures during our orientation in Guatemala City.
What should I bring?
See the Packing list below.
Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions or clarifications. firstname.lastname@example.org