Common Questions

1.  Banking etc…  How can we best deal with the local currencies?

  • Well, first of all the Guatemalan currency is the “Quetzal” (pronounced “Kate-sall”) and hereby referred to as “Q”. It usually trades at about 7.5 Q. to the Canadian dollar.
  • Don’t worry about bringing currency with you when you come.  Upon your arrival we will be visiting ATM machines in order to ensure you have a little cash on hand.
  • There are ATMs in our primary travel areas which will disburse whatever cash you need.  We find these to be the easiest means of retrieving money.  Traveler’s cheques are also an option but involve standing in line in banks, during banking hours and there is a cap on how many can be exchanged at any given time.
  • There are restaurants and shops that accept Visa.  However without local currency in your pockets, you will miss out on the delights to be found at street level.
  • Some like to carry a small amount of American cash with them but it is not necessary.

2.  What are my additional costs? 

  • You will need to take responsibility for your health insurance and airline ticket. We can direct you to good people for this or you can talk to your travel agent.
  • On school trips, absolutely everything is covered. There are however deals to be had and great coffee shops throughout the journey, so do bring some spending money.
  • There used to be a $4.00 airport improvement tax at the Guatemalan airport and a $25 exit fee but these fees have recently been incorporated into the price of the ticket
  • Any bad deals made in the markets are totally your own.

3.  Is the food safe?!

The food in the homes & hotels in which we will be staying is great.  Fruits, vegetables & salads are carefully prepared. They are used to serving international travelers and do so with warmth and gusto.

4.  Is the water safe?

  • Yes.  It’s really not an issue any longer.  Bottled water is available everywhere. Our Homes use bottled water and we will have water & snacks at all the volunteer sites.
  • Ice in restaurants and hotels is made with pure water. (stay away from street vendors selling iced drinks. )

5.  Clothing… what should we bring?

  • Pack light and casual! Casual wear is suggested daytime traveling. Footwear – comfort is the key here. Bring along a good pair of walking shoes/runners. Don’t go out and buy a special pair, take the best of what you already have for walking and light hiking. Sandals and flip flops are okay… But not for the worksite.
  • When traveling and working in rural settings, it is VERY important to dress conservatively. The Mayan culture is respectful and “well covered”. We shall be the same.
  • Swimwear, towel and clothing appropriate for a couple of days in a hotel pool setting.
  • Light sweater or light jacket. Mornings and evenings can be cool in the Highlands.

6.  Is it safe in the areas of our destinations?

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  • Every place in the world, including Canada has travel precautions.
    We stay on top of any advisories that are issued so that all necessary safety precautions are taken while traveling.
  • Having said that, the areas in which we will be staying (volunteering) and traveling are staffed with special policing so as to minimize hazards to travelers.  So, yes it’s safe. Really.
  • We always partner, work and travel with local guides who take all precautions with people in their care. The travel companies and drivers we hire are noted for their safety. (If anything, our complaint will be that our driver is going too slowly.)

7. What vaccinations are required to enter Guatemala?

  • No vaccinations are required to enter Guatemala.
  • Legally, we cannot give medical advice, so please consult your doctor before deciding whether or not to receive a vaccination. You may also check the Center for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov/travel for Guatemala travel advisories and disease updates. Please note that pretty much anything you need can be found in local pharmacies and can be purchased without prescription at prices lower than in North America.
  • Note: We usually travel in Guatemala during the dry season, a wonderful time to travel. Insects are almost non-existent and the temperatures in the Highlands especially are wonderful.

8.  How will we be traveling ?

  • We use proven tourism travel professionals. All of our vehicles will be driven by competent and responsible contractors. No chicken busses… although you may want to try them out just for the experience.

9.  How much luggage can we take?

  • Our encouragement would be to travel lightly. You will need to carry everything you bring.
  • The airlines are changing their policies. Please check carefully with your chosen airline for clarity on this before you get to the airport.

10. What’s the weather like?

  • Most of our travel takes place at an altitude of about 1 mile. Therefore we avoid the extremely hot and humid climate of the coastlines. Approximate daytime temperature in the Highlands: 80 F (27 C), night temp: 60 F (16 C). Which is to say, the weather is pretty much perfect.