Suggested Packing List
You'll need much less than you'd think for this trip. Pack as light as reasonably possible. You will want layered clothes as the temperature can change dramatically from daytime into nighttime. You will want long pants and sturdy shoes for all work days and most hiking activities. Working in the fields, climbing volcanoes, and doing construction can be hard on clothes. Bring clothes that can get splashed with cement or torn on brambles.
Plan to dress modestly. Wear clothes that do not draw attention to you personally or your wealth. Guatemalans are a modest people and will have their bodies covered at all times, even when we find the temperatures quite hot. While Guatemalans are getting more accustomed to seeing foreigners dressed differently, please respect their culture by not wearing short shorts, mini skirts, spaghetti straps, muscle shirts, and other such outfits. Also, please leave jewelry, electronics, flashy name brands, and attention-getting accessories behind. Bring t-shirts without aggressive themes like military logos, political commentary, camouflage, etc.
You will need:
- Jeans or work pants (2, with 1 pair that will get very dirty)
- Shorts (not too short!)
- T-shirts (6-8)
- 1 set of nicer/clean clothes
- Shoes (a sturdy pair of shoes or hiking boots and some for daily wear)
- Sandals (suitable for showering and/or relaxing in the evenings)
- Sweater, sweatshirt, or a fleece
- Rain gear (trips between May and October will have rain)
- Hat or something to keep the sun off
- Bug repellent
- Reusable water bottle
- Small traveling bag or backpack for daily use
- Any medicines specific to your condition
- Medical kit (band aids, ibuprofen, Pepto, etc.)
- Feminine hygiene products
- Wash cloth (bedding and towel are provided)
- Work gloves
- A good book
- ATM card (with a 4-digit PIN)
- Cash (small bills in excellent condition)
- Eyeglasses, if needed
There is little that you will need that you won't be able to find here. However, there are a few caveats.
- Feminine hygiene products can be difficult to find and in limited selections.
- Contact lens supplies are difficult to find and tap water is questionable. If you wear contacts, you may be happiest with your eyeglasses on this trip.
- Pharmacies are very common in the area and most medicines are readily available. Any medicine for your specific condition should be brought with you. Diabetes medicines, insulin, and similar medications should be brought with you. There is a refrigerator available if you have medications that must be kept cold.
- ATMs in Guatemala accept only 4-digit PINs. If your ATM card has more digits, change it before you leave.
- You'll be getting 3 meals a day and there are some convenience stores with snacks nearby, but you may still want to bring some snacks since dinner might be a bit earlier than you are accustomed.
- If you plan to use a credit card or debit card, make sure to notify your credit card company or bank that you will be in Guatemala, otherwise it may be held or cancelled as use in a foreign country might flag it as stolen.
- Leave space in your bag. You'll fill it up with keepsakes, souvenirs, and coffee.
- Your host families are not expecting gifts. If you plan to give a gift, consider children's books in Spanish, a soccer ball, or something for all of the kids such as bubbles.