1-What should I do about money? Are ATMs available?
Advise your bank about the dates you will be in Guatemala (both credit card company and debit card). Bring $300-$400 dollars cash for exchange purposes. $100 bills-clean, new bills with no writing/rips/stains. You can use your debit card to get Quetzals from the ATM. No traveler’s cheques or personal cheques. You will need cash for personal purchases in the markets/misc. drinks/snacks/tipping. Credit cards are accepted some places. Our driver will change $100 for you on day one.
2-Do I need to speak Spanish?
Absolutely not. It would be helpful if you knew a few phrases but totally not necessary. The women we visit - most of who speak Spanish as a second language - do not speak English. I will be available, along with other translators, but it’s always nice if you learn a few words to use.
3-How will we be traveling around?
We will be using a combination of private vans, tuk tuks (open air taxis) and small boats on the lake. Between the big cities (Antigua/Guat City/Panajachel) travel will occur on main roads that are safe and in good condition. Walking will be on dirt roads or cobble stone sidewalks. Good walking shoes are essential.
4-What kind of suitcase/bags should I take?
We recommend packing lightly and consider using a soft-sided duffel bag suitcase- though many people travel with wheeled suitcases.
We suggest you take a small nylon bag that crosses your chest or a fanny pack to use as a pocketbook. Have a daypack for use during our outings for snacks/sunhat/raincoat and extra layers. The hotels have safes available. Airlines do lose bags sometimes so prepare your carry on with the things you can’t live without (meds/shoe orthotics). I will be sending out a packing list.
5-What are the health considerations?
You should have an updated tetanus shot. Stomach issues, while not pervasive, are the most common complaint. Bring Imodium and Pepto Bismal tabs. If you are prone to carsickness, bring some Dramamine- though most don’t use it. We are not going to any malaria prone places. We recommend getting a course of an antibiotic from your doctor-only to be used in an extreme case.
We can accommodate most special dietary needs. You should be in shape to walk on steep, cobble stone streets and be able to get in and out of small boats.
6- Can I buy things if I need them down there?
Yes, there are markets and stores for underwear, medicine, food, shoes, reading glasses etc.
7-How can we communicate with home/work? Will we have access to the
Internet? Should I bring my cell phone? Will I need a converter for my chargers?
We will have a local cell phone set up for free incoming calls. It can be used for long distance calls but it can be expensive. All of our hotels have Wi-Fi access. If you want to use your own phone call your provider. Smart phones can be put on airplane mode and used on Wi-Fi. We recommend you and your people back home or at work upload all or some of these apps: Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime if you and your contacts have iPhone.
You will not need any converters for the electrical outlets in Guatemala.
8-Should I worry about valuables that I bring along?
As in any travel you have to be cautious with valuables. We recommend money belts under your clothing for passport and cash. Hold your bag and camera close and leave your fancy jewelry at home. There are safes at the hotels. The towns we visit are very quiet and friendly.
9-What is included in the trip?
All ground transportation (vans/boats/buses), guides, hotel accommodations, tours, and speakers are included. Meals are included except for one lunch on the last day and any snacks/drinks you might have excluding mealtime.
Price does not include: international airfare, alcoholic beverages, personal items, room service charges, gratuities to our driver or other personal tips and travel insurance. We recommend a $25 tip at the end of the week for our driver.
10-What is the cancellation policy?
Deposit is non-refundable.
90+ days before the trip: trip cancellation fee $450
89-60 days before the trip: trip cancellation fee + 50% of tour price
59 days before the trip: trip cancellation fee + 100% of tour price
11- When is my final payment due?
Your final payment is due 90 days before the beginning of our trip. You will receive an invoice for the amount due a few weeks before that time.
12- Is this a trip for weavers? Do I need to know how to weave?
Not at all! I am a weaver and some of my friends in Guatemala are weavers. However, we spend our week visiting and learning about many aspects of the Guatemalan culture. My focus is on women and girls. Our travelers are from a wide cross section of interests and work experiences.
Hetty Friedman reserves the right to cancel a trip for any reason. In such an instance, all payments received will be refunded, which will constitute full settlement. Trip insurance is recommended.