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Belize Trip Preparation and Pack


									                           Belize Trip Preparation and Packing List


The overall climate of Belize is sub-tropical. The mean annual humidity is 83%, but along the
coast the humidity is masked by cooling sea breezes. March falls at the beginning of the dry
season. Temperatures will vary between an average high during the day of 83 degrees and an
average low at night of 74 degrees. Rain is most likely to occur during night in the month of


Accommodation facilities will vary during the trip. We will stay in a hotel in Punta Gorda town
which has hot running water and air conditioning for the first 2 and last 2 nights of the trip. We
will be staying for 5 nights in guesthouses in rural Mayan villages. They will be rustic and tight
quarters. The hotels will provide bedding. The guesthouses will not; rather, there will be basic
wooden bunks with mattresses. You will need to bring a bed sheet and light blanket/ sleeping
bag. The guesthouse has two shower rooms and two bathrooms, male and female.

Packing tips

   •   Pack your belongings in one bag; large suitcases are discouraged. Keep in mind that we
       will be traveling from village to village and you will need to carry your bag with you.
       Hiking/traveling packs are ideal for this purpose. Large suitcases on wheels will be
       impractical and inconvenient.

   •   You will be asked to carry some donation supplies that we will be giving to the schools
       we visit (pens, pencils, rulers, markers, clipboards, etc). Make sure to leave some room
       for this in your bag. We will be giving you the supplies in class on Monday, March 9th.

   •   Checked luggage occasionally gets lost, and it may take days for it to catch up with you.
       Be sure that you have both your checked bag and your carry-on clearly marked, inside
       and out, with your name, home address and telephone number as well as your destination
       (you can put down Plenty for this: “Plenty Belize, Punta Gorda Town, Toledo District,

   •   You can bring one carry-on bag that must be small enough to fit under the airplane seat
       or in the overhead compartment. We recommend that you make your carry-on a small
       backpack or daypack to carry with you in the field. Pack a change of clothes plus
       permitted toiletries in your carry-on.

   •   Travel light and leave room for souvenirs that you may purchase. Travel pros suggest
       laying out all of the clothing you want to bring and taking only half. Of course, do not
       skimp on those things that you feel you need to make you comfortable.
•   Keep in mind that you need to pack for 10 days. Experienced travelers wear layers of
    clothing that allow for easy adjustment to climate changes.

•   Dress casually but conservatively: You'll want to pack loose-fitting clothes made of
    lightweight fabrics. For all the teacher trainings and workshops, men should wear polo
    shirts or cotton button-up shirts with a collar. Jeans are ok, as long as they are not grungy.
    Shorts are generally not worn in the villages, but are ok to wear in PG and on the beach.
    While in the villages, women should keep their shoulders and knees covered. Packing a
    long skirt is a good idea.

•   Footwear: You will be walking a lot, in all kinds of terrain, from city sidewalks and
    beaches to riverbanks and rain forests. Choose versatile shoes: light hiking boots,
    sneakers, and rugged sandals should do it. Break in new shoes before leaving! Closed-toe
    shoes are important for working in the garden - there are fire ants everywhere and they
    will bite exposed skin. Rubber boots are popular footwear in the villages.

•   Leave jewelry and any other expensive objects at home. Assume that anything that is
    breakable will break, and anything that is expensive could get stolen or lost.

•   Everybody loves their iPods. But not only are they easily stolen, they are also anti-social
    on long bus rides or when you’re just hanging around. Think twice before bringing one,
    and if you do, don’t let it interfere with the possibility of interacting with other people in
    the group. Besides, Marcia will be bringing her mandolin and Bria will be bringing her
    harmonica, so we’ll have plenty of opportunities to create our own music to pass the

•   The chances of it raining while we are there are about 1 in 10 and as indicated in the
    weather section above, rain occurs mainly during the night in March. Nevertheless, it’s a
    good idea to bring a waterproof/breathable jacket with a hood and/or a small umbrella in
    your backpack.

•   Leave a photocopy of your passport and plane tickets with someone at home and stash
    a photocopy or two in the different bags you carry (day pack, backpack, etc.). If you are
    carrying original documents and other valuables, hide them somewhere on your body
    (like a hidden jacket pocket or a travel pouch - available at travel stores). Bring
    photocopies of necessary prescriptions (eyeglasses, medications, etc.).

•   Carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you; many bathrooms, particularly in more
    remote areas, do not have these. Carry these in a ziploc bag, so they don’t get wet or spill.

•   We encourage you to coordinate with your peers in the group about borrowing the things
    that you don’t have, or sharing things with the group. For example, not all 16 people in
    our group need to pack sunscreen and bug spray, and not everyone needs to pack a travel
    alarm clock. We will provide time in class to discuss how we might share some of these
    things. This will help to cut down on the amount of luggage you need to bring and the
    need for you to buy more stuff for the trip.
Suggested Packing List

       Comfortable shoes that are suitable for a variety of terrain, including rocks, sand, loose soil, or
mud. This is an agricultural and rural-based field trip. Appropriate footwear is important. Sandals
do not offer much protection in the field, although you may want a pair to wear in town or at the
       Sweater or sweatshirt
       Light jacket or windbreaker
       Short and long-sleeved shirts (lightweight cotton T-shirts and a couple of loose, long-sleeve
shirts for protection from sun, insects and cool nights)
       Shorts (to wear in PG and on beach)
       Pants (lightweight loose cotton or mixed cotton/polyester hiking pants are good. Light cotton
or fabric blend will dry much faster than denim. Long pants will be necessary for field work and
hiking in high bush as protection against thorns and mosquitoes).
       Long dress/skirts
       Socks and underwear
       Lightweight towel
       Sunhat with wide brim
       Small flashlight
       Pocket knife (i.e. a Swiss Army knife). Remember to put it in your checked luggage when you
fly or the airlines will confiscate it.
     Raincoat or poncho
       Travel umbrella
      Personal toiletries – soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc (best to pack these in Ziploc bags in case of
  Insect repellent
       Hand Sanitizer
       A small amount of toilet paper – enough to last you for 6 days
       Ziploc bags
   Water bottle
       Garden gloves
    School notebook/ field journal; pen and pencil
  Smaller backpack for day trips
       Bed sheet and light sleeping bag or blanket
       Small Travel or blow-up pillow (or if you don’t mind roughing it, just use your clothes
bunched up in a sack)

  Book or magazine
  Money/ Bank Cards
  Plane Tickets
  Prescription Medicines
  Photocopies of all travel documents, prescriptions, emergency contact numbers.

  Camera; extra film and batteries as needed
  High-energy and protein-based snacks - Stock your carry-on bag with a few snacks. You never
know when you might need a few extra calories to hike those additional miles before lunch is
  Gifts - You’ll meet and become friends with some great locals. Although not expected, you
may feel compelled to give someone a gift prior to your departure. Some gifts that are
appreciated: educational supplies, gifts from Cornell/Ithaca/your hometown, soccer balls and
volleyballs, stickers

What to leave at home:
   Fancy jewelry (makes you more attractive to thieves, target of crime)
   Nice clothes you don’t want to get ruined (we’ll be working in the fields, gardens, and getting
   Large currency bills (most people don’t have large bills and large amounts of change. It’s
much easier to work with small Belizean and American bills).
   Perfumed soap, cosmetics, etc (scented products make you very attractive to bugs).
   Your laptop computer
   Any heirlooms or personal mementos that you do not want to risk losing.
   Anything that might be construed as a weapon

What we will be bringing for the group:
 First aid kits
 Duct tape
 Water purification system
 Workshop and activity supplies
 Belize maps, travel guides, wildlife field guides

Travel Documents

Citizens of the U.S., Canada, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa do not need
visas to enter Belize as tourists. To enter Belize you must have a valid passport. If you are not a
U.S. Citizen, make sure you bring your green card or student visa for re-entry into the U.S. upon


Local currency is the Belize Dollar, or BZ. One U.S. dollar is worth BZ$2. Most places won’t
accept large currency bills (most people don’t have large bills and large amounts of change on
hand). It’s much easier to work with small Belizean and American bills (most places accept
either currency). If you bring your spending money in American cash (i.e. $20 bills) you can
exchange it for some Belizean currency when you get there. You do not need to worry about
having Belizean dollars before you arrive in Belize

If you choose to use your bank card in PG, you should contact your debit and credit card issuers
in advance of departure to let them know you will be out of the country for a specific period of
time so the bank does not freeze the use of your cards. Banks are doing this more frequently
when transactions occur in multiple geographical locations. Visa, Mastercard, and--to a lesser
degree--American Express are accepted.

You will want to bring some money to buy snacks and drinks while traveling. Souvenirs may be
purchased in PG, and you will have some time to shop in town. Please note that there is a
departure tax of about $37.50 USD that is paid at the ticket counter in the airport before you can
leave the country. Please keep some money aside for that purpose.

Telephones/ Cell Phones

You can use public telephones to call the U.S. Public telephones are card-operated. Telephone
cards can be bought at numerous locations in PG. Calls to the U.S. cost $.50 to $.70 per minute.
Belize Telecommunications Limited (BTL) provides telecommunication between Belize and the
United States and Canada. Service is also available for communication with other countries.
Further information may be obtained at The international dialing code for Belize is


Belize operates on the 110/ 220 V, 60Hz electrical system (same as the U.S.). Most portable
electronics (laptops, digital cameras, video cameras, battery chargers, clocks, etc.) use 110
voltage power supply system. So you will not need to buy a converter


You will have access to computers and the Internet in both PG and Laguna.


Film is much more expensive in Belize than in the U.S. If you’re going to use a film camera, you
may want to bring all of your film with you. However, you should be aware that the new high-
powered scanners in airports can damage your film, so you should not pack it in your checked

**Please do not take pictures of people or their property unless you are absolutely certain they
Health and Safety Considerations

Things to consider before departure:
   • Have you visited a travel medicine office or your physician to seek advice on health and
       vaccinations? Do you have the necessary vaccinations in preparation for this trip?

    •   Do you have your health insurance company’s contact information (name, address, fax
        and phone number) and your policy number written down to carry with you?

    •   Have you contacted your health insurance company regarding coverage benefits during
        international travel? Do you have your Cornell SOS card ready to carry with you?
        Visit the International SOS website and
        download a membership card to carry with you.

    •   Have you registered with the US State Department yet? Americans traveling abroad are
        encouraged to register with the local U.S. Embassy in the country they visit. Go to in order to register and you’ll obtain updated
        information on travel and security within Belize.

    •   Do you have any special health problems that may affect you while traveling? If yes, how
        will you deal with these problems?

    •   Do you take medications regularly? If yes, do you have an adequate supply for your trip?

Prescription Drugs:
 If you are taking any prescription drugs, please ensure that you pack a sufficient supply to last
through the trip, in their original, clearly labeled containers. For safety reasons, it is best to carry
these with you (not in your checked baggage) along with a copy of the original prescription. If
you have a history of significant medical problems, wearing a medical alert bracelet while on
your trip is a good idea.

Belize has a high standard of public health and most visitors leave without suffering so much as
a dose of diarrhea. Tap water in all towns and many villages is safe to drink, though heavily
chlorinated. Rainwater is collected in rural areas and is usually safe to drink; we will bring a
water purification system with us for the group. Restaurants are subject to stringent hygiene
regulations so ice in drinks will almost certainly be bought or made with treated water. Bottled
water is also widely available.

Travelers' Diarrhea:
 Travelers' diarrhea is one of the most common ailments afflicting visitors to Central America.
You may experience stomach or intestinal disorders during the trip. New local micro-organisms
can be disruptive. A Belizean coming to Ithaca may encounter the same problem. There is no
safe medication to prevent this problem. Doctors and experienced travelers have varying
opinions, but most would agree that you can minimize your problems by adhering to the
following rules:
   •   Wash your hands frequently
   •   Drink only bottled liquids. If you use bottled water, satisfy yourself that the cap was
       applied at the factory.
   •   Assure that ice has been manufactured from safe water. If not, avoid it.
   •   Do not eat uncooked items unless you have peeled it yourself.
   •   Avoid "street food"

Personal Safety:
Belize is a relatively safe place to visit. However it is advisable to take suitable precautions, such
as avoiding poorly lit streets or back streets in town at night. If you feel intimidated or frightened
in an area, it is best to avoid eye contact and leave as soon as possible. It is prudent that women
not walk alone at night, but rather walk with men or in groups of at least three.

Buddy System:
To ensure your safety we ask that you identify a buddy in the group who will always know your
whereabouts. This is especially important in the evenings in PG when there are not organized
activities so we know where to find you in case of an emergency.

Emergency Contact Information:

Primary contact:
Mark Miller, Executive Director, Plenty Belize
   • Plenty Belize office: 011-501-702-2198
   • Plenty Belize cell phone: 011-501-661-1449
*Belize is Central Time (one hour behind EST time in NY).

Hotel for March 13th and 14th:
       Charlton’s Inn
       Telephone: 011-501-722-2197 / 702-0158
       Fax: 011-501-722-2440

Hotel for March 20th and 21st:
       Seafront Inn
       Telephone: 011-501-722-2300
       Fax: 011-501-722-2682

Last minute travel matters
**Make sure that you check your e-mail regularly for last minute travel updates up to the day of
departure (March 13th).

If a last minute emergency arises prior to departure, contact Christine at #607-272-2712

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