Travel Essentials: Guatemala

Clothes? Check. Sunscreen? Packed. Sunglasses? Got them. Here are five more items I wouldn’t leave home without.

Copy of passport: There are many reasons why keeping a copy of your passport is a good idea. These circumstances may include losing a passport or having it stolen. As I experienced more recently, you may also need your passport if stopped by bus or train conductor. However, I will say that in that situation a photocopy did not suffice. If you are carrying your passport, I recommend keeping a photocopy hidden somewhere amongst your belongings at the hotel. In addition, it is never a bad idea to keep a photocopy at home.

Comfortable shoes: Depending on where you will be in Guatemala, comfortable shoes may bare a different meaning. For the first half of my journey, comfortable tennis shoes were necessary when working outside in the dusty and dirty areas of Zacapa. In the later half of my journey, tennis shoes were imperative for outdoor activities like hiking. If neither of these seem to fit your adventure, I would still recommend comfortable sandals because popular areas like Antigua solely have ancient cobblestone streets.

Bug spray: Due to the few water sources, Guatemala is not known for their mosquitoes. In fact, in larger cities like Guatemala City and Antigua, there are few to no bugs. However, venturing out into the more rural areas is where no-see-ums may be hiding. Also known as sand flies, biting midges, and more scientifically, Ceratopogonidae, these tiny critters leave itchy red bumps. Powerful bug sprays like deep woods do an excellent job of keeping the little nuisances away.

Disclaimer: Be cautious of bug sprays with 100 percent repellant. These products may take off colors from clothes, shoes and other materials.

Backpack/ Fanny pack: The purpose of your trip will help to decipher the necessary luggage needed. Like most foreign countries, you should travel through crowded areas with your belongings in front of you.  Sometimes a backpack is more feasible because it can carry extra water, sweatshirts and large cameras. In other cases, an over the shoulder purse or fanny pack allows you to keep everything where you can see it. For this trip, I chose to go for the fashion statement. #Freethefannypack

Spanish/ English dictionary: When traveling to a foreign country, specifically those who speak another language, a dictionary is always recommended. The dictionary is a great reference point for those who know nothing, and an excellent security blanket for those who are trying to learn more.

Personally, I had to rely on my three years of high school Spanish. The dictionary is the one item I wish I would have brought to help bridge those moments of communication dissonance.

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