Being prepared will make for the most exciting & enjoyable trip to Belize!
Getting started with the GSP Preparation Guide:
Global Service Partnerships is pleased to welcome you to travel, service, partner, and explore with us in Belize! This preparation guide shares relevant information to help program participants prepare for our program. This handbook is a reference to give the information needed for a rewarding and successful service and travel experience. Short-term service projects allow for learning, observing, and practicing new skills. It also allows participants to experience planned excursions, cultural learning activities, cross-cultural development, gain global perspectives, and overall personal growth. We ask you to come with an open mind, be patient, flexible, and adaptable. Be willing to adjust program goals and objectives and most importantly, bring along a sense of humor. These are all essential characteristics needed for maximizing a successful experience abroad. Thank you for entrusting us with the Belize program coordination. We look forward to providing support to make this an enjoyable, learning experience. Personal safety is of greatest importance to us.
Table of Contents
Complete Program Related Forms:
- Online Registration Form
- Release & Agreement Form
- Emergency Contact & Medical Form (with proof of international health insurance)
- Notarized Letter of Travel Consent (for minors; from both parents)
- Code of Conduct Form
A valid passport with a minimum of six months past the program end date is needed. Non-US citizens may need a visa to enter Belize. Visas can be obtained from Belizean consulates in the US. Please contact us immediately if you require an entry visa.
Travel is scheduled as a group; if anyone is traveling independently on any portion of the trip, he/she must provide program leaders with a complete copy of itinerary and contact information, in the case of any flight other delays.
Health and Medical Preparation
Personal preparation should include a visit to your personal health care providers. We recommend you speak with your physician about your program, length of time, and prescription medication while abroad. Recommended shots for Belize (as noted by the CDC):
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Emergency Plan and Protocol
In case of any emergency, parents/significant others will be notified as immediately as possible. If medical attention is required, participants will be taken to the closest and best medical facility. If medical evacuation is needed, parents will be notified immediately. Program Emergency Contact Information will be given to parents, administrators and others who may need it, prior to departure.
Personal Code of Conduct Policies
Participants must sign an agreement for personal code of conduct. Group leaders reserve the right to send a participant home at his/her own expense if he/she violates the code of conduct.
North American citizens need a passport to travel internationally. If you do not have a passport that is valid for six months after the end of the program, apply as soon as possible to avoid any delays.
We advise that you keep a photocopy of your passport ID pages in a safe place at home with family and keep a copy in a secure place while in Belize. We will keep a copy for you during the program.
Your passport is your most crucial legal document while outside your home country. Treat it with particular attention.
Air Travel Arrangements
Unless otherwise specified, Global Service Partnership leaders will make group travel arrangements for participants from your home airport to Belize. We will arrange all transportation for you from the Phillip Goldson International (P.G.I.A.) airport if you arrive on the designated group arrival date. This airport code is “BZE.”
A comprehensive packing list is included in this handbook and on our website.
The currency rate is a constant US$1 = BZ$2. The U.S. Dollar is accepted everywhere in Belize (food stores, restaurants, etc.). There is no need to convert U.S. currency to Belize currency. Prices are mostly listed in Belizean dollars in most areas of the country with the exception of high-end resorts and other tourist class hotels, restaurants, bars and tour operators.
Cash: If you bring cash, do not bring bills larger than $20. Additionally, U.S. coins are not accepted and cannot be used in Belize.
Debit and Credit Cards: There are ATMs available for accessing your personal funds from home, but will only be available to us based on our program location. You will receive Belizean currency when withdrawing money from the ATMs. Keep in mind that banks often have a $3-5 charge for withdrawals. Notify your bank of your travel dates so they do not put a hold on your card due to unfamiliar transaction locations.
RECOMMENDED PACKING LIST
We recommend you pack only what you need. To avoid over packing, we suggest taking the time to lay out what you are planning to pack and be very selective about what is needed. Keep in mind that your time in Belize is short, therefore, only bring the essentials. There is a 50 lb. luggage weight maximum (including what you may purchase in country), so pack light!
Select casual, breathable clothing to minimize discomfort in the subtropical climate of Belize. All participants should plan to dress modestly (please avoid low-cut shirts; tank tops and short-shorts and skirts during service).
Below are suggested packing items:
- Service (cover shoulders and knee length)
- Casual khaki pants or skirts
- Knee-length shorts
- Light sweater/jacket
- Collared shirt/blouse
- Light weight hiking or walking shoes
- River shoes with a backstrap
- Swimsuit, sunglasses, hat, sun block
- Light rain jacket
- Shower gels, shampoo
- Hand sanitizer
- Lightweight towel(s)
- Camera, Ziploc bag for camera
- Flashlight & batteries
- Ear plugs
- Prescription medication
- Mosquito repellent (containing DEET)
- Personal toiletry items
- Face wipes
- Wide-mouthed water bottles
- Photos of your family to share
- Anti-itch cream
Recommended Tips for Important Documents
We do not recommend keeping essential documents, such as your passport and excess cash, on your person while in Belize. Program participants should travel with limited cash and use debit or credit cards whenever possible. You should have with you at all times a copy of your passport, program emergency card and insurance card in the event you need to show identification or access emergency medical care. All documents including money and credit cards should be secured on your person during the program. Excess cash may be stored in a safety deposit box at the lodge.
Medication and Eye Care
Request enough prescription medication to last for the duration of the program. In case of emergency, some prescription medications are available in Belize but may have a different name.
Global Service Partnerships will have a first aid kit, but we encourage you to bring ibuprofen, Band-Aids, Neosporin, anti-itch or after-bite lotion, etc. for your personal use. For those wearing contacts or prescription glasses, bring an extra set along with cleaning solution, and your written eye prescriptions and extra glasses.
Depending on the carrier, many airlines charge for more than one suitcase. They also charge for any bag over 50 lbs. on your flight home from Belize. We recommend you check one bag and pack a light carry-on bag/backpack with some clothes and other essentials. We also encourage you to put your name and home address on your luggage tag and inside your suitcase. Luggage fees are not paid for by Global Service Partnerships.
Electronics and Cameras
Belize subtropical climate will expose your equipment to high humidity, possible rain and intense heat depending on the time of the year your program.
A waterproof case is highly recommended if your camera requires special batteries; bring a spare along. Underwater cameras are great for snorkeling.
Special adaptors are not required as Belize has standard 3 prong outlets.
Your lodge is not wired for Internet access in the rooms, but wireless Internet is available in the common areas.
We do not recommend you bring a personal computer, but iPads and iPhones (in airplane mode) can be useful on the program for photos and videos.
Check with your insurance carrier if your insurance covers your personal property while abroad. You may need to purchase a “rider” or “personal articles floater” itemizing any high-value items with which you are traveling (i.e. laptop, cameras, etc.). This extra coverage is inexpensive and will cover the replacement cost of the item, not just the depreciated value. Please leave irreplaceable items at home.
HOUSING RELATED INFORMATION
Facilities – consist of cabins, dorms and private rooms. Room arrangements, showers, and bathroom facilities are gender separate.
Meals – Meals will be provided by the host lodge throughout the program. Meals will consist of local foods, meats, vegetables, and fruit. All dietary restrictions may be accommodated on the program. Only a few meals will be had at restaurants throughout the program. Meals will be buffet-style or served.
Water – All lodges provide plenty of potable, drinkable water. Bottled water will frequently be provided and is available at the lodge. Bottled water is also available for purchase in country if and whenever ever needed. Water will always be available and accessible throughout the program.
Conference Hall - attached to the reception and guest services space is a screened porch and sundeck in proximity to the Wi-Fi router. You are welcome to connect your laptop computer in the study hall and or use it as a quite place to study.
Laundry – laundry can be done at the lodge: $5 US to wash and $5 US to tumble dry. Participants may hang clothes out to dry as well.
Wi-Fi Connection - Wi-Fi service is provided free of charge in public areas. There are several options available for keeping in contact with family and friends at home. We suggest the following: Skype, Facebook, instant messaging, Google video chatting and e-mail.
Security – All lodges employs security personnel to guard the property and its guests. If you arrive on the property late at night, you will likely encounter security personnel. Security personnel ensure that people entering the property are will not allowed into any private areas. The security personnel may question and detain arrivals, unless prior arrangements have been made with the management.
Showers – Showers are private. Depending on the lodge, we will have warm or cool water. (The outside temperatures are very warm, so the cool water is refreshing).
Most areas in Belize have potable water and safe food practices; however public access to quality health care is limited.
1) Before you travel abroad, assess your health and health related practices. Any problems at home will not magically be cured because you are in a different country. You should honestly address any physical or emotional health concerns before you plan to travel. Ignoring any issues while abroad puts you at risk of experiencing an emergency while away from home.
2) Identify and be clear about your health needs. If you feel comfortable sharing your needs, please work with your leader who is collecting this type of information. Information such as allergies, disabilities, psychological treatments, dietary requirements, and medical needs will be kept confidential and used for the sole purpose of providing you support.
3) A visit to your health care practitioner will ensure that you are in good health before you leave and might prevent emergencies abroad. Update your health records, including eyeglass, prescriptions and regular medications. If you self-inject prescribed medication, you may need to carry needles and syringes with you. You’ll likely need a physician’s prescription for medication and medical supplies you carry with you in your luggage.
Bring along copies of all medical records, prescription in generic form, and pertinent information; carry these in a safe place. If you expect to need regular medical care while in Belize, bring a letter of introduction from your physician at home, providing details of your medical condition, care, and specific needs. Work with us to identify medical resources before leaving home.
For additional information regarding health in Belize, contact the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Their Internet address is CDC, phone contact numbers are: 800- 800-CDC- INFO (800-232-4636).
4) Having a personalized medical kit is a helpful tool. Useful items to include are Band-Aids, anti-itch cream, sunscreen, blister patches, anti- diarrhea medications, probiotic supplements such as acidophilus and any other routine health and medical products you think you may need or brands you like.
5) Medical insurance – all program participants must show proof of medical insurance with the following coverage: Major Medical, Medical Evacuation (optional).
Participants must keep in mind that most out patient visits in Belize will require payment upfront. Insurance claims will be done after returning home. Print at least two copies of your insurance claim forms and keep on your person in the event you need to have the attending physician complete. In the event of hospitalization, Global Service Partnerships will make every effort to get the hospital to accept your international insurance to avoid major out of pocket expense. As a precaution, it is advised to have extra funds on your credit card in the event of a medical emergency.
Cultural Adjustment And Stress Are A Typical Phenomenon – Be aware of the moderate amount of anxiety and stress that is a natural part of intercultural transitions. A new language, food, difference in cultural norms can affect your stress level. Don’t be afraid and think you are the only one feeling stressed. Transitional stress is easily managed with an open mind, positive attitude and taking good care of your emotional and physical health.
6) Other health Issues that you should be aware of are:
Gastrointestinal distress and dehydration are a risk in Belize; these risks are heightened during the dry or summer season. It is recommended that you drink plenty of bottled water throughout the program and regularly in order to stay hydrated.
Belize has minimum cases of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases, especially dengue fever, and it is recommended that you at all times wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET and wear long sleeves especially in the early morning and evening.
AIRPORT ARRIVAL IN BELIZE
Everyone will receive an Immigration/customs document from the flight attendant before landing in Belize. Take the time to fill it out on the plane. The following questions will appear on the form:
a. Reason for travel to Belize: Personal
b. Length of stay: List the total number of days you will be in the country
c. Address: The name of our lodge.
After exiting the plane, you will be directed to Immigration inside the terminal.
The next step is to get in line for an Immigration Officer. Have your passport ready (and notarized letter, if a minor). Participants should tell the Immigration Officer they are visiting the country and name the lodge. After getting your passport stamped by the Immigration Officer; collect your luggage from the carousel.
After collecting your luggage, get in line for Customs. Go to the lane indicating “Visitors” and “Nothing to Declare”. The Customs Officer will look at your passport and customs paper. They may ask where you are going, but will likely take the paper and wave you on to exit. Passengers are randomly selected for luggage search from time to time.
Follow the arrows toward the exit. A representative will be waiting outside with a sign for our group.
Our licensed guide/driver will transport us from the airport to our lodge.
BELIZE MEDICAL OR EMERGENCY NUMBERS
When calling from the United States to Belize, you must dial the country code (“011 + 501”) and then the number. When calling from Belize to the United States, you must dial “001 + area code + home number.” When in Belize, the 501 is dropped when making domestic calls in country.
U.S. Consular and Embassy
The U.S. State Department and Bureau of Consular Affairs offers several helpful resources for American travelers. For more information, click on the following link: http://travel.state.gov.
The U.S. Embassy in Belize is located at: Floral Park Road, Belmopan City, Cayo
Phone: (501) 822-4011
Fax: (501) 822-4012
Web Site: http://belize.usembassy.gov/
Office Hours: Monday – Friday: 8am to 12noon; 1-5pm
Emergency and Weekends: 610-5030
Consular Chief Officer: Ext. 4170
- Belize Emergency Rescue Team (BERT): (501) 223-3292 / 223-0078
- Belmopan Hospital - Medical Emergency: (501) 822-2263/4
- Emergency Room: 822-0466
- Belize City Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital: (501) 223-1548/1564/1593/1671
- Southern Regional Hospital, Dangriga Town: (501) 522-2078/3832/3833/3834
- Punta Gorda Hospital, Punta Gorda Town: (501) 722-2026/2161/2145/2295
- Belize Disaster and Relief Response Team: (501) 822-2800
- Also serves as search and rescue
- Tourism Police James Pascual: (501) 636-1263
- Call Hotline first: 0-800-878-0000
- Belize Coast Guard: 225-2125
- Country-wide police: 90/911
- Dr. Gabriel in Belize City - Medical Emergency: 610-4767
- Dr. Hidalgo in Belize City (Universal): 620-5003
- Juan Esquivel cell (Guide and driver): 667-4166
ETHICS FOR STUDY ABROAD
Global Service Partnerships requires that all participants in the programs adhere to the following ethical standards:
- A responsibility to people whose lives and cultures are observed. Participants must do everything in their power to protect the dignity and privacy
of the people with whom
- Participants must acknowledge the help and services they receive, and must recognize their obligation to reciprocate in appropriate ways.
- they interact.
- The rights, interests, safety, and sensitivities of those who entrust information to participants must be safeguarded.
- Participants must be candid from the outset with the organizations where they are placed that they are participants.
- To the best of their ability, participants have an obligation to assess both the positive and negative consequences of their service-learning. They should inform individuals and groups likely to be affected of any possible consequences relevant to them that they anticipate.
- Participants must take into account and, where relevant and to the best of their ability, they must make explicit the extent to which their own personal and cultural values affect their service-learning experience.
A failure to comply when a supervising Global Service Partnerships staff feels that the participant has violated this statement of ethics, the participant may be placed on probation. In the case of egregious violations, participants can be subject to immediate dismissal under the conditions of Global Service Partnerships dismissal guidelines.