You will find more detailed information about health and safety precautions in the ServiceTeam and Volunteer Handbooks. However, the following are some general notes intended to address some of the most common health concerns for first-time visitors to Guatemala.
Please note that ServiceTeam members will have local guides with them at all times, while individual volunteers do not.
1.) Drink plenty of water. Your body will need more water than normal because of Antigua’s high elevation (about 5,200 ft.). Drink 3 liters of bottled water per day. Bottled water can be purchased at the Dreamer Center or at any tienda in town.
2.) We recommend that you don’t pack open-toed shoes or sandals, or go barefoot outdoors. Parasites can enter your body through the skin between your toes, and there are plenty of parasites of Central America.
3.) Consult a physician prior to your trip. Visitors to Guatemala, especially those who suffer from heart problems, high blood pressure, or respiratory conditions should undergo a medical examination before traveling.
4.) Our ServiceTeam Department takes every reasonable precaution to ensure you are eating and drinking things that won’t make you sick. However, please avoid street food and politely refuse any food or drink offered to you by villagers.
1.) Most importantly: BE AWARE (but not paranoid) of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas like markets, bus stations, festivals, and tourist sites.
2.) Don’t take shortcuts, especially down narrow alleys or dimly-lit streets. Avoid low-traffic areas, especially after dark.
3.) Do not walk alone after dark. Stay with your group and guide at all times.
4.) Avoid public disturbances and civil demonstrations.
5.) Don’t get too friendly with strangers. Don’t tell strangers where you are staying or what travel plans you have.
6.) Move about in a purposeful manner, even if you are lost. By acting confident and like you know where you are going, you don’t attract attention from those seeking confused visitors.
7.) Items you should leave at your host family or in a safe at The Dreamer Center: your passport (you only need a copy for identification), credit cards, expensive-looking jewelry, irreplaceable family objects, large amounts of cash, other identification cards or important documents. If you can’t afford to lose something, don’t bring it with you.
8.) Keep your purse/backpack/bag on your front side, especially in crowded areas. Keep your wallet or valuables in your front pockets.
Basically, keep a low profile to avoid being a target. By staying vigilant, quiet, and aware of your surroundings and belongings, you can enjoy the beauty of Guatemala without putting yourself or your possessions at risk.