Pack as lightly as you can. You have to carry your luggage with you on a trip like this.
For a short trip, a pair of casual slacks, shorts, appropriate tops (button shirts are best because they are easier to remove when drenched with perspiration), underwear, socks, bathing suit(s) etc.
Pack at least one long sleeve shirt, a light, rain-proof jacket and something for your head.
Pay special attention to your footwear. Running shoes are good, a pair of sandals, and, if you plan on much hiking, a well-made pair of hiking boots. (Wear your hiking boots on the flight there and back so you don’t have to pack them.) It may sound odd, but a pair of long johns might be a good idea. A drop of temperature from 95 degrees to 75 degrees could be a chilling experience.
We’ve learned to take our own snorkels and masks but you do not have to. Fins are awkward to pack but they, along with snorkels and masks are available at the Tour Shops as rentals. Of course, if you are into scuba diving you probably have your own gear but it, too, is available as a rental.
Roll your clothes up when you pack rather than fold them. You’d be surprised how much more you can jam into a small space.
For two people taking a 7-10 day trip, a backpack each as your carry-on and a medium to small suitcase as check-in luggage. For longer trips, you might want to take more, but remember, there are reliable laundry outlets almost everywhere with a three to six hour turn-around. You just have to ask your host for a recommendation.
You likely know that Customs has become an obstacle course at most airports. Don’t pack anything sharp in your carry-on. Put your Swiss Army knife in your check-in luggage and your little mending kit with its thread and needles. Check with the airport before you fly out for the latest up-date on do’s and don’t’s and on what’s free and what costs.
If you visitBelize Cityfor any length of time, it’s probably a good idea to check in with the Canadian Consulate. Phone from your hotel for an appointment. It is a quick cab ride from anywhere in Belize City and if someone has to contact you the Canadian Consulate will have a record of you and an itinerary of your travel plans.
ET PHONE HOME
Check out all the options before you leave home. You can use your laptop or tablet as a means of communication. Most of the hotels I mention offer free wi-fi. If not, a wi-fi connection is a short walk away.
MONEY, TRAVELLERS CHEQUES, ATMs, BANKS
For the sake of convenience, take some American money with you, in cash. Travelers’ cheques do not have the status they once had. An American dollar is worth two Belizean dollars. Simple as that, 1$U.S.=2$ BZE. When shopping, note whether the item is priced in U.S. or Belizean dollars.
There are ATMs in Belize City, Caye Caulker, San Pedro, San Ignacio, Orange Walk, Punta Gorda, Hopkins Village and Dangrigra that can handle international access cards.
Credit cards are accepted in higher-end restaurants but don’t expect a small Belizean restaurant to accept them. Most but not all of the so-called Super Stores accept credit cards but it is always smart to find out before you complete the purchase. Visa is popular, Master Card a little less so and American Express a distant third. In fact, some places won’t accept Amex because it costs the vendor more. And, take note, some hotels and resorts will add a 3-5% surcharge on you credit card bill.
SPECIAL WARNING: If you plan to spend more than 30 days in Belize, you must renew your visa for another 30 days. Find the nearest Belize Customs and do it. It costs about $20 usd each but it beats getting caught at customs on the way home.
MEDICINE AND GOOD HEALTH
Check with your local Health Clinic for recommendations. If malaria pills are recommended, find out what kind and what are the contra-indications before you decide to take them. Belize is in the malaria band of nations in Central America but outbreaks on the coast are not common nor are outbreaks in the interior if you spend most of your time in the towns.
In Ontario you have to pay for shots against Hepatitis A, B, and C. You can get a prescription from the Health Clinic for a supply of malaria tablets (see above) if you decide to take them. There are those who argue that there is no need for malaria protection. Consult with your doctor. Check your Benefit Package if you have one to see if these medicines are covered.
There are flies and bugs inBelize that can mitigate your enjoyment of the country. The sand fleas can be annoying and don’t seem to be deterred by insect sprays, though a friend of ours reported that a product called Skin So Soft worked for her. The mosquitoes can be bad at dusk in some places such as Sittee River, just south of Hopkins Village. Dress accordingly.
There is a nasty little creature called the ‘Doctor Fly’, so called because it anesthetizes the skin area before it digs in. Again, spray at night if you think you have to and cover up, but if you do get nibbled take some Benedryl tablets or the equivalent to relieve the itching that occurs post-bite.
It is not a bad idea to take ear- and tooth-ache drops but you don’t have to take an entire drugstore with you. All the places we have recommended have one or more pharmacies, except Hopkins and it is only fifteen miles from Dangrigra.