Also recommended: Mi Casa Guest House in Antigua. Elvira Batz offers comfortable bedrooms, hot water and homemade food for $85/week. Contact email@example.com or 011-502-7832-4496 (Elvira and her husband, Enrique, speak conversational English).
Spanish Language School: If you would like to study Spanish while in Guatemala, Antigua and Quetzaltenango (Xela) are the two main locations for Spanish study. We recommend CSA in Antigua and Asociación Pop Wuj in Quetzaltenango.
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Safety: Asociación CoEd has been operating tours in Guatemala since 1998 and none of our tour participants has ever been a victim of a serious crime. However, in Guatemala, as in other developing countries traveling is not without risk. To better understand these risks, Asociación CoEd requires all Project Tour travelers to read the U.S. State Department’s consular information sheet and any relevant public announcements concerning Guatemala. (Links to these documents are provided below.)
These advisories give valuable information and suggest precautions visitors may take to mitigate risks. Since many travelers have not previously traveled to Guatemala, they often find it difficult to put these risks into context. The following statistics may help:
- Approximately 1.7 million tourists visited Guatemala in 2008 (Source: the World Bank).
- Less than 0.5% of tourists were involved in crimes serious enough to be reported to the U.S. Embassy (Source: the GlobalPost, May 2010).
- Based on the above statistics, an individual’s chances of being involved in serious crime are roughly 3 in 1,000.
We consider the risk of traveling to Guatemala comparable to that of spending time in high-crime areas within major U.S. cities. While traveling to any crime-ridden area can be at times unsafe—and one must acknowledge and accept the risks involved—it is our judgment that if appropriate precautions are taken, traveling to Guatemala on a Project Tour is a reasonable risk to take.
Asociación CoEd and its staff make every reasonable effort to assure the safety of its tours, including:
- Guiding the tours with veteran staff members, with years of experience working and traveling in Guatemala.
- Traveling in multi-vehicle caravans and an escort provided by a private security firm.
- Maintaining updated lists of high-quality doctors and hospitals (specific to the itinerary).
- Fielding extra staff and vehicles, so that at any moment, one staff member and one vehicle could be dispatched to handle a medical issue. (This is different from “for profit” tour operators who send only buses and drivers with no support staff).
- Arranging airlifts from rural Guatemala in the unlikely case of serious injury.
Trip participants can also lessen their own chances of being targets of crime by:
- Leaving valuables (jewelry, watches) at home.
- Avoiding carrying large sums of cash.
- Not discussing your travel itinerary with strangers.
- Staying in groups during free time.
Overall, we believe that your experience in Guatemala will be a positive and memorable one, as it has been for the 500+ visitors to our projects that have come before you.
The consular information sheet can be found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1129.html
If you have any other questions or concerns about safety in Guatemala, please contact Leslie Jenkins Reed at 513-661-7000, ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Tax Deductibility of Guatemala Trip: You may be able to claim a tax deduction for travel expenses for volunteering. Please view the Travel section of the following IRS document: