Thank you for
your interest in, and your willingness to accompany us
to Guatemala for our medical mission. We have compiled a
few “helpful hints” to assist you in preparing for your
trip and to make the experience as comfortable as
- First and
foremost, if you do not have a current passport,
apply NOW. It can sometimes take as long as 6-8
weeks to obtain the passport after you have filed
your passport with you at all times. Make several
copies of your passport and keep one on you, one in
each piece of luggage, one in your purse, etc. (You
may wish to bring a passport pocket that hangs
around your neck or waist) Also, keep one copy back
- If you
are a licensed health care provider, we need a copy
of your license and registration as well as a copy
of your passport.
- If you
didn’t bring it with you, we don’t have it! Many
supplies for patient care will be provided but if
there is something that you wish to have for
yourself, bring it. Examples include stethoscopes,
BP cuffs, otoscopes, a flashlight, fanny pack,
zip-lock bags, and bug spray. Some members have
found it helpful to bring hand cleaners and wet
wipes. Be sure to bring your own soap, shampoo and
wash cloth as these are not provided at the hotel in
- Do not
drink the water in Guatemala! The hotels where we
will be staying have bottled water for sale and in
water coolers on each of the floors for refills.
Never drink water directly from a faucet.
will be provided for us while we are in Cuilapa, but
some people found it nice to have crackers or energy
bars, etc. with them to munch on.
- Bring old
clothing and shoes with you. Many of us left the
clothing worn at the clinic at the hotel or hospital
in Cuilapa where they could be cleaned and
distributed to the people. If you want to bring
things back home with you the hotel SOMETIMES has a
very reasonable laundry service. (This laundry
service has not always been available on every
trip). Scrubs are great for clinic and many found
wet bandanas around the neck or head to help cool
them off during hot clinic times. The weather will
be hot and humid so be prepared. There is a pool at
the hotel so also bring a swimsuit. There may be a
couple of evenings when we “go out” so you may want
to bring something a little nicer (but not fancy)
for those occasions. You may wish to consider
spraying your work clothes with Permethrin before
going on the trip. It kills insects and lasts
through several washings. You may also want to bring
insect repellent that is at least 20% DEET to repel
- The unit
of currency in Guatemala is the Quetzal. $1.00 =
about 6 quetzals. US dollars can be exchanged at the
airport in Guatemala City on our arrival there.
Bring smaller US bills for exchange. You will find
that travelers checks are NOT welcome in Guatemala.
Credit cards can be used in major hotels and in some
stores or restaurants in Guatemala City and Antigua.
Credit cards can also be used for some tour trips.
Our experience is that VISA is the preferred one but
Master Charge is also accepted. American Express
usually is not.
MANDATORY: Hepatitis B vaccine – series of 3
injections, initial and then 1 month and at 6
months. If you have already had the series of
vaccines, you can have a blood test to check your
titer for immunity. If your titer is less than 10,
you need to have a booster shot. Tetanus – If you
have not received immunization in the past 5-10
years, this needs updating before the trip.
Strongly Recommended: Hepatitis A Vaccine –
Initial injection with a booster in 6 months.
Voluntary: Some of the mission team members in
the past have used the following medications and
treatments while others have chosen not to.
Prophylaxis - Chloroquin 1 tablet weekly beginning 1
week prior to leaving for Guatemala and continuing
until two weeks after returning home.
Prophylaxis – Vermox 1 tablet twice a day for 3
days. Begin the first dose when leaving Guatemala.
- Head Lice
Prophylaxis – NIX crème rinse prior to leaving for
Guatemala and consider repeating on the return home.
Fever – This disease is carried by mosquitoes. The
only good protection is to use insect repellent with
a high DEET content.
Gastrointestinal Infections – Unfortunately there is
no good prophylaxis for the most common types of GI
problems usually caused by viral agents, but some
team members have chosen to use Levoquin 250mg/d
while in Guatemala to protect from the bacterial
forms of gastroenteritis. We have had team members
become ill with gastroenteritis with or without
using Levoquin. The key to the treatment of diarrhea
is always adequate hydration. Always be sure to
maintain adequate hydration and push fluids before
and during the trip. The current recommendations for
traveler’s diarrhea are:
for the first 24-36 hours. If symptoms persist,
either Cipro 500mg twice a day for three days or
Levoquin 500mg daily for three days or Floxin 400mg
twice a day for 3 days should be added.
almost always effective. Those persons who have a
history of traveler’s diarrhea or who have a high
susceptibility for gastroenteritis have begun Levoquin
250mg daily one day prior to leaving for Guatemala and
continued it until returning home.
We are all looking forward to a great experience in
Guatemala. We hope these little hints will help you on
your way to an enjoyable and unique experience to.
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