If you’re a travel newbie, it’s wise to know everything there is about preparing for an overseas trip so you don’t find yourself stuck away from home with no clue where to go for an item, service or help. Happily, a trip to Belize guarantees you won’t be stymied: Everyone speaks English, so if you need help, turn to the people you meet for answers to your questions, advice and directions. On the other hand, if you stay at an accommodation like Yok Ha Resort, expect staff to have all of the answers you need!
Belize loves visitors, but laws are stringent when it comes to passports. Yours must remain valid for at least three months after you arrive, and you must also present a return ticket proving you’ll leave by that date. Visas aren’t necessary if you are a U.S., Canadian, U.K., European Union or Central American/Caribbean citizen, but if your homeland isn’t on that list and you need a visa, you can only stay in Belize for a month. Want to stay longer? You must file for an extension. It’s wise to make photocopies of your passport. Put a backup copy in your luggage and give one to Yok Ha desk staff to cover all bases.
Show you the money
One of the most confusing experiences when traveling abroad is figuring out conversion rates, but the Belize system is so easy, even a 5th grader can manage! Every U.S. dollar equals $2 BZD, so what could be simpler? Use U.S. dollars, if you prefer, since most Belize establishments accept them, but it’s wise to stash some Belize money in your wallet for those that don’t. If you run out of money—as can happen when you’re having a good time–bring along plastic since your credit and/or debit card—travelers checks if you prefer—are accepted most everywhere, too.
Important Health Tips
What fun is a Belize holiday if you get sick? Belize public health authorities want you to stay well so you have a ball and become a frequent visitor. Private doctors and clinics are the preferred health care providers of ex-pats living in Belize and you’ll want to emulate them. Turn to Yok Ha staff for help if you need medical care, but you can help avoid that possibility if you moderate your activity when the sun’s the hottest and stay hydrated—particularly if you’re not used to perpetually warm weather. Wear sunscreen and don’t overdress. Unlike some countries in the vicinity, Belize tap water is safe to drink, but lots of visitors stick to bottled water.
What to pack
The fashion police ignore Belize, so unless your visit includes a formal affair or you insist on Vogue-appropriate attire, the dress code in Belize is “easy breezy.” Use your itinerary as your packing guide. If you intend to spend lots of outdoor time, bring sunscreen, bug repellent, soothing aloe lotions, a visor or hat. should your itinerary include touring caves, be the envy of your group by bringing a flashlight or headlamp, and don’t forget extra camera batteries. A fold-down rain poncho takes up little room in a suitcase and you’ll want a sweater or jacket for cool nights and air conditioned rooms. Bring extra prescription medicines, backup glasses and a second pair of sunglasses along as insurance and it pays to bring a copy of your drug prescriptions, too.
What to leave home
Nobody wants to imitate a Sherpa on holiday, so don’t schlep snorkeling and diving gear. Yok Ha hosts arrange for outings to hot spots with tour companies prepared to outfit you with everything you require to explore Belize’s waters and gear is usually part of the tour price. If you prefer to use personal gear, ship it to Yok Ha before you leave so it’s waiting when you arrive. Staff can also help you ship everything back home once you’ve had your fill of adventures. By the way, pre-planned excursions almost always include picnics and incidentals, so out-of-pocket expenses are usually limited to souvenirs and tips.
What else should you know?
First, do your homework before you leave home so you know what package deals and tours are available on the Yok Ha menu during your stay. By pre-planning the number and scope of activities you’ll undertake, you’ll be assured of not losing out on something you long to see that’s already overbooked because others beat you to the punch. If you’re up for bird, whale, manatee, monkey or butterfly watching, tote binoculars. But let’s say you plan to tour every Mayan ruin in Belize or you never met a jungle trail you couldn’t hike. In both cases, hiking boots could become your best friends. And count yourself lucky if your visit coincides with one of the nation’s holiday celebrations, because every visitor is invited to the party!