Being a part of Guatemala’s tourism industry means we frequently hear the safety concerns people have about the country. With the news that makes headlines abroad, it’s easy for people to be anxious about travelling here. Given that we have an ethical travel program, it is evident we support travel in certain areas of Guatemala, but we understand that before exploring any new territory, precautions need to be kept. If you are apprehensive about visiting Guatemala, as a few of our employees and volunteers have also been, this post will be your guide to understanding how you too can travel a wonderful country, safely and full of enjoyment.
When travelling to Guatemala, it’s important to understand its history. Reading statistics about Guatemala can be frightening, especially if it’s the only method you use to educate yourself on the country. Although, being aware of the country’s status is necessary to better position yourself for safe travels and even knowing the country’s background. For instance, there are certain departments where the Overseas Security Advisory Council suggests to exercise increased caution. We don’t share this information to scare you from travelling to Guatemala, but to remind you that there are precautions to take when deciding where to go throughout the country.
Just as necessary as it is to keep up with reports and alerts from specific parts of the country, it’s equally as essential to talk to people who live or have lived in Guatemala. We sat down with our new Marketing Manager Misty, 26, who decided to move here on her own from the United States. She has never lived abroad, has been here for 3 months, and will be staying for up to one year.
“I was definitely apprehensive moving to Guatemala. You hear so many stories in the States. The violence, the fear people live in. It’s enough to just say no with the assumptions you have. My family and I originate from Mexico and some of them were even nervous for me, but after I watched videos of life in Panajachel, read many blogs that gave travel tips, and talked to people who lived and are from Guatemala, I knew moving would be okay. Now that I’ve been here for a few months, I’m a little ashamed of the misconceptions I had. It’s truly a different picture than what most of American society makes it out to be. I really attribute my well-being to preparation and common sense, just as in any city or country. If anyone ever has hesitations about travelling here, I will gladly give them my honest opinion, the good and not-so-good, but I do truly love living in Guatemala and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Doing your research and taking precautions like Misty explains, is vital for travels here. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you’re venturing around Guatemala.
- Try to travel with a friend, especially if you are going to remote areas.
- Do not go out alone in the dark.
- Hire a guide for long tours.
- Keep your valuables secure.
- Respect the culture.
We hope that you find this insightful, and if you do travel to this beautiful country, that you take a tour with us! Maya Traditions strongly believes in giving back to the community, so through our Ethical Travel Program, most proceeds go to the artisan groups who help lead the tours. Whether you want to see Lake Atitlán’s surrounding villages, take less touristy routes, have home-cooked Guatemalan food, learn backstrap weaving, visit Chichicastenango, be educated on the vibrant cultures, and so much more, our Ethical Travel Coordinator, Dina, will be more than thrilled to talk to you! Just email [email protected] for more info.