Project Tour FAQ

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Click on a question to read the answer.

Do I need to speak Spanish to go on tour?

Absolutely not! In fact, the majority of our tour participants speak little to no Spanish. Most tour activities are translated. When interacting with the students on an individual basis, our travelers find other ways to communicate and interact with them: showing family photos, playing soccer & basketball, and participating in other games.

Where will I stay?

We stay in tourist-class accommodations. Typical hotels we use include:

Will I be safe in Guatemala?

The GLP’s partner nonprofit, Cooperative for Education (CoEd), has been operating tours in Guatemala since 1998. In that time, not one of our tour participants has ever been a victim of a serious crime. However, in Guatemala, as in other developing countries, crime is a significant problem. Traveling in these countries is therefore not without risk. To better understand these risks, CoEd requires all tour travelers to read the U.S. State Department’s Guatemala information page and any relevant public announcements concerning Guatemala.

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.

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 with 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.

Can I arrive before the tour and stay after?

If you plan to arrive a day before or stay a day after the tour at the hotels we use in Guatemala City or Antigua, we can book those nights for you. Please contact Leslie by July 1/Jan. 1 at leslie@coeduc.org or 513-661-7000, ext. 115 to make the arrangements.

If you would like to travel in Guatemala outside the official tour, you are responsible for making your own arrangements. See our list of hotel recommendations (under “Where will I stay?”) for starters.

Can I leave hotel contact information with my friends and family?
Yes, just before your tour we will send you a complete list of hotels and contact information, which you can share with your family in case of emergency.
Can I donate school supplies or other items during the tour?

Many tour participants ask us if they can bring donated items for the children and schools. We recommend making a cash donation to the GLP’s partner nonprofit and tour provider, Cooperative for Education (CoEd), so that CoEd can purchase school supplies and other items in Guatemala to distribute during the tours. However, if you would like to carry items for distribution on tour, please consider the following:

  • Luggage and storage space on the buses is very limited. Tour participants are permitted one medium-sized suitcase. If you would like to bring additional luggage containing donated goods, please submit a request to Leslie Jenkins Reed at leslie@coeduc.org or 513-661-7000, x. 115, by Jan. 1/July 1.
  • We distribute books, sporting equipment, and pencils to most schools. Any tour participant wishing to distribute other items, such as photos, candy, or clothing can do so without the assistance or involvement of CoEd staff.  We do ask that you let us know ahead of time that you intend to pass out items at the schools. Items that are religious in nature may not be distributed within the context of a CoEd tour.