T r a v e l T i p s
CURRENCY EXCHANGE: $1US = $2BZ. US currency is accepted everywhere. Credit cards (Visa and MasterCard. American Express cards are not widely accepted.) and travelers checks are accepted at most places. You can also get a cash advance on your credit card at the Atlantic Bank, Belize Bank and Scotia Bank ATM in Placencia. It is a good idea to bring small bills with you because you may have a hard time getting change for US$50's and $100's.
DEPARTURE: $40.00US departure tax (US$$cash) per person required when leaving the Belize Int'l Airport.
TIME ZONE: The time zone is Central Standard; Mountain Standard during Daylight Savings time in the US. Daylight Savings is not observed in Belize.
EYE WEAR & CARE: Bright, sunny days require sunglasses, Polarized is best. Dusty (not to mention BUMPY) road conditions on Placencia Peninsula and off the main highways are very testy for contact lens wearers. Lens lubricant may not be readily available. Take plenty of eye lubricant and wetting, soaking and cleaning solution. Lens wearers who also use eyeglasses should plan on wearing glasses - rather than lenses - more often to give eyes a break.
FOOTWEAR: Tennis shoes, comfortable walking shoes, sandals, flip flops, boat shoes, or no shoes at all. Bring hiking boots or tennis shoes and socks for jungle trips.
DIVING, SNORKELING, FISHING EQUIPMENT: Bring your own or leave it at home. Its your preference. Many divers will want to bring their own BC, regulator, wet suit, fins and mask. Leave your weights at home. They can be rented. Do not bring spear guns. They will be confiscated at the airport. Although most fishing trips include bait and tackle, serious fly fishing and spin casting anglers will probably want to bring their own gear.
BIRD WATCHING: A good pair of binoculars and guide book are invaluable to increase your birding enjoyment. Some locations, like Programme For Belize's Rio Bravo Research Station and Lamanai Outpost Lodge in Orange Walk and Hidden Valley Inn in Mountain Pine Ridge have stationary high-powered birding scopes to see rare birds.
SUNSCREEN, LOTIONS & REPELLENTS: Its necessary to protect your skin from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Temperatures are generally balmy but you're also exposed to strong rays. Pack plenty of sunscreen. Your favorite brand may not be readily available and an unfamiliar brand may cause a bad reaction. By now, you probably know that Belize is subtropical and includes jungles. And bugs do live in jungles and in beach areas, so take along insect repellent. Use toothpaste to temporarily soothe bug bites. Rubbing alcohol and local Jungle Salve is also good. Bring Hydrocortisone cream for very sensitive skin.
CAMERAS & FILM: Specific kinds of film, assuming you have not gone digital, may be hard to find. Bring extra batteries for your camera, along with plenty of film. If you can even find it, it's less expensive and more convenient to bring your own. Upscale gift shops sell pocket-type and underwater 'disposable' cameras. Keep film in a cool place - providing you can find one!
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: You won't find telephones on every corner of the open road in Belize. If you plan to rent a car and discover Belize at your own pace, its smart to pack your international-capable cell phone or arrange for one through Belize Telecommunications Ltd. (you can rent/buy one at the Belize International Airport upon your arrival). Also, some rent-a-car companies now offer cell phones. It might spare you a headache in the event of a breakdown. If you use a beaded back brace while driving at home, pack it for your trip if you plan on renting a car. It will mean less strain on your back and less perspiration on your clothing. BAREFOOT RENTALS is the only auto rental company on the Placencia Peninsula at US$100 per day rental costs.
JUST IN CASE: Bring a package of baby wipes to clean off the day's accumulation of dust and grit from your face and hands. Take a small flashlight with extra batteries and water canteen for caving, hiking and adventuring. Photocopy important documents such as passport, driver's license, credit cards, prescription medication forms, airline ticket and other important information.
Always carry essential medications on board. Bring an extra supply of prescription medications to carry along with you daily, especially when traveling to remote areas. Bubble wrap is an excellent way to protect fragile gift items you want to take home, such as zericote woodcarvings and other items.
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