IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO HONDURAS?
The short answer is yes. Paramedics for Children has been working in Honduras since 1997 and we have never had an incident of harm to any of our volunteers. We have all seen the stories about Honduras and its troubles, but those issues are largely confined to the bad sections of the bigger cities, distant from Copan Ruinas.
As with any travel though, there are certain risks for accident or illness. We work very hard to make every team experience as safe and enjoyable as possible. This is a developing country and, like any other, you do need to remain vigilant. Following a few simple recommendations that we will explain on your arrival will ensure that your trip here is a good one.
HOW DO I GET TO COPAN RUINAS AND WHAT ARE THE PROGRAM DATES?
You will fly into San Pedro Sula (SAP), Honduras—most volunteers try to arrive in San Pedro on Sunday in the morning or early afternoon so as to arrive in Copan before dark. From there, take a bus or private car to Copan Ruinas. The cost ranges from $28 for bus and $160 for private car and driver, which we can arrange for you at your expense. If several volunteers are arriving around the same time, the cost of private transportation can be split between you to save a little money. The trip from San Pedro Sula takes three to four hours, and gives you a pretty good view of Honduras from the lowlands to the interior and the mountains.
We will pick you up at the bus station in Copan Ruinas when you arrive. All programs run from Sunday to Sunday. Your return flight should be booked late enough in the day to allow for travel time back to San Pedro Sula from Copan.
WHAT TRAVEL DOCUMENTS WILL I NEED?
U.S. Citizens need a valid U.S. passport that will not expire within six months of your arrival date in Honduras. Currently, U.S. Citizens are not required to have a visa before traveling to Honduras. A temporary visa will be granted to you as you enter.
People traveling with a non-U.S. passport should check your country’s regulations for entry into Honduras.
SHOULD I BRING EXTRA MONEY ON THE TRIP?
Bring only the money that you think you will need for souvenirs, snacks and other incidentals. It is best to bring smaller bills, such as $1’s, $5’s and $10’s. Many souvenir shops now take credit cards as well. There is a lot of shopping to do in our village of Copan Ruinas, plus quite a lot of nice restaurants and tourist attractions. ATMs are available in town, and they dispense Limpiera (commonly called “Limps”) the currency of Honduras, at the official exchange rate, without exchange fees. There is a small fee for using the ATM—the same as in the U.S.—and the exchange rate is very favorable in Honduras, about 20 Limpiera to the U.S. dollar, so surprising bargains can be found here. Most shops and restaurants accept undamaged U.S. currency, though change will generally be given in Limpiera. Unlike other Latin American countries, you don’t have to haggle over the prices.
WHAT KIND OF JEWELRY CAN I TAKE ON THE TRIP?
A good rule of thumb: don’t take anything that you would hate to lose. At times, things get lost in the shuffle in the field, and there have been some incidences of petty theft in the villages and in town.
WHAT SORT OF HEALTH INSURANCE SHOULD I HAVE TO TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY?
We strongly recommend that you make sure you are covered with International Health Insurance. If your regular health insurance does not cover you outside of the U.S., please ask them to recommend a temporary international provider.
WHAT ABOUT MALARIA MEDICATION?
Many people traveling in Central America take preventative malaria pills. These are not required to travel in Honduras, but something that we suggest that you discuss with your doctor before you travel. The malaria pill effective against strains of malaria found in Central America is chloroquine, which is sold under the brand name Aralen, and in generics. If you and your doctor decide that you should take chloroquine, it should be taken one week before you depart, once a week while you travel and for four weeks after you return.
WHAT ARE THE ACCOMMODATIONS LIKE?
Our headquarters at Hacienda La Esperanza has four rooms with very nice accommodations. This is enough space for eight to 12 persons depending on the sleeping arrangements. Each room has its own full bath and an arrangement of twin or double beds. All volunteer trips start and end at the Hacienda, and the town of Copan is only a 400-yard walk or short taxi ride into town.
Hacienda La Esperanza is rented out as a B&B to travelers to raise funds to support our on-site medical clinic, Clinica la Esperanza. You can read what others say about the Hacienda on TripAdvisor.
Remember you are here to help others, but to have fun as well! We’ve found that our volunteer groups not only go away feeling good about what they have accomplished, but end up making new friends too.
WILL I BE ABLE TO CALL HOME?
At all times! We also have wireless Internet at the Hacienda, and we recommend that you use email, Skype or similar electronic communication, as long distance calls—and even text messages—to and from Honduras are very expensive.
Cell service is surprisingly good, and most U.S. and Canada cell phones will work here, but again are costly. Make sure and set your smartphone to wireless only data or your bill will get very big, very quickly. A good rule of thumb is to tell your family and friends that “No news is good news.” Our headquarters has phone service and the number there is +504-2651-4676.
WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO VOLUNTEER?
If Paramedics for Children were to pay for all of our volunteers, we would quickly run out of funds to provide the programs we deliver. PFC offers groups and individuals the opportunity to connect with the children we are helping in Honduras. 100% of all the funds raised from room rentals goes to support our programs such as our clinic, donated medical shipments, school supplies and much more.
IS MY TRIP TAX-DEDUCTIBLE?
Yes, your participation fees and travel expenses may be 100% tax-deductible! Paramedics for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. If you work for a business that has a corporate giving program, please consider asking them to match your contribution—or consider becoming a corporate partner with Paramedics for Children.
CAN I FUNDRAISE MY TRAVEL EXPENSES AND PARTICIPATION COSTS?
Yes! We encourage our volunteers to fundraise to cover trip expenses. Crowdsource it on a website like Volunteer Forever, or host a community event in your area that will not only raise important funds for your project, but help spread the word about Paramedics for Children’s programs as well.
Also, your local church or civic organizations may help too. What’s great about community events like this is that they bring people together. Group events give you the opportunity to not only to raise much needed funding, but also to tell people about the great work you’re doing! You can give a PowerPoint presentation, hang posters on the wall, invite speakers and hand out brochures. Don’t be afraid to be creative and HAVE FUN. Need more ideas? Contact us now at LearnMore@ParamedicsForChildren.org.