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Travel Lightly for Honduras


•   Redwing Backpack for Travel to Honduras.First, use backpacks.  Don't read into this -- I am not a backpacker nor a hiker.  When you hit that first cobblestone street in Honduras with your wheeled suitcase looking for a hotel, remember I told you so.  

For packing, I like Redwing backpacks with an internal frame but there are absolutely zillions of brands out there from which to select.  Make sure you try it on before buying it.

•   The Washington Post recommends these three as 'women-friendly' backpacks, all designed for better fit for women.

Weeklong pack:  Mountainsmith's Chimera ($250!)
Weekend pack:  Camelbak's Isis ($80)
Multipurpose pack:  Granite Gear's Vapor Trail ($150)

•   Next, when you begin to pack, put everything you think you will need for the trip on top of your bed.  Now, randomly throw half of it onto the floor.  Pack what is left on the bed

Some rules (ok, guidelines) for Honduras packing:

Rule 1:  Under-pack.
√    Rule 2:  See rule 1 above.  You will be lugging this baggage.  Porters at hotels are few and far between.  My wife and I each carried a backpack that weighed 30-35 pounds.  We had everything we needed.  Laundry services are widely available, eliminating the need to pack for two weeks of fresh clothing.
    Rule 3:  If you are traveling with someone, pack half of each person’s things into each backpack.  That way, if one of the bags doesn’t show up in Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba, or San Pedro Sula, the trip proceeds on schedule!
√    Rule 4:  Pack only cottons that “hand-smooth” out.  Cottons can be washed out at night in the sink with a bar of soap.  Cotton breathes in Honduras's heat.
Inexpensive laundries are in all the cities in Honduras. 

Khakis and a collared shirt get you anywhere in Honduras.  Women? – A long skirt and blouse seemed appropriate for all our travels.  You will see shorts on Roatan, La Ceiba and Tela. 
A recent visitor suggests that after observing local women wear less than 'conservative clothing,' women might want to consider capris and cotton.  My wife offers that the smaller the village, the more conservative you will want to dress.  Use your judgment.

If you get caught like I did in the middle of winter without shorts, department stores in La Ceiba have an excellent stock.

And some more:

√    Rule 5:  Pack a bar of Ivory soap, a plastic bag for the “wets” and extra small ones in your purse for motion sickness.
√    Rule 6:  While packing, toss in small 2 ounce bottles of shampoo, hand lotion, etc.  DStela at Copan Ruins, Honduras.on’t lug weight unnecessarily.  Save the room and weight for hauling back important items -- cigars, coffee, and rum.
√    Rule 7:  Regardless of when you go, pack plenty of sunscreen lotion with a high number.  Suntan lotion is pricier in Honduras than it is at home.
Rule 8:  Wear and pack only comfortable shoes with plenty of cushion.  Cobblestones, such as those near the Copan Ruinas, are unforgiving on the feet.  Sandals for the beach are wonderful and weigh so little.

Electrical Appliances
Honduras has 110-volt electricity so your appliances will work.  Many of the outlets in Honduras are the old variety and won’t accommodate the larger left prong (polarity prongs) that our appliances have.  Buy a flat prong adaptor before leaving home and toss it into your backpack.

When we first traveled to Honduras in 2003, ATMs were few and far between and less than reliable when used.  That has changed.  Visitor after visitor has notified me that they have used ATMs in Honduras without any difficulties.  Before you wing your way south, just flip your ATM over and do a web search.  See where it might be accepted if you have any doubts.

Make sure you have a handle on the conversion rate for dollars to lemps before you stand in line and get 3930 lemps in public.  Use discretion...use the ATM during the day, in a secure area, busier site rather than a solitary site, etc.  Count it back at the room, saving the receipt in case there were problems.

Regardless, have a backup plan with some cash and travelers' checks should the ATM system fail you.

Travelers' Checks

•  Go with a recognized name.  I recommend only American Express.  They have the widest acceptance.  (Banco Atlantida wouldn't even cash my American Express checks in Santa Rosa de Copan). There is no reason to travel to Honduras just to find out that the banks don't care for your credit union's travelers' checks.

Buy small denominations.  While every hotel accepted our Visa, I saw only one restaurant that accepted a credit card.  This could have changed and I would welcome current travelers experience via email.

•  Buy a money belt in a luggage store and use it.  Similar belts that drape over the neck are just an invitation to trouble.   (See more on money issues in the practicalities/tips section).  For those of you coming from Europe, bring only American dollars.  I saw no other currencies being cashed in banks.

Are you really sure you want to do that?  Maybe in the tips section I can persuade you to use the buses, collectivos, and planes.  Driving in Honduras is not for the faint of heart but if you insist, order a road map ahead of time.  It is next to impossible to find a map in Honduras.  In the past, I have been able to find a map in Central America at the Texaco gas stations.  In Honduras, I struck out.

For those that want to drive, Spring 2007 visitor Ron Hay has a good article on his experience of driving in Honduras.  He did fine and his article is a good balance to my flat refusal to drive in Central America.

Car rental agencies are in San Pedro Sula and Tegulcigalpa.  While I recommend the collectivos and buses on Roatan, motor-biking can be fun.

Cameras and Film
Buy a new battery for your flash unit, toss in extra flash memory cards, battery charger and extra batteries if you are a digital user.  Also, buy extra film in the States or Canada -- very pricey in Honduras and the availability isn't always what you might need. 

•  In airports, if using film, take your camera out of your carry-on and hand it to the security agent.  Ask them to pass it around the scanning equipment.  The agent may ask you to snap the shutter.  (Flash memory cards and their images are not harmed by x-ray equipment.  Run it thru the machine without worry).
•  Don’t leave the film in checked baggage because it will be ruined.  Even the Transportation Security Agency now recommends hand inspection of film/cameras and not putting film in checked baggage. 

Small alarm clock
A small battery operated alarm clock is a good idea.  Front desks may or may not honor that 7 a.m. wakeup call.  In the rural parts of Honduras, the roosters are pretty good about honoring your request for an early wake.  The problem is, it is usually a bit earlier than you had arranged.

You’re Done!

Congratulations.  Sit back and enjoy your flight.  You have laid out a loose itinerary with built-in flexibility, fully prepared for it, and packed accordingly.  Your tickets, passport, cash, and travelers' checks are all in the right places.  Right?  Now, just a couple more things.

Travel Healthy on the Plane
Get up at least once an hour and walk the length of the plane.
In between, stand in place.  This keeps blood circulating in your legs.
Avoid crossing your legs.
Easy on the booze.
Hydrate.  Drink a 1/2 quart of water for every two hours airborne.

Other excellent ideas healthy plane traveling are provided by Dr. Andrew Weil at The Prevention website.

Keep expectations in check.  It is only human to have high expectations.  Let them go.  Let the trip "be what it will be."  Be open to serendipitous moments, being present to other people, and changing that sacred agenda you so meticulously planned.  Parts of your great plan will disintegrate:

•  Bus connections get blown because your Spanish is a tad weak or the bus hits a horse.
You get traveler’s diarrhea and can’t go anywhere for a day and a half.
•  You fall in love with a town but can’t stay because you are booked at the next hotel.
•  Relax.  Schtuff happens.  Enjoy the trip.  Take what is presented and revel in it.

Check the Weather
Present weather and 10-day forecast for Roatan, San Pedro Sula, Ceiba, and Tegucigalpa.


More packing tips needed?  General packing tips are provided next.

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•   Packing
•   Electrical Appliances
•   Travelers' Checks
•   Driving in Honduras
•   Cameras
•   Weather

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