Our Hints for a Better Vacation
We have been offering Belize vacations since 1986! This page includes information on how to avoid the common pitfalls of traveling to Belize that we have seen happen over and over for those who don’t prepare properly. Please sit down and look through this information before you commit yourself to a trip with us; you will be glad that you did!
[photo credit at top of page: Barry Tessman]
Potential problems that can affect your vacation
We have been doing this a long time…. and we see people make the same mistakes. Each link jumps you down to how to avoid each possibility.
- You miss our meeting and have to catch up with the trip on your own.
- Your luggage is late (or doesn’t catch up with you until the trip is over)
- You arrive sick or become sick during the trip.
- You get hurt during the trip.
- You got hurt before the trip and aren’t able to make it at all.
- You discover that you chose the wrong trip or arrived unprepared.
- You were disappointed after the trip was over because you didn’t get to do something you were counting on.
- The weather in Belize was not what you had hoped it to be.
You have the ability to influence these situations so that they are either neutralized completely, or are not as much of a nuisance as they might have been. We offer the following tips to help insure that your vacation is all that you want it to be. Please read further!
1. Arrive on Time
Arriving a full day early is the best way to make sure you are on time. By planning to arrive 24 hours early a lot can go wrong and you would still be on time.
All of our listed trip dates for our Adventure Island at Glover’s Reef package are the day before you actually go out to the island; you must arrive the night before the boat ride. The boat leaves Belize City early in the morning, before any flights arrive. The night before the boat ride we have a trip orientation meeting that all guests are required to attend; we cover a lot of important information we do not have time to repeat later.
Therefore our recommendation of arriving “a day early” mean coming the day before the listed trip date, or two days before your boat to the island. Guests joining us on the Belize Adventure Week package (which goes inland before later going to the island) do not have as much trouble catching up to the trip, although we still do recommend these guests arrive a day early as well. Belize Adventure Week guests must arrive in the country in time to catch the last flight to Dangriga (which is the guest’s responsibility, see Domestic Flight Reservations.
The reason for our recommendation of arriving a day early is because most airlines that fly to Belize only fly once a day, so if you miss your final connection due to small delays along the way, you will arrive 24 hours late, which means you would miss the boat to the island. It costs well over $700 to catch up with the trip as you would have to charter your own boat. Arriving a full 24 hours early is the best insurance you can buy to making sure you don’t miss that boat ride. Guests on the Belize Adventure Week package will pay about $300 for a cab to catch up.
If you can’t afford the extra day, then you should make sure to arrive early for your flight as airlines overbook all flights. We have seen airlines bump people who were two hours early simply because everyone else on the over-booked flight arrived even earlier. Don’t let this happen to you! If you can’t fly in a day early, check in about three hours prior to departure.
Also, don’t accept connections with less than a two-hour layover. If your flight between Burlington and New York is delayed, you may miss your flight to Belize. If you are late, you should already be familiar with our instructions for this contingency (see “If Late or Delayed” in the info sheet for your trip).
If late, remember to keep a positive attitude. Have as much fun as you can! There aren’t many flights to Belize, so if you miss yours, chances are you will be a full day behind us. It’s much more fun to live it up than to get angry with those nearby. If you’re lucky, other Slickrock travelers will be on the same flight, and if you’re all wearing your Slickrock T-shirts you can find each other. Start your “adventure” with them at the airport!
2. Pack so that it’s OK if your luggage is lost
Occasionally, airlines bump luggage because everyone on the flight brought too much stuff. We have seen guests get very angry over this, but would you prefer that they overload the plane? Don’t contribute to this; pare down your luggage. We have a good Belize packing list, stick closely to it and you won’t be sorry.
Another reason to have two+ hours between flights is so that your luggage makes it as well. Since many of the airlines only fly once a day to Belize, delayed luggage means you may not see it until the end of the trip (we leave Belize City well before the flight arrives the next day.) So pack your carry-on with essentials to avoid being caught with only the clothes on your back. Remember that all of our trips are in very remote areas. The airlines may not be willing to deliver your luggage to the island.
3. Stay Healthy
Sometimes guests either show up sick or become sick shortly after arrival. This is almost always due to too much stress prior to a trip. Don’t stay up half the night before your trip tying up loose ends. And it’s not a good idea to go on another trip right before your trip to Belize, leaving little time in between. By pushing the envelope you increase your chances of getting sick, then instead of sea kayaking, snorkeling, and surfing you end up lying in your Belize hut for a few days with a lovely view of palm trees out the window. Not bad, but not the way you want to spend your vacation!
4. Don’t Get Hurt
Even when on a guided trip you are still responsible for yourself. Please watch where you are going! In Belize you may encounter slippery paths or docks and uneven terrain. An injury could ruin your trip, not to mention possibly even the vacation of others on the same trip.
Don’t miss any of your guide’s orientation talks, he/she will be covering many safety considerations. Listen to the warnings and heed them. Most illnesses and accidents on vacations are completely avoidable and are the result of guest negligence. The guide cannot be right there with each person every step of the way.
5. Buy Trip Insurance
If you have an accident, become ill before your trip, or if a family member gets hurt, ill, or if you have a death in your family, you may want to cancel your trip with us. We cannot refund payment for cancellations made within 10 days of departure, and within 30 days of departure the cancellation fee is a substantial portion of the trip cost (and during the Christmas season the penalty is higher). The reason for this is that there is little chance we could fill your space(s), and would therefore lose that revenue. In fact, we would likely have already turned away others. We cannot afford the financial loss that cancellations cause. And, by the time it is 30 days or less from your departure date, we have spent considerable time and energy preparing for your trip: arranging guides and drivers, making non-refundable hotel reservations, and planning countless other logistics.
Many people say: “I’ve been traveling for years and it has never happened to me!” In deciding whether or not to buy this insurance, consider the investment you are making in your vacation and whether or not you could afford the loss if you did have to cancel. It is our responsibility to run the trip we promised you, no matter what emergencies may arise for us immediately before the trip. It is your responsibility to pay for the trip on which you reserved a space, and a travel insurance policy helps make your disappointment in missing your trip not be a financial burden as well.
If you fail to show up for a trip on time due to flight cancellation or other factors, you cannot transfer to another date, this would simply be a trip cancellation. Please protect yourself with travel insurance! US residents may call Travelex for a policy: (800) 228-9792, or visit their website. (We recommend Travelex insurance, but you may, of course purchase a policy from many different providers, and we do not have a recommendations for providers in other countries. Travel insurance rates are based on your age and on the cost of your travel package.)
6. Read the brochures
We have often heard from past guests: “I wish I had realized….” and although that very situation was covered in our material, they neglected to read it. Yes, it’s a lot to read, but you will be glad you did! Please note the level of difficulty of each trip and assess your ability level objectively. Don’t find yourself reading for the first time that Traveler’s Checks are not recommended as you are sitting in your airplane seat, having just left the USA, land of ATM machines. Be prepared! We spend hours writing our literature to help you have a better vacation. Please read it, we appreciate it! For each trip, you need to read the flyer on that specific itinerary, “Belize Supplemental Information”, “Commonly Asked Questions”, “Adventure Sport Activities”, and this flyer, “Our Hints For a Better Vacation”.
7. Maintain an Attitude of Flexibility
The itinerary listed on each trip description sheet or web page should be taken only as an indication of what each group may accomplish. All trip participants should understand that the nature of adventure travel requires flexibility and you should expect last minute changes. Please be aware that the stated itinerary and brochure descriptions are not a contractual obligation on the part of Slickrock Adventures. We do our best to describe our trips accurately in each brochure and flyer we provide, but amenities, services, facilities, type of transport, route, schedule, and activities could change without prior notice due to local circumstances or events. Events causing these changes may include mechanical breakdown, transport cancellations, illness, weather, and other unforeseeable factors.
Guests with extensive experience in a particular sport may receive a special, abbreviated orientation so they can get started earlier, but this is not always possible for every sport. Our guides are guiding the whole group, not just one person, and they must balance their time between everyone so that everyone is safe in the water. If you have only one sport you are interested in, our guides will do their best to get to the orientation as soon as possible, but it may not happen the first day you are on the island, or maybe not even the second day. Guides are responsible for everyone and can’t guide more than one thing at a time.
Persons interested in only one sport will have to adjust their expectations as this is a multi-sport trip, not a single-sport trip, and all sports require a guide or buddy, especially when the conditions are extreme. We find that guests who show up thinking they will only do one sport quickly realize the beauty of this location is that you can try so many things. You’ll want to do everything; there are few places on earth where you can experience this many sports in one week.
8. Accept the Weather
Although no one can do anything about the weather, it’s amazing how much difference a good attitude can make. We have witnessed people work themselves into a frenzy over bad weather. It’s the tropics! Sometimes the weather is just lousy! We’ve also seen trips with horrible weather in which every single person said it was their best trip ever. Don’t let the weather ruin your trip! Whatever hand Mother Nature deals you, accept it with gratitude.