Packing for Belize was daunting. I had just finished off a hectic finals week with my Ecology and Evolution at 8 am on Friday. A few hours after I finished, it finally sunk in that I was leaving for Belize in 4 days.
I was participating in the UA faculty-led program Rainforest and Reefs: Tropical Conservation in Belize. This is a three-week course where we would spend a week on a remote island, a week on the mainland in the rainforest, and then finish off the last week on another island.
I knew that most of our time on the islands would be spent snorkeling and our time on the mainland would be spent hiking and visiting Mayan architectural sites. I made it a goal to not check a bag since I didn’t want to have to deal with a huge suitcase on the various boat and bus rides. So, I prepared to cramp all of my things into a 60 L backpack and a smaller daypack. ( I will say that if you are going on this trip, the majority of people on the trip checked a large rolling bag and everything went smoothly for them. I did like not having to worry about checking a bag and lugging it around everywhere, but this is definitely up to personal preference).
None of the places we were staying were going to have a washing machine, but I was planning on washing my clothes and bathing suits with a bar of Dr. Bronners. Another thing that made a big impact on what I packed was the sun. I knew that the UV index is a lot higher near the equator and that we would be out in the sun all day. So, I packed a couple of rash guards and shorts I could snorkel in so I wouldn’t have to worry as much about sunscreen. This was very useful, and I definitely recommend it if you are going on this trip or a similar one.
The trip to Belize went very smoothly although I was a bit nervous about it ( I hate airports and planes). It helped a lot that I had the same flight as two people going on the trip. I recommend trying to coordinate with people that are doing the same study abroad program as you because it helps reduce stress. Another helpful tip is to wear Alabama shirts/accessories at the airport. We were able to meet up with and talk to another person going on our trip inside the airport because he was wearing an Alabama sweatshirt.
The Belize City Airport is very small and all the people working there were very helpful. It was nice that everyone in Belize spoke English, so there wasn’t any confusion in communication or difficulty with signs. I then took a 4-hour bus ride with the rest of the people in our class. This was a great place to meet everyone and get to know each other. It was also an amazing way to get a glimpse of Belize while driving 4 hours across the country.
Overall, packing and traveling to Belize was probably the most stressful part of my experience studying abroad, but it was definitely worth it.