By Lucie C., student at AmeriSpan's La Ceiba Spanish school
When packing for Honduras, I had no idea what to bring. Should I bring makeup or jewelry? Is it okay for girls to wear pants where I'm going? What about shorts? Should I bring laundry detergent so that I can wash my own clothes by hand, or will there be washing machines in La Ceiba? What should I do about a cell phone? Traveler's checks?! Aah, so many questions! If you are traveling to La Ceiba specifically, I can tell you exactly what you need to pack and what to leave at home.
Before packing, I heard that girls can't wear anything that shows their knees in Honduras, but this is only sort of true. For girls, it's okay to wear skirts or dresses that come just above the knee (the native Honduran girls do), but don't get too short or you'll get a lot of unwanted attention from the boys. I've noticed that both guys and girls in Honduras wear jeans on occasion, but I certainly wouldn't. It's too hot and humid! And you should definitely take a bathing suit. I didn't bring one because I heard that the water was too dirty to swim in, but I wish I had. Parts of the ocean are very dirty, but parts are nice! I am told that the best part of the beach in La Ceiba is the part near a fancy hotel. The sand is very clean there, and the water is a clear, crystal blue. It just depends on where in La Ceiba you go. There are also gorgeous rivers you can swim in, as I have with the other students from the language school. (You'll definitely want to bring water shoes for that, though.) Girls may want to bring a little bit of jewelry, but nothing so valuable that you would hate to lose it. Don't wear makeup unless you want to be miserable, seriously. It is simply too hot and humid to put anything on your face.
It's a good idea to bring a small container of Woolite to wash your clothes in the sink if you have to on some occasion, but for the most part, you won't have to wash clothes by hand. Most families have a washing machine you can use (then you hang your clothes outside to dry), or if not, it's easy to find a cheap laundry service in La Ceiba. I would recommend bringing about eight days' worth of clothes, no matter how long you're staying.
Here's a really important one: don't bring traveler's checks! I know it sounds crazy, but no bank in La Ceiba will accept traveler's checks as of now. You can use a Visa card most places, but you have to have ID with you, and you also need to tell your bank that you will be in Honduras before you go. (My credit card got frozen for a while because my bank thought it had been stolen, and two other girls in my language school had the same problem.) Your best bet is simply to use cash. Limpiras are the local currency in La Ceiba, and there are about 18.5 Limpiras to one American dollar. Most places will accept dollars as well, but they'll overcharge you if you only have dollars. For example, it costs 20 Limpiras to take a taxi anywhere in the city (hardly more than a dollar), but if you only have dollars, the taxi drivers will make you may four or five times as much. Money can be exchanged at almost any bank in La Ceiba for a low cost.
Before arriving in Honduras, I was very worried about how I would keep in contact with my friends and family. Would I have Internet access? Should I bring a phone or use a calling card? For that matter, what the heck is a calling card? And the answer is, I still don't really know what a calling card is, and I don't have to. There is an international phone that's free for students to use in the language school, and it can call the U.S. and Canada. You can also purchase a $15 dollar go-phone very easily in La Ceiba, and any gas station sells refill minutes. I use my go-phone to coordinate plans with my friends in La Ceiba, but one of the girls set up her phone so that it could call and text the States. (I don't know how much that costs.) Free wifi is also available at the language school. It can be tricky to get on, but usually not impossible. There are two computers there, but they are both slow and usually occupied, so if you have a phone or iPod that has Internet access, I would recommend bringing that. There are supposedly Internet cafes available, as well, but I have yet to find one.
Duct tape, scissors, a combination lock, a small first-aid kit (including antibacterial cream for blisters, scrapes, and bad sunburns, which you WILL get in La Ceiba), multivitamins… all of these are good things to take no matter where you're traveling… And you're set! I hope this helps at least one person out there! You'll love Honduras. Buen viaje!
See all of Lucie's blogs
Learn about AmeriSpan's Honduras Spanish Schools