First-timer to Guatemala - ?'s re ATM/TC, camera, weather
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jan 11, 2012 6:47 AM Last Post By: LittleStarla
Jan 7, 2012 9:17 AM
First-timer to Guatemala - ?'s re ATM/TC, camera, weatherI'm heading to Guatemala for about 3 weeks and have a couple of questions...
I've traveled extensively (about a year total) around Southeast Asia/India and never felt any need to leave my DSLR camera at home or fear being robbed, but after reading quite a bit on this subject in Guatemala I'm a little hesitant on what to bring and what to leave at home.
I'll be spending a week in Antigua studying, then bussing/shuttling(?) over to Panajachel for about 4 days, then heading to Santiago Atitlan for 6 days. I'm not planning any hikes or major treks, outside of maybe a half-day trip or two up the side of a volcano.
- Thoughts on bringing my DSLR camera? I would be pretty bummed to resort to using a point and shoot, but at the same time I'd be more bummed to have my big camera stolen.
- Anyone know if there are high fees to exchange Amex traveler's checks? Easy to use outside of just Antigua? My bank charges a lot for ATM fees and I'd like to avoid that if possible.
- Struggling with what to pack clothing-wise. I leave in a few days... in the above-mentioned areas, is it about 70's high and 50's low at night? Or even colder? Been raining lately?
Thanks for any help you guys can provide!
Jan 7, 2012 9:48 AM
Thoughts on bringing my DSLR camera? I would be pretty bummed to resort to using a point and shoot, but at the same time I'd be more bummed to have my big camera stolen.
My general advice is don't bring anything that it would break your heart to lose, break or have stolen. But then don't bring nothing, either - I see plenty of people in the departures lounge at the airport with fancy looking camera equipment, so I guess they made it around the country OK. But here's a very possible hypothetical situation: You're going on a half-day hike around the lake, no guide, no bodyguard. It's not unheard of for a random campesino to see you, want what you've got and wave their machete around until you hand it over. But then the lake is beautiful, and if you don't take your camera you'll be looking at all this stuff saying "what a great shot that would make..." So I guess if you're really into it, the thing to do would be to take a cheapie point and shoot, for the situations you're not confident about but still want to photograph - kind of like a throw-down camera, I guess. And back up both memory cards frequently - the thing that people most bemoan about losing/getting their camera stolen is losing their pics.
Anyone know if there are high fees to exchange Amex traveler's checks?
around 2 to 3% last time I checked (which was a while ago), if you manage to change them
Easy to use outside of just Antigua?
No. From most accounts a total pain in the rear.
My bank charges a lot for ATM fees and I'd like to avoid that if possible.
So open a "travel" account with another bank. If you're in the US, Capitol One doesn't charge for international ATM usage. And read up on ATM scams, here and worldwide.
Struggling with what to pack clothing-wise. I leave in a few days... in the above-mentioned areas, is it about 70's high and 50's low at night?
Been raining lately?
very little. I think we can safely say that the rainy season is over :D
Jan 7, 2012 10:23 AM
2For over twenty years I have carried expensive camera equipment everywhere. I still have it until I decided to sell and replace it. I carry travel insurance for it. I havent had it stolen yet but it does not do me any good to own it if it sits home in a safe.. I always take American Express Travelers checks and I usually get the same rate as for the USA dollar on exchange. Have not had any problem cashing them as I choose a bank that sells them to do the exchange. Photos see my website wolfcalls.com
Jan 7, 2012 11:01 AM
3I feel more comfortable with a good quality compact super-zoom camera than a larger camera because it's easy to stick in a pocket when not in use and doesn't seem as obtrusive in markets and village settings; I'm really happy with the photos I get (see below). That said, it would be a shame not to get the photos you want in such a photogenic place.
I take travelers checks to pay for places that accept them; most places I've used them don't charge an add'l fee but I always ask. I think they're good for emergencies, too, but they're a pain to cash in banks and many businesses won't take them.
My packing list is #14 in the FAQ thread of the forum. Happy trails!
Jan 7, 2012 11:08 AM
4Insure your camera if you are concerned about loosing it. I bring what I want to shoot with. And I have lost cameras in my travels. Weight is more what I am concerned with.
Bring extra memory cards or a portable HD to store your pictures. I can´'t find a SD card faster than class 4 here in Mexico. Guatemala world be even harder to find current technology.
I try to keep two copies of everything in separate locations (laptop and thumb drives on this trip to mexico....and the laptop HD failed)...glad I had the backups. I am looking at replacing the laptop with one from the government pawnshop.
Jan 7, 2012 11:12 AM
Jan 7, 2012 11:53 AM
Jan 7, 2012 4:55 PM
7Are the only thieves in the world in Guatemala? Take it if you want to and just keep an eye on it.
AMEX TCs are easy to change and incur no extra cost.
Jan 8, 2012 12:44 AM
8Nobody in Guatemala has even bother in looking at my DSLR and I carry it everywhere.
Jan 10, 2012 5:28 AM
9Thank you all for your helpful advice!
I think part of me is just a bit nervous from afar with all these questions relating to security, etc., as I was prior to my first travels to Asia... but once I arrive I know I'll feel much more at ease.
I leave this morning! Very excited!
Jan 10, 2012 6:28 AM
Jan 11, 2012 6:47 AM
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