Is it safe to travel in Guatemala right now?
March 16, 2019 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I’d really like to see beautiful Guatemala this spring. I noticed, though, that there’s a US travel advisory to “exercise increased caution due to crime” as well as an advisory to “reconsider travel” to certain areas in the country, including Guatemala Department, which includes the airport where I’m landing. I’m wondering if I should reconsider going?

I’d land in the morning. My plan was to take the shuttles from Guatemala Airport to Antigua, then another shuttle to Atitlan. I wouldn’t be traveling in any of the other Departments they recommend avoiding, just Guatemala Dept. My departing flight would leave Guatemala City airport at 6pm, in case that matters.

A few questions:

1) Would you advise against traveling to Guatemala period, or is it okay to go as long as I exercise caution (not sure what they mean by ‘increased’ caution though I’m pretty cautious by nature).

2) Is it safer to have a car pick me up at the airport and drive me to Atitlan? Seems like this could pose a danger due to potential carjackings.

3) How dangerous is Guatemala Airport right now and traveling through that Department to get to Antigua? None of the other departments I’d need to travel through are on the avoid list.

Thanks in advance for any advice/tips you can offer!
posted by lillian.elmtree to Travel & Transportation around Guatemala (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I’ve done that trip several times. I just always got out of Guatemala City as soon as I could. Never felt unsafe. Always used shuttles from the airport. Antigua and Atitlan have always felt safe to me, and are also such lovely places. And Guatemala is a fascinating country with such a rich culture and history. Enjoy your trip. PM me with any specific questions.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 12:09 PM on March 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was there a month ago and there were no problems. Indeed, it seemed much safer than most US cities.
posted by TheRaven at 1:19 PM on March 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

A shuttle to Antigua should be fine! Have fun!
posted by elke_wood at 5:28 PM on March 16, 2019

Nthing just taking an airport shuttle to Antigua. It's around $15 us (they take dollars). If you get in late, you can take a taxi for about $50 (they also take dollars). The airport will put you in a cab, dont worry about needing to find one on your own.

Antigua is lovely, quite safe, and has shuttles to everywhere you might want to go.
posted by ananci at 6:06 PM on March 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I travelled in Guatemala for nearly 7 weeks a handful of years ago. The shuttles are generally known to be reliable and safe (vs. the public 'chicken buses'). So landing at Guatemala City airport during daylight and taking a shuttle straight to Antigua is exactly the thing to do. It is a beautiful, fascinating country.

Brief notes of caution: We met several travellers who were robbed in Guatemala on buses and in markets. Consider keeping a fake wallet with a wee bit of cash and some old/out-of-date cards in your handbag (keeping additional cash and real cards on your person elsewhere; and perhaps your passport and other valuables in lock-up at your hostel/hotel). And finally, be careful walking by yourself at night and/or in non-populated areas (read: don't do it). A British backpacker was recently found dead in the Atitlan area. :(

Secondly: bring antibiotics with you (or buy some cipro at one of the farmacias soon after arrival), as there is a high likelihood for eating something dodgy. We carried cipro with us at all times and replaced as needed (I fell ill with one thing or another approximately every 10 days, and I thought I was being careful with what I was consuming!). Any sign of illness/fever that lasts more than 2 days should be considered seriously: have your hostel or hotel call an English-speaking doctor for you.

I hope I haven't scared you, but it is better to have some cautions and relevant plans up front so you can enjoy yourself knowing you have prepared as best as possible. Have fun! As I said, it is an amazing country and -- despite my illnesses -- I look back on the time we spent there very fondly!
posted by Halo in reverse at 1:28 PM on March 17, 2019

Fyi, antibiotics are *cheap* and easy to get at any pharmacy there. You dont need a prescription to buy them or any other medication that I've ever requested, including xanax.
posted by ananci at 3:41 PM on March 17, 2019

Response by poster: Thank you, MeFites, for your helpful comments and advice. I was hesitant due to the current advisory but it doesn’t sound like this one is serious enough to delay travel. I’m excited to go!

Halo in Reverse, I appreciate the detail you went into, this is all very helpful. It sounds like you had an amazing time. That’s an excellent tip re the fake wallet. I’m going to try just that. And I’ll see if I can pick up some Cipro there.

I read about the backpacker who died and good news is it appears she fell accidentally, which was a relief to read!
posted by lillian.elmtree at 12:55 PM on March 23, 2019

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