FAQ's

Applying for an IEC Trip

Travel Information

Staff/Guides

IEC Educational Trips


Applying for an IEC Trip

How far in advance should an IEC trip be planned?
The earlier the better! Planning a trip for students involves more than just the student’s interest. Parents will have to be included in the planning process and support from your school is important. To help you get the process started early please visit our Getting Started… section where you will find useful tips on coordinating student interest with parent and school approval. Typically teachers will start planning a trip 4-16 months in advance of the trip to allow students time for fundraising and to ensure that the best flights and itinerary are selected.

What is the application process?
Your first step after reviewing our website, is to contact us here at the Island Expeditions Office so we can discuss your trip objectives, learning outcomes, budget, timeframe, etc. To prepare you for this we have provided an Itinerary Questionnaire that will help us to come up with the best itinerary possible. Following this, please visit the registrationpage to find out how to reserve your trip.

How are trips paid for? and when?
The initial deposit can be made with a Visa/MC, or cheque, payable to Island Expeditions Co. A $500 per person deposit is due after the itinerary is established and your trip is confirmed. A second payment to cover flights is due on the flight ticketing due date and final payment is due 75 days prior to the trip start date. Please visit the getting started pages for further payment and cancellation refund policy.

Travel Information

Are passports necessary to travel to Belize?
Valid, up-to-date passports are required for entry into Belize. Please ensure that all students have begun the application process for their passports immediately after making the trip reservation to avoid any delays.

Are Visas necessary to travel to Belize?
Visas are not necessary for Canadian and American citizens provided that they have valid passports and an onward or roundtrip airfare from Belize. Similarly, students from Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, the UK, and most Caribbean nations do not need a Visa. To find out more about visa requirements please contact one of Belize's diplomatic posts abroad:

CANADA Honorary Consul (T. 416-865-7000, F. 416-865-7048) Suite 3800, South Tower, Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto, ON M5J 2J7; Honorary Consul (T. 514-871-4741, F. 514-397-0816), 1080 Beaver Hall Hill, suite 1720, Montreal, QC H2Z 1S8

USA Embassy (T. 202-332-9636, F. 202-332-6888) 2535 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008; Consulate General (T.323-469-7343, F. 323-469-7346) 5825 Sunset Blvd, Suite 206, Hollywood, CA 90028

What should students bring?
Students will only need to bring their personal clothing and toiletries as well as a mask, snorkel, and fins (please ask us about finding the right snorkeling gear). Once your trip is booked we will provide each participant with a comprehensive Pre-trip Information Package, which includes a detailed packing list specific to your trip itinerary.

Do the students need extra spending money?
All food and accommodation is included throughout the trip, though students may like to purchase souvenirs and it is always wise to have some extra cash on hand. $100.00 - $200.00 USD should be sufficient. As well, there is a Belize departure tax of $20.00 USD ($40.00 BZE) that each person is required to pay upon leaving the Belize International Airport and students often make a $7.00 USD contribution to the Belize Zoo.

What about travel Insurance?
Travel Insurance is mandatory when participating in one of our trips. IEC recommends the following companies, which should be contacted within 72 hours after booking with us:

TIC Travel Insurance (Canada) 
1-800-465-4279 West of Manitoba
1-800-663-4494 East of Manitoba

Travelex New York (USA) 
1-800-228-9792

Who makes flight arrangements?
With numerous websites offering wholesale flights and three major air carriers with regular scheduled service to Phillip Goldson International Airport in Belize City (airport code BZE), getting to this Caribbean jewel has never been easier. Most commonly, IEC will facilitate flight booking as part of the school trip package. If flights are arranged separately please co-ordinate this with our office to ensure the best schedule and cost is obtained.

Which airlines do you recommend?
There are several major airlines flying into Belize regularly including American Airlines (via Dallas & Miami), Continental (via Houston), US Airways (via Charlotte), and TACA (via San Salvador).

Staff/Guides

What is the Staff to Student ratio?
Keeping our groups at a manageable size and providing top quality instruction, guiding, and support are the cornerstones of our educational trips. All of our student trips are led by professional, licensed trip leaders. With a minimum 1 leader to 8 students ratio we can ensure that our staff are accessible to students and their facilitators throughout the trip.

What credentials do Guides have?
All our North American guides are trained in emergency first aid and combine this with skills and interests ranging from marine and tropical biology, education, and of course kayaking, diving, and snorkeling. As well, some are certified in North America as professional rafting/kayaking guides, and are PADI/NAUI dive masters. All our Belizean Tour Guides are accredited and licensed with the Belize Tourism Board (BTB).

Do they have emergency medical training?
Yes, our guides have emergency medical training and hold certifications such as Advanced Wilderness First Aid and Swift Water Rescue Technician. Along with their extensive experience in Wilderness settings they are well prepared to provide emergency first aid and ensure that further medical care is accessible if necessary.

Do you use local Belizean guides?
Licensed Belizean Guides are leading our trips and assist in all aspects of our Belize operation. Their traditional and local knowledge is indispensable and is integral to the quality of all our trips. You will experience first hand the GarifunaCreoleand Maya cultures and benefit from their extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna in the terrestrial and marine environments. Try their local cuisine and learn about the history of Belize. On the cayes expert Creole and Garifuna guides will take you diving for conch and lobster and in the rainforest a Mayan guide will share with you the fascinating mythology and folklore of their anscestors.

IEC Educational Trips

How long has IEC been operating trips in Belize?
Island Expeditions has been operating trips in Belize since 1987.

How will students benefit from an IEC trip in Belize?Not only will students learn about the country, it's people, cultures, and flora & fauna, but they will gain insights into their own lives and personalities, practice their communication skills and quite possibly foster new ideas about what they would like to do in the future. Visiting new countries can be challenging but combining this with fun, adventure, and learning ensures that the students will have fond memories of their time in Belize for years to come.

 

What sort of experience is necessary to go on an IEC trip?
No previous experience is necessary to participate in one of our trips. Our guides are experienced at gauging the abilities of each individual within the group and providing relevant instruction for activities such as kayaking, hiking and snorkeling.

Is there a cultural aspect to IEC trips?
With all of our trips we incorporate various aspects of the local cultures we are visiting. Out on the cayes for example, we will benefit from the expert skills of the Creolefisherman and enjoy Garifuna food and drumming. In the jungle, a Mayan guide will lead us through the wilderness teaching us about the plants and animals along the way or show us artifacts from the long history of the Maya culture. We believe that this is an integral part of traveling to any foreign country and the students will be enriched from this new cultural awareness long after they have returned home.

Where will students sleep?
Accommodations vary with each trip, ranging from a combination of hotels, jungle lodges and research facilities to expedition camps and our AdventureLearn Basecamps. Lodges and research facilities are equipped with showers, flush toilets, meeting room and dining area. As well, many of our trips involve camping in wilderness settings. These camps are designed to be carried with us in our sea kayaks or two-person river kayaks and are fully equipped with field kitchens, freestanding tents, hammocks and camp chairs.

What will they eat?
Three meals a day plus snacks will be provided throughout the trip. Buffet style meals full of fresh fruit, vegetables, and local seafood and fish will keep you satisfied while new flavors will be introduced from the local cultures.

Is the water safe to drink in Belize?
The water in Belize is safe to drink, however we recommend bottled or purified water. On all our trips we will provide purified water for drinking.

Can you accommodate vegetarians or special dietary restrictions?
No problem. Be sure to indicate any dietary restrictions on your medical form and we will do our best to accommodate vegetarians and special dietary requests.

What if a student gets sick while out on the cayes or in the jungle?
Our guides are trained in Advanced Wilderness First Aid and will evaluate each situation accordingly. If further medical assistance is required other than what can be provided on site we will arrange for the necessary evacuation to the nearest appropriate medical center.

Are students able to contact home while on trip?
Unless there is an emergency or a pre-arranged situation we do not encourage students to contact home while on our trips.

Is smoking permitted on IEC trips?
Smoking is not recommended.

Will students have free time on the trip?
While we have a pre-arranged itinerary there will be ample time for students to explore their surroundings, read a book, write in a journal, or partake in any activities available during free time. We like to be flexible and gauge our activity level on the interests and abilities of the students.

 

Do you offer SCUBA diving on your trips?
SCUBA diving is available to certified divers for an additional cost. Depending on the trip itinerary, a pre-arranged certification course may be incorporated into your trip.