Lost or Stolen Passport Abroad

If your passport is lost or stolen abroad, our staff in the host country will assist you with obtaining a replacement passport from the local U.S. Embassy / Consulate.

Here is a list of documents / items you will need:

• Passport Photo
• ID (driver’s license or copy of missing passport)
• Evidence of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate or copy of missing passport)
• Travel Itinerary (airline tickets)
• Police Report (if applicable / available)
Form S-11 Application for Passport
Form DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport

The U.S. Embassies / Consulates abroad typically process replacement passport only Monday-Friday during business hours. However they all have 24 hour emergency service, if for example your departure flight from the host country is within 24-48 hours.

From the State Dept website:

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are abroad, contact or visit the local U.S. embassy or consulate immediately and ask the American Citizens Services (ACS) unit to report the loss/theft.

The consular officer there may have you fill out an affidavit or a sworn statement to state the circumstances under which you lost the passport or under which it was stolen.

Remember, embassy officials are there to help you. Telling the truth is always your best course of action – you don’t want to have any difficulties getting a new passport to get home.

Your identity and citizenship will need to be confirmed by the officer through a personal interview. The officer will then have you complete an application for a replacement passport to get you home safely.

Usual application fees do apply if you have to replace your passport. However, if your money has also been stolen, we can help you contact friends or family to replenish your funds.

Replacement passports are normally valid for a full ten years for adults or five years for minors. The normal passport fees are collected from applicants for replacement passports.

Click for website of U.S. State Department for Lost or Stolen Passports.

WhatsApp: Stay in Touch When Volunteering Abroad

Staying in touch with family when you’re volunteering abroad has come a long way.

My cousin who traveled to India in the 1980’s stayed in touch with family and friends back home via handwritten letters, postcards and the occasional (and exorbitant!) landline phone call.

Even on my first trip abroad in 2000, I did not have a cell phone. I relied entirely on email and phone calls at the local Internet cafe (which was a 30 minute bicycle ride away).

How things have changed for the better.

These days most volunteers take a smart phone abroad of course.

There are many smart phone apps that let you message and talk easily with family and friends back home — and for free.

Our favorite communication app is WhatsApp Messenger.

WhatsApp Messenger is a FREE messaging app available for Android and IOS. WhatsApp uses your phone’s Internet connection (data or WIFI) to let you send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, documents, and voice messages. 

WhatsApp works with your phone number, just like SMS, and integrates seamlessly with your phone’s existing address book. 

With WhatsApp, you’re always logged in. You never have to remember a login name or password.

Even if you turn off your phone or have no connection, WhatsApp will save your messages until the next time you use the app. This is especially useful when volunteering abroad because WIFI and data connections can be spotty.

WhatsApp is also preparing to introduce payments to its messaging app, making it the latest service to let users transfer money to one another with a text. 

The only catch is that the people you want to communicate with also have to install WhatsApp on their smart phone.

Oh — and WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, in case that bothers you.

International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis

When you go on a volunteer trip abroad, we recommend that you carry the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis Card (ICVP).

This document serves as a record of all major vaccinations you’ve had such as Tetanus, Hepatitis, Rabies, Typhoid, and tuberculosis.

Carrying an ICVP card is little like carrying a (very) abridged version of your medical records – specifically for vaccinations.

But really, the ICVP card’s most essential purpose is to show proof that you have received a Yellow Fever vaccination within the past 10 years.

When you need a Yellow Fever shot

There are a number of countries that will not allow entry without proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. One of those happens to be Ghana, one of our most popular host countries.

Also, there are countries that require proof of vaccination against Yellow Fever for all incoming passengers who have recently visited a country where Yellow fever is prevalent – even if only for transit.

For example, if you are from Australia and volunteer in Ghana, then Australian Immigration will require you to show proof of Yellow Fever vaccination.

If you already have an ICVP card

We recommend that you take the ICVP card with you on all international trips — even if you will not be visiting a country that requires you to show the ICVP. Why? In case you need medical treatment abroad and your doctor needs proof of your vaccination history.

If you do not have a ICVP

Obtaining an ICVP is as easy as asking for it when getting a relevant vaccination.

For Yellow Fever vaccinations, you will be given one automatically. The relevant area on the card should be stamped AND signed by the person certifying that you’ve been vaccinated.

For most other vaccinations you will normally not be given one unless you ask for it, and they will normally not be stamped or even signed.

Do’s and Dont’s When Volunteering in Guatemala

Our best advice for getting the most out of your volunteer trip to Guatemala:

  • Don’t drink tap water; only bottled or filtered water
  • Have a cell phone in Guatemala (either from home or buy local)
  • Carry your cell phone everywhere
  • Tight / revealing clothes will draw extra attention from men
  • No jewelry, cash or expensive electronics in public
  • Don’t go alone on excursions or isolated places
  • Tell your host family if you are not going to be home for meals
  • Don’t isolate yourself (ear buds, sunglasses, spending all free time in bedroom)
  • Don’t worry about mistakes when speaking Spanish
  • Do not use ATM’s around Central Park Antigua area due to electronic fraud
  • In Antigua use only ATM’s inside upscale hotels like Porta Hotel Antigua
  • Watch for pickpockets and scammers at all ATM’s
  • Be aware that sexism and harassment are prevalent
  • Bring a rain jacket and small umbrella – it rains often in Antigua and Xela
  • Use your own toiletries
  • No swimming under any circumstances
  • Wash your hands frequently (or hand sanitizer if you can’t wash)
  • Keep your room tidy and clean up after yourself
  • Always ask before taking photo/video of someone
  • Speak softly – shouting and talking loud is impolite
  • No riding in chicken buses
  • Vehicles always have the right of way
  • Don’t ignore symptoms like headache, diarrhea, not sleeping
  • Fight jet lag with water, exercise, and adjusting to local time immediately
  • Always carry contact information on paper for our staff and your peers
  • All illnesses, incidents, & accidents MUST be reported immediately to coordinator
  • Use bug spray at night to avoid mosquito bites

15 Rules of the Road When Volunteering Abroad

Here are 15 “Rules of the Road that we teach our volunteers so that your volunteering trip abroad is a safe and meaningful experience.

1. You must be supervised and escorted at all times – by either our staff or host family (only for volunteers < 16)

2. Always carry contact information on paper for our staff, host family and peers

3. All illnesses, incidents, and accidents MUST be reported immediately to our local Coordinator

4. Only drink bottled or filtered water (never tap water)

5. Do not ignore symptoms like persistent headache, diarrhea, and insomnia

6. Absolutely no swimming under any circumstances (even in hotel pool)

7. Do not isolate yourself (via ear buds, sunglasses, staying in bedroom)

8. Wash your hands frequently (also use hand sanitizer)

9. Use bug spray at night to avoid mosquito bites

10. Watch for pickpockets at ATM’s and tourist areas

11. Do not be flashy with cash, cameras, jewelry etc.

12. Vehicles always have right of way – never assume they will see you or stop for you!

13. Do not ride on motorcycles or in unlicensed taxis/buses

14. Always have your cell phone with you

15. No adventure sports like zip-lining, snorkeling, rock climbing, aerial activities of any kind

Hopper Travel App

Lisa Marie Segarra wrote recently about some apps to help you cut your travel costs.

Segarra on the app Hopper: 

Hopper shows the best time to buy a ticket and whether a flight you’re interested in might change in price. Users can select their destination, and Hopper will show airline schedules months in the future. Each day is color coded by price, with green dates showing cheaper prices and red dates indicating more expensive flights. You can also ask Hopper to “watch” your trip and alert you of any price changes.

Hopper has been around for a little while. Hopper was named one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2015.

Conde Naste Traveler wrote:

How it works is fairly simple: Input your destination and travel dates, and Hopper will search the web to determine the lowest price possible for your journey. Hopper is watching prices, and the trends surrounding them, constantly. That means when you input the destination, you’ll not only get the lowest price right now, but you’ll also get the app’s educated prediction on what that price is likely to do in the future.

From Hopper’s page at Google Play Store:

Save up to 40% on your next flight! Hopper predicts the future of airfare. Watch your next flight in the app and get a notification as soon as the price drops to its lowest point. Never miss a deal!

Users save on average $50 per flight by following the bunny’s advice. Know if you should book now or wait for a better price using the price prediction feature.

Hopper is like a super-fast, all-knowing travel agent that analyzes up to 15 billion flights prices every day and predicts the future cheapest price with 95% accuracy!

PREDICT the best time to fly and buy so you’ll score the cheapest fares.

WATCH a trip to receive price alerts via push notifications the instant prices drop.

BUY cheap flights in 60 seconds or less with just a few taps and a swipe.

FLY with confidence knowing you’ve found the best plane tickets on the airlines you like.

Hopper is an award-winning travel app. No spam. No ads. No popups. No time wasted. Just the confidence you’re booking the best flight and saving money.

Money Matters When Volunteering Abroad

The US dollar is the easiest currency to exchange anywhere.

Before leaving home, call your credit card company and bank to let them know you will be traveling abroad. (Many institutions have automatic blocks for security when card are used abroad.)

When arriving in any foreign country for your volunteering abroad program, always exchange your cash for some local currency before leaving the airport and walking out onto the streets.

If you need money from home while volunteering abroad, have your family deposit money directly into your bank account, so that you can withdraw the money locally in cash. (The ATM fees will be considerably less than the fees charged by money-transfer companies like Western Union and Moneygram.)

Split-up your cash, travelers checks, and credit cards in different places (pockets, handbag, money belt), in case of theft or you’re forgetful and misplace any of these items.

Become familiar with calculating currency exchange rates quickly in your head (so you understand better what things cost abroad)

Save a few notes and coins as souvenirs to take home with you to show family and friends.