Located in Central America, Guatemala is easily the most beautiful country I’ve visited. From the stunning landscapes to the warm, inviting people, Guatemala is a colorful and diverse country that should be at the top of your bucket list.
Guatemala feels very different from neighboring countries like Mexico and Belize. It feels more conservative yet also more welcoming. The population is mostly indigenous, and nearly every Guatemalan woman you cross on the street is clothed in bright, colorful traditional dress. Some of Guatemala’s most noteworthy destinations include Lake Atitlan, Tikal, Flores, Antigua, and Semuc Champey.
Guatemala Travel Guides
Ethical tourism in Guatemala
Guatemala is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited but also one of the most impoverished. When I visited Lake Atitlan, I stayed in a gorgeous San Marcos Airbnb with a view of the lake and volcanoes. I paid around $100 USD a night to a Canadian Airbnb host for that incredible experience. During my trip, I learned that half of the children in San Marcos suffer from chronic malnutrition. Here I was, paying a foreigner hundreds of dollars while most families in the same neighborhood couldn’t feed their children. I made a mental note to support locally-owned hotels and businesses rather than foreign-owned Airbnbs in the future.
While I don’t think there is anything unethical about staying in a foreign-owned Airbnb while traveling, I encourage you to do your best to engage in sustainable tourism supporting local communities.
travel tips for ethical tourism in Guatemala:
Book locally-owned accommodations: Try to book a hotel or vacation rental owned by someone local to support small businesses and Guatemalan entrepreneurs.
Support artisans by buying handicrafts: This one is easy. Guatemalan artisans craft exquisite handicrafts like hand-embroidered clothing, woven textiles, and striking paintings of the country’s beautiful landscapes. When you buy from local artisans, you support them and their community.
Dress modestly: Guatemala is culturally conservative. You’ll see women riding mopeds sidesaddle while wearing skirts. Dressing as a visitor modestly shows respect.
Ask before taking photos of people: Many tourists take pictures of indigenous women without asking. It can be violating and disrespectful. Can you imagine what it would feel like if this happened to you in your home country? Ask before you photograph someone in Guatemala (or anywhere).
Learn from locals: Whether you take a cultural tour, book a homestay, or strike up conversations with people you meet on the street, I encourage you to lean in and learn more about life in Guatemala.
Learn a few phrases in local languages: Spanish is the second language for many Guatemalans. Learn a few words in the indigenous language of the place you’re visiting and some Spanish phrases (if you don’t speak Spanish).
Tip generously: Food is cheap (and delicious) in Guatemala. Tip well as your tips will support local communities.