Frequently Asked Questions
Below are questions frequently asked by perspective Smaller World volunteers. If you have any questions not covered here, don't hesitate to contact us.
If you want to learn more about what a typical Smaller World experience might be like, visit our Trip Preparation section.
Close All | Open All
Your participation fee covers your in-country travel expenses and supports SHI's programs on the ground. Below is a rough breakdown of participant costs:
• 50% of your contribution covers field costs: This includes all of your in-country transportation, meals, lodging and activities including a weekend of sightseeing excursions.
• 20% is for logistical support: This is the staff time that is dedicated to the group's activities by our local field trainers and the SHI trip leader traveling with the group.
• 10% is for advance planning and follow-up activities: This includes U.S. staff time, administrative support, printing and postage costs.
• 20% is donated directly to the local program: We send 20% of your program fee directly to the field program as discretionary funds. These funds are used for the specific projects that the groups work on and have been used for a variety of things ranging from buying solar panels for the demo farm (Honduras), construction of demonstration gardens, irrigation systems (Honduras, Nicaragua), purchasing land for a demonstration farm (Nicaragua), wood-conserving "rocket" stove workshop (Belize), reforestation (Belize) and much more! Additional funds have been used to directly support SHI's programs with families and even entire communities on our waiting list. Any funds left over from the other categories are also provide direct support to SHI's field programs.
Yes, your participation fees and travel expenses may be tax-deductible! Sustainable Harvest International is a non-profit organization described under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. If you work for a business that has a corporate giving program please consider asking them to match your contribution.
Yes! Your travel expenses are generally tax-deductible and we encourage Smaller World trip participants to fundraise to cover trip expenses. Host a community event in your area that will not only raise important funds for your project, but help spread the word about SHI's programs as well. Click here for a list of fundraising and event ideas and contact our Outreach Office to brainstorm projects and to request educational materials.
If you would like to bring a small gift to the families we will be working with, we suggest childrens books in Spanish, a calendar or postcards with photos from your home, or a homemade item that represents where you are from. Not all families are able to host volunteers, so please do not bring host family gifts of great monetary value so as not to create jealousy among neighbors. Please do not bring disposable gifts or items with plastic packaging that would create trash in the community (there is no dump or good way to deal with non-biodegradable waste). Gifts that can be shared with the whole community, such as supplies for the local school are always appreciated.
Many people traveling in Central America take preventative malaria pills. These are not required to travel to any of the countries where SHI works, but something that we suggest that you discuss with your doctor before you travel. The malaria pill effective against strains of malaria found in Central America is chloroquine, which is sold under the brand names Aralen and Generics. If you and your doctor decide that you should take chloroquine, it should be taken one week before you depart, once a week while you travel and for 4 weeks after you return. You can obtain additional information on Malaria from the CDC's website.
While there are no immunizations required to travel in Central America, we recommend a check-up with your doctor before you go to make sure that your regular vaccinations are up-to-date. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adult travelers in Central America talk to their health care provider about getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Typhoid fever. You should also make sure that you are up-to-date on your boosters for tetanus-diphtheria and measles. You can read more about immunizations on the CDC website.
Make sure you are covered with International Health Insurance. If your regular health insurance does not cover you outside of the U.S., please ask them to recommend a temporary international provider.
Your deposit is used to make the initial reservation for your trip. These funds are put towards booking transportation, accommodations and administrative costs. We need deposits from each group member to hold everyone's place. Deposits are only refundable if your trip is canceled due to lack of enrollment (we need at least 8 volunteer participants for the trip to be a go). Once we have deposits from 8 participants, we send the funds to the field program in your host country so the local staff can move forward in making your reservations.
No, you do not need to speak Spanish to participate in a Smaller World Trip. One of our US staff members always travels with the Smaller World groups to help with translation and coordinate the projects. Our local staff and participant families in Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama do not speak English. The communities where we work in Belize are primarily Kekchi and Mopan Mayan and they speak indigenous languages in addition to English or Spanish. If you are learning, or want to learn, Spanish you will definately get the opportunity to practice and improve. While at the work site you will stay in the villages and work side-by-side with the local families. There isn't electricty in most of the communities, so evenings are spent talking with the families and playing with the kids. The communities are always very excited to have the volunteer groups work with them and everyone wants to get to know the visitors.
We accept applications from students 15 and older traveling alone or with a school group. Younger children are welcome to take part in appropriate Smaller World Service Trips if accompanied by a family member. We have had participants ages 8 to 80 and encourage families to get involved...we'll be working with people of all ages after all! Some of our programs are restricted to adults due to the remote location of the work site and challenging conditions. Please contact our Outreach Office to find out if a specific program is right for you and your family.
Note to Honduras travelers: All minors traveling to Honduras without their legal guardian must provide a notarized letter signed by their legal guardian stating that they have permission to travel to Honduras.
All U.S. citizens are required to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after date of return ticket to enter Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua or Panama.
While in the rural communities, our meals will be prepared by local women from the village. Typical foods include rice and beans, plantains, cassava, corn tortillas, cheese, chicken and fish. If you have any special dietary needs, please let us know so we can prepare the host communities. Meals will be prepared with boiled or treated water. Bottled drinking water will also always be available.
We depend on your timely payments so that we can make reservations in Central America on your behalf. Late payments will result in a late fee. Payments received less than 30 prior to trip departure are charged a $75 late fee. Payments received between 30 and 59 days prior to departure will be charged a $50 late fee. If you think that your payment will be late, please contact SHI immediately.
Yes! We have taken community groups, clubs, congregations, schools and even groups of friends to work with our programs in Central America. We would be happy to work with you to organize a trip that will fit your group"s interests and schedule.
SHI must be notified about cancellations. Most cancellations less than 60 days prior to the trip departure date are non-refundable as in-country reservations will have already been made on your behalf.
Smaller World Tours offer groups and individuals the opportunity to connect to families working with SHI's program in Central America. Our local staff request assistance with specific projects and we match them with volunteer groups who provide the support and funding to make these project possible. Volunteers work side-by-side with our local field staff and farmers who provide the training and materials they need for their work project. The funds you contribute to take part in a work project not only provide the essential materials, they provide you with meals, lodging, in-country transportation, insurance and staff support for a successful project.
Your registration form must be completed and returned to the SHI office with your full payment no later than 60 days prior to your departure date.
You may want to bring some cash for souvenirs and snacks. We recommend bringing bills in small denominations that have not been drawn/written on and without rips or tares.
Credit cards with major logos (Visa/Master Card) are can be used in major cities, however cash is most commonly used for purchases, especially at small stores and in open markets. Most banks have ATMs. If you plan to use a credit or debit card, make sure you let your bank know that you'll be traveling overseas and ask about any international transaction fees they may have.
Build a Smaller World
READY TO TRAVEL? Contact us to register for an upcoming tour or to plan one for your group! No special skills necessary!