NCV Team Information Package
Preparing For Your Trip
Your Team is a Team Long Before Your Flight
Your team should have mandatory meetings for at a minimum the 4 months leading up to your travel dates, once a month initially, and every 2 weeks for the final 2 months. Things that you should include in these meetings are recommended below:
Team building exercises. It is best to iron out any personality conflict before you enter in a new culture, where stress and exhaustion will make it more difficult. This is also an opportunity to learn each others strengths and weaknesses, which will help you in planning who will be doing what in Bolivia.
Conference with Bolivia. We are happy to participate in an online meeting as your departure date approaches, and answer any questions you might have. Please contact us to let us know some dates and times that would work.
Going through this document. There are always a couple folks who glance at, rather than read what we are sharing here. By talking about the different items included here as a team, you ensure that everyone is on the same page, and knows what is expected of them.
Coordinating Packing. All of your suitcases should be numbered, and any donations or activity supplies should be packed in specific suitcases with a detailed list of their contents. This list should be sent at least 1 week in advance for us to translate and send back with a letter that you can share with customs.
Plan Activities. It is the responsibility of the team to plan the activities that you will be sharing with our children. It is better to plan more than you think you will need, as often teams find that things finish up quicker than anticipated. Please include making name tags as your first activity with the kids.
Practice Key Spanish Phrases. Every team in our debrief time says this was one of the key things missing in their preparation. Please consider finding a Spanish speaker to provide you with lessons on basic greetings, as well as simple get-to-know-you questions and answers.
Clarify Expectations. While each individual will have his or her own expectations going into your trip, it
is important to share these with each other, and also to establish group goals and expectations.
The Fun Stuff: Paperwork and Required Documents
Passport: In order to enter the country, your passport must be valid for at least six months after your scheduled entry date. If it is not, please renew it. It can take up to 8 weeks to get a new one, so plan ahead. Also, bring two photocopies of the front page of your passport, and keep separately from the original.
Visa: Anyone who plans to travel to Bolivia and volunteer, is required to obtain a special purpose visa. We will help in the application process by providing you with a letter of invitation. If team members would prefer to apply for a multi-entry tourist visa, this is something you must arrange on your own.
Travel Insurance: It is up to each team member to verify if whether their insurance plan will cover them during travel to Bolivia, or if they require supplementary insurance. We highly recommend that all travelers be insured.
Letter of Invitation: If your team is applying for specific purpose visas, we will provide EACH team member with a letter of invitation, indicating the dates of the trip and what you will be doing/bringing for our projects. You should carry at least 2 copies of this letter on your person while traveling
Immigration/Customs Paperwork: You will be given this paperwork at your airport check-in or on the plane. You will check “other” when asked the purpose of your trip, indicating that you are coming to volunteer. Your address while you are in Bolivia will be one of the following:
Address: Calle Beni No 174, Cochabamba
Address: Calle Buenos Aires y Potosí #E563, Cochabamba
Vaccinations: Required and recommended vaccinations, as well as other travel recommendations, can be found on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, and the Government of Canada travel website. Please note: If you are only going to be in the city and surrounding areas of Cochabamba, you do not need malaria medication.
2020 Mission Team Member Online Application: This application is your introduction to the foundation, as it helps us get to know you better. In getting to know what your expectations and abilities are, we are better able to tailor your project or site placement as well as your non-project time. This should be filled out within 1 week of receiving the link from your team leader, so that we can have sufficient time to plan your time with us. It is important that you answer all of our questions honestly and completely, and sign the waiver.
What follows is a list of recommendation while you are packing. If you have any doubts whatsoever, please write us. It is always better to bring something that you don’t need, than forget something that you do.
- Take an extra set of clothing in your carry-on bag so that if your checked luggage is delayed, you have fresh clothes when you arrive in Bolivia.
- If you take personal prescription medications (including medication for altitude sickness, headaches, allergies, etc.) pack these in your carry-on bags and make sure they are in the prescription bottle.
- If you wear contacts, take your glasses along too. Also, bring eye drops as the air can be very dry here, and purchasing drops in Bolivia is expensive.
- Bring a refillable water bottle. You’ll discover that you dehydrate easily at this altitude, especially if you are doing a project involving physical labor. We recommend you drink at least 4L of water every day you are with us, and that you start hydrating yourself on the plane ride down.
- Electrical adapter/transformer for any appliances or equipment you bring. Bolivian electricity is 220V.
- Work gloves. You will likely need a pair sometime during your trip, and it is hard to get decent ones in larger sizes. Also, closed toed shoes, and clothes you don’t mind getting stained.
- Hat & sunglasses and high SPF sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection. Even if you are coming during our winter, the sun is still very strong here.
- Pack layers. Bring a light rain jacket or packable umbrella if you come during rainy season (Nov-Mar); heavier sweatshirt/fleece for nighttime year-round; gloves/scarf/hat- winter (Jun-Aug).
- Comfortable walking shoes, as you will likely be doing a lot of walking.
- You can do laundry, so we suggest you pack clothing for no more than a week. Please note that laundry service costs are not included in the trip budget, so each traveler should bring additional funds to cover these costs.
- Swimsuit. You may or may not have time to swim while you are here, but if we are able to include an outing with the kids to a pool – you don’t want to miss out!
- Also, we recommend bringing insect repellent, chapstick, earplugs if you have trouble sleeping with noise, nasal lubricant as we are in a dry climate, and hand cream.
Please do NOT bring:
- Overly revealing clothing
- Flashy jewelry
- Prized possessions
- Too many clothes
Let’s Talk Money
The local currency used in Bolivia is called the Boliviano. American dollars are also accepted in many places. Canadian dollars cannot be used in Bolivia. Any money you decide to bring should be American dollars, new looking with no tears or stains. You will not be able to spend bills that are torn or overly creased. Also, do not bring any $100 bills from 2001 C-series: they will not be accepted.
We recommend that you do not bring all $100 bills as they will be more difficult to shop for smaller items with; plan to have a range of 10s, 20s, 50s, and/or 100s depending on how much you’re bringing with you.
We suggested that if you are traveling with larger amounts of money, you should divide it up so that your money is not in all one place, and you don’t have to pull out a large amount of money when spending it.
There are ATMs available here. However, please do not expect to have access to a machine every day of your trip. Trips to the ATM will be coordinated with the Niños con Valor host at the beginning of your trip, and you should try withdraw enough money to last you at least a week. Please be thoughtful about limiting the amount of money that is accessible with the card in case it is lost or stolen, and be sure to inform your bank/credit card company ahead of time that you will be traveling to Bolivia so that your transactions are not considered suspicious resulting in a hold being put on your account.
More and more businesses here are accepting credit cards, but please don’t plan to be able to pay for the majority of your purchases/meals with a credit card.
Current Exchange Rate: $1USD = 6.85 BOB
If members on your team would like to bring a cell phone with them, the phone needs to be an unlocked GSM phone and it needs to have SIM card capability. You can purchase a SIM card here for about $10USD.
That said, we recommend that you consider purchasing an international data plan with your provider, and install the smart phone application – WhatsApp. You will have WiFi access at the hotel or guesthouse, as well as at NCV programs sites. We use WhatsApp to send you schedule updates, and it gives team members an easy way to contact us during their trip with any questions or concerns.
Airport and Flight Information
Your team is responsible for finding your flights down to Bolivia, but we are happy to give you some suggestions. Most international flights arrive in Santa Cruz or La Paz – we strongly recommend choosing an itinerary that enters via Santa Cruz to avoid any possibly issues with the altitude.
You will need to purchase a local flight into Cochabamba, which should be purchased on Boliviana de Aviacion (BOA). We can assist you in purchasing these tickets locally if you are unable to do so from abroad.
Before landing, you will be given an immigration card to fill out. We explained earlier how you should fill these out. When you arrive in La Paz or Santa Cruz, be sure to collect all of your carry-on items and have your passport and immigration care ready. Everyone on the plane will go through immigration, so follow the crowd. Your passport will be stamped at the immigration booth. Then you will be directed through to baggage claim. Try to stay as a group when you exit baggage claim, but if you get separated, the airports are small and easy to navigate and you can meet at the domestic check-in counter of BOA for your next flight. Please note, you must have your baggage claim tags, as they will be matched to your luggage.
BOA’s domestic flights have a smaller weight limit. They should not give you too much trouble with this, especially if you tell them you are traveling to an orphanage; however, be aware that they may charge you extra for your baggage. The current cost is around $1 USD/per kilo (1kg=2.2lbs.).
When you get off the plane in Cochabamba, go to baggage claim and wait for your luggage to arrive, then head on out the doors where we will be waiting for you.
If you have problems with your luggage, or if something is missing, you need to notify the customs officials and the lost luggage room that is right there in the baggage area. You will need to show your luggage tags on your ticket to indicate which bags are missing. We can help you with this if there is no one on the team who speaks Spanish.
For teams that are bringing in-kind donations, including supplies for activities, we require a detailed list of all items that are being brought down in advance, so that we can provide a letter for customs. Without this letter, you may face delays and possible fees. We suggest that the donated items be kept in separate suitcases, and that you number each suitcase for easy identification.
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