Donations and Baggage Guide

One really important way we will serve our Brothers and Sisters in Christ this summer is by bringing valuable donations to Guatemala with us. 

These donations are a HUGE part of our mission to love and serve the communities that we serve.  Throughout the mission week, we will distribute much-needed shoes, underwear and socks, clothes, toiletries, and school supplies to children and their families living in extreme poverty. 

This is an amazing opportunity to bring literally TONS of premium-quality, new and gently used donations directly to the families who need them, without paying expensive customs fees.

We are expecting and planning for all Crew Members to bring 2 Checked bags filled with much-needed and highly-anticipated donations.

We will live out of our carry-on/hand luggage, so we can bring as many of these items into Guatemala as possible, duty-free.

We encourage you to start collecting these items from family, friends, and members of your churches and civic groups, if you haven't already.

Please only bring items on our prioritized Donations List (see below)

We put together the following guide for you that includes:

  • 2017 Donations List of Needed Items
  • Checked Baggage Dimensions and Weight
  • Checked Baggage Fees
  • Group Baggage Organization
  • Group Packing Process
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Please read the following guidelines below, and thank you for your help.
We're going to love and serve literally HUNDREDS of children and their families living in extreme poverty with these donations!


2017 Donations List of Needed Items

Please plan to fill BOTH pieces of your checked luggage with these much needed donations.

Again, please only bring items on our prioritized Donations List, and only bring clean, quality, new or gently used items.

Click Here for the 2017 Donations List



Checked Baggage Dimensions and Weight

To reduce the return luggage fees, we recommend you bring older bags you can simply leave in Guatemala as a donation, or buy a crushable wheeled duffle to stuff into your 1st checked bag upon the return.   All checked luggage must be:

  • Less than 50 lbs/each
  • Less than 62 linear inches (Width + Length + Height)

 If your bag exceeds these specifications, you will be charged the MAXIMUM luggage fee, which could be up to $300 USD/bag.
PLEASE do NOT bring over-size or over-weight bags.

(We encourage you to bring lightweight checked bags with WHEELS. See Shawn's Recommended Luggage here)


Checked Baggage Fees

There WILL be EXTRA BAGGAGE FEES for your checked bags.
Unfortunately we are not able to pay in advance for you. You will need to pay these fees to the airline when you check in for your flight.

(these fees are in addition to your mission registration fee. For other possible extra fees or expenses, see our FAQ page)

Current checked baggage fees** to Guatemala (as of 05.17):

Delta, United, American Airlines:
First Bag = $25/one way
2nd Bag  = $40/one way
3rd Bag = NOT allowed (summer embargo prohibits more than 2 checked bags/person)

Avianca Airlines:
First Bag = $0/one way
2nd Bag  = $40/one way
3rd Bag = NOT allowed (summer embargo prohibits more than 2 checked bags/person)

**Prices may change - please check with your airline about their baggage fees before your trip


Group Baggage Organization

If you are coming as a group, we highly recommend that you have a "packing party" about 1 week before your departure.  Check to be sure your bags are all within weight (50 lbs) and size (62 linear inches: w + l + h).  I recommend buying a travel hand scale, like one of these.  
Please try to pack similar items together (i.e. girl's shoes), which will expedite our sorting time in Guatemala.  

Please tie shoe laces together of matched shoes, and please double-check the DONATIONS LIST to prioritize what is most needed, and what should be left in the US and donated to a local charity.  

Group Packing Process

If you are coming as a group, I highly recommend having a Group Packing Party at your church or local hall, about 2-3 weeks before you depart.

One of our seasoned groups who have been coming for years has passed along their method for group packing that I'd like to share. I highly recommend using this system for group packing: 

1) Grab a notebook
2) Write the number of suitcases: ex: 1-40 for us
3) Give each suitcase a number and mark it with duct-tape
4) As donations come in, we pack the suitcases putting girls clothing in one and boys in another, and notate in notebook. 
5) When they are near 50 lbs, we put zip ribbon on them and put them aside and put the exact number of pounds to fill in last minute items.  

Not super scientific but works really well!  
(Thank you Jendy and Stuart Nice!) 



Frequently Asked Questions

These are some questions we get asked all the time about donations and baggage fees...

Are there luggage fees?
In 2009, due to fuel prices doubling, the airlines all imposed luggage fees to Latin America.  
This year (2017), nearly all airlines are listing $25 - 1st bag, $40 - 2nd bag (or less).  However, this may change.  
We will keep you updated, but we encourage everyone to raise extra funds in case these fees are reimposed.  We are not able to pay for these fees in advance.

Can we pay you extra funds, so you can pay for our extra luggage fees in advance?
No.  Unfortunately, we are not able to pay the airlines directly for luggage fees, otherwise we would include it in our Registration Fee.  Crew Members must pay for Luggage Fees at the time they check in for their flight to Guatemala.  

Is there any way I can reduce my luggage fees?
There are several creative ways to reduce or waive your 2nd bag baggage charges:

  • A)  Leave a 2nd Bag in Guatemala (only $65 total for 2 bags to Guatemala, no return charges)
  • B)  Bring a 2nd bag that is collapsable (to put in your 1st bag upon your return to the U.S. - only $25 return w/1 bag)
  • C)  Fly With an Elite Frequent Flier Member - who MAY be able to get your fees waived
  • D)  You can ask for 2nd Bag Fees to be waived for Non-Profit Humanitarian Aid Work (25% success rate)
  • E) BEWARE:  You CANNOT get your 2nd Bag Fee waived to Guatemala by using an Airline Partner Credit Card
  • F)  If Flying Delta, you can Apply for their Free AmEx Gold Skymiles Card, and TRY to Get 2nd Bag Fees Waived - some have had success with this, but it is up to the airport ticket agent