We have been planning to make this trip for over a year. Thanks to an insurance check related to our car wreck earlier this year, we were suddenly able to go.
To fit a vacation/honeymoon/Central American adventure into our schedule, we only saw one opening and it was three weeks away. So, the planning and price negotiations began.
After searching every imaginable travel site and applying every imaginable discount, we settled on two primary vendors for the trip. Airbnb offered us the best prices for accommodations, along with the chance to experience local cultures better than regular hotel rooms.
Last Minute Travel Club had good rates for airlines and the resort we eventually found at the end of the journey. Unlike Airbnb, I don’t have a discount code or perks to offer.
However, my LegalShield membership gave me a pretty healthy discount on their rates. For the cost of my $17 legal plan with them, we racked up about $200 in savings on this trip. LegalShield members have access to Member Perks which is a discount program for virtually anything you will spend money on. From haircuts to buying a house, from dinner out to a full international vacation. It has been a great deal.
So, after all the planning and reservations were sorted out we began preparing for the trip.
I hate checking bags almost as much as I hate standing in line. Online check-in is one of the greatest services available. Now, since we can just scan our phone screens, it is even better. That, plus the 30 liter backpack I carry usually makes travelling pretty simple.
Granted, travelling with only a carry-on bag limits some of the supplies we can take. Razors, pocket knives and that Gerber multi-tool I depend on didn’t make the trip. But, at the layover in Miami, we picked up disposable razors and the other stuff we still needed for only a few bucks. We didn’t have to go back through security for the connecting flight. Figure that one out.
We ordered a second backpack for Geri, except in a happy color. My black and dark green is fine for me, but brighter royal blue was a better fit for her. (It’s all about the details.)
Knowing that washers and dryers were not waiting at every stop, we opted for the lightweight hiking clothes that I prefer for camping. You know, stuff that will wash out in a sink and dry overnight. That was an excellent call, until it rained a few days and everything would stayed wet. The smell was pretty impressive by the last day in Belize.
Other items that we found absolutely invaluable on this trip…
Basic first aid kit. Bug bites, scrapes, etc. were an issue. Band aids also come in handy for taping up unbearable LED lights from smoke detectors, wifi boxes and other bright nuisances.
Microfiber towels. Kept a few in each bag for sweat rags, washcloths, and extra packing material for delicate souvenirs.
Immodium and Exlax. I doubt either one needs an explanation…
Hand sanitizer. Seriously. Use it constantly.
Big hats, sun block, bug repellent, granola bars and comfortable shoes were also essential.
Believe it or not, one of the most valuable things we had were those water bottle clips with attached carabiners. Buy bottled water at every opportunity. Hold one, clip another on your bag. Not kidding about that. Stay hydrated.
Our original plan was to fly into Mexico and work our way south, flying home from Placencia. Constant fluctuations in airline rates made me look at other options. We finally decided to skip Placencia since we already live in Florida and can see white folks in gated communities anytime we want.
That decision made us reconsider all of it. Ultimately, we opted to fly into Belize City and take the bus to Dangriga. From there we had to backtrack and work our way north. The deciding factor was cheap tickets to fly home from Cancun, along with a few days to rest at a resort after more than a week of buses and backpacks.
That one decision turned out to be the best one we made.
Over the next few weeks, I will cover more details and specifics. It was a great experience and one that I strongly recommend anyone considering Belize as a retirement option take.
And, special thanks to our friends on ExpatExchange.com for all the tips and advice that helped us prepare.
M. Erik Matlock is a self-professed recovering knucklehead with more than 500 articles and four books in print. He shares his hard-earned wisdom at ErikMatlock.com, ProSoundWeb.com and through his books, which are available at Amazon.