Thursday, November 21, 2013

I made it! I've officially been "flip flops on the ground" for just over a 2 weeks now and so far everything has been much easier than I anticipated. I heard horror stories, but no one questioned my one way ticket, customs was a breeze, and the apartment l found on facebook but hadn't seen pictures of was perfect! My barrel arrived after some delay due to weather and everything I packed made it without breaking. So I'm here for 6 months to make sure this is really what i I want, and if everything works out my husband will join me. Moving alone was not ideal and I really miss my family, but the people here are wonderful. So far I've managed to get a phone, set up my art studio, get butane delivered, get acquainted with my new town and I'm slowly learning to just "be". I'm excited about the future here in beautiful Belize!

Friday, October 4, 2013


Aaaaaand....... the countdown begins!  30 days from today I will be landing in Belize!  I found a shipping company Belize Concierge and Shipping that will ship a barrel from LA to Belize for $150 including duties and delivery to your home in Belize.  I'm in the process of packing now, and trying to get everything I need in 1 barrel and 2 suitcases (which is how many I can take on the plane for $40).  I had the additional trouble of figuring out how to get my barrel from Washington State to Los Angeles, CA but I finally found Oak Harbor Freight will ship it there for $137.00.  My plane ticket is for November 2nd, but I have to get my barrel on it's way this week since Belize Concierge and Shipping leaves LA on October 11th.  They say the barrel will take about 3 weeks to get there so it should arrive about the same time I do.
I'm so embarresed ~ I didn't catch the spelling error until after I took the pic (I did fix it though!) And as an update ~ it actually cost $164 to send this to LA because it was 60 pounds heavier than I thought and there was a fee to pay with my credit card. But, as of today it is officially on it's way!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Just Do It!

I can't believe it's been so long since I updated here ~ so much has happened!  Our trip in May solidified our desire to move to Belize and I have been doing research online and reading everything I can get my hands on, as well as emailing with and talking to people that live there since we've been back. I finally decided that I just have to do it now!  There's only so much you can learn without actually being there.  I joined all the expat groups I could find on facebook and through one of them I found an apartment ~ so I bought a one-way ticket yesterday!  The plan for now is for me to go for 6 months and if all goes well my husband and youngest daughter will join me.

We can't afford for him to just quit his job until we know for sure, so as hard as it will be to do this alone, it's the only way we can get started before we're old enough to collect Social Security (which likely won't be there for us anyway).  And so the countdown begins ~ 35 days from today I will be in Belize!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

30 days in 1 Backpack

It's Tuesday, so it must be time to pack....

We leave Thursday for a month in Belize!  We travel around the country by bus, taxi, boat and water taxi so we limit ourselves to one backpack.  Well, technically 2; we each have a small day pack that we use as a carry-on (yes, we check the big backpacks) and for packing things on day trips and tours.  But that bag and everything in it fits in the larger bag to make the longer travel days more convenient.  

Everything in my pack goes in zip loc bags.  That way it stays organized and dry, and you can compress the clothes.  It's also nice to have a zip loc bag available for wet clothes for when you go directly from a tour to your next destination, and I always pick up little things like small shells or stones on the beach, bottle caps, coins, etc that it's great to have an extra bag for.

So here's my packing list, refined from previous trips.

Toiletries:  toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, mouthwash strips, q tips, comb, sun screen, shampoo, deodorant, bug spray, razor, tweezers, rubber bands, safety pins, mini first aid kit (a couple of band aids, allergy meds, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhea meds, tums, etc) and laundry soap and wipes.  We pack our own towel and washcloth since very few of the hotels we've stayed at have provided them.

Clothing:  3 pairs of socks (I'll only wear them hiking), 10 shirts, 2 dresses, 5 pairs of shorts, 1 pair of carpi's, lightweight jacket, 2 swimsuits, sarong, hat, 12 underwear, tennis shoes, 1 long sleeve white shirt (to wear while snorkeling so we don't get sunburns on our backs) and I wear a pair of sandals and lightweight pants. 

Extras:  Snorkel gear (we've found lots of opportunities to go without guides), extra goggles, bandanna, head lamp, waterproof flashlight, a plastic fork (we've found ourselves eating cup-o-soup at least once!), books, a deck of cards, beef jerky, beads, jewelry, jewelry making tools and supplies, business cards.

In the carry-on:  reading glasses, sunglasses, more books, guide book, pen/pencil, notebook, camera (with extra battery and cards), passport, plane tickets, cash, credit card, phone and charger (will be a first this trip) mints/gum, lotion, chap stick, Kleenex, book light and any prescriptions.

He also packs a foldable fishing pole and a small assortment of hooks, lures and line.

A few notes:

Weight ~ the total weight of my pack (with carry on included) is 27 pounds.  That will be a LOT if I have to run for the bus, but probably the most I'll do is walk a couple of miles with it.

Books ~ we always take a couple because there will be plenty of time on the plane, bus or beach that you'll want something to read, but don't worry about bringing "enough" to read, lots of even the cheapest hotels and restaurants have book shelves with a "take one, leave one" policy.

Beef Jerky ~ Our first travel day is REALLY long! Our flight leaves at 6 am and arrives in Belize at 3pm.  From there you have to take a taxi into Belize City, but to avoid staying in the city we go directly to the bus station and take a bus to almost anywhere.  We won't get to our room until 6 or so that night.  As an added bonus, it gives us something to "declare" when we come through customs.  Since most people want to avoid talking to the customs agents the line to declare something is always shorter!

Snorkel Gear ~ Bringing your own is worth it's weight!  I like having it always available when the opportunity presents itself, and it frequently does.

The Beads ~ This is the one place I could easily lighten my load!  But beads and jewelry are kind of what I do, and it makes me happy to give them away to people I'm touched by   :)

The Guidebook ~  This book will be making it's 3rd trip.  Much of the info is probably outdated by now, but we keep notes in it when a business changes, or we have a particularly great guide.  We've even left it with other travelers on our way out of the country and had it mailed back to us!

Don't worry if you forget something, you can more than likely find it or it's equivalent there.  

Hopefully, I'll get a ton of research done this trip and have LOTS to write about starting in June.  Bon Voyage!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Going Back

We Have Tickets!!

It's been a while since I've posted here, but trust me, I've been doing a ton of research!  Moving to Belize is not just a dream, or even a goal for me ~ it's like a magnetic pull that I have absolutely no strength to resist.  

What I've learned so far is that the majority of the information readily available online and in print is horribly out of date.  So we bought some plane tickets and we're going back to do some "on the ground" research.  Which will likely be a lot more accurate and will definitely be a lot more fun!

We'll be spending the month of May traveling the country. There will be lots of posts coming up on everything from how to pack for a month on the road with just a backpack, to up to date info on budget traveling and every thing I can learn about moving there.

Despite what some backpacking sites will tell you, underwear is NOT optional in my pack!  So I'll be showing you an in depth list of what we take (and don't take) and yes, we've done it twice before so I know we can. This time I intend to pare it down to as little as possible (while still taking the underwear!) because I do know how heavy that thing will feel halfway through the trip.

Before you get the impression that we're silver spoon trust fund babies, I should probably do a post on finances, because really, we're just average Joes with average jobs and a family. So mostly what you'll get from me here is the BUDGET way to do it!

Until next time ~ Belize it!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Your First Visit

The first time we traveled to Belize we were just taking a vacation and wanting an adventure.  We made no advanced plans and no reservations beyond the hotel in Belize City the first night, and we packed as little as we could.  This allowed us to go anywhere we wanted on the fly. If we ran into someone who said "you have to see ________" we could go the next day.  There was absolutely nothing first class about that trip.  We didn't spend a single night in a fancy resort, didn't eat a single meal in a top restaurant, didn't rent a car or join a tour group.  We simply picked up our backpacks, and traveling by bus, taxi or on foot, we explored the country.  One of the keys to doing that successfully was not having any luggage.  We packed the minimum we thought we would need in great backpacks we borrowed from our parents.  These worked out so well we bought our own!  We used Rick Steves Convertible Carryon and found that it had exactly the right amount of room (with none to spare!) for everything we needed including our snorkeling gear. The pack itself weighs only 3 pounds which meant that the total weight only depended upon what we decided were necessities. When you think about packing everything you need for a month on your back, you realize there are a whole lot of things that do not qualify as necessities!

This is the only picture I have of the backpacks - but it gives you the idea.

We plan to do a post on how we pack and what we take as we prepare for our next trip.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Take a Trip!

We should start by saying it is vitally important to actually GO TO the place that you think you may want to live and spend as much time there as you can afford.  We learned from our travels in Belize that there are places we loved more than others, and they weren't necessarily the places listed in the tour guide books.  The other benefit is that now that we're looking for property we don't get fooled by great sounding descriptions and pictures taken from the perfect angle.  We can look at a place and say "oh yeah, that's the place right next to the dump", which for obvious reasons is not mentioned in the listing.

Going there will also prepare you for things you may not have anticipated, like an opossum watching you watch him for an entire night while he travels the top of the wall beneath the palapa roof.  And bugs, there will definitely be bugs.  Mostly, I use the "if I can't see them they can't see me" strategy of dealing with them, but I find that a little difficult when they crawl up my leg from the shower drain.  You need to know if this makes you want to pack up and run for home, or if you can towel off, get dressed, and head down to the local bakery for a fry jack.