No Comments

Practically free ways to travel more safely than ever…and the tired advice most people still don’t follow, but we know we should :)

Remax Vip Belize -free ways to travel
Over the last 2 years of having friends and guests (and ourselves) in Belize and elsewhere, we have watched as new apps and ways of keeping your stuff safe, communicating more effectively all over the world, and new inventions come up that can turn a potential vacation-ruining experience, into one that you pat yourself on the back, because your past self did your future self some favors by covering your behind!The first part of this post is some of the newer ways you can prepare yourself before you come, that didn’t even exist several years ago. Second part is some of the old, tired, boring stuff we all KNOW, but we still see first hand how many people do not/will not/forget to follow…and we have all seen first hand when vacations are ruined and you just want to slap that past self of yours! So, some ideas and gentle reminders…

New stuff that is practically free, so just do it, just in case!
-Don’t post on social media that you will be gone on certain dates, it is too easy to find all of someones personal info with very little effort. Don’t “check in” at the sweet places you are at, just post the pics when you get home.

This is not likely to happen. But it doesn’t cost you anything to wait…
(google image)
Remax Vip Belize: Please Rob Me

-Decide what IDs you really need to bring. For most people this is passport, medical insurance card, driver’s licence, 2 credit cards, 1 debit card. Take a picture of what you are bringing, front and back, and store this in some sort of cloud storage, like dropbox.

A stack of cards you’d be sad to lose.
(google image)
Remax Vip Belize: A stack of cards

-Put passcodes on your devices if they don’t have them already. Also download security apps that track or even shut off your phone, such as Find my Android. This costs you NOTHING and if you lose your phone or something gets taken, what a relief to know your stuff isn’t getting looked at!

Obviously sad lost Android.
(google images)
Remax Vip Belize: Obviously sad lost Android

-Bring a personal alarm with you, these are so easy, legal, and when you are walking home at night or doing anything you think there is a risk, it doesn’t cost anything to have this thing handy. Even keep it on your nightstand at night. Here’s a good one that should just be part of your packing when you travel:

This is not going to make or break your luggage weight.
Remax Vip Belize: Break your luggage weight

-If you want to communicate with people back home, the most popular apps we have found that are low cost to free, are to download the Skype app, put a few bucks on it, and it works all over the world, just like a regular phone, not just video chat. For texting and sending pics, use WhatsApp or Kakao Talk. Have the people back home you want to talk to, download the app to their phone as well (except Skype, my favorite, you just call from your phone and the number shows up as a random US number to the other person, but they don’t need the app to answer-it just looks like a regular phone call to them).

Remax Vip Belize: Download the Skype app

Generic, tired old safety tips about travel…..that are STILL true and STILL people don’t consistently follow, until someone gets burned…don’t let it be you!
-Carry any meds with you on the plane…along with your electronics, basic toiletries, and a change of clothes.
Unnecessary purchase.

-Even though you might feel like a lil old lady with a pillbox, do pack some basic first aid things that are relevant to where you are going. Things like, emergency antibiotics for UTIs or traveler’s diarrhea (your future self will thank you!!!!), band aids, antibacterial gel like Neosporin, aspirin, and extra girly items even if you aren’t supposed to be on your special time of month.

Totally unnecessary purchase.
Remax Vip Belize: Totally unnecessary purchase

-Do just a little bit of extra work to find out how locals dress where you are going. It’s the worst to show up with a bunch of flip flops and yoga clothes and feel like a bum, or be an overdressed uptight person when everyone else is totally comfortable. This also makes you stand out much less, which you want!

– If you meet someone very interested in what you do for a living, where you are staying, etc, even another tourist, be very aware of impressing those around you with money talk – where tourists go, so do thieves, and they are really, really good at overhearing these kinds of things to mark those that have some money. Oh, and don’t talk about the exact place you are staying 🙂
-When you go out at night, bring the BASICS as much as you can. Leave a bit in different places on your body if you can if you are in a dicey place. BE DISCREET when you are pulling out your cash about where it is and how much it is.
-Leave wedding rings and sentimental jewelry at home!
-Stay in brightly lit areas with tourist traffic and don’t go off by yourself. This happens all.the.time when people are lulled into a sense of security. Also, just wear the SPF and bug spray….don’t be a hero.

Remax Vip Belize: GO Tubing Down The Salt river

-If the people in town or the hotel staff tell you to not leave things on the porch, keep door locked, stay away from certain places, etc…..DO IT! They are telling you for a reason.

-Don’t let anyone walk back with you. If you feel like you are being followed, head to busier areas, and make it clear you see the person.
-Don’t make yourself a target by getting drunk, being loud, being obnoxious, being really strange, being rude to locals.

Remax Vip Belize: I'm Sorry i thought this waste America

-Use the safes and don’t leave stuff out when you leave!! And LOCK your door at night. Amazing how many people forget this one. We have all done it.

A final note on safety, one of my BIGGEST PET PEEVES is when a US news site will post some crime committed in some exotic place in the world, and people make comments like, “well now that place is off my list.” Meanwhile in their own home city, crimes are going on by the dozens. DO NOT decide about where to vacation based on one random news story, because you may be missing out on some of life’s greatest experiences. If you are truly concerned about crime in a place you haven’t gone, look online at their local newspapers or stalk the city on facebook groups – in small towns like Placencia, you will find the most honest knowledge from people that live here about what is really happening.

Or, just come to Placencia, and on your first day, feed some treats to one of the beach dogs. They will then follow you around like a security team the rest of your trip 🙂 (not that you need it here!)

Actual beach dogs that will follow you here.
Remax Vip Belize: Actual beach dogs
No Comments

Step by step guide to taking your (small) dog to Belize from the US! (2016 rules)

Remax Vip Belize :Step by step guide to taking your (small) dog
Hopefully you have stumbled on this blog after googling how to get your dog into Belize from the US, because it is stressful, complicated, and there is WAY too much information out there to make sense of it. You will feel like you have no idea what you are doing, and that what you are doing is probably wrong. I successfully brought my dog in and out once and just went through the process of taking him back in, and it was pretty painless, so I thought I’d share a step by step guide to make it easier for anyone researching this!

Relevent Google image.
Remax Vip Belize : I hqave no idea what I'm Doing

Note: here is the official latest info; right now it hasn’t changed in a while.

1.) Before anything else, get your plane tickets squared away- you need at least a month to get the pet thing figured out. I fly United, and they are very pet friendly. Caveat – my dog is really small so he can go in the cabin with me. If you are traveling with your dog as cargo, I will have missed a few steps for you. I know Delta has just changed their pet restrictions and most can’t fly your dog as cargo during certain times of year. This whole thing is a much bigger pain for you. 🙁

Pretty much the best flight ever, for dog loving, plane riding traveler; Google image.
Remax Vip Belize: Pretty much the best flight ever, for dog loving

Plane tickets – with United, I have to make a phone call to customer service to find out what flights are dog friendly (they have a limit on how many dogs per flight, and some planes are too small). If you just try to book online and check the “I have a pet” box, they won’t let you book. Also, I don’t book over the phone because you get charged now for phone bookings. The operator will confirm that you can have dogs on the flight you booked, and charge you $125 per way (:() and also give you a confirmation # for your pup. Make sure you leave 2-3 hours at layovers for your sanity, so you can go let the dog use the bathroom outside.

2.) First step –  you need an “Import Permit” from The Belize Animal Health Department (BAHA). This is issued by BAHA to the airport and is there when you arrive, but note that the BAHA people are only at the airport between about 9-5, 7 days a week – so schedule your incoming flight during that time. To get the permit, first print out this application:
Note – if you don’t already have this, download the free app called Cam Scanner. You can hand write out the form, then scan it in picture form on Cam Scanner – this app is totally awesome and I use it all the time. Emailed docs look very professional.

Attach application to an email and send to this address: Current person I talked to was Ms. Melody Robateau; she is very nice.

The first email I sent looked like this:

Hello, I will be moving to Placencia, Belize from the USA and I would like to take my pet dog, a 3 year old Chihuahua, with me. I would like to request an approval import permit. Please let me know if there is anything else I need to do to get this approval.

If I can have this approval, can it be emailed to me? My email is _________________. I very much appreciate your help and assistance, and again please let me know if there is anything I can do to help the process. Thanks so much! Attached is my application.

**Being very gracious and nice always helps. Pink not necessary, just done to break up the page a bit.

Here is her other contact info:
Ms. Melody Robateau
Administrative Assistant/Permit Officer
Animal Health Department
Belize Agricultural Health Authority
Central Farm, Cayo District, BELIZE, C. America
Tel: (501) 824 4899/72/73
Fax: (501) 824 4889/3773

They are pretty good – they usually email you the permit within a week and it is good for 90 days – so you technically have a 90 day window to schedule your flight. Please note I did have to call this last time and it took 2 weeks, so don’t wait too long.  Print a copy of the permit they email you to have on hand at the airport just in case.3.) Now, make an appointment with a vet that is USDA certified. If you don’t have one, call the office and ask if they do travel forms for pets. My vet made me go through Pet Relocation – because vets have gotten sued in the past when people showed up in other countries with dogs and then had problems. Pet Relocation ( will try to sell you a whole bunch of services, but you don’t need them to ship your pet for you – you will feel like a wreck the first time you do this, convinced that your pet will be quarantined, but then after you do it once you will be a master. Just tell them you are going to Belize and want them to email you the latest rules. Latest rules say that vet needs to fill out 3 forms: the APHIS form, an Airline health form, and flea/tick free form.
APHIS form (if you want to print and bring in):
Pet Relocators told me I needed the Certification of Treatment against Ticks and Tapeworms, which I purchased here (and was never asked for, but just pay the few bucks and get them-I can’t find it free anywhere)
Pet Relocators also told me I needed this (this may be only for certain airlines, or if pet is traveling cargo, but it is free so just print it and have it on you!

I brought these 3 forms with me to the appointment and your vet will fill them out. NOTE – your dog has to have proof of rabies and it has to be more than 30 days out from your travel time. I also brought my proof of rabies shots with me on the trip just in case.

Here is another source of free forms that can be helpful if you are told you need any others:
IMPORTANT – this vet appointment must be made EXACTLY 6-7 days before your trip. Total pain! This last part gets tricky and annoying.

Make your vet appointment for the first thing in the morning. Then, immediately after your appointment, you have to go to a FexEx office and overnight these to your local USDA office, because a SECOND veterinarian (USDA approved) has to stamp your APHIS form. (Unless you are lucky enough to live driving distance to one – then, call them and find out if you can show up). Here are the USDA offices:

Google Image that probably reflects your feelings right now. We are almost done.
Remax Vip Belize: Too much information

So you have to FedEx overnight to USDA – the original APHIS form vet #1 just filled out, the rabies proof of vaccine, and then hand write a note that says they can charge your credit card $38 for the stamp fee. (This is the current cost, call to find out if it has changed.) You also need to enclose a SECOND (same kind of overnight shipping) envelope that is self addressed, prepaid overnight as they will ship these forms right back to you (this will not be their first rodeo, they know you need to get these right back – I sent mine in Monday afternoon and got them back Wednesday afternoon).

When I went to FedEx, they made me sign up for an account which was a little annoying, word of warning. While I was there I had them make copies of everything I was sending just in case. You will receive these forms back within the week before you leave. THIS IS THE STRESSFUL PART!!!! You can’t guarantee that you will receive these forms, that the USDA vet will sign, that they won’t get lost, etc. We could start whining about why the system is set up to be so last minute, as it really is stressful. But, I am sure they have their reasons, so you just have to do it this way :). Just enjoy your anxiety that week before you leave.

Google image of stress. Relevant to dog topics.
Remax Vip Belize: Google image of stress. Relevant to dog topics

Finally, the first time I flew with Sticks, I actually stopped by the United airlines desk a few days before to show them my pet travel bag to ensure it was OK. I met a guy who was traveling with a pet and they told him his bag wasn’t OK and it screwed up everything for him.

Appropriate travel bag and a picture I actually took myself. Actual dog of blogger.
Remax Vip Belize: travel bag and a picture

I will also tell you my experience of showing up at the Belize Airport. (By the way, if you are taking a puddle jumper after your other flight, they don’t give a hoot about your lap dog. I took my dog out of the bag on that flight, no charge and you don’t have to worry about that one on Tropic Air. Love them.) When you show up at the airport, I was very concerned about letting my dog pee, and this was not an option for a while. You have to get in line for immigration and customs, and then right past customs they will show you to a door that says BAHA. The guys in there were very nice. They just looked at my APHIS form, made a couple jokes, and charged me about $65 Belize dollars for the dog permit. I THEN was able to finally find a door on our way to check in for our Tropic flight (door to the right) where the dog finally peed.

Finally, I want to note that getting the dog back INTO the US was a total cake walk compared to this. All I needed to do was go to a Belizean Vet within 10 days before we flew out, and he filled out a form (International Vet Certificate) saying the dog had all his shots. At customs, the guys just eyeballed the form and we were on our way. That is literally all it takes to bring him back into the US.

Let me summarize and organize this by saying- the paperwork you should have when you leave for Belize is this:
1.)APHIS form signed by your vet and stamped by USDA vet (no one but you will know/care about all the hard work you did for this form. Nice work. There.)
2.)The 2 forms stated above (flea/tick and the IATA form)
3.) A copy of the Import Permit just in case
4.) Proof of rabies shots just in case

And that’s it! :-p Your dog will love Belize….it is my dog’s favorite place in the world 🙂

Actual dog of blogger, in an unfiltered image of him enjoying the beach in Belize. He is smiling as you can see.
Remax Vip Belize: Actual dog of blogger

Total Cost to bring your dog to Belize: $125 per way on the airline, $25-75 for your vet visit, $38 stamp fee, about $35 for import permit. Total $223-273. (plus maybe $9 for extra paperwork, $50 for travel bag, etc) However, as they say, having your dog in paradise = priceless!

A step by step guide to bringing your small dog down to Belize. Here's the 2016 rules, documents and our personal experience bringing our small furry friend to Belizean waters!
No Comments

Scarlet Macaws, humpback whale sightings, new yoga classes, and what else to do in Placencia this week!!

Remax Vip Belize : Scarlet Macaws, humpback whale sightings
It has been a thrilling week in Placencia!!We had a once in a blue moon sighting in Placencia this past week….this poor humpback whale got a bit off course and ended up inside the reef wall! Maybe he decided that it was time for some warmer waters….thanks to Annelise for taking pictures and doing her part to inform the right people to get the whale back on course! Many people got to experience as long an a half hour of boating next to the whale!!

Remax Vip Belize: Poor humpback whale

For more locally authentic wildlife, if you are in Belize from now through March, a huge attraction is to see the Scarlet Macaws! Here is some more information:

Picture from Viva Belize
Remax Vip Belize: Picture from Viva Belize

Doyle with Dtourz often goes on this tour! He also has a night jungle hike…where he has recently seen TWO elusive jaguars!

Right in the village, at Secret Garden Day Spa, there is a new yoga deck!! Here is the new schedule of classes….is there anything more relaxing and exotic than doing beach yoga on the Caribbean??

Remax Vip Belize: Yoga on the Caribbean

Sue posted this very endearing picture today….the guests at Caribbean Beach Cabanas had an exciting day, as Sue and Carlos went out kayaking on our shore out front with a guest, to Placencia Caye, where the guest had a manatee swim right under her kayak!! Here are the guests discussing their adventures, the rest went bone fishing and to a private island today!

Remax Vip Belize: Placencia Caye

And for your dinner plans……if you are looking for a unique and exotic place to eat while you are in Placencia, we recommend a quick 10 minute cab ride to Tiger, an Indian Caribbean restaurant that is one of the most exotic and memorable places meals I’ve had! Here are some pictures from their facebook page:

Remax Vip Belize: Exotic place to eat
Remax Vip Belize: Exotic place to eat
Remax Vip Belize: Exotic place to eat

High season is in full swing and it has not disappointed!!! Here are some recent photos I found….if you want to get excited for your trip, do yourself a favor and type #placencia into google. You will hit on all the photos that tourists and locals have recently taken….here are some of my favorites from Instagram!

Crazy pelicans (they will stare right at you from inches away) at Ranguana Caye (ranguanacaye)
Remax Vip Belize: Crazy pelicans
Beautiful shot of the Placencia Lagoon (depictionpaintings)
Remax Vip Belize: Beautiful shot of the Placencia Lagoon
Can’t figure out if this is at Tipsy Tuna or maybe Mango’s? (dannyhun_photography)
Remax Vip Belize: Tipsy Tuna or maybe Mango's
New resort north of the peninsula…(kaanabelize)
Remax Vip Belize: New resort north of the peninsula
Silk Caye (bazzad18)
Remax Vip Belize: Silk Caye