I met Patricia of AbsoluteBelize at a Wendy Perrin conference in January of 2020, just before we all went into lockdown! Fast forward a year and a half and the kids and I couldn't wait to put our passports to use again and I immediately thought of AbsoluteBelize and Patricia! The country was open to vaccinated travelers or those who test negative 72 hours before they depart. We were vaccinated, so it was easy prep for us!
I had been to Belize back in my college days, but felt I had missed a lot on that trip so this trip I had a list of what I wanted included! With Patricia's help we came up with an itinerary that fit the whole family!
Belize Family Itinerary
- The Lodge at Chaa Creek: We were awakened by howler monkeys and bird calls, we watched butterflies and birds as we relaxed in the infinity pool and we had an amazing afternoon horsebackriding through the jungle. The cottages don't have AC so if that's a must-have for you then upgrade to the spa cottage, but for us, fans were just fine. The food was delicious and I was very impressed to see my kids ordering salmon one night and rack of lamb another night...somewhere chicken nuggets are feeling abandoned and I'm having to get used to traveling with teenagers!
- Xunantunich (pronounced: shoe-nan-too-nich). This amazing temple complex is easy to get to and with fewer crowds we spent a lovely morning walking through the ruins learning about Mayan history and peaking over the hill into Guatamala!
- Spending time with the Mayan and learning new skills! These are always my favorite days! We learned about coffee from a lovely Mayan farmer, we learned how to make tortillas and throw clay in the traditional Mayan way at the Mayan Women's Cultural Center and we then had an amazing lunch served on the cultural center verandah!
- Jumping into waterfalls in the Mountain Pine Ridge: This afternoon at the waterfalls was just amazing! We climbed up and jumped off rocks into the water and when a thunderstorm hit we swam through the rain and waterfalls!
- Cave tubing: I know how touristy this is and I can't imagine what it's like when it's high season and the crowds are back, but even with it being touristy and silly I loved it! Who doesn't want to float through caves and jungle...it was the Endless River ride in real life!
- Getting dive certified: My kids have wanted to get certified for a couple of years now so we got it done in Belize. They did the online course ahead of time and literally jumped in the pool and started getting certified the afternoon we arrived! By the last day they were certified and we did our first dive together...so great to get to have my kids enjoying one of my favorite hobbies!
- Diving The Blue Hole and surrounding reef: For those already certified Belize doesn't hold back. I took a boat out to The Blue Hole and dove down 130 feet to see stalagmites and stalactites and some large sharks, but honestly this dive felt overrated. Luckily the dive boat included two more dives that day on the reef around the Blue Hole and those did not disappoint! Amazing coral, stunning fish and turtles, barracuda, eels, and a lot of sharks! Some of the best diving I've ever done with no currents and phenomenal visibility.
Why Vacation In Belize?
Things I liked about Belize:
- Everyone speaks English so it's fun to be able to talk to everyone you meet without needing a translator
- This is a small country with less than half a million in population so it feels very manageable even if you only have a week to travel
- The country isn't as developed as I thought it was which surprised me, but intrigued me as well
- My guide! The hotels will arrange activities, but I was so glad we had David! He knew everyone and was just fun to be around! I felt like I got to know the country much better by having a dedicated guide!
Things that surprised me about Belize:
- It's expensive! Meals especially caught me off-guard as I hadn't budgeted enough. At the hotels you were easily paying $15US for a main course and it wasn't much less in town. Our guide explained that food is expensive even for the locals.
- Sargassum has become a huge issue in the Caribbean and it had hit the beaches of Belize hard. Our hotel was working all day to try to clear the beach of this foul smelling and rather ugly seaweed, but it was just too prevalent. We drove to the West side of the island and enjoyed the clear blue waters over there...the East side of the island wasn't swimmable when we were there. The worst months for Sargassum are June through August.
- There are very few luxury properties like we're used to in Southeast Asia...no Four Seasons or Six Senses type places, I loved the smaller boutique hotels, but this isn't a luxury destination.
If you're interested in Belize check out the itinerary I put together based on Patricia's recommendations and my trip! Or learn more about AbsoluteBelize, one of our partner travel specialists! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any Belize questions or are interested in booking a trip and I'll Kaanect you to the experts!
Confession time: I have always found traveling stressful. That’s right, from that first solo trip to Australia at 7 years old to a quick flight to LA to speak at a conference at 41, I have never been a relaxed traveler. I think this is partly why I’m a good travel coach…I haven’t sailed through life, breezily boarding flights while laughing about the ones I’ve missed, heck no, I go over packing lists, I arrive at the airport way earlier than necessary and I sit at the gate doggedly waiting for boarding to start, refusing to let my kids leave to get a snack in case they aren’t back in time! When I coach people with travel fears and worries I can relate! Just because I’ve done it a lot, doesn’t mean It's smooth emotional sailing!
Over the years I have learned not to change my behavior completely, but at least to laugh at myself and rein it in a bit. Then COVID! Entry requirements, tests needed, full flights with not even 6 inches of distance let alone the 6 feet we’ve become used to.
Travel in the Age of COVID
The first time we travelled was to Hawaii after Christmas for a week break in a villa on the beach. All eight of us! Eight flights that kept changing based on updated schedules and what worked with testing, eight required negative COVID tests done 48 hours before we traveled, eight people packed and wearing masks and eight people to keep safe and entertained AND masked for an entire flight. A week before we left I had gone over my mental checklist and prep list so many times it had become a mantra and I called my sister to tell her it wasn’t worth it. This was too much. My directive as a mother was to keep my kids safe, yet here I was jumping through burning rings of fire in an attempt to possibly put them in harms way. She laughed and told me she would see me there…she is not an anxious traveler. And she was right. We got eight flights booked, we got eight negative COVID tests and we got eight people fed, entertained and masked to Hawaii. Then we picked up the rented minivan, got to our villa and remembered how fun family and pools and vacations and travel all are!
Travel Post COVID - Belize
Today my two older kids and I arrived in Belize. While Hawaii was during the pandemic this trip is post (I feel that word is being used loosely) pandemic. Less anxiety right? Heck no! Masks are still required and while I’m vaccinated my youngest isn’t and every cough on the full planes find my eyes on him, making sure his mask is up. While three was definitely easier than eight, we still had to get negative tests and proof of vaccination and packed and entertained and masked.
But then we arrived and like every trip I’ve ever taken in my life, it was worth it! To be out exploring again, to be adventuring! To be living in the world!
So I did the mental checklists, I jumped through the hoops and we made it! But as a travel coach I feel the collective anxiety of my fellow American travelers and the fear of the post pandemic world. We’ve spent a year sheltering, protecting ourselves and our loved ones and then it seemed as if overnight the world opened back up and we are encouraged to skip back out into it. And we should…guides, drivers, hotel staff, they all desperately need us to get back out there. And I encourage you to go, but I also want to recognize the anxiety of it, the added stresses of the testing and masking and no six feeting! This is an anxious time, we are all struggling to come to terms with what we’ve lost, what we’ve gained and what the next year will look like. It’s okay to admit that travel is scary and it’s okay to feel that anxiety. If now isn’t the time for you and your family that’s okay, if it is the time, that’s okay too. I’m owning my anxiety, I’m declaring it worth it and I am giving myself grace to return to the world and myself. But what's a coach without some tips for getting through it.
My Top Five Tips for Post COVID Travel
1. Use a travel planner for your destination of choice. They will know the entry requirements and can help you figure out what to expect, as well as make sure you're booked into tours, hotels, etc that are following COVID safety practices.
2. Use Cranky Concierge! Airlines are not fully staffed and remember, they've had an 18 month break as well. They are struggling to get back up to speed and we've been hearing a lot of reports of delayed flights, lost luggage etc. On our flight to Belize we were delayed, missed our connection and had to be rerouted through LA with a night there, Cranky Concierge makes those changes stress free!
3. Get there early! People are jumping back into travel, but the infrastructure isn't built back up yet so security lines are long and giving yourself some extra time won't make the lines less boring, but will make sure you make the flight at the end of them
4. Be kind! We've heard about air travelers raging against mask rules, getting stressed and unhappy about flight delays and blowing their tops when things don't go as they should. Remember, what we learned in the last 18 months is that travel is a privilege, the world is a gift and we are all in this together!
5. Recognize your own fears and how they might manifest in feelings of frustration or anger. Like I did above, admit what the fear/anxiety are about, make a plan to negate them as much as possible and then recognize them as they rear their ugly head and don't let the fear and anxiety change how you want to show up for your reentry into the world!
If you're looking to get back to traveling, but are facing some fears or want to discuss where, when, why or how, we're here for you, book an hour coaching session and by the end you'll be ready to make the leap!!