HOW DID YOU PREPARE TO BECOME LONG-TERM TRAVELERS?
The decision to travel involved a lot of heavy thinking and discussion as well as massive amounts of time spent researching travel as a viable lifestyle. Once we made the decision we spent a year to:
1) assess and put our finances in order
2) assemble and notarize or apostille copies of documents we might need (birth certificates, college transcripts, background checks, etc.)
3) address issues of taxes & voting
4) talk to our doctors and dentist, update vaccines and shots, arrange for worldwide health insurance coverage
5) slowly and methodically go through the process of getting rid of our possessions
6) lease the house long-term with a property management company
HOW ARE YOU TRAVELING?
We dropped off the last of our stuff and two cars with our son and flew from Denver, Colorado to Cancun, Mexico on the 19th of September, 2012. Since then we have taken first class buses, second class buses and chicken buses, collectivos, taxis, shuttles, tuk tuks, ferries and boats. Once we arrive in a city or town we do most of our travel and errands on foot, occasionally flagging a taxi or tuk tuks if it’s late at night, raining or we’re carrying a heavy load of groceries.
WHAT LUGGAGE DID YOU TAKE?
LESS REALLY IS BEST and if we could reduce the load further we would. We each have a 24” hard shell suitcase with spinner wheels and a backpack. At some point, we’ll probably trade in the suitcases for lighter weight soft sides simply because of weight issues. Spinner wheels are great for smooth surfaced sidewalks and roads but, a lot of times in Mexico and Central America, nothing seems to be smooth… We carry all of our electronics, medication and documents in our backpacks and keep that with us while in transit. The backpacks also come in handy for two and three-day short trips when we can leave the majority of our stuff behind.
WHAT ELECTRONICS DID YOU TAKE?
We each have our own Dell laptops, kindle e-readers, I-pods, and cameras. We’ve used cheap disposable phones in both Guatemala and Honduras but haven’t quite decided if an international phone is worth the expense. There are several different online programs that we use to keep in touch, entertain us, simplify our lives, organize and backup our records, etc. that we may write about later. Right now, these electronics seem to cover everything we need.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR HEALTH INSURANCE AND MEDICAL PROBLEMS?
We researched several international travel insurance companies and bought an annual policy from Global Medical Insurance (IMG). The policy has a high deductible ($5000) and one of the conditions is that you have to be out of the US for at least 6 months a year. This plan will cover us in case of a major illness or catastrophe and we are just paying out-of-pocket as we go along for our medical, dental and prescription needs. Health care (doctors, dentists, labs) is very reasonable once you leave the US and we’ve been pleased with the professional and knowledgeable people we’ve encountered so far. Also, our costs for doctor’s visits and prescriptions have been less than what we were paying in the US for insurance premiums and copays.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS?
We each have a list of our medications with the brand name and generic names and what the medication is for (this includes vitamins, over-the-counter meds for nausea, cold symptoms, pain and fever, etc). In Mexico and Central America we haven’t needed a written prescription to refill our meds but, what we’ve found helpful is to take the box label in to the pharmacy which includes the brand/generic name (which differs from country to country) and the strength. Most of the pharmacies we’ve been to have internet access and will look up the medication name and availability if you ask. Sometimes they can order a medication in, get it from another pharmacy or substitute it with a “similar” medication. Also, a lot of over the counter medications and creams are stocked behind the counter (probably because of the cost) including ibuprofen, eye vitamins, good lotions… It never hurts to ask.