Belize Essentials

If you are seriously considering moving to Belize you are probably already a member of the Facebook Group “Belize Expats.”  The page can be an authority on up-to-the-minute information or a mess of misinformation and unsolicited advice.  It can be a source of networking and comradery or a vehicle for dream-crushing and virtual abuse (I’m sorry Karen from Minnesota we don’t think you’re going to get approved for a work permit as a home health aide or that it’s a viable option for supporting your family of 5 here, and no we don’t know of any 4 bedroom beach front homes to rent for under $800 a month!).  But one of the questions that circulates the page from time to time is “What essentials should I bring? What can’t you live without there?”

It’s a good question and it really gets the conversation going- answers range from specialized pet medication to decent footwear that will stand up to the climate (I’m always sure to buy a new pair of running shoes or two when I visit the states because good quality sneakers are as rare as unicorns in Placencia).  The following is MY list of Belize living must-haves and as a disclaimer: I am not an authority on this or any particular subject and if you see a product link on this site, yes I am an Amazon Associate and earn a small reward on qualifying purchases but the opinions and product reviews are my own- I really recommend these items and if you choose to buy them I can earn a gift card when you use these links that’s all.

The first item I can’t live without, and that I really recommend everyone have because it’s not only an investment in YOUR comfort it’s an investment in our plastic free future.  A good, double-walled, vacuum-sealed, insulated tumbler!

I use it every day, all day!  News flash- it’s hot here!  You have to stay hydrated but who wants to carry around a sweating plastic bottle of water from the grocery store?  It’s not economical, it’s not ecological, it’s not cool.  One of the advantages to Placencia is that you can safely drink the tap water and it has a pleasant taste.  Just invest in a good tumbler that will keep your water cold and won’t sweat and leave water rings on every table.  And when happy hour rolls around… well any bartender in the village is happy to mix your rum and coke in your tumbler instead of dirtying another glass from behind the bar.  You might even get a bit of an extra pour!

Kathy of the Volunteer Fire Department doesn’t go anywhere without her refillable drink jug #hydrated

In addition to being hot, this tropical paradise can also be very dirty.  My active, grubby, rambunctious little boy is typically in a state of dirty and disheveled appearance with skinned knees and sweat streaked brow.  He battled with impetigo (a bacterial skin infection) and styes (pus filled abscesses in the eye lids) when we first moved here until I learned about my next two essentials.  Dettol and antibiotic powder.

Dettol is British product that I’d never heard of before Belize but every household here has some in their medicine cabinet (probably right next to the Vicks Vapor Rub haha!).  It is available in all the grocery stores here next to the shampoo and soap.  It’s a malodorous (well very medicinal smelling) brown liquid “soap” that is a hospital-grade antiseptic.  The last time Mitch was covered in impetigo sores I began putting a cap full of Dettol in his bathtub each night and it cleared the sores right up!  I just carried on using a bit in his bath each night as a preventative measure; we’ve been impetigo free since.

The other secret in my tropical wound care arsenal is Sulfatiazol, an antibiotic powder you buy from the pharmacy in little cocaine-esque baggies for $1.50 bzd.  Like a North American idiot, I was using the tried and true Neosporin to treat scrapped elbows, scratched bug bites, and bloody knees.  But this is the tropics.  Duh!  I was gooping on ointment and these wounds were staying wet and open for ages… and then the impetigo.  In this environment you want to dry a wound out and get it scabbed over as quickly as possible.  Replace your ointment with this powder and it will make a world of difference I promise!

My next must-haves are one you might want to order ahead of time and bring with you on your Belize vacation or move.  It’s not that they aren’t available here, they are, it’s just that it’s smart to stock up on these products because our inventory is limited and pricey.  Get yourself some nice natural bug spray and reef safe sunscreen.

Don’t let bites and burns ruin your experience here- come prepared.  Bugs aren’t always a problem; I go months forgetting that sand flies and mosquitoes even exist.  But when they’re around, these pests can ruin your day.  Everyone has their preferred deterrent.  Some go full deep-woods deet, some try to slick on a thick layer of coconut oil.  I land in between and prefer a natural but effective repellant that- bonus!- smells great too.

I’m notoriously forgetful of applying sunscreen to myself but I’ve done a bang-up job of keeping Mitch burn free.  People often can’t believe he’s spent the majority of his life under the Caribbean sun.  Stock up on sunscreen to bring with you, the price tag here in our shops is high.  I really recommend a good reef safe lotion so you can wear it to the beach or out on the boat and not have to worry if you’re contributing to the decimation of our coral reef.

My last must-have (for now anyway, I’m sure I can do a follow-up or revise this in another year) is a Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.  An unplanned lifestyle change I made without resolving to even do so is that I rarely watch TV anymore, I read.  I don’t know what I’d do without my Kindle and I’m so glad I talked my husband in to getting me the Unlimited monthly subscription- thousands of books I can borrow and read are included free.  We don’t have any proper libraries here and the lending shelves are hit-or-miss, there’s usually an abundance of old Danielle Steels and not much else so my Kindle is worth it’s weight in gold.  And it’s backlit so I can read in my hammock well after sunset!

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About the author

Megan Rodden

never met a vacation she didn't like. Megan is a self-centered, snarky, unambitious derelict... like most of her peers.

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© 2014 Megan Rodden and Phil Nagengast.