Am I Doomed to Being the 5th Wheel in My Early Retirement?

Q&A with a Reader

Hi there Billy and Akaisha,

I have a question about retiring early.  I’ve reached FI and want to retire early.  There are so many more things I want to do with my life.

I was hoping to find a fella who wants to RE also.  Someone who is on the same wavelength as me.  However I don’t know anyone who wants to RE.  They are all scrabbling around for the biggest mortgage and the fanciest car and they are the most miserably unhappy people in the world.  When I dare to suggest that there are other options in life they inform me that what I am talking about is impossible!

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I know plenty of fellows who could retire early.  They have enough.  They have enough for three lifetimes but still they refuse to leave the golden trough even though the work stress is visibly taking a major toll on their health every single day.

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So I figure I have to set out on my own for the next part of the journey which is so unbelievably scary.

My question is:  are there single fellas out there in the ER world?  I have visions of it being populated entirely by couples such as yourself and I’ll forever be doomed to being the fifth wheel which is not a very appealing future.

You two are very lucky that you have each other and that you both want the same things.

Thank you so much for your website.  It has been so very helpful over the years.

Sincerely,

Pamela

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Hi Pamela,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for your kind comments about our website. We appreciate that!

Yes! There are single men out in the Early Retirement, Financially Independent world! They are traveling and living fulfilling lives and some of them are looking for a like-minded travel companion. Some of the men complain that the women they know don’t like to travel or don’t want to leave the kids for too long a time, or need their comfort at a level that is not adventurous enough for them or too expensive for them to handle.

We like to mention that to find a traveler, one needs to get out there and travel! You won’t find them at the country clubs or working in banks or holding down big mortgages. These travelers have already come to the conclusion themselves that they want something else for their lives and are “out there” on the road, doing volunteer work, and having adventures in foreign countries.

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While I completely understand that it is frightening to take this step on your own, my advice would be to fashion your life filled with things that interest you, go to places that make your heart sing, and if volunteer work appeals, then join these organizations and meet fellow volunteers. If you are doing activities that you love, chances are, this is the place where you will find a like-minded person to accompany you through life.

I would also suggest joining forums (expat forums or forums on topics that hold your interest) and meet people that way.

It’s a big world, Pamela.

The fact that you have your own means of financial support and don’t “need a man” to supplement your financial life makes you very attractive as a companion.

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YOU are an asset.

A man doesn’t have to worry about paying for everything but rather has an equal partner who can contribute in many ways to the relationship. Your entertainment and travel options have just doubled. The fact that you can contribute to housing costs and daily living costs has just upped your value as a potential partner in life. You and a potential mate can live in better housing conditions, travel with more ease, dine in locations of your choice rather than set by your budget, and you have broader entertainment options.

I mean… I hate to sound so unrefined in my above description, but seriously, Pamela. Consider yourself to be valuable. You have the freedom to be on your own as well as being able to contribute to a relationship. AND if someone doesn’t treat you well, you have the freedom and choice to move on. You are not “stuck” due to the fear of financial pain.

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Congratulations on your financial independence!

Billy and I wish you the very best moving forward into the life of your own choosing.

Do keep in touch,

Akaisha and Billy

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Quick Comparison: Chapala, Mexico to Panajachel, Guatemala

Q&A with a Reader 

You know Chapala well (I have your guide to that).  And you know Panajachel well.  You live there.  So which one is better.  Which one do you like best?

Mark

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Hi Mark,

Thanks for taking the time to write, and thank you for your interest in our books.

In answer to your question, which place, Chapala, Mexico or Panajachel, Guatemala do we like best, our answers are this: It’s hard to choose, and it depends.

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Chapala (and the surrounding area) has an extensive network of Expats with lots of activities and lots of members. There are tennis courts and volleyball courts, dozens and dozens of restaurants to choose from, a couple of theaters for those interested in acting, they have a movie theater, and there are several towns dotted around the lake each of which has a different flavor. Medical care is available, and if you have something specific or special, then there is access to Guadalajara for specialty doctors. There is an American Legion, bridge clubs, animal rescue… all sorts of things in which to become involved.

Weather is good. Crime, for the most part is low also, although there are the home invasions on occasion. Generally, the drug traffic doesn’t affect Chapala and definitely not the Expat population.

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It is a well-established location for retirement offering fresh food, entertainment, medical options, and ease of travel. Public transport is abundant and affordable. You can live there without a car easily. We have for years.

Chapala is also a good place to travel from to get to other places in Mexico. It’s 3 hours to the beach, a few hours to the Mexican Highlands, and with Guadalajara international airport, you can fly to the States to visit family or fly to other locations around the world.

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Panajachel is more quirky. The town is filled with local Maya in their colorful garb, lots of bold murals and unique storefronts and the town is much smaller than Chapala. Fresh food is abundant, there is a good selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars with live music for entertainment. The town is completely walkable and there is mass transport (tuk-tuks) available to get to anywhere you want to go.

The natural beauty is stunning and weather is good. Lake Atitlan is the largest lake in Central America and is surrounded by 3 volcanoes which gives great contrast. Many people say that the lake is the main reason they live there, that and the variety that the local population offers. There are lots and lots of volunteer opportunities.

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One can spend the day going to another town across the lake, spend the night, or go for lunch and come back the same day. Each of these dozen towns offer something different and they are a nice break from the Panajachel routine.

The number of Expats is smaller here in the Lake Atitlan area, but Pana is an hour and a half from the Colonial city of Antigua which has more expats. Antigua is a bit more upscale and picturesque in its own right. There are wine bars, cafes, and restaurants to choose from.

Medical care is available in Panajachel, more is available in Antigua, and you can find anything you need in the capitol city of Guatemala City.

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All this being said, the winding mountainous roads of Guatemala makes Lake Atitlan a little more of a challenge to get to, so the amount of tourists (there are plenty of backpackers) are less. We get groups from time to time who come in from Antigua. While Panajachel is growing up, she is surely taking her time.

Both places are good choices to live for an extended amount of time. One can get 180 days on a tourist visa upon arrival in Mexico and 90 days upon arrival in Guatemala. The 90 day visa is good for a 4 country block – Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. So to do a visa run in Guatemala, one needs to do it more often and to go out of this 4 country block. One can live in the Lake Chapala area and get by speaking English. There is more Spanish spoken at Lake Atitlan and in Antigua.

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If you like an off-beat, small town feel with exotic locals and amazing natural beauty, Panajachel might appeal more to you. If you would like a longer time between visa runs, an already established pathway for the newcomer and a huge country to explore, then perhaps Chapala, Mexico would attract you more.

Personally, we enjoy them both for what each offers, and have not yet chosen to settle down in either one just yet.

Hope this answers your question!

All the best,

Akaisha

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Single Black Female

Q&A with a Reader

Where are the best places for single black females to retire overseas?

Yevette

All of our books lead to adventure. Don’t miss out on yours!

Hi Yevette,

Thank you for taking the time to write. We appreciate it.

My first response to you would be to say, “Choose a place you love.”

I can recommend places to live because of weather, cost of living, the access to cultural or volunteer opportunities, the size of city or town, or ease of travel to the States in order to visit family or ease of retirement visas.

But what really matters most is what you want in a retirement location. If I recommend an island or beach town and you dislike the heat, then that recommendation doesn’t work for you. If I suggest a city because of the art, museums, international restaurants, concerts and Expat communities available, and you hate traffic and would really rather hike, bike, kayak and hang out in the mountains or nature, then that suggestion wouldn’t hit the spot.

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I would say, get clear on what matters to you in terms of city size, the need for medical facilities, the cost of living you can afford, activities that you are attracted to, and whether or not learning a foreign language is an issue for you. Take a look at our piece, How to Choose a Retirement Location. Also, take a look at our book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Destination Choices.

Choose a place that makes your heart sing. Go for what’s important to you and which place(s) provide those things for you.

I would start there. And with that in mind, I would recommend also taking a look at our Relocation Page where you will find all sorts of forums to join for free, cost of living sites, ways to meet up with new people and even websites which can help you choose a location for living by putting in your list of “requirements.”

The fact that you mentioned living overseas as a possible relocation spot tells me you are adventurous. If you, as a single female, have your own means of financial support, that is a huge asset and you have lots more freedom, and more options.

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Certainly I could recommend Chapala, Mexico as a place which offers an active Expat community, has decent weather all year round, is well situated for ease of travel to other locations within Mexico, and has a reasonable cost of living.

Chiang Mai, Thailand is farther away and has hotter, more humid weather, but they, too, offer an active Expat Community, good cost of living and ease of travel to the whole Pacific Rim.

Antigua, Guatemala or Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala are also good places for culture and natural beauty, cost of living is good, and an active Expat Community.

Dominican Republic has a good cost of living, hot weather, fresh foods, beautiful beaches and affordable property. Getting a second passport there is fairly easy.

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Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica are all possibilities. Some people really like Belize, mostly because English is spoken there, but in our opinion there are better, easier and more affordable options.

Seriously, pick a place that makes your heart sing, a place you can afford financially without strain and that offers you enough of what you want in your life that you feel supported. If you are happy, that is what people will see and you will make friends easily.

Please feel free to write any time. I hope the information that I have provided here is useful to you.

Wishing you all the best,

Akaisha

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Can I Find Good Internet Connections Overseas?

Q&A with a Reader

Love your blogs and am hoping to do traveling in South and Central America this next year.

One thing I am concerned about:  What is the internet like in various countries?  I absolutely must have fast internet.  How can I know before I go somewhere what the internet would be like?  Suggestions?

Thanks!

Laura

All of our books lead to adventure. Don’t miss out on yours!

Hi Laura,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for your kind words about our website.

Billy and I are very internet dependent also. Due to our website maintenance, answering questions from our readers, skype phone calls home to family and friends, watching the financial markets, getting our news, writing articles and sending them to the media and so on, we must have a solid internet connection available to us.

It is our first priority when we rent a hotel room. “Do you have Wifi?” then we connect with our phones. If it is not a good connection, then we move on to the next hotel, or move to another floor or whatever it takes to find the connection we require.

In years past, internet was a novelty and was sketchy to find. These days, with “everyone” on their iphones and other digital devices, most hotels offer wifi included in the price of a hotel room. This wifi will be listed when you look online under amenities for a hotel when you book. Some countries are more wifi friendly than others — but most coffee shops and restaurants will have wifi available also, and we have seen parks and plazas marked as free wifi zones.

If you go off the grid and stay in a hill tribe or native village, you probably won’t find a wifi connection. However, in our experience, from Asian countries to Central America, wifi is available “everywhere.” Friends who have traveled to South America tell us it’s the same there with the abundant availability of internet connection.

As I said, in years past it was an issue, but it’s unlikely that you will find it to be much of a challenge these days.

Congratulations on your upcoming trips! Have a great time and stay in touch!

Best to you,

Akaisha

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My Wife Wants to Retire Now, but Needs Her Employer Sponsored Health Care

Hi Bill and Akaisha,

I am 66 and my partner will be 63 in December.  I am retired and have Medicare and a good supplement.  Jamie gets insurance through her work which is our dilemma.  She wants to retire but will need to cover herself for 2 years.  How did you guys deal with this problem?  Any suggestions?  We travel outside the US regularly but her insurance issues have held us back.

Thanks,

Irv

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Hi Irv,

Thank you for taking the time to write. We appreciate it.

We understand your wife’s hesitation in giving up her work-provided health care. Getting sick or needing medical attention in the US is very expensive. This is not as cumbersome a problem receiving medical care overseas where it is far more affordable out of pocket.

I suppose it depends on how much travel out of the States that you intend to do in the next couple of years before she qualifies for Medicare… or how badly your wife would like to retire. You could choose to Go Naked – and receive your health care overseas (including your preventative exams), which has been a viable plan for many. But if you intend to live in the US and spend most of your time in the States, that could be nerve wracking for you.

I imagine it would also affect your decision if your wife has pre-existing conditions – where even travel insurance would exclude coverage for these areas of health.

Do you plan to live in the States? Move overseas? Is your wife reasonably healthy?

When we first retired and for years afterwards, Billy and I took out a high deductible US based health insurance plan. Eventually, we dropped that plan since we were spending most of our time overseas and paid for medical care out of pocket. The money we would have spent for premiums, we just saved and created our own HSA and self-insured.

This plan worked for us, but it may not work for you for various reasons, as everyone is different.

If you would like to know more about Medical Tourism or other Health Insurance Options, then click on the previous links. You might find the information provided to be helpful.

I hope you find the above information to be useful. Good luck to you and feel free to write any time.

Best,

Akaisha

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Dental Care in Guatemala

Guest post by Lori Shea, Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel.  Lori first arrived in Rio Dulce, Guatemala aboard a sailboat in 2005 and had a home and business there for two years. For more information on Cancer therapies visit her website.

In recent years, Guatemala has become known as a first-class destination for those seeking high-quality, affordable dental care. In North America and Europe, families are concerned with the high cost of dental procedures. Thanks to instantly accessible internet resources, they can save thousands of dollars by taking advantage of medical and dental options in Central America.

Joy and Don were facing some routine dental procedures that would have been terribly expensive back home in Indiana. They began searching the internet for a more economical solution for their treatment plan, without sacrificing high-quality materials and personal care. They consulted with medical agents in several countries before determining that Guatemala was their best choice. Together with the kids and their grandpa, they flew to Guatemala, knowing that they had dental appointments and all the surrounding details set up for them in advance.

Dental CareHaving an indulgent spa-dental vacation, without the children, was Lilah’s preference of a treatment plan. She was able to enjoy massages and shopping in between root canals and lab work delivery. Within seven days, the pain was gone, her smile was glowing and her suitcase was stuffed with textiles and souvenirs for her family and friends. The entire budget was still $3,000 less than what her hometown dentist had estimated.

On the other side of the world, John is a civil engineer who has been working with the U.S. government in Afghanistan for 15 years. John had wanted dental implants for a few years, but the cost was out of reach, plus he would need several other costly dental treatments to maintain his long term dental health. When it took him 10 days to get to Dubai for an “emergency” dental infection, John knew he needed to get all of his dental work done both quickly and economically. Excellent service, sensible prices and the opportunity to recover in an attractive tourist destination like Guatemala was exactly what he was looking for.

Closer to home, Sam was on his sailboat in Río Dulce, enjoying the care free life of a live-aboard cruiser. That is, until the debilitating pain of a dental infection sent him running for the best dentist he could find. Through his medical agent, Sam got a bus ticket, hotel room and dental appointment at an ultra-modern downtown clinic within 24 hours, paying ¼ of what he would in the United States.

Other dental patients are already traveling in Guatemala, marveling at the architectural monuments, enchanting cultural events, natural wonders and the genuine kindness of the local residents.

Denise was enjoying a relaxing holiday at Lake Atitlán when she discovered that she could get new custom made dentures perfectly fitted for her here in Guatemala. The old ones were worn out and uncomfortable, so it was a pleasant surprise to buy high quality new dentures in La Antigua Guatemala at a price she could afford.

Visitors to Guatemala can now return home with more than snapshots and T-shirts. Show off a dazzling new smile you can be proud of. For the emergency care you need, or an entire prosthodontic reconstruction, Guatemala offers dental professionals with the skills and experience to make it happen within both your budget and your itinerary.

Other articles by this author:

Orthopedic Care in Guatemala 

Buying Medical Care vs. Buying Medical Insurance

Cancer Treatment in Guatemala

Stem Cell Therapy – The Future

To watch an insightful and instructive video on Guatemala Medical Travel with interviews of both Doctors and Patients, Click Here 

Interview with Lori Shea, Owner, Guatemala Medical Travel

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Travel Excites the Soul

Steve and Lynn Miller built a software company and retired 10 years later at 50 years old. They travel extensively and chronicle those travels on their blog. Steve also develops mobile apps in his spare time.

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Something strange happens when we travel.

We experience sights, sounds, and smells that are unfamiliar.

Splashes of color excite the psyche.

Travel1We encounter all types of landscapes. Desert juxtaposed with lakes reminds us of how our lives are so diverse and often contradicting.

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Height brings reflection and reminds us how small we are.

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A slow river that crescendos into a cascading waterfall reminds us of how we feel when we return. What was calm is now a bit frenzied.

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Travel excites the soul.

Other posts by this author

Retired But Got the Blues? How Can That Be?

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Time and the River

Guest post by Lonnie Dillard. Lonnie and his life-partner Sandi Sain have traveled in almost 100 countries and on all seven continents. Before retiring at age 58, Lonnie successfully pursued careers in psychotherapy, banking, interior design and writing.  His writing and design work have appeared in Architectural Digest, Met Home, Galleria, Le Journal Comtat, and several newspapers. 

Lonnie and Sandi currently make their home in Austin, Texas.

IMG_3237A funny thing happened to me on the way down a river:  I got old.

I don’t mean old-er, as in marking another “big zero” decade, which I did recently. But still old. Not ancient, of course, like the Native American ruins carved into the walls of the Grand Canyon, where I spent my birthday. Nor “old as dirt,” like the billion-year-old layer cake rocks that squeeze the sky there into a winding blue ribbon. But still, well, old.  As in suspenders-and-a-belt old. Early Bird specials, comb-overs and prunes old.

I had always believed that “old” happened somewhere around 85 or 90, certainly not 70. That you could see it coming for miles on the horizon like a West Texas dust storm.  But no.  It can fall upon you from out of nowhere, as suddenly as Apaches on a sleeping wagon train.  One day you are Roy Rogers; the next, Gabby Hayes.

I know I should have seen it coming.  The signs were there.  Stairs getting steeper.  Chairs too low to get up from.  Stupid crossword puzzle clues.  Young women holding doors open for me; or else not seeing me at all.  Mysterious bruises.  Dark streets with hidden curbs. Shrinking keypads; forgetting friends’ names; mumblers on TV.

The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement, 4th Edition
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But I did not. It took a rugged trip down one big river to jolt me off another: down the Colorado and off of De-nial. Admittedly, the face in the mirror has been looking more Gab lately than Roy-ish.  But experience often trumps youth, on rivers as well as rodeos.  Older coots than I had survived the Grand Canyon’s 187 miles of whitewater rapids, drops and falls.  No hill for a stepper like me, I thought, mangling another metaphor.

Jesus warned that the flesh is weak.  I thought he meant only once in awhile.  He did not elaborate that parts of it might pack up without a word and pull out for good, leaving little behind but the wrappers they came in.  But…

Arms that could once lift cheerleaders over my head, even buxom ones weighing almost as much as I did?  Vamoosed!  Legs that only a few short years ago carried me 250 muddy miles on the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella?  Skedaddled.  Cut and run. The imposters they left behind could not haul tents and cots up a riverbank without staggering like cowpokes on payday.

Fingers and hands that wrenched caps off frozen water bottles on the push to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, changed film on the backs of camels or elephants, ate peanuts and peas with chopsticks?  Hightailed.  Days clinging onto a wet rope left little but cramped claws, barely able to snap clips to a tent or zip up a sleeping bag.

How could I have suspected the feet that sidestepped reptiles in Rajasthan, landmines in Laos, hookers in Havana and rope bridges in New Guinea above snapping crocodiles would be good for little more than play kick the can and all-fall-down with every hidden rock between camp and the river?

And who would guess that the eyes now groping for a flashlight at dusk, or a gin bottle inside a dufflebag, are the very same ones that could spot the blow of an Alaskan humpback at half a mile, or detect in the ripple of waving grass a leopard moving on the Serengeti?

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How could wind off a river in Arizona make a sleeping bag and long johns feel as cold  as sea spray in Antarctica on the prow of a Russian icebreaker?

When people get old they lose things. This week-long outdoor odyssey brought home how easy losing things can be:  Swiss army knife, for example. Dry underwear.  Dignity.  Marital harmony.  The respect of my traveling companions…

At this point in literature, the protagonist often experiences epiphany, the ah-ha that enables him to grasp the meaning of all that has happened to him. He realizes that he has been transformed by his suffering.  His life will be forever different.

I get the different part; the meaning…not so much.

I have often been precocious; I walked early, read early.  I was the first of all my friends to get ringworms; smoke grapevine; change from soprano to alto; file for divorce; or buy a car made in Japan.  Maybe this is the same with getting old, too, and I will have extra time to master it before friends my age finally catch up with me.

Maybe geezer-hood won’t be so bad.  How many travel merit badges does a good Scout need to collect anyway? Perhaps looking where I am going is more important now than going where I want to look.  And re-living old adventures wiser than rushing out to chalk up new ones.  Already I notice that past exploits—and my central roles in them— make much better stories after inconvenient facts are blurred by time.

Still, I cannot picture myself breeding parakeets, doing genealogy or making potholders at the senior citizens’ center. So I am refusing to turn in my passport. That is, until terrorists and mentals are flying all the airplanes. Or the TSA keeps my shoes. Besides, my younger, more spry sidekick would not hear of it.  She had rather wheel my creaky carcass down a jetway or up a gangplank on a dolly than miss a trip.

Adventuring will be different, that’s all. Baggage will be lighter without scuba gear or life jacket, hiking poles or crampons.  The views will be from the back of a tour bus or the porthole of a cruise ship, instead of a hot air balloon or a kayak.  Nights will be spent in real rooms with running hot water and a proper loo, instead of chilly spit baths and a pee-cup in a tent.  There are plenty worse things.

But dang nab it, once in awhile old Gabby might surprise everybody and saddle up with the posse again.  No matter.  Whether posses, portholes or even potholders, the adventure of each new sunrise will do.  One thing old may mean is gratitude for all the great years of “Been There; Done That.”  But also those of “Being Here Now; Doing This.”

Say, have I ever told you how I escaped those sharks down in the Galapagos back in ’93?

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Bringing My Dog with Me; Travels with Sadie

Guest post by Vivian Harvey. Vivian has lived in Mexico for 15 years and has traveled extensively through this country as well as Costa Rica, Belize and Guatemala. She now spends four months each winter in Panajachel, Guatemala and travels with her dog, Sadie. You can find out about her educational travel seminars by going to her website.

VivianHarvyPhotoSix years ago my son and his family gave me a long-haired miniature blonde dachshund, Sadie, and she is by far the best gift I’ve ever received. Sadie and I now go just about everywhere together. As soon as the suitcases come out, Sadie hops in, never wanting to be left behind. On our four-month annual trek to Guatemala each winter, a number of people ask me about the in and outs of travel with a dog; here’s what I’ve learned.

Each country’s requirement is different — Sadie has been to Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala, and for each of these I read the guidelines as listed on the countries’ web sites for “animal importation.” None of these countries require a quarantine period of time, but each has specific requirements, with Guatemala’s being the most detailed (and expensive).

Each airline has different requirements

We generally fly on United Airlines to Guatemala, but for flights within the United States, different airlines have different requirements as to cost, size of dog, and advance notice.   As soon as I make my own flight reservation I contact the airlines directly to make the reservation for Sadie. Getting through a large airport is sometimes a challenge, and the dog carrier on wheels I have is worth its weight in gold. United won’t allow any other carry on bag (though I do have my purse and computer with me) which I consider unfair since I have to pay for the dog. Sadie weighs about 13 pounds, and most airlines seem to have a weight limit of about 18 pounds to travel in the cabin with me. On the advice of my vet I give Sadie a mild sedative, and she sleeps most of the trip and doesn’t require a “relief stop” as long as the connecting flights work out to be relatively brief.

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Getting back into the United States has even more requirements — For Mexico and Guatemala, Sadie had to be checked by a local vet in country and papers filled out as to her health, not a big deal, but essential paperwork to show at Customs in the United States.

These have to be timed to be done fairly close to the departure time.

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Be sure the place you’re visiting is dog friendly

I stay in Panajachel each winter, and the hotel and restaurants are quite dog friendly. This is not true of other places in Guatemala, and if I go to Antigua or Guatemala City, I get a dog sitter for Sadie for the day or overnight. Before my first winter in Panajachel, I asked the management of the Hotel Regis if I could bring a small dog, and it took a while to get the permission, but now Sadie is a member of the family there, and she enjoys the warmth and hospitality of Guatemala as much as I do.

Keep the food consistent

I have found the type of food that Sadie eats at home to be available in Guatemala for about what I pay at home, though it’s a bit of a task to get it. This was a concern the first year I went to Guatemala and I worried a bit about locating a good vet, both in case of illness and to be sure the “going home paperwork” was all in order. It turned out that this was not a problem, good vets in Antigua and Panajachel.

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The overall cost is not insignificant

With the additional vet costs and “official paper work” (both in the US and in Guatemala) of about $300, the flight costs (total of $250 round trip on United Airlines), and occasional dog sitters (about $150), this not something which I’d suggest for a short vacation. But for a lengthy stay of four months and for the companionship of my dog, taking Sadie with me is well worth the price. She is also a great conversation starter, both with local people and with other tourists, and I suspect that more people in Panajachel know Sadie’s name than know mine.

Other articles by this author

Health Information for Independent Travelers

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I’m Having a Physical Fitness Fit

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004 and you can find her columns on the Huffington Post. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneI hate exercise! There is nothing about being hot, exhausted and in pain that appeals to me. The most active thing I did this week was struggle to rip open a bag of Oreos.

Every day, the media reminds me that I am out of sync with the rest of the world. The government is presently designing a dollar bill that has running shoes replacing George Washington’s face. Sweat was officially added to the list of American symbolisms, along with apple pie, the flag and Mom. Ellen DeGeneres is promoting a line of bridal warm-up suits. Antiperspirants are being phased from market shelves and replaced with cans of Instant Sweat Aerosols.

Last week, I hosted a support group for ten 50-plus men and women who shared a bond — their utter disdain for exercise. They entered my house, one by one, lethargic and overweight. There was a time when they accepted who they were, but the world’s obsession with physical fitness had interfered with their sedentary lifestyle and left them feeling disgraced, embarrassed and diminished.

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One woman, Portia Portly, claimed that she just didn’t fit in. Everyone she knew took aerobics, yoga or spin classes. So she went to Sports Authority and bought several spandex outfits that she now wears around town. Suddenly, her social life has exploded because people assume she is either going to or coming from an exercise class.

Portia’s success was applauded, voted on and accepted as standard policy.

“I joined a health club,” confessed a rather pudgy business man, “just so I can tell my macho associates I’m a member. They don’t know I only go for the saunas and massages. There’s no reason for them to ever know.”

I felt compelled to cleanse my conscience.

“When my husband completed his sixth marathon, he returned home and found me lying in the yard. How could I admit that while he’d been running over 26 miles I’d been sunbathing, on my back, motionless? I told him I had sprained my ankle while doing jumping jacks and was waiting for him to carry me indoors.”

Everyone empathized.

“A perfect example of prejudice towards non-athletes happened to my cousin, Martha,” announced a woman who preferred to remain nameless.

“Martha devised an inexpensive source of fuel by extracting energy from several diet pills she found lying in her medicine cabinet since 1952. She received presidential praise and was up for a Nobel Prize for Great Achievements.”

And then the bomb dropped.

“An in-depth interview with Martha revealed that she not only wasn’t committed to being physically active, given the choice, she would scoff down apple pie rather than an apple. Consequently, her credibility became suspect and she is currently under investigation by both the CIA and Richard Simmons.”

The meeting lasted only 30 minutes — as long as it took for everyone to finish off the donuts, brownies and Cinnabons, and run out of new business to whine about.

If you feel out of place because you don’t smell from perspiration, don’t need a knee brace, don’t have shin splints, aren’t getting cortisone shots and don’t own a terry cloth head band, join us next Saturday at 10:00 a.m. in front of the YMCA.

Be prepared to march for THE RIGHT TO BE INACTIVE.

Please be prompt, as the parade is scheduled to last only ten minutes.

The local first aid squad has kindly volunteered to be on hand for those requiring treatment for exhaustion.

Other posts by this author

Dancing Through the Pain

Men and Women Throughout History

I Don’t See Well Anymore

Giddy Yup

Stop Telling Me I’m Old

Growing Up Dangerously

Watching Real Beauty

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

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