Cancer Treatment 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.

An emotional diagnosis – on both sides of the scale

Just say the word…. “Cancer” ….and all sorts of emotions arise. Maybe we remember the sadness and loss of a co-worker or neighbor.  Sometimes the grief strikes closer to home, like my husband, or your sister, or worse, a child. But more and more, we are experiencing another set of emotions regarding cancer treatment today: Hope, bravery, triumph, relief and gratitude.

Statistics are high – is health insurance a protection from expense?

In the United States, one in six people is expected to suffer some form of cancer in their lifetime. With this sobering statistic regularly in the news, you have to wonder how this disease might affect your lifestyle, family relationships, and retirement fund.  Determining the most effective course of treatment is not always a clear choice, as it is the result of extensive testing and careful planning by a team of cooperating specialists. Having insurance is no guarantee that you will be protected from major, life-changing expenses.  Patients with insurance are thinking carefully before agreeing to treatment, because out-of-pocket co-payments for the drugs alone could easily run $15,000 to $30,000 a year.

To find out more about health insurance options, private, national and international, click here.

Quality care in a treatment plan, reasonable cost

Radiotherapy and brachytherapy

In Guatemala, we are proud to offer three Cancer Treatment Centers and top-notch oncologists, each with a separate focus, that are able to work in conjunction as a team, together with the surgeons, to impact the patient’s treatment plan toward a successful recovery.

Dr. Luis Linares

Dr. Luis Linares of Hope Radiotherapy Center has over 25 years of experience performing 25,000 cancer-related procedures.  From university studies in England, to extensive research and work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and then as medical director of the New Orleans Cancer Center, he has brought his skills and expertise back home to us in Guatemala. Offering radiotherapy and brachytherapy, Hope International opened in 2010 with state-of-the-art cancer treatment technology which surpasses the quality available in 60% of cancer hospitals in the United States.

Radiotherapy involves directing a specialized external beam into the tumor to diminish or destroy it, while brachytherapy is a time-release method of implanting seeds that release radiation in specific daily doses. In both of the non-painful treatments, no surrounding tissue is damaged. At Hope International, eight weeks of radiotherapy treatment, with five sessions per week, costs around $10,000, compared to $50-90k in the U.S.

Dr. Luis M. Zetina Toache

Chemotherapy

Dr. Luis M. Zetina Toache is a leading figure in Latin America in the field of chemotherapy. As medical director of Oncomedica Cancer Consultants since 2000, Dr. Zetina conducts high-level scientific research on new cancer drugs, here in Guatemala, fully supported by the FDA. He has participated in research protocols on Herceptin, Avastin, Tarceva, Xeloda and other drugs to successfully treat cancer with the latest advances in chemotherapy treatment methods.

Dr. Zetina is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the European Society of Medical Oncology, and of the Chemotherapy Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Ezra Greenspan of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. We are grateful to have the benefit of his many years of cutting-edge skills and research available to us here, in zone 15, Guatemala City.

Dr. Byron Sanchez

Stem cell therapy

At Medi-Center Guatemala, Dr. Byron Sanchez, a well-published hematologist and oncologist, has been researching the possible benefits of stem cell treatments for his patients. Although success rates vary, we look forward to the day when this exciting biotech application could be the source of reliable long-term positive results.

All of the physicians agree that early detection is the best hope for a cure. Since it is more difficult to treat patients who may have been mishandled or misdiagnosed by other doctors, the most highly skilled cancer specialists agree that the personal situation of each patient must be carefully analyzed before deciding which treatment plan is best for that particular patient.

To find out more about medical tourism, international dentists, hospitals and clinics, click here.

Why go to Guatemala for cancer therapy?

Many foreigners are taking advantage of cancer treatment options available in Guatemala because:

The costs can be five to ten times less expensive than in the United States or Europe.

All International Health Insurance from the United States is accepted in Cancer Hospitals in Guatemala.

Quality medical care available in Guatemala City

No waiting list. Patients can begin treatments as son as they arrive to Guatemala.

Patient advócate. A constant companion is available in their Guatemala Medical Travel agent: a multi-lingual medical facilitator, driver, secretary, nurse, billing agent and personal advisor. Can you get this in the States?

The Human touch. In Guatemala, and all of Latin America, the patient receives the human touch, with respect and compassion that is missing in first world countries.

Superior medical care. Above all, international patients in Guatemala receive superior medical care from highly-skilled doctors and high-tech facilities that are right on par with the best in the world.

Again, early detection is the best hope for a cure – do it now. Colonoscopies, PET scans (nuclear imaging), skin biopsies, 4-dimentional ultrasound and lab testing with the latest diagnostic instrumentation are available now — quick, effective and affordable — through your friends at Guatemala Medical Travel. Working as a team, we can beat the odds and count on experiencing all the pleasures and gratitude that come with living longer and healthier.

To educate yourself on alternative care and leading edge technologies, click here.

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

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Health, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Retirees Find House Sitting Opens the Door to a New World

Enjoy this Guest Blog Post by Ian White Copyright © 2005, Housecarers.com

Jazz up your retirement

Recent press releases highlighting the travels of retiree house sitters are showing that becoming a senior is not a ticket to boredom, or a sedentary lifestyle. Retirees from around the world are finding HouseCarers.com to be the key that opens the door to unique, authentic and free travel to destinations that they had once only dreamed about.

Unfortunately, many retirees do not have the liberty of spending their retirement egg on pleasure items or excursions, such as traveling. Many individuals and couples who live on a fixed income have found that their funds usually only cover the basics of living. After a lifetime of raising families, running businesses and being everything to everyone, retirees are finding there is a way to travel and experience the world on their terms. HouseCarers.com is allowing them to connect with home owners who are in need of house sitters. In exchange for a valuable service, retirees are able to enter into new worlds, that would otherwise be closed to them.

First hand accounts

Jim and Thelma McSkimming are retirees from New Zealand. This retired couple has only been with HouseCarers for a year. They report that they would not be able to travel to all the places they dreamed of–if it were not for becoming house sitters. The McSkimmings have found that house sitting is the key that enables them to experience different cultures on a new level.

Jim and Thelma McSkimming report they do not desire to travel as “tourists,” and quick visits to some popular areas do not satisfy them. The McSkimmings truly relish immersing themselves into new areas and they enjoy house sitting. House sitting lets them become mock citizens in various countries and gives them an authentic experience.

Enjoy the peacefulness of lake front homes

The  McSkimmings had five months to allot for house sitting in the UK, and were thrilled when they were able to find five house sits. “We stayed in a beautiful 200 year-old stone cottage, which was previously a flour mill, in South Wales. We minded pigs, geese, miniature Dexter cattle and two adorable Border Collies,” the McSkimmings report. They have also recently had a stay in a Rectory in County Cork, Ireland, where they made friends with an African parrot they were minding. Many house sits involve the care taking of pets. The McSkimmings report that this is a one of the highlights of their stays and it fulfills their love of animals.

The wonderful experience of house sitting is echoed by Brenda Marie Batty. Ms. Batty is a retiree from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ms. Batty has been a house sitter since 1999. She has visited seven different countries, and reports that her favorite house sits are in Greece, France and Italy. “House sitting gives me the opportunity to travel further afield for a longer period of time–to places I otherwise could not afford to stay in on my retired budget.”

Gorgeous homes available worldwide

Like the McSkimmings, Ms. Batty truly enjoys sinking into the culture and lifestyle of the various areas that she visits. She has found that each country has welcomed her with open arms. On a recent house sit in Greece, she truly felt one with her neighbors. “I even got into white washing steps and walls in Greece . . . I joined in with the island folk who were all in preparation for Easter’s arrival. I really felt like a local then! It was lots of fun, too. I enjoy travel on this level, meeting new people and becoming part of their communities.”

A new “Career”?

House sitters are in high demand around the world. Retirees who register as house sitters are among the first sitters looked at by home owners. Home owners know that life experience cannot be replicated. Home owners have confidence in seniors and trust them to watch over and care for their home, possessions and pets.

Many times senior house sitters are asked to come back for return stays. Ms. Batty has had numerous repeat visits. Chances are great that the McSkimmings will also be asked for a repeat stay–as this is their first year and they are just now getting their feet wet and making acquaintances with home owners. Both the McSkimmings and Ms. Batty report that home owners are warm and welcoming. Friendships are easily forged and many home owners keep up with “their” house sitters year round.

Some house sits are close to world class beaches

Both the McSkimmings and Ms. Batty report that maturity, flexibility and a love for animals are essential to being a good house sitter. However, to make the proper connection with prospective home owners registering with a reputable house sitting site is key. HouseCarers is sitting pretty on top as “the” place to make safe connections. Ms. Batty doesn’t hide her enthusiasm or appreciation of Ian White and HouseCarers.com. “Two thumbs up for HouseCarers!”

How to begin

Becoming a house sitter is a fairly easy process. You can visit HouseCarers.com on the Internet and for a price that is less than an evening meal out, you can register as a house sitter for an entire year. You will be given 30 full lines to describe yourself. You can list multiple locations where you are available to house sit, along with the dates you are available. You can even use the sample ad that is listed on the site to guide you in writing your personal information.

The information you enter is instantly available to prospective home owners who are seeking out a house sitter. At any time you can go in and update your profile, change your destination areas or dates, and all of it is free of charge. When house sits become available in your chosen areas, you will receive notification via email. You will also be notified when you have messages from prospective homeowners in your chosen areas. Your identity and personal information are kept confidential and it is only revealed to a home owner when you are comfortable.

Benefits, benefits, benefits

Becoming a house sitter will save you thousands of dollars on travel and accommodations. By making yourself available to a home owner as a house sitter, you are giving them an invaluable service. Home owners can leave their residence knowing they are leaving it in capable hands. House sitters may be asked to perform routine things such as pet care, gardening, or even scheduling a home repair if the need arises. You may be asked to forward mail, relay phone messages or take a pet to a scheduled vet visit. House sits range in duration. Some may be for a week, while others may be for a month, or more. The requirements are minimal when you compare it to what you receive.

House sitting opens the door up to experiences you could not pay for, even if you had the funds to do so. House sitting is enabling individuals to live in seaside beach homes, English country cottages or castles, ski lodges in the snow capped mountains, and even ranches or farms in the country. Can you think of any other service you could give to someone that would allow you to sample grapes from a working vineyard, pick Dutch tulips, or eat authentic cuisine straight from their native homelands with no monetary investment on your end? This can all be yours, and more, as a house sitter.

Ocean view anyone?

Priceless opportunity for both sides

You simply cannot put a price on the services that a house sitter provides. Home owners are not comfortable leaving their homes empty when they have to travel for an extended time. House sitters are the number one crime deterrent. Criminals can bypass most alarm systems with ease. However, criminals and would be thieves will avoid a home if someone is in residence.

Besides providing the much needed security that a home owner desires, house sitters can also save a home owner much worry over their homes “physical” safety. If a pipe bursts, most home owners would not know until they returned to a deluge of water, and tens of thousands of dollars in repair work. If a fire starts, a home owner could possibly return to find their home a smoking pile of rubble and ashes. By having a house sitter onsite, a home owner can leave knowing that if an emergency arises, there is a sitter onsite who can tackle a burst pipe, call the fire department, or handle a weather emergency.

If you are interested in traveling the world like Jim and Thelma McSkimming or Brenda Marie Batty, you should register with HouseCarers.com. These house sitters have found that retirement doesn’t mean an end to an exciting life. If anything, their senior years are bringing them unique and fulfilling experiences. The McSkimmings and Ms. Batty have found a way to take hold of their dreams and do all the things they have longed to do. With the support of their family they are globe trotting without making a dent in their retirement funds, and they are enjoying every minute of it.

Author Ian White is founder of housecarers.com House Sitting Directory.

Related Articles:

Do House Sitters Really Guarantee “Peace of Mind?” – A Home Owner’s Perspective

Moving from Stuck to a World of Yes!

Traveling? Find Someone to Look after Your Home and Pets Cost-Free

Top 10 Reasons to “Sit” through Retirement

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Housing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is Australia’s Pension Available to Retirees in Thailand?

Read what one of our Readers has to say about her move to Thailand, only to find that after they relocated, their Australian pension plan was not available to her and her husband.

Akaisha,

There are only 17 countries that have reciprocal social security agreements with Thailand. Australia is not one of them which is why we are not entitled to our “Aussie” pension if we continue to live here.

Anyone considering retiring in Thailand needs to check if their particular home country is on the list.

Americans, Brits are OK they get their pensions wherever they decide to hang their hats which is a wonderful thing. I know most of your followers would be American but as you have followers far and wide it might be worth mentioning to the general population about this anomaly in the system so everyone knows to suss it out and not get a helluva shock like we did.

Some research beforehand can prevent unpleasant surprises later

Use us as the example of what NOT to do if you like.

We did not check, we just assumed! and got it all wrong because we did not do our research so it’s our fault really. They also need to make sure they are living some place where it is easy for them to go for their 90 day renewal stamps, particularly if they are planning on not having a vehicle in order to save money. Diesel and Petrol are both expensive here now, we do not run our truck unless we are going on a long trip to ChiangRai or Mae Sai.  Retirees will have to go somewhere for their one year retirement visa, at least once a year so they have to allow for that when choosing a place to live.

For more information on relocating overseas, click here.

We still have to go up to Mae Sai for that although we can do our 90 day checks here in Chiangkhong. These are “little things” but they become “big things” if the information is not known. Getting caught out and fined is not a nice experience.

Cheers again. We only have the knowledge now because we made all the silly little mistakes when we first came. You have the power to really help people Akaisha, and they will appreciate this information so much – it will make what you do even more valuable than it already is.

Cheers! M.

 To learn more about the Australia’s International Social Security Agreement Information, click here.  

To read Thai Visa thread on Australian Aged Pension, click here.

To find out more about receiving Centrelink payments and services while outside Australia, click here.

Posted in All Things Financial, Q & A From our Readers, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stem Cell Therapy – The Future of Curing Disease and Restoring Youth

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 stem cell regenerative therapies visit her website

A body’s natural healing state

Your body is in a constant state of renewal. As you read this article, with every breath you take, the stem cells inside your body are renewing and regenerating themselves every second. These seemingly miraculous cells have the ability to transform themselves into brand new healthy cells to replace the sick or worn out cells in your muscles, organs, tissues, brain, glands, joints and bones – virtually any cell in your body. Many scientific studies now indicate that increasing the number of circulating adult stem cells in your body is probably the single most important thing you can do to maintain optimal health.

Adult stem cells are released from your bone marrow into the bloodstream. Then they go searching for tissues and organs in distress. For example, if the heart sends out a cry for help, the travelling stem cells exit the bloodstream, migrate to the heart, multiply, and become brand new healthy heart muscle cells, to replace the sick or worn out cells.

Sixtino I Medical Building, Guatemala City

As we age, healing slows down

Sick children recover quickly, right? That’s because their bone marrow releases stem cells more efficiently.  When we are young, there are niches of stem cells in all our organs that migrate to areas of injury, inflammation or malignancy to assist in replacement and repair. Injured tissue can be repaired by tapping the body’s stem cell reserves.

As we age, bone marrow produces fewer stem cells which decrease the ability to regenerate. Fewer and fewer stem cells are released into the bloodstream, so your body becomes more susceptible to injury and breakdown.  When these stem cells become so reduced in number, they often fail to repair the aging diseased organ. This leads to chronic disease and further aging with declining immune function.

To learn more about the benefits of medical tourism, or to find international dentists, hospitals or clinics, click here

Chronic disease and stem cell therapies

Chronic diseases set in when we are older because our smaller components start to break down. The origins of these diseases can be traced to deficiencies at the cellular level. For example, the beta cells in the pancreas become less effective and secrete less insulin, a condition that triggers diabetes. And, when the nerve cells become weak they will begin to harbor Parkinson’s disease.

Qualified and trained medical personnel are available to you

In Guatemala, stem cell therapies are being used to successfully treat:

Auto-immune Diseases: Cerebral Palsy, Critical Limb Ischemia, Diabetes Mellitis, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s Disease, Thyroid Disorders, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Chronic Degenerative Diseases: Cerebral Palsy, Cirrhosis of the liver, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Pulmonary disease, Kidney Failure, ALS, Down Syndrome, Parkinson disease, Stroke and Heart Disease, as well as Spinal Injuries.

Imagine if we could increase the level of stem cells in our bodies to stave off the effect of aging as it applies to both degenerative disease and esthetic appearance.

Dr. Byron Sanchez

Experienced and skilled staff

Dr. Byron Sanchez, medical director of the Medi-Center Stem Cell Research Clinic, is an oncologist and hematologist in Guatemala City with 15 years of experience in stem cell research and transplantation. The highly-skilled medical team at Medi-Center offers stem cell transplantation therapy to their patients with the same degree of success as any other country in the world, from the United States to South Korea, but at a fraction of the price.

Simple procedure

Dr. Sanchez explains the process: Stem cells are derived from the patient’s own bone marrow or umbilical cord.  Blood, fat and skin are also excellent sources of stem cells.  In adults, these cells are rare, isolated at a rate of about one in one thousand. Immunological reconstitution is done by isolating the patient’s natural killer cells, T cytotoxic cells. They are extracted in a painless procedure, isolated, stimulated, and processed in the laboratory.  The new, multi-potent cells are restored to the patient intravenously, in a method much like chelation therapy or dialysis.

With just a few days of treatment and observation, our patients in Guatemala now have the opportunity to live better and longer without resorting to dangerous drugs or invasive surgical techniques.

To learn more about preventative care or leading edge medical approaches, click here

Follow up

According to Dr Sanchez, patients are placed on a longevity diet and an exercise program that can be done at home.  They are given nutritional supplements to support and enhance neurological function and nourish existing cells. Quite often, medium to ultra-high does of vitamins and natural supplements will enhance the efficiency of the newly restored stem cells.

Hope International, Guatemala City

As an anti-aging property, stem cell regenerative therapies are increasingly used in cosmetic formulations. They work to slow down the aging process of the skin, and the supporting muscles, to restore not only a youthful appearance, but the vitality and functionality of the organs as well.

At the Stem Cell Center of Guatemala in zone 10, Dra. Marielos Sequeira, a medical intern, describes an additional method to enhance the efficacy of the Stem Cell Transplantation: Patients are placed in the hyperbaric chamber and breathe 100 percent oxygen while exposed to elevated ambient pressures. In this new application of an older, established technology, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is helping to resolve a growing number of difficult, complicated or otherwise hopeless medical conditions.

In all cases, success rates depend on the patient’s age, lifestyle, genetic composition and metabolism.

The future

Biotechnology is the medicine of the future, coupling our biology (organic bodies and minds) with the extraordinary technological advances that are being proven and accepted by mainstream physicians more and more every day.  The most exciting therapeutic possibility of stem cell transplantation is that it enhances the body’s own natural inclination is to heal itself, effectively reversing the effects of disease and aging. We now have the opportunity to live longer, healthier, happier – feeling “good as new.”

To educate yourself on medical issues, click here

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Health, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Americans Too Busy to Notice a Medical Solution?

One of our Readers shared this compelling insight on Americans’ desire to remain distracted – even in the face of solving a medical conundrum.

I am fed up with American culture too… here’s the latest, which you’ll enjoy.

Last night I went out to eat by myself, sat at the restaurant bar.   The bar area was fairly crowded and looking around, I saw everyone playing with their mobile phones.  Even those seated at tables together were still alone with their phones.   This drives me crazy.

Preoccupation with cell phones?

A man, also dining alone, sat down next to me at the bar. He looked to be about 30.  Before he could reach for his phone, I said hello and we struck up a conversation. He said he was a doctor, working in the cardiology unit at a well-known local private hospital.

Ah, I told him, so maybe you can answer the medical question nobody’s been able to help me with.  What’s that, he asks?  I explain that I have all my medical needs attended to in Thailand, which he finds bizarre.  He is quite surprised when I tell him the medical facilities are world class.  “I thought it was pretty much third world over there,” he says.  No, it’s world class in many respects, I tell him.

For information on private, national and international insurance, click here

I proceed to explain that during a routine physical, it was discovered I have this heart condition called WPW Syndrome.  He says, “That’s a life threatening condition.  Have you had it taken care of?”  Well that brings me to my question.  In Thailand, they can tell me exactly what the surgical procedure will cost, but here I can’t get any hospital to give me even a rough estimate.

Tinkering with a ticker

So, that’s my question. If I wanted to have the surgery done at your hospital, what would it cost?  He admits he doesn’t rightly know… but why am I concerned – surely my insurance will cover most of the cost.

That’s my problem, I tell him, I don’t have insurance.  He says, “don’t you qualify for Medicare?”

(No, you little twerp… I’m not that old.  I don’t tell him that, but that’s what I’m thinking.)  I just say Medicare isn’t an option. I have to pay out of pocket.

To find international dentists, hospitals, clinics and more info on medical tourism, click here.

He says, “Well, if you pay out of pocket… Let’s see, you will need a hospital room for about 4 or 5 days, the anesthesiologist, the surgeon …” and he ticks off a few other items before conceding it’d likely cost north of $100,000.

Affordable world class treatment available in Thailand

That, I tell him, is the problem.  I can get the surgery done for a fraction of that in Thailand.

He says,  “I wouldn’t trust my heart to a surgeon in Thailand, I can tell you that.  What you should do is go to the emergency room at the county public hospital, complain of chest pains and they’ll admit you to their cardiology unit.  Then tell them you have WPW Syndrome. That’ll get their attention and you’ll be in the public-supported system.”

OK, thanks for the advice.

I mentioned this to a friend who had to go the public route at the public hospital for emergency surgery last summer and he strongly advised against doing that.  As he put it, “Going to County will give you a heart attack. You’re far better off in Thailand.”

At least he gets it… from personal experience.  Most Americans don’t get it at all.  They’re too busy being busy and playing with their phones.

Douglas Upshaw

For access to a health library or to learn more about nutrition, prevention of disease and wellness, click here.

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Health, Q & A From our Readers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vacationing with a Stranger

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. 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.

I studied the travel brochures, saved my money, planned my itinerary, made all the  necessary reservations and put together a fabulous wardrobe. I was psyched.

I would be taking a well deserved vacation with that special someone; not just anyone,  but someone whose habits I knew, and whose likes and dislikes I shared.

Or so I thought.

The fact that we didn’t have much in common never seemed to matter. For instance I was 58, nearly ten years older than he; something he gloated about regularly. And while he found small talk difficult, I could easily give a spontaneous full scale lecture on something as unremarkable as nose hairs. Our one common interest was flea markets – hardly something on which to build a relationship, but apparently we had.

For information on travel guides with tips, photos and packing lists, click here.

In our day to day living we barely noticed our differences because of the many hours we spend apart at our respective jobs. At the end of each day we’d share animated discussions and  display interest and caring during diner, driving, and visits with friends. These things caused me  to assume that we would travel well together. But, seven days and nights in confined quarters  served to heighten and amplify our dissimilarities.

Suddenly my age was a factor because when I expressed interest in parasailing and  horseback riding he saw fit to remind me that I was too old to venture into activities usually reserved for agile young bodies. That left me profoundly hostile.

And I, already feeling frumpy in my one piece black bathing suit with industrial strength bra and demure pleated skirt designed to conceal rather than reveal, prayed that his head would  unscrew and smash to the ground the next time it rotated to ogle some bikini clad bimbo.

He decided that vacation was the perfect time for deep breathing, chest-pounding jogs on  the beach. My idea of fun on the beach included a blanket, shallow breathing on my back, and  examining the insides of my eyelids.

If you are a single traveler and would like to find a travel companion, click here.

I wanted to drive through the countryside taking shots of local sites. He preferred walking through town, in pursuit of shot glasses for his collection. I looked forward to peaceful sunsets on a quiet pier, fishing for cute little fluke and  flounder. But he dragged me onto a four hour party boat populated with big sweaty men, all focused on capturing gigantic Blues and combative Marlin, while I hung limply over the railing and prayed for death.

He had planned on ending each day with an intimate dinner, a bottle of wine, some dancing, and a little romancing. What I did instead was pass out by 9:00 p.m.

Somehow we managed to survive both the week and the long flight home. In fact, within  five days we even started speaking again.

I’ve learned you can’t presume that just because you know someone they’ll be a great  traveling companion. I look a cruise with my cousin – a sweet, soft-spoken woman I’d known  most of my life – and didn’t sleep for six nights because the sound of her snoring was much like what you’d hear from a front row seat at a NASCAR race. Not to be outmatched, she pointed out that my teeth grinding was no picnic for her, either.

So, before I take steps toward booking any trips, I make sure my prospective traveling buddy and I agree on what’s fun and what’s not, or my dream vacation just might turn into  another nightmare.

For more travel information, click here.

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Reader Has Insurance Questions

Hi Billy and Akaisha,

I have questions about insurance.

1. Car Insurance – If you have a 2 year old paid off car worth about 20k, would you purchase a high deductible full coverage or just liability insurance for it.

2. Umbrella Insurance – My wife purchased an Umbrella Insurance policy because of our net worth just to protect us if our normal insurance does not cover it (she did that because at the time we owned a business but we never cancelled it). She is in favor of keeping it, I think this maybe overkill but wanted independent advice.

For up-to-date information on retirement, travel and lifestyle, click here.

3. Life Insurance – We both have life insurance but not sure we need it since we are financially independent. Thoughts?

We are retiring early in July, so I am analyzing every single expense to ensure we cut all unnecessary expenses. By the way, thanks to you guys for being such an inspiration to all of us. I put a link on our new website to your site under the Who Inspires Us section.

Steve

Hi Steve,

Happy to answer your questions. Bear in mind that each person needs to make these decisions for themselves. Our opinions are just that – our opinions and if you don’t feel comfortable with following our choices, most certainly choose what works best for you.

Car insurance: Insurance prices are regional. It’s one price if you insure your car in Los Angeles and another price if you do so in Kansas or Iowa. Before we became Car Free  we insured our vehicle for liability only.

Umbrella insurance: This is a difficult question to answer for someone else. It all depends on your lifestyle and your net worth. We say do whatever your risk tolerance and comfort allows you to do. We don’t spend a lot of time in the States where being sued is more of an issue. Other locations in the world do not emphasize being reimbursed for a decision that might have unintended consequences.

Life insurance: Normally, in a case of being financially independent, we would say life insurance isn’t as necessary. In case of a death, the surviving spouse would receive the assets. In case both of you would unexpectedly die at the same time, your children would receive your assets. However, in reading your blog, we see that you have two young college age boys who could still be living at home. In this case you might carry life insurance until they are able to live more independently.

Read about successful retirees and captivating characters. Click here!

Congratulations on your early retirement! Thank you for your kind words, and we feel honored that you have mentioned us as people who have inspired you. We wish you all the very best!

Please do keep in touch.

Akaisha

Posted in All Things Financial, Q & A From our Readers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do House Sitters Really Guarantee “Peace of Mind?” – A Home Owner’s Perspective

Guest post by Angela “Sittingperfected”  Laws

If you own a home, are new to the house sitting world and have reservations about a stranger living in your place while you are on vacation, read Angela’s post below. 

Full Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, so if you click on the link and sign up, we will be compensated.

It begins with a conversation

Friend in California: Are you really going to let complete strangers look after your home?
Me: Yes.
Friend: Are you mad? (She knows I’m not!)
Me: No, I haven’t met them yet but they’re not strangers, let me explain…

This is a conversation I’ve had on many occasions with family, friends and strangers – You know, the ones who are unfamiliar with the growing phenomenon that is House Sitting. I’m so convinced and passionate about this amazing concept that I need to share my experience with those home owners who are willing to open their minds and homes to the practicalities of engaging their own pet/house sitter.

I promise, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to discover what I’ve known for five wonderful years: House Sitters really DO guarantee peace of mind!

Home Sweet Home

Caring for my beloved pet

In the beginning, my main motivation was finding the very best care for my beloved Springer. Holly was thirteen, had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and never been in kennels. EVER!  I know there are good kennels run by caring professionals, but they’re still kennels and can be very expensive. Also it’s well documented by the Veterinary Profession that pets are much happier, less stressed, feel safer and are more content when they remain in their own homes. And I wanted no less for Holly.

Enter Deborah, a local pet/house sitter.

Once I’d spoken with her, checked references and done my due diligence, I knew she was the right choice. I returned to find a happy, contented Holly and a wonderfully cared-for home.


Time marches on

That was over five years ago and since then, much has changed. My husband John retired and, sadly, our beloved Holly passed away. Now we indulge in our passion for travel even more, and we always engage house sitters. We have a lovely home which needs care, attention and security, so we need to travel with complete peace of mind.

See new places, meet new people

An easy, affordable solution

For a number of reasons I choose NOT to use an agency; I need to have absolute control over my choice of sitter. TrustedHousesitters.com provides the very best web-based alternative to these expensive agencies. I see absolutely no point in paying for a service that I can do myself. I have MUCH better ways of spending that sort of money, and who knows my needs better than I do? Agency sitters charge a daily rate, daily food allowance and charge according to the number of pets involved. In five years I have never paid a sitter!

During long sits, an agreement is made where sitters are to pay utilities. This is not unusual.

International appeal

My sitters come from around the world. Although some home owners insist on looking locally, for me the distance they travel is never an issue.

Country tranquility can be yours

Last year I had a couple from Australia who “sat” my home in Canada for seven months. It was our longest trip. I hadn’t met them before they arrived, but after copious amounts of communication via email, Skype and lengthy conversations with people who gave them references, I felt I knew them better than my next door neighbours. Our home was immaculate when we left, and – if humanly possible – more so upon our return.

Win-win situation

We’ve engaged many sitters of different ages, both couples and singles. Some we’ve had for a week and others for longer. All are different, but one aspect remains constant. This mutually beneficial arrangement – without exception – is a WIN-WIN situation.

So the next time you travel and worry who’ll give your precious pets the 24 hour TLC, walks, attention and care they’ll miss once you leave, who’ll make sure your home is safe and secure, plants watered, garden tidy, mail taken in, and who’ll keep you informed on a regular basis about all of the above, worry no more! Engage a TrustedHouseSitter and leave home with Complete Peace of Mind.

Home owners and house sitters work together

House Sitter Profiles on TrustedHousesitters provide in-depth information including references, experience, availability, location, photographs and even video introductions.

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Housing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moving from Stuck to a World of Yes!

Disclosure: Some links on this site, like the Amazon links, may be affiliate links. If you click on one of these links and buy from the affiliated company, then we receive some small compensation. The modest income helps to keep this blog going. Affiliate links do not increase your cost, and we only use them for products or services that we’re familiar with and that we feel may deliver value to you.

A World of Yes! 

One of the conversations that Billy and I have often is how our chosen lifestyle makes us privy to opportunities. We remind ourselves that we take this vista of potential for granted much of the time. But every once in a while, it strikes us how circumstances can be rearranged in the most creative of ways to make a dreary life into one that is extraordinary.

Saying Yes to Life  is a different perspective versus digging our heels in for the sake of feeling safe.

The sky is the limit with YES!

We hear from some of our Readers about how stuck they feel in the living situations in which they find themselves. Maybe they are in a job for which they have lost enthusiasm, paying for a house that that weighs them down financially, or they might be worried to death about the present and future costs of health care. To them, there is no way out to a better, more attractive life.

They feel stuck.

Being stuck can feel paralyzing

Some of that inability to take action is old fashioned inertia. Feeling stuck is also due to fear or not knowing where to go or what to do differently.  And a portion of that malaise is because maybe they have given up their dream of financial independence – the enthusiasm and hope they had for a better retirement future.

Shake it up a little

Get radical for a few minutes of active imagination here and see where it takes you.

What if…

You got out from under the perspective you are now holding and did something unexpected. Like maybe sell your house, rent it out, exchange it for a house caring job across the globe, or go around the world doing house sitting gigs  for months at a time. There are gorgeous mansions, lovely country homes, or efficient city apartments in exotic places like Japan, Italy, France, Switzerland, Costa Rica, San Francisco, Tucson, or Vancouver. You can have your choice of staying a few weeks in a certain house sitting commitment or you could make a long term pledge to look after a home for a year or more. Yes, we have seen these astonishing offers.

Miss your garden or having pets of your own? Some of these house sitting openings have organic gardens to tend, horses to ride, a silly cat to look after or an affectionate dog to accompany you on long walks through forests or on the beach.

The world is full of gardens and pets that need tending

Some home owners wish to sublet their summer home while they are enjoying their winter home thousands of miles away. We just looked at a fully furnished sublet in gorgeous Panajachel, Guatemala which offered volcano and lake views, had indoor/outdoor living, two fireplaces and was only a 10 minute walk from town. With cable TV, internet, all utilities, gardener and a maid, we were looking at paying $300 a month.

That has to be cheaper than your current mortgage, and these sorts of deals are everywhere.

Fear of boredom

What about entertainment? How do you keep yourself from being bored if you are outside the familiar?

If you equip yourself with digital gadgets so you are able to read kindle books, watch movie downloads, and get the latest news via internet, you are not limited to any location around the world.

Want to bone up on your language skills or cooking abilities? Living a few months in Tuscany would offer you access to practicing your Italian and taking a local cooking or painting class. Or maybe you would be interested in an archaeological dig in Crete or living among the moneyed in Mirabella, Spain?

To learn survival phrases in the local language, download a free travel language guide by World Nomads and learn basic travel phrases in any of 25 languages to get you started on your global tour. Step into a whole new experience for yourself.

Your world gets bigger when you open to change

What about health care?

We have always taken advantage of the local health care in most countries where we visit. It is affordable in many nations, but if that topic makes you nervous, then supplement your “going naked” approach by taking out travel insurance through IHI (International Health Insurance) or World Nomads so that this category of your life is covered.

Why limit your whole approach to life and the making of an incredible future just because of one piece of the puzzle?

Does this puzzle piece own you?

Strangling perspectives, paradigms and mental positions

It’s true that overturning paradigms can be a fearsome task, especially if you or a loved one holds a stubborn perspective. But if you want to escape from a strangling position and open up to a panorama of opportunities for learning, giving-and-receiving, and living a style of life that is less cumbersome, breaking out is not impossible.

Blow those negative, self-limiting viewpoints to smithereens! Why should we allow fears or mental pictures hold us back from a life of self-fulfillment?

Will living affordably in gorgeous places around the world suit everyone?

Of course not.

WooHOO Baby!

But for those to whom this idea appeals, you will be able to create a wondrous lifestyle, one that continuously opens to even more possibilities and personal expressions.

How do I know this works? From living on the sugar plantation island of Nevis, West Indies, sailing on a triple-masted sailing vessel through tropical Caribbean islands, spending years in exotic Asia all the way to living with the ancient Maya peoples in Central America, we have experienced it firsthand.

We don’t need any convincing.

How about you?

Learn about housing alternatives, house sitting, house exchange, ‘worry-free’ housing, and more.

Posted in About us, All Things Financial, Heart Song, Housing, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Any Dirt on Being an American Traveler?

Hi Billy and Akaisha,

I just love your stories.

My wife and I are working towards financial freedom now and you guys are one magnificent motivation to figure that out.  Once in a while your stories trigger me to write and ask a question.

Reading your recent story about Belize and travels through Guatemala, I could not help wondering if you guys have any harrowing stories about trouble the locals may make when they encounter to Americans that don’t speak the language well and seem to be ‘adventuring’ through their country.  Have you felt any prejudice against Americans increase over the last 5 years?  Do you have any interesting stories to tell about ‘near misses’ that you can share?  Seems your stories are always very positive.  Any dirt to share?

Again, thanks for being an inspiration to those of us still stuck on the gerbil wheel!

Dave

Educate yourself, stretch your dollars, travel, find your perfect retirement spot, have fun! Click here!

Hi Dave,

Thank you for your patience in waiting for my reply, and thank you for your kind words about us being a motivation for you. That makes us feel very happy!

As far as having any “dirt” to share, or having harrowing experiences with locals and bad attitudes towards Americans, mostly all we have to report is positive.

We make sure that we are under the radar in how we dress and our approach to the locals is always friendly, conversational, and respectful.

I would recommend that you read our response to one Reader who asked how to Identify Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, as I go into more detail there about fear, taking precautionary action, and violence.

That being said, in the countries where we have visited it is our experience that there is not the blatant and shame-inducing hatred of Americans that is portrayed by the media so often. We as Americans are not hated. In fact, it seems everywhere we go the locals of any country are proud to be from that country and we find that to be healthy. We are proud to be from the U.S.A. and we show that by our smiles, our humor and by treating the local population with equality and esteem.

On occasion we will see people from other nations who are loud, disrespectful, dirty, condescending or dismissive, and those people, of course, come to find that they have issues in foreign countries. Anyone – American or not – who acts in this manner will find that they will encounter trouble. It only makes sense.

Learn about housing on the road, RVing, long-term stays, global house exchange, vacation rentals, apart-hotels and hostels. Click here.

I would say that we are very proud to be Americans but we advance through our travels primarily as human beings. We neither cower nor bang on drums in some proselytizing manner about our beliefs.

If you would like to travel, take the leap. Don’t be afraid to answer that you are from the States, and return any exchange with the humanity that you are.

We wish you all good things, and again, thank you for taking the time to write.

Akaisha

Posted in About us, Q & A From our Readers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment