What to Bring, What to Leave Knowing the You No Longer Have Amazon Prime or Target at your Beck and Call Disposal!
I originally wrote this post almost TEN YEARS AGO! In August of 2011. And I was just reminded of it when I saw a Facebook forum discussion on this exact same topic. The question posed by Larry H in the Facebook group “Ambergris Caye Immigrants” is:
What do you wish you would have brought to Belize when you moved?
When I moved from NYC almost 14 years ago, I came to Belize two times in my first few months…both times with two large over-packed suitcases…both dangerously teetering on the 50lbs limit. All my other belongings were either donated/thrown away, sold at a garage sale or put into one small box that now sits in my mother’s attic in NJ. (Why is it impossible to throw out a middle school or high school yearbook – will I EVER look at those again? No…so why is it impossible to throw out? Questions for another time…)
But now that I look back, there are things that I probably should have packed and there are definitely things that I could have left behind.
One note I have for myself: KEEP A LIST OF THINGS YOU WANT PEOPLE TO BRING DOWN. Vistors are lovely…and ask me what they can bring down for me. And often…I can’t think of a thing. Even though I KNOW I need some things.
Write it down!
- Shopping over the past 14 years has changing a bunch. Mirabs in Belize City and Caye Supplies in San Pedro – you can get lots – from kitchenware to good white towels to small appliances. Clothing, I find, is a different story: clothing is usually really small and made up very unnatural fibers. I generally either order clothes from the states when friends visit or hit the “pacas” – the used clothing stores.
- Things can deteriorate here quickly! Clothes that you don’t wear for a few months can get moldy, belts can get rusty, leathers and elastics can just fall apart. Humidity and salt air are TOUGH on all things!
- Often when you are renting or even buying a place, the basics are included. Don’t bring glasses or silverware or plates…you can find them here.
- Don’t listen to the people that just say “As LITTLE AS POSSIBLE”…sure it sounds romantic to throw caution to the wind and just pack flip-flops and your bikini but trust me…unless you lived like a hermit or a cloistered nunnery in your home country
Things I Took that I am Glad to Have:
- Crucial kitchenware. Specialty stuff that you love….my favorite frying pan. I am always glad I have it. Your great knife set.
- Sheets. Good cotton sheets and bedding. It is hard to find here. If you need a down pillow, you should bring it.
- Books. I love to read…maybe 2 books a week. There is no book store in San Pedro – a wonderful used book spot but no new book store. If you love certain books or authors, bring them. (Note: I read a lot. You can see my favorite books of 2020 here – I almost made it to #100 by year-end. And since I wrote this original blog in 2011, I got a kindle or two or three. And I could not live without it.)
- Belts. You can’t really find them here. Not sure why.
- Photos/artwork you LOVE. I’ve purchased art I love down here. LOVE. But bring the things that are special to you.
- Your camera and computer and phone. If your phone needs a new battery or service, do that before you come. There is no Apple Store in Belize or Bestbuy.
- Your pets. Duh. And anything special that they need – leashes, harnesses, special toys, medication. There are some things here but the selection is quite limited. Also bring them for a full check up before you leave. There is vet care on the island but right now it is sporadic.
- Things you just love. LOVE. Your favorite body wash. The soap that you love. Little collectibles. You’ll be glad that you have them. Perfume? Not needed. Unless you enjoy attracting mosquitos.
- Turbo-sized Advil or similar pain killer. 1000 tablets minium. Basic cold meds, Pepto. If you are used to having it when you need it, bring it. You don’t want to be sick shopping at 10 different stores around town.
- An extra pair of the flip-flops that you LOVE. You wear them every day… After trying a bunch, I am a big fan of these. That little arch makes a huge difference to my 47 year old foot.
- Underwear – yes OF COURSE YOU PACK UNDERWEAR. But bring some extra – bras, briefs, whatever it is you wear because it’s hard/impossible to find replacements in Belize. I’d bring the PJs you love too. Same reason.
- A real rain jacket – waterproof/hood, the whole deal. Just because riding in a golf cart or boat in oncoming rain can be an unpleasant experience and it’s nice to have at least a part of you dry.
Things I Recommend That I Didn’t Bring
- Specialty sporting equipment – your dive stuff, your fitting snorkeling mask, your flyfishing rod and flies, your favorite yoga mat, your running shoes those Bala Bangles you love to workout in. (That last one? I actually want those…so I thought I’d throw them in!)
- Contact lenses, reading glasses, any prescription item you aren’t sure you can get in Belize.
Things I brought that I didn’t need to:
- Too many clothes. You don’t need them down here. If you bring something that you never wear at home, you DEFINITELY will not wear it here. You need 2 sweatshirts not the 15 you have in the states. Plus, they are easy to send down with friends that visit. Use your suitcase for bigger items. I way overpacked in the clothes department.
- Smaller electronics: Alarm clock or scale for example. Totally not needed…you can buy it here.
- Knick-knacks…Christmas ornaments…unless they have VERY high sentimental/I can’t live without this value
Things I Wish I had Every Day:
THIS is my original list from August of 2011 (I’ve commented on it in italics)
- Crystal Lite iced tea on a regular basis (YES! Still. And I order the BIG packs of the one I like because you can not always find it here for friends to bring down whenever they visit)
- Whole Foods (total wishful thinking…it’s the #1 spot I visit the States that makes me feel like I’ve entered Oz…Whole Foods and Target…it’s all just SO MUCH!)
- Good New York Bagels. (Bagels & Cream Cheese are my Deserted Island Food, from Murray’s in NYC with Lox or Maple Walnut CC. I’m guessing on a real deserted island you are probably eating coconuts and lizards…oh well.) (One upside of the pandemic – I’ve been a baking fool and my bagels have gotten GOOD if I do say so myself…just a hint of sour dough starter. Message me if you are on the island and you want to try some…I don’t mind dropping off one or two for you in town from my next batch!)
That’s it for now…let me know if you have any other suggestions – this is obviously a highly personal post. I’d love to hear what you brought or wish you brought or what you are thinking of bringing…