Our affordable Central America vacation in Belize came to be when when searching for a cheap summer getaway not too far from our east coast home in America.
I’m a full time wedding photographer (mikkelpaige.com) and when two of my couples had to relocate their international weddings due to 1) Zika virus and 2) financial concerns, I panicked a little. (Thank you, money and mosquitoes.) This meant I didn’t have any international travel on the calendar for the rest of the year, which immediately had me on a computer looking up options. Thailand was in reach but because of rainy seasons we decided to push it back a few months. “If we push Thailand back to December we a HAVE TO still go away in August. I NEED IT.”
Before deciding on the “winner,” we thought about Europe – but summer is the height of tourist season there, equating to inflated flight prices. We explored the idea of going to Nepal but decided to hold off on until 2017 when the new Aloft hotel is up and running and they’ve had another year to rebuild from the terrible earthquake they endured in April 2015. (Aloft is part of Starwood Hotels and I have Starwood Points – and I’m not afraid to use them!) Sooo….where else?
So back to the drawing board, I started to search Google Flights for affordable destinations. Central America came up and the competition became: Belize or Costa Rica.
We started to explore Google Flights for affordable destinations that didn’t require Thailand-length 20+ hours of travel. Central and South America! But nothing was exciting both of us for this “shorter length and lower budget” summer trip.
So why Belize?
Our first choices ended up being Costa Rica and Panama. I studied abroad in Costa Rica in 2005 but hadn’t been back since; the thought of going somewhere familiar and showing my boyfriend a country that had such an impact on my life and my old “stomping grounds” (if only for a study abroad program) was appealing. Plus, in the midst of my busiest season in my profession, the thought of knowing a bit about the country first-hand equated to less stress in the planning process in my mind.
But I had already been there. We researched Panama – it got mixed reviews. We heard Panama City was sketchy(the main city in the country), but some surrounding cities were beautiful. Meh, we weren’t intrigued. So we sat down to assess our summer getaway.
Here is what we REALLY craved:
- something architecturally historic
We couldn’t decide. Which was “the one”? I turned to Facebook looking for an answer among friends and posted, “Panama or Costs Rica?” and a friend I trust, who runs Travel The World replied, “Belize.”
We briefly looked into it – was this popular vacation destination a good place to go if we weren’t…honeymooners? My aunt said, “Well anywhere you go could be a honeymoon destination, no?” And I agree.
So there you have it! We researched some more and found indeed, it was “the one.” It felt right and we booked it. It satisfied everything we desired (see bullet points above), the flights were short and the cost was affordable (at first glance anyway – more on that later).
We decided we would do one week there – 4 days in the jungle for some fun activities then head to the beach for 3 days for some real R&R. Check out our jungle itinerary in San Ignacio here.