What is the first major step toward our mini-retirement? Getting some boots on the ground! That’s right, this post is coming to you live from Nicaragua! (So it’s going to be short.)
Before our departure, a lot of people asked us where we were headed, and it was entertaining to see the mixed responses—surprise, fear, and confusion being the most common. But once we explained to them that their dated perceptions of Nicaragua no longer hold true, their fear usually turned to excitement for us.
Though anything can happen in 12-18 months, we are slowly taking steps to be ready to take the plunge when that time comes.
Most people think we are crazy when we tell them we’d love to live in central America for at least a year, maybe more. I agree that it would be crazy to go without having gone down there to get a feel for what it would be like. But after this week, we’ll have checked that off the list.
It’s not just a business trip to scope out a location. I’ve been trying to get Amanda away from the kids for years. With my dad retiring and not yet having another baby on our hands, this was an ideal time for a no-kid getaway. We are calling it an early (1 year early) 10-year anniversary.
I’ll cover the trip expenses in detail in a later post, but at a high level, here’s what it will have cost us.
Round trip flights for 2: Less than $300
It will have cost us less than $300 for round trip tickets from Chicago to Managua. Most of the flight was free through a Spirit Airlines credit card sign-up bonus. Not everyone loves the Spirit deal because it has many caveats, so I had to time it just right to avoid certain fees and blackout dates. Most of the cost consists of other airline fees they hit you with, but it’s still a heck of a lot better than paying $2,000 for a round trip.
Hotels: 8 nights for less than $500
They didn’t have any Marriott Hotels, which is where I have most of my hotel points, and I didn’t look for other ways to get free lodging. We didn’t really want to stay at American chain hotels anyway. Instead, we are staying at highly recommended local hotels. At $50-$60 per night with breakfast included and AMAZING views, I’m not complaining.
Rental Car & transportation: $200
I converted American Airlines points to get a Budget rental car in Managua, which covered the base rental fee. When we got here, though, we were required to purchase a minimum amount of insurance for $130. We also ended up paying for a taxi on an island where we did not have our car. I gave the driver a big tip for bringing me back my brand new smart phone after I forgot it in his car one night.
Food: About $300
We’ve had a mix of free breakfasts, locally priced meals, and tourist rip-off price meals. It works out to about $40 per day for the 7 days. We also bought some snacks at the airport, mainly to satisfy Amanda’s pregnancy hunger.
Most of the hikes, tours, or sight seeing we’ve done have either been free or only costed a few dollars.
Customs fees, water, ice cream, my $3 dollar Ray-Ban sunglasses, parking, etc.
Total: Less than $1,500
For a week-long trip out of the country with no kids, I’ll take that in a heartbeat every time.
I’ll share more details later so as not to waste any more vacation time, but here are some pictures of what that $1,500 is getting us. The next time we go, the pics will have 4 crazy little kids in them.