Tag Archives travel blogger

GAP YEAR MOM

by Monday, June 20, 2016

EMPTY NEST STAGE:

This is that time of year when parent’s of seniors in high school start thinking about how it will be when their child goes off to college in the fall. Being a mom of a senior who is taking a different route, I’m in quite a different boat than most. I’m a gap year mom. I not only have to feel the empty nest stage that we all experience when our kids go off to college, but I have the extra unknown of where, what and how my daughter is doing while traveling the world, on a gap year.

A GAP YEAR: AN ALTERNATIVE TO COLLEGE

We have selected an amazing program through Winterline. This gap year program has the students visit ten different countries and learn 100 new skills.  The itinerary of the destinations and planned projects they will be involved in look so well thought out and over-the-top awesome! However,  there may be times, due to weak wi-fi, or her being in a remote location, or the time change being so different, that I won’t be able to hear from her on a daily basis, as I’d like to. (kidding, not kidding)thewanderlustyogi.net

We have talked about her possibly taking a gap year off and on throughout her senior year, but we couldn’t find a program that had what she was looking for.  I even wrote an article about this, mainly due to the fact that when we talked about this to others, nobody we knew had done this, and many we knew, had never even heard of such a thing, nor understood it.  I wanted to explain what a gap year was and why it offers some genuine benefits for young adults.  Australians and Europeans have already embraced opting for a gap year-long ago, and has reaped its many benefits.  (Here’s the link: the benefits of taking a Gap Year )

PLANNING STAGE:

In the fall, we did the traditional college tours and she applied to five schools. She got accepted into many, but not into her top choice.  This only made her start looking deeper into researching gap year programs.  “Maybe this was a sign and meant to be?”,  she thought.  She didn’t want to settle for a college and spend all that money on a school she wasn’t completely excited to go to, not to mention, her wanderlust was calling.  She wasn’t even sure of what program she wanted to apply? She went from thinking she wanted to do fashion, then considered business and marketing, now she is interested in global business and non-profit work.  Who knows what it will be the next week?thewanderlustyogi.net

For these reasons and more, it seemed like taking a year off to explore the world and learn new skills, might give her the time and self-awareness she needs to make these major life decisions. She just wasn’t ready yet.  Some kids know from the time they can talk what they want to do for a job.  Some kids, even adults, change their mind constantly. I’m guilty of this myself, but when you really contemplate that a seventeen year old has to decide their lifetime career choice at such a young and complicated age, its pretty crazy to think.

DECISION STAGE:

That’s when we found Winterline.  She couldn’t stop thinking about world travel and wanting to be able to do it before she has all the responsibilities of a job, bills, a car, an apartment, etc. Adulting is hard! She knew this and knew if she waited, she might not have the time or funds to do this after college.  She felt as though this experience would not only benefit her in so many ways, but it would give her a starting point to what kind of impact she wants to make in this world. This was it! After many long discussions, our family all felt it was a perfect plan for her, and knew she would thrive in this unique, alternative experience.thewanderlustyogi.net

She began the rigorous application process with Winterline.  She went through all of the steps; writing essays, Skype interviews, getting recommendations and sending her transcripts, to finally get accepted to this competitive program.  She also was awarded scholarships for video and blogging.  You can follow her travels on her YouTube channel: Maddie Meets the World

thewanderlustyogi.net

GAP YEAR MOM:

Now that I am officially a Gap Year Mom, I don’t know what I’m feeling? I am so excited for her to be able to have all of these experiences, but also know I will worry, a lot, and will miss her profoundly.  How I choose to manage these emotions and feelings is to blog about it.  I figure this is way to get things off my chest; the good, the bad, the ugly. In addition, I think this may be a great resource for other moms/dads who are considering letting their child go on a gap year. I wish I had something like this to read right now. Although I did meet a Gap Year Mom whose son just got back in May, that gave me her card and offered for me to call anytime for advice.  We are a rare group of parents and need support, lol.

GAP YEAR MOM SERIES:

My plan is to blog about what she is doing, which from the itinerary, looks amazing! For example; she will get scuba certified, Thai massage certified, be building a house, learn to sail a boat, learn to make a Bollywood movie, study mindfulness and meditation for a month, take driving school at BMW, learn robotics, work on a farm and many other unbelievable things. I also will give you feedback of how things feel back at home in her absence and how I cope with it.  I plan to interview her dad, her brother, her friends and possibly other gap year moms and dads.  Furthermore, I have two potential planned visits with her. The first one being in Costa Rica, during her first semester, which my husband and I already had to re-visit to finish his dental work.  (Here’s the link to that story:

How I Saved $7,000 For Dental Work in Costa Rica

The second one will be during her last semester, where I plan to visit her in Spain. I’ve always wanted to go, now, what a better excuse than this? Maybe even one of her friends can join me? That’s  not for a while so I’m not sure what will exactly happen, but the plans are in the works.

I hope that my Gap Year Mom series will not only help me, but others too.  It also will be a great way to look back on this amazing life-changing journey for my daughter Maddie, but will also be a life-changing journey for me too!

She leaves in September, so watch out for updated posts to follow. If you are interested in her sending you a post card from one of the ten countries she visits, leave a comment with your address or email me privately at strikeaposeyoga@gmail.com and we will pick one randomly per country.thewanderlustyogi.net

How I Saved $7,000 For Dental Work in Costa Rica

by Friday, February 12, 2016

Last year my husband and I started planning a dental tourism  trip to Costa Rica. The trip was planned for my husband to get dental work done while visiting Costa Rica. Many people wondered and asked, “Why on Earth would you get dental work done in Costa Rica?” This was especially intriguing to my colleagues because I’m a licensed dental hygienist in the USA. There were a few reasons, but it was mostly due to the cost. I wanted to share how I saved $7,000 for dental work in Costa Rica.


I wrote two other posts that explained;

  • why dental tourism in Costa Rica?
  • our plan
  • updates on my research
  • what dental office we chose
  • the reasons why I chose Meza Dental Care, San Jose, Costa Rica
  • and our finalized dates of the big trip

(links below)

http://www.thewanderlustyogi.net/dental-work-done-in-paradise-update/

Get Low Cost Dental Work Done in Paradise


Well, we are back and I am happy to report that everything went even better than we had hoped for! Our trip was from January 26, 2016- February 2, 2016. I wanted to share as much information as possible. I know many of you have been waiting for this information from the amount of emails, phone calls, texts and comments I have received. How I determined to best explain, is to answer questions that I have gotten from readers/friends/colleagues. If there are any questions that you still have, please feel free to contact me at strikeaposeyoga@gmail.com.  I am very happy to help in any way I can.

thewanderlustyogi.net

outside of Meza Dental Care

 


QUESTIONS ABOUT DENTAL TOURISM IN COSTA RICA (MEZA DENTAL CARE IN SAN JOSE):

How do you plan for this? The first step is deciding that you want to go through with this. I understand the concern that many have (I had them too), but after going and having this awesome experience I endorse Meza Dental Care 100%. If you didn’t tell me I was in Costa Rica, I would have never known. The office was nicer than any office I have ever worked for in the US and that’s saying a lot. I currently do temporary work and have worked in numerous offices throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Once you decide that this is for you, you should contact the office. You can either email them or call them. They have a toll free number 1- (877)-337-6392. They will ask you to send your current x-rays and will study your case and get back to you with an estimate. It only took about a day to wait for it for us. If you are happy with the price and wanted to go forward, then the next step is for them to determine how many visits your treatment is expected to take. After that is established, you can see when they can schedule you and if that works with your schedule.  Booking at least 3-5 months out would be good. They aren’t open on the weekends, so consider that if you are in a time crunch and think about how long you want to be in the chair per day.  That could change to fewer or more days depending on your tolerance. Then once that is figured out, they will have you fill out a patient history form that you can do via email.  Lastly, book your flight and hotel. Boom! You are on your way to a new smile.

Was the dentist office clean and professional? The dental office was state-of-the-art and like I previously said, even nicer than most. I was so impressed. The front desk staff was so professional and dressed in business clothes. Everyone looked on point. The clinical team was also very professional, well-groomed wearing scrubs, caring and took their time in explaining every single step. The sterilization area was exactly like any I see in the US and all instruments were autoclaved and bagged in heat indicated sterilization pouches. The operatories were spotless and the dental team all wore proper PPE (personal protective equipment). They had my husband wear eye protection on all of the procedures and during his surgical procedure they set a sterile environment, had him wear a gown, hat and eye protection and the doctor wore a gown, gloves, mask, face shield and hat as well.

Was there a language barrier? There was no language barrier at all. Every single staff member spoke fluent English.  I also noticed that on the four visits we had there, we never saw one local as a patient. Every single person was from the USA. I asked Dr. Marin about that and she said that 90% of their patients are from the USA. Being in the waiting room most of the time while my husband was being treated, I got to talk to many other patients about their experience. I told them I was a dental hygienist and a travel blogger and was sharing this story with others in hopes of helping people consider this as an option for getting dental care.thewanderlustyogi.net

Each person I spoke with was from the US, from places like Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, California, you name it. They all had nothing but positive things to say. Many have gotten full mouth restorations, including multiple implants, bone grafts and sinus lifts and some have been going there for years for all of their dental treatments and only getting routine check ups and cleanings in the US. They all gushed about Dr. Meza and his amazing work and meticulousness. I saw some of the work that he has done on these patients and it was simply flawless. Coincidentally, on our very first visit, there was a patient in the waiting room that when we started chatting with him, told us he was a dentist from Boston and only would get dental treatment done there. He and his other dentist friends all go there on a regular basis for any dental work. He said he highly recommends them. That was a great start to our visit and it only got better from there.

How were the finances handled? Do they take credit cards? They accepted credit cards or cash in USD. Once they examine you, take photos and any other necessary x-rays they may need, and you have a treatment plan that you have decided to go forward with it, they have you pay 50% on your first visit. Then you pay the remaining balance on your last visit. In the case of an implant (like my husband), you will need to return to finish around six months later. You do not have to pay that until you go back for that treatment. They do however, put that in your treatment plan to be aware of the cost as a whole.

Do you know the cost ahead of time? Yes and no. The reason I say this is it depends on if you have digital x-rays that you can send them ahead of time. I highly suggest this. If you go to a dentist in the US and they took x-rays, it is your right to have a copy of them. It is also best to have them be as current as possible. If you send them the x-rays, they can give you an estimate on what they can see through the radiographs, but it also depends on what you want done. For instance, we weren’t sure if we were going to go through with an implant or do a bridge instead, so the price would be different depending on which we decided. They are very good about giving you different options depending on what would be best in your case, and also dependent on how much you can afford.thewanderlustyogi.net

What advice would you give to someone from the USA considering this option? My best advice is to go to a dentist in the US and get x-rays and a treatment plan and get a copy. That way you can send it to them and they can get a better understanding of what you need to get done. I would also try to give them as much notice as possible, to better be able to organize your appointments easier. Also, to realize that in cases where you need extensive work, you may have to stay up to two weeks for all the appointments necessary and you may also have to go back. ex. implants

thewanderlustyogi.net

x-ray of my husband’s implant

Another note about the San Jose area is the driving is awful. We rented a car because we wanted to explore other areas, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Meza Dental Care offers transportation to and from the airport and to all of your dental visits if you stay in the San Jose area. This is what we will be doing at our next visit. Also, many patients stay at the Radisson, which is very close and a decent hotel in the area. We will probably stay there too next time. This visit we ended up driving all over the place, which in hindsight, wasn’t a very practical plan, but I’m a travel blogger and this was also a family vacation, so we wanted to see as much as we could.  However, we did get to see a lot of the different areas of Costa Rica such as the ocean, the jungle and the mountains, but if you are there for dental treatment, its best to just stay close by and not drive at all. You can always extend your trip after all your dental visits are complete, like a lot of the other patients told me they did.

thewanderlustyogi.net

my husband Brice with Dr. Marin


Here is a breakdown of cost of what my husband needed for dental treatment and how I saved $7,000 for dental work in Costa Rica in comparison of how much the same treatment would cost in the US. (This is the most current prices of dental treatment in the Boston area. It may vary, depending on what part of the country you live.)

  • post (anterior tooth)= $150.00
  • crown build up=$75.00
  • upper partial-acrylic base=$350.00
  • extraction-single tooth=$95.00
  • root canal-one specialist=$350.00
  • osseous graft (single site)=$500
  • endosseous implant=$800.00
  • connection surgery (for implant)= $150.00
  • abutment crown-Cast Noble Metal= $850
  • TOTAL COST IN COSTA RICA=$3,320.00
  • post (anterior tooth)= $438.00
  • crown build up=$375.00
  • upper partial-acrylic base=$1250.00
  • extraction-single tooth=$397.00
  • root canal-one specialist=$1097.00
  • osseous graft (single site)=$1,550
  • endosseous implant=$2650.00+ restorative
  • connection surgery (for implant)= $875.00
  • abutment crown-Cast Noble Metal= $1800
  • TOTAL COST IN THE USA=$10,432.00+

That is a savings of $7,112.00!! Even with the cost of plane tickets, hotel, and food, it still worked out to be a savings and we got to visit Costa Rica!  This would be even more worth it if you needed multiple implants, which many of the patients who go to Meza Dental Care need. For example; If you needed four implants, the total savings would be over $14,000! I don’t know about you, but I would love to have an extra 14K in my pocket!

thewanderlustyogi.net

the waiting room at Meza Dental Care

thewanderlustyogi.net

Costa Rican coffee- our parting gift on our last visit from Dr. Meza and staff. Its the best!

In conclusion, I am extremely happy with every single step of the process and the dental care we received at Meza Dental Care, San Jose, Costa Rica. They have “dental tourism” down to a science. As a dental professional and as a wife of someone who was a patient there, I can attest to their professionalism, quality of their dental work, and exceptional personalized care. I can’t speak highly enough about this dental office. Each dentist my husband was treated by; whether it be Dr. Marin for his general treatments, Dr. Meza for his surgical extraction, bone graft and implant, or their endodontist, Dr. Hernandez, for his root canal, was highly skilled in their specialty. If you are considering going to Costa Rica and Meza Dental Care,  specifically, but are on the fence, I hope this will assist with your decision to go for it.

I wrote this article to show how I saved $7,000 for dental work in Costa Rica in hopes of helping others to be able to get quality dental care at an affordable price, who otherwise couldn’t due to the high costs of dental care in the US.  It may be a bit of “outside of the box”  kind of  thinking, but I assure you, that you will not regret it if you chose this route. When we go back in six months for my husband to get his implant finished, we are also bringing his mom to get dental work done that she has needed for years. She would have NEVER done such a thing, nor would ever think of it,  if we didn’t pave the way for her. She thought we were crazy. Who’s crazy now?

Pura Vida!

thewanderlustyogi.net

Mercado Market in downtown San Jose

HOW TO AVOID BAGGAGE FEES FLYING SPIRIT AIRLINES

by Friday, January 15, 2016

If you have ever flown with Spirit Airlines (www.spiritairlines.com), then you already know how no-frills they are. Not only are their seats cramped, they don’t serve you any drinks or snacks for free, not even water, but the biggest complaint by customers, are their outrageous baggage fees. That was why I decided I needed to help my readers with tips on how to avoid baggage fees flying Spirit Airlines.


 

thewanderlustyogi.net


SPIRIT AIRLINES BAGGAGE FEES (BASIC BREAKDOWN):

  • 1 personal bag (12x14x16)= FREE
  • 1 carry-on bag(10x18x22)= $50.00
  • 1 checked bag (H+W+L= 62 inches)= $45.00

The prices vary, depending on when you purchase the extra baggage, the size of baggage and if you are in their “9 fare club”( $59.95 membership):

  • if you book baggage using “9 fare club” at the time of purchasing flight(carry-on=$25.00 and checked bag=$30.00)
  • if you book baggage at the time of purchasing flight (carry-on bag= $35.00 and checked bag=$30.00)
  • if you book baggage when you do online check-in(carry-on bag= $45.00 and checked bag=$40.00)
  • if you book baggage at the airport ticket counter(carry-on bag= $50.00 and checked bag=$45.00)
  • if you wait until the gate to discover your bag isn’t (12x14x16) be prepared to pay $100.00 per bag!

For the latest details on pricing for optional baggage and special sized items on Spirit Airlines, here is the link to the website with this information: Spirit Airlines baggage fee prices


thewanderlustyogi.net


 

If you are going to suffer through this style of travel, you might as well make it worth while and not let the airline trick you with hidden (or unanticipated) tacked on fees. Otherwise, you might as well pay the extra for a fancier airline, because you will end up paying the same in the long run,  if you don’t know the inside scoop and how to avoid these hidden fees.

Being an avid traveler, I know travel isn’t always pretty, especially when you want to travel more, for less. I am a very low-maintenance girl and love stretching my dollar, so I don’t mind sticking with the bare essentials, if it means I get to see more destinations.  Somehow when I changed from a regular traveler (2 weeks per year) to a travel blogger; fashion, makeup, accessories, dressy clothes, hair styling tools, all kind of went out the window.

Also, the type of accommodations that I accepted prior to a life of travel, to now, has drastically decreased. I guess when you look at it as work, as opposed to going all out, for your “big vacation”,  you look at things differently? That doesn’t mean all travel bloggers are like me. Some travel with a tons of beauty accessories, always dolled-up, have lots of bags and only fly business class and stay at 5 star hotels. Many though, learn through experience, ” The simpler, the better.”  So flying Spirit Airlines wasn’t an issue for me until I realized how expensive it could actually be, if you weren’t aware of all of their restrictions and additional costs.


 

In November, I bought a Spirit Airlines flight on a flash-sale because of a ridiculously low fare, from Boston to San Jose, Costa Rica, that was unbeatable.  $150.00 ROUNDTRIP! I have been searching for these flights for a while, planning our upcoming “dental tourism” trip”. This price was more than half off the normal fares I was finding.

(Here is a link to it if you are interested:Dental Tourism in Costa Rica)

That was so cheap and I knew I would never find a fare any lower than that. So, I booked it and felt like I beat the system. Wooo! In order to really get my money’s worth though, I would also have to not pay for extra baggage. This would be very tricky, but not impossible. I would have to bring a carry-on ONLY and not even have a purse or small bag in addition. It’s not allowed. Well, for FREE anyways. Also, take note, their bag allowance is called a “personal item” and is so small (12x14x16), no wonder why people always end up bringing the wrong size and paying up to $100.00 each way for that bag.

No way! That’s not happening to me, or you either, once you finish reading this.


 

Initially,  I was just going to get the smaller sized NorthFace women’s surge backpack, since that’s the brand of my big backpack and I feel like it’s very durable and functional. That would set me back $129.00.  I didn’t really want to, but I’d rather spend the money on something I can keep for future Spirit Airlines trips and I surely didn’t want to hand that money over to them.

 

thewanderlustyogi.net

women’s NorthFace surge backpack $129.00

My husband pulled up Amazon Prime and we were ready to order. On closer inspection, we discovered that NorthFace backpacks (even the smallest ones) were 2 inches larger than accepted as a “personal item” with Spirit Airlines. Damn it! And, OMG! We almost spent the money for new backpacks (specifically for this trip, flying with Spirit Airlines), and would have found out (at the airport!) that they weren’t allowable and would have to pay the baggage fee on top of that! Yikes!


I’m so glad we were paying attention to this huge detail.  So, we starting looking at all other brands of backpacks. Wouldn’t you know it, none would fit Spirit Airlines criteria. I googled, “what bag to use on Spirit Airlines as a personal item” and other subject lines close to that search. Not to my surprise, so many others had that same question in the search que.

The repetitive and consensus answer was the same from almost every source:  American Tourister- Atmosphera II, which can be bought at your local Wal-Mart store.

thewanderlustyogi.net

American Tourister Atmosphera II (overnight bag)

The size of this bag is the exact dimensions needed (12x14x16) for a FREE, personal item on Spirit Airlines. Perfect! I went to Wal-Mart to see for myself, I even used measuring tape to be absolutely sure. It was true, so I had to get it. You can too. They sell it at all Wal-Mart stores and online for $39.00.

Here is the link:Walmart.com American Tourister Atmosphera II overnight bag $39.00


 

To be honest, this bag is not the fanciest bag, nor one I would normally be excited to buy, but, and the big but is, it is how to avoid baggage fees flying Spirit Airlines. If you use this bag, and I mean, “This bag ONLY.” 

*YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY BAGGAGE FEES* 

With that said, I also wanted to show you how it IS possible to pack for a one-week trip to Costa Rica, (because that’s where I’m going) just using this American Tourister-Atmosphera II bag.


 

I also made a YouTube video that shares this packing list, that uses the American Tourister Atmosphera II bag ONLY. It takes a lot of will-power (even for a light packer like me) to not want to bring way more things. I will admit that this is the lightest I have ever packed, but if you can do it too, it could save a lot of money.

You could use this money  you saved on more excursions, souvenirs, or a nice meal on your trip, or even use it towards your next trip. Whatever you use it for, at least it isn’t good money being thrown away just to lug stuff around with you.

Here is the video:

 


thewanderlustyogi.net

What I’m bringing for a one-week trip to Costa Rica, flying on Spirit Airlines, using an allowable FREE bag

PACKING LIST:

  • 2 pens
  • mini notebook
  • passport
  • wallet
  • chapstick/ lipgloss
  • feminine products
  • small flashlight
  • cell phone
  • GoPro
  • camera
  • selfie stick
  • tripod
  • floating GoPro handle
  • phone charger/GoPro and camera chargers
  • GoPro chest mount/ GoPro head mount, GoPro accessories
  • adaptable charger (if needed)
  • disposable wipes
  • deodorant
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
  • 8 shirts
  • 5 shorts
  • 1 yoga pant
  • 1 elephant casual pants
  • collapsible backpack
  • 1 pair sandals or flip-flops
  • 1 pair water shoes
  • snorkel set
  • 2 bras/ 2 sports bras
  • 7 underwear
  • 3 swimsuits

*if you don’t have a GoPro and all those accessories, you can use that space for 3 oz. sized toiletries and makeup. On Spirit Airline trips, I’ve decided to purchase toiletries at my destination to save space.


thewanderlustyogi.net

What to wear (layered, comfortable clothing):

  • leggings
  • bra and underwear (or wear a swimsuit as your undergarments)
  • tank top
  • t-shirt
  • sweatshirt
  • light cardigan or sweater
  • socks
  • sneakers or hiking shoes
  • scarf
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • ear buds

 

I hope these tips helped to show you how to avoid baggage fees flying Spirit Airlines. Trying to get great deals traveling can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. However, the more travel tips people share, from their own experience, the easier, cheaper, and better, travel becomes for everyone!


 

P.S.  Three other tips that could help:

  1. Don’t forget to print your boarding pass and check-in online. If you wait until you get to the airport to get your boarding pass, they charge you $10.00 to print it for you. 
  2. Bring your own snacks or get something at the airport to bring with you on the plane.
  3. Purchase liquids (soda, water, coffee) at gate before boarding. 

 

 

 

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