Once upon a time there were two 30-somethings who were ready to take a vacation. A REAL vacation, like for a whole week instead of a few days. Even better, they decided to go out of the US for this vacation. After researching several destinations, they decided to go to Jamaica because 1) English is spoken there, 2) they could get there non-stop and 3) there were All Inclusive resorts there, which sounded really appealing.
Before they booked their trip, they needed to get US passports issued.Anytime you travel to a foreign country, including Canada or Mexico you will need a passport. The easiest way to acquire one, is to work with your nearest post office or visit www.usps.com/international/passports.htm. Tips to remember:
- Apply early–it can take 6-8 weeks to receive your passport
- you can get expedited service which gets your passport delivered in 2-3 weeks
- if you are traveling within 2 weeks, you will want to make an appointment with a passport agency
- Prepare your application
- you can print a passport application online
- you can pick up an application from your local post office that has passport acceptance
- Get a passport photo taken at your post office, Walgreen’s, or any other photo service shop
- Send the appropriate payment with your application
- Track your application until you receive your passport in the mail
They were all set to book their trip. After shopping around on the various websites, and with a travel agent, they went with the best price they found for the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton resort, which was available through Apple Vacations. (Apple Vacations is still one of my favorite travel websites.) Apple included flights, hotel, AND transportation between the airport and resort, which set it at a better price point.
Things they learned about traveling internationally:
- take smaller bills for tipping at an all-inclusive resort or shopping
- take photo copies of your passport along so you can leave your actual passport in your room safe, yet still have ID with you
- always take along insect repellant, band-aids, and tennis shoes (you never know when you will need them)
- apply for a credit card that charges no international fees (just in case)
- you do not have to exchange your money, but Jamaican dollars will go a little farther
- you do not need to bring your own beach towel to an AI resort
- sign up for US Embassy alerts here so you are aware of any dangers in the country you are traveling to
What they experienced on the trip:
- what a banana tree looks like
- some drinks are not meant to be drank
- make new friends
- play the crazy pool games
- go on excursions
- don’t be afraid to zipline
- do the water aerobics in the mornings
- the (coconut) water is fine to drink
- stop and smell the hibiscus
- experience the culture
They made sure to save some of their souvenir cash for duty free shopping at The Sangster Airport at the end of their trip which was a good call. There were shops for perfume/cologne, booze, including Jamaican Rum Cream which cannot be purchased on US soil, jewelry, t-shirts, and other souvenirs, all sold duty and tax free. I bought some Australian Opal jewelry that was the same color blue as the sea in Jamaica which has been one of my best bargains ever and will always remind me of this trip.
The trip home was topped off by a beautiful sunset flight and that was the first bite of the travel bug. I couldn’t wait to start planning my next trip.