International travel is back, and we could not be more thrilled! It has been more than a year since 2 Girls Who Travel have hit the road and it is time to get back to what we love – seeing the world!
This trip took us to the beautiful Caribbean island of Jamaica, which happens to be the third largest island in the Caribbean.
But before we get into the Jamaica travel tips, we want to give you a quick international travel-refresher – it’s been a while!
Tips to remember for any upcoming international trip:
- Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the duration of your trip. Also, make copies of your passport in case of loss or theft.
- Take a quick look at local laws, customs and holidays before you travel! Foreign countries don’t always observe the same holidays we do!
- Register with your country’s embassy or consulate before you travel and know the number and address just in case you need it.
- Don’t flash large amounts of money or wear expensive jewelry.
- The US dollar isn’t accepted everywhere you may visit. You may need to exchange currency. Find the best way to do it for your destination. This may require some research. You can do it in advance of your trip at most US banks (takes about 3 to 5 business days to process), you can do it when you land at the airport of the country you’re visiting (can be more expensive), or you can do it at a bank or ATM in the foreign country. We’ve used all of the above methods, but do your research to see what’s best.
- Don’t let credit card foreign transaction fees sneak up on you. Find a credit card that doesn’t charge any fees or a credit card that has a low percentage — or just use cash.
- Make sure your credit card companies know you are traveling! Most will allow you to place a travel notice on your account with the dates and destination of your trip.
- Become a member of a US trusted traveler program. Why? Save yourself time in airport security lines leaving the country and save yourself time in a long line re-entering the US after an extended flight from abroad. Check out our oldie, but goodie article about TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry
- Also, if you don’t want to go the Global Entry route, there is a travel app called Airside Mobile Passport. It is the next best thing – and they have a free version. The lines aren’t as short as Global Entry, but they are way shorter than the regular custom lines entering the US from abroad.
- If you don’t have WhatsApp on your phone and you travel internationally, stop and download it now! It’s a super convenient way to communicate with family back home when you’re in a foreign country.
Now that we’ve covered some basic travel tips, let’s get into some Jamaica- specific travel tips!
- Be sure to visit www.visitjamaica.com for the latest travel authorization and COVID-19 test requirements. On our trip, we had to request a travel authorization within seven days of our travel and had to have a negative COVID-19 test within three days of our flight to Jamaica and within three days of our return to the US. Most resorts will do your tests for a nominal fee or free if you’re staying a certain amount of time. *Note: The COVID tests in Jamaica are administered differently than in the US. Theirs is one quick stick up the nose (way up the nose).
- There are currently curfews in Jamaica. Make sure you ask your resort or hotel or Airbnb host. As of our visit June 9, 2021, the Sunday curfew was 2pm. Monday through Friday was 9pm and Saturday was 8pm. The curfews ended around 5am each day. We’re told local businesses abide by this curfew as well, so you likely won’t find many places open. Just be aware.
- This is a PRO-TIP for Jamaica. Do yourself a favor and get Club MoBay! We did and we loved it. They have two options: arrivals and departures or you can do both. For arrivals, they meet you at your gate holding a sign with your name on it. You really do feel like a VIP moving through customs in expedited lanes to the Club Mobay Lounge. And on departures, the help getting through the security lines and down to the Club Mobay Lounge for free Wi-Fi, food and cocktails is a definite treat.
- In Jamaica, consider their holidays before you go! For instance, their Emancipation Day is August 1, 2021 (celebrated Monday, August 2, 2021) and their Independence Day is August 6, 2021. So just think about your travel plans and possible closures.
- All-inclusive resort, regular hotel or an AirBnB? It’s a total preference! We opted to stay at the S Hotel. It’s not an all-inclusive, but they did have breakfast and dinner included. The alcoholic drinks and lunches were on our own, which we preferred. We ventured out for lunches and didn’t overindulge on alcoholic beverages, although we did have our fair share. We loved this option. If we were just going to stay in the resort all day, then we may have opted for an all-inclusive. If you decide to book an AirBnB, consider how you will move around the island if necessities are not in walking distance.
- In Jamaica, the Jamaican dollar is the national currency. The question then becomes whether to exchange your US dollars for Jamaican. It’s a preference. Most places we visited took US Dollars, so there was no need to worry. If you are venturing away from the tourist areas, you’ll find more use of the Jamaican dollar. We had a small amount of Jamaican currency that we ordered from our banks before we left. We used it on knickknacks and tips before we left Jamaica.
- Jamaica has several cities to consider visiting: Montego Bay, Ocho Rios – where Dunn’s River Falls is located, Negril and Kingston (the capital). Travel by road can sometimes be a bit bumpy if you’re not on the main highways. We did an excursion to Nine Mile (where the Bob Marley Estate is located) and the roads made for a long trip for Val. Bring motion sickness medicine!
- Most important Travel Tip – HAVE FUN!!! Jamaica has beautiful beaches, clear, blue water and all the jerk chicken and rum punch you can imagine.