It still amazes me how Caribbean islands can be so similar in geography, culture, cuisine and lifestyle, yet they all have a different vibe and uniqueness about them, the more you acclimatize with your surroundings it becomes apparent. Our trip to Jamaica started in Montego Bay, then we were off to Ocho Rios for a couple days before taking the long drive though the inner of the island to Kingston. With a few days under our belt in Portmore, we were back on the road retracing our original route back to Montego Bay, then on to Negril where we enjoyed being ‘tourists’ at Rick’s Cafe and Seven Mile Beach.
As a son of the Caribbean and global culinary ambassador, I’m always excited to travel back to my region every chance I get. I always had plans to travel to Jamaica (watch the video below), but this trip was a sort of last minute thing, so I didn’t have time to plan as I normally would.
The tips I’m about to share with you is not necessarily specific to Jamaica, as they apply to any destination you may have on your upcoming travel plans.
- try to read up on the local laws (is smoking ganja on your to-do list?) and respect them
- have a valid passport (and secondary picture ID) with you at all times. I usually scan my passport and email myself a copy, in the event I ever misplace my original, I’ll have said copy anywhere I am – just access your email and print it off
- don’t take around large amounts of cash (remember when you convert US to JAM $$ you get about $127 JAM for every USD so it can stack up quickly)
- leave the excess jewelry at home (don’t flash that bling)
- try to book your tours/activities with reputable tour groups – your hotel’s concierge will assist you
- keep luggage, bags and other possessions close to you on in plain view at all times
- don’t accept any packages to bring back to your home country for anyone
- give friends and family your contact details (where you’ll be staying during your trip)
- if you’re staying on a resort and you’re going off-resort, do let someone know where you’re going and if possible, when to expect you back
- BE SMART! As any other part of the world, there is crime in Jamaica. Let commonsense guide you.
- don’t get too high/drunk/whatever unless you are in a safe place to do so
- try the local cuisine, there’s a LOT to experience (look for locals in the lines as it’s usually a sign that the street vendor or restaurant serves good food) Do Read : 9 Tips To Finding The Best Dining Options When Traveling.
- ask permission before taking pics of people you don’t know and DON’T be surprised if they ask you for $$
- tipping is expected (even when the bill includes gratuities)
- be aware of your surroundings
- respect nature (land and sea)
- while I love to explore on my own, I would recommend doing so in a group or with organized groups/tours
- be mindful that people will try to sell you just about everything under the sun and at times they can be a bit persistent (say no politely and continue on your way)
- ladies, avoid braiding your hair… unless you want to deal with a sun burnt scalp and broken hair when those braids are removed
At the end of the day a little common sense is all you really need. If something or a situation does not feel right, let you instincts be your guide. Jamaica, like other travel destinations will be packed with exciting sights, sounds, culinary delights and good times, but there’s also the odd person who will try to get the best of you. Keep your eyes out for them.
Have you vacationed in Jamaica? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below (thanks for sharing).