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Vacation Preparations

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

To make your vacation as enjoyable as possible, preparation is the key. So here are a few travel tips.

Carry-On Bag: Sunscreen lotion, OFF spray and Benadryl spray should be packed in your checked bag. Liquids in your carry-on bag will probably be confiscated. See

Checked Baggage: To avoid paying an extra fee by exceeding the weight limit on your checked bag, you should weigh your bags before you leave home and again before you leave the resort. Do not weigh your bags with a bathroom scale. Instead, you should use a luggage scale, which you can attach to the suitcase handle.

Pack a suitcase of the appropriate size. For example, for a seven-night vacation, you should not pack a medium-size suitcase to the max. Instead, pack a full-size suitcase and save space for items that you will purchase at your destination.

Currency Exchange: Do not exchange US dollars for the local currency. If you exchange currency, you will lose money, because all local vendors prefer US dollars to their own currency. When you use a credit card to pay for excursions, etc., your credit card company will provide the best exchange rate available.

If you do acquire foreign currency during your trip, use it for tipping. Pesos that have little value in the United States could assist a family in the host country.

Credit and Debit Cards: If you are planning to use credit cards to pay for excursions, souvenirs, etc., be sure to inform the credit card companies before you leave home. If you are planning to use a debit card, be sure to inform your bank. Otherwise, the charges -- originating in a foreign country in this era of identity theft -- may be declined. Be sure to ask about foreign transaction fees.

Cell Phone Coverage: Ask the resort or your travel agent: Does the resort provide free Wi-Fi? If so, depending on your provider, Wi-Fi calls within the resort could be free. While contacting your cell phone provider for verification, ask about text messages.

Also ask: Will I be able to contact my fellow travelers outside of the resort? You should ask, because it is possible to get separated from your travel partner while you are seeing the sights.

Denominations: Be sure to bring small bills -- $1s and $5s -- mostly for tipping. Tipping begins when you arrive at your departure airport. You should also plan to tip the baggage handler at your destination airport. Also, there is the guy who carries your bags to your room.

Do not bring $50 or $100 bills. Merchants don't like large bills, because breaking one may take all of their change for the day. Also, large bills can be suspected of being counterfeit.

Enjoying the beach: If you have goggles, sandals and/or water shoes, bring them! Ladies, if you need beachwear, purchase it in advance. If you purchase beachwear in the resort gift shop, you will pay sky-high prices for the wrong size.

Enjoying the sun: If you have a wide-brim hat from a previous trip, pack it. Otherwise, buy a hat shortly after arriving.

Entry Requirements: If you are going to the Dominican Republic, including Punta Cana, see If your destination is Jamaica, you must complete the EnterJamaica (C5-Online) form, an electronic version of the Immigration/Customs Declaration (C5) Form.

Excursions: The morning after you arrive, you will face the task of coordinating your dinner reservations with your excursions. At most all-inclusive resorts, you have the choice of booking excursions with the resort or through Amstar.

My advice: Upon arrival, ask the resort concierge for guidance. If you are planning to go snorkeling, see

Time Share Presentations: Just say No!!!! For details, see

Vaccinations: If you are eligible for the latest Covid booster, get it before you on go on vacation. You don't want to be placed in quarantine when it is time to go home.

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