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Vacation Preparations

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.

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. Please do not weigh your bags with a bathroom scale. Instead, you should use a luggage scale, which you can attach to the suitcase handle.

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 -- being made in a foreign country in this era of identity theft -- may be declined. Be sure to ask about foreign transaction fees.

Cell Phone Coverage: Contact your cell phone provider to verify that your cell phone will work at your destination. A temporary change in your cell phone plan may be needed.

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: Although you should book your excursions after you arrive and make your dinner reservations, you should research your excursion options in advance. 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!!!! When you arrive at your Caribbean or Mexico destination, there are two points where you could fall into a time-share scam. After going through Customs and Immigration, exit the arrival hall bypassing all representatives inside trying to get your attention by claiming to be your transportation provider. The second attempt could occur after check-in. If you are told that the presentation will take only 90 minutes, don't believe it! The presentation will waste at least a half day, reducing your beach time.

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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