My husband and I went to CSA in September. I'm a pale, pale redhead who got systemic sun poisoning on May of this year at an air show. That being said, I hit the tanning bed for 2 months before our trip in an effort to not fry myself on vacation. I am happy to report that I got through a week without getting fried. I don't think I put sunscreen on more than once a day the entire trip. There was one day where we did 2 snorkling trips that my shoulders got a little pink, but after some aloe that night I was good to go. IMO, base tans really do work.
I'm workin on the base tan for two more weeeks, then CTI!!! I do find that I tan a lot better and with a lot less red tint if I base tan before I go. I only tan when going on vacation though. I don't want leather skin either...
I used to go to tanning beds before every trip and had to stop several years ago due to skin cancer. I have had all three types of skin cancer. What I do is use something like Jergens natural glow to give you some color and also bring it along to keep it up. I still use sunscreen and stay under the umbrella most of the time. My husband who is Italian doesnt base tan and usually stays under the umbrella without sunscreen most times and gets very nice tan. If he is playing volleyball then he puts sunscreen on his shoulder area. Everyone is different but it is a chance to take depending on skin type.
For what it's worth, we always hit the tanning salon for a month before our trip. We never do tanning other than in preparation for our trips to Jamaica. I like having some tan started before we go. In spite of what others have said, it seems to help protect us from burning. We do use sunscreen while in Jamaica, usually starting with SPF 30 for the first two or three days, then ending up our week with SPF 15. We return home with a very nice tropical tan.