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  1. #1

    Default Tips for travel, packing, tipping, etc.

    My fiancé and I are traveling to Jamaica for our Weddingmoon in March and will be staying at CSS. Once we chose Couples for our trip, I’ve been coming on here searching for any and all information which we thought might be beneficial to us as first time travelers to Jamaica. The wealth of information contributed by repeat visitors is priceless to us. I’ve actually started a word document just to keep some of it organized. I’ve only bothered copying that information which we felt would be of benefit to us in particular but I’m sure other first-timers would find it equally beneficial as well. So, in order to perhaps save other first-timers some search time, I’m sharing with you the following tips & packing list.

    I especially would like to acknowledge the contributors to the following thread which is where I found a lot of this information: http://couples.com/mb/showthread.php...at-quot-thread

    Regarding the Immigration/Customs section, I’m pretty sure this is a direct quote but I neglected to save the thread at the time. Whoever posted this, THANKS!

    Travel Tips
    Sign up for the “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” (STEP) at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/...tion_4789.html

    Sign up for Romance Rewards online on Couples website to check in online before your trip.

    “Immigration/Customs form will be given out during second flight from Charlotte to Jamaica. Take pen(s) with you to fill these out during the flight. Sign and date everything including the departure information. The departure card will be given to you to give back on your departure.
    After landing, try to get out before the other passengers do. Get off the plane and head to immigration. After immigration people usually go to retrieve their checked luggage if you have carry-on just head to customs. If you have nothing to declare, get in the “nothing to declare (green)” line. After clearing customs, head to Couples’ lounge and check-in. After leaving customs, head down a corridor then turn left and Couples’ lounge should be there.”


    Make a cheat sheet with information needed for Immigration/Customs form. (Passport number and flight information) This might save some time and from having to rummage through your bags.

    Once at the resort:
    Make sure to take the resort orientation if you’re a newbie.

    Do the Dunn’s River Water Fall on Sunday to avoid crowds from the cruise ships – confirm with front desk.

    Use the in room safe for anything you don’t want to lose or have stolen. Make sure to wipe down the key pad each time you use it. The resort is very secure but it won’t hurt to take these small precautionary steps.

    Please do read the FAQ’s found here: http://couples.com/faq.php


    Drinks to try: (these seem to be the more popular ones and the few I’ve never had before)
    Bob Marley
    Jamaican memory
    Dirty Banana
    Hummingbird
    Miami Vice
    Jamaican Smile
    Caribbean Sky

    Don’t overdo it on the drinks! No fun wasting time in your room nursing a hangover.

    What to Pack
    We are checking 1 large garment bag and taking 2 small carry-ons and packing for a 7 night stay.

    Hers: (wedding attire pertains only to those who might be getting married or doing a vow renewal)
    1 pair of pants which convert into shorts which we’ll be wearing while traveling since we’ll be going from cold to hot
    1 swim shorts w/swim top for Dunn’s River waterfall
    2 tank tops
    1 wedding dress
    2 long sundresses
    3-4 short beach dresses/cover-ups
    3 bathing suits
    Undies
    Nighties
    Flip flops
    Water shoes
    Sandals with straps
    Dressy shoes (wedding)
    Tennis shoes worn during travel.

    His: (wedding attire pertains only to those who might be getting married or doing a vow renewal)
    1 pair of pants which convert into shorts which we’ll be wearing while traveling since we’ll be going from cold to hot
    1-2 lounging shorts
    4-6 t-shirts or tank tops
    2 pairs of slacks (dinner & wedding)
    1 dressy shirt (wedding)
    2 collared shirts (restaurant and private dinner)
    3-4 swim trunks
    undies
    2-3 under shirts
    Sandals
    Water shoes
    Flip flops
    Dressy shoes (worn during travel for wedding and restaurant)

    First Aid Bag (all pills are packed in smaller baggies which will be labeled properly to save on space):
    Tylenol
    Aleve
    Zyrtec
    Antacid
    Mouth guards
    Band-Aids
    Aloe for sunburn
    Neosporin
    Any prescription medicine
    Your preferred method of birth control if using any

    Toiletries: (all toiletries will be in smaller travel sized bottles except for sunblock)
    Leave in Conditioner
    Regular Conditioner – Hotel provides shampoo but no conditioner
    Mousse or Hair Gel
    Facial Cleanser
    Face lotion
    Body Lotion
    Perfume
    Makeup – Only the essentials
    Feminine Hygiene products
    Bug Repellent wipes or Skin So Soft by Avon (works as a bug repellent as well)
    Mouthwash
    Toothpaste
    Toothbrushes
    Shaving gel
    After shave lotion
    Deodorants
    Razors
    Nail clippers
    Tweezers
    Q-tips
    Blotter sheets
    Floss
    Sunscreen – bring more than you think you’ll need
    Jewelry – bring only what you will wear and nothing too flashy
    Hair accessories
    Hairbrush
    Washcloth or shower scrunchie (I would think the hotel would have washcloths available though)

    Must Have’s:
    Cash - make sure to bring plenty of small bills for tipping non-Couples staff and for beach vendors
    Credit Card, Debit Card
    Water proof money holder
    Passport, itineraries, I.D.’s and copies of these plus copies of birth certificates keep originals in hotel safe. (Leave extra copies at home with a trusted family member or friend.)
    Snacks for trip – cuts down on cost since airport/airplane food is usually overpriced
    Beach Tote (can double as carry-on)
    Pens – for filling out customs/immigration forms
    Books – for reading on plane and when sitting at the beach
    Sunglasses
    Travel journal
    Cameras – our DSLR and a waterproof camera.
    Camera tripod and remote
    Laptop (maybe load a couple of movies to watch in our room)
    iPod
    Phone chargers – won’t really use cell phones but just in case
    A few 1-2 gallon ziplock bags for dirties and wet clothes

    Extras: (most if not all of these are from the "wish I thought of that" thread)
    Small flashlights – for walks on the beach at night
    Small Binoculars
    Water bottles – fill up with water and take down to the beach. NOT FOR ASKING BAR TENDERS TO FILL UP FOR YOU.
    Towel Clips – Keeps towels in place on loungers
    Watch which clips to side of beach bag
    Spot Remover
    Woolite – for washing out bathing suits and other clothes if needed
    Luggage Scale
    Electric candles for mood lighting
    Wallflowers from BBW or other kind of air freshener
    Smaller bags for leaving food in fridge or gladware
    If bringing gladware, bring a bit of dish soap
    Kitty snacks – to feed the cats that roam the resorts.
    Easy Breeze Doorway Screen – Uses a tension rod http://www.amazon.com/Saint-Gobain-B.../dp/B00438SFLQ

    Tips on Tipping:
    DO NOT TIP ANY COUPLES STAFF!
    Airport Porters per bag - $1 - $2
    Shuttle Driver - $10 – $20 each way
    Tour bus driver - $10 – $20
    Tour Guides - $10 - $20
    Minister - $40 - $60 (if you’re getting married or doing a vow renewal)
    Photographer(s) - $30 (if you’re getting married or doing a vow renewal)
    Videographer(s) - $30 (if you’re getting married or doing a vow renewal)
    Spa employees 15-20%
    Beach Musicians
    Cat cruise staff – I guess it doesn’t apply to CSS but thought I’d add it for others

    Gift for Wedding Coordinator. (if you’re getting married or doing a vow renewal)
    Candies for other staff.

    Make sure you fill out the “Customer Satisfaction” survey at the end of your stay and name staff members you felt excelled in their performance.

    There were many more tips on what to bring but a lot of them did not pertain to us or I just don’t think I want to try at this time. For example, some suggested Christmas lights for the verandah. Cute, but not something I want to bother with. Also, a lot of people have mentioned that they don’t care for the taste of the ketchup in Jamaica and that they bring some from home. We won’t bother with this since we don’t care for ketchup anyways.

    Feel free to add to this list or to correct any information on here.

  2. #2

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    Thanks, thats a pretty good list and you hit on probably the top things. There are things on there that I havent really thought of, like the towel clips. Thanks!

    Couples Ocho Rios 2005/2006
    CSA 2009/2010/2011/
    2012 x2/2013 x2

  3. #3

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    Do you think it would be possible for the moderator to sticky this to the top of the page?

  4. #4

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    Something I do when traveling, is print off all itineraries and confirmation numbers and put them in a folder in my carry-on. That way I don't have to rummage through a bunch of stuff to find what we need. It came in really handy when filling out the immigration forms on the plane. It also came in handy when my bag didn't arrive and I needed the resort info to give to the airline. Again, it was helpful when we had to report our return flight info at check in.

  5. #5

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    Great thread! Thank you for sharing.

  6. #6

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    take 100 in 10s 100 in 5s and 100 in 1s this way you always have small bills for tipping non-Couples people, buying gifts etc...
    Randi & Sherri
    18x CSA repeaters
    1x CN

  7. #7

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    What a great list, that must of taken some time to put that together. Thank you so much...

  8. #8

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    benisa,

    I would recommend that with checked baggage, you each check a bag with some of his and some of her stuff in each bag. That way IF a bag is delayed you will hopefully have the other bag. Mind you in 12 trips to JA, our luggage has never been delayed going down and only once on the return trip.
    Vicky

  9. #9

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    I don't think you can fit all that in 1 check and 2 carry ons. I tipped the bag guys $5 each way, the shuttle driver $15 each way, and I gave the musicians on the beach about $15 a day. I appreciated the music and know that the $ means a lot more to them than it does to me. I got to know many of them, bought their cd's etc. I took my laptop, but not my phone. I didn't lock stuff up, I never have in Jamaica and have never had anything stolen. I know that this is not Always the case though. Have Fun!

  10. #10

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    Great thread! Thanks I emailed this to myself so I can use this as a reference when I pack.

  11. #11

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    We bring a half-dozen can coolers. Not the thick foam style, but the thinner, neoprene style that fold flat. Slide one on our drink glasses to keep drinks/beer cooler. Also lets you identify your beer on a crowded bar.

  12. #12

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    I've been looking for a thread like this. Every time we go, I base my packing on one of these threads. Thanks for drumming it up!!
    (As I'm typing this, I'm looking at a beautiful Negril sunset from a former balcony at CSA on my screensaver behind this window...counting the days!

  13. #13

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    I would add immodium or pepto tablets to your first aid, although I make sure they are in my personal item for flights - airport food can be dicey at times. Also, I like to bring a power strip so I don't have to search for multiple outlets or crawl under tables to plug in the laptop. If you plan to bring back alcohol, sealable bottle protectors provide peace of mind - we had 2 rum bottles break one year and it made a scary mess.

  14. #14

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    We always take English breakfast tea with us as they don't have enough and a big jar of marmite
    Yam'on
    CSS 2012
    CSS 2013
    CSS 2014
    CSS 2015 soon come

  15. #15

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    We experienced a delay of our checked bags on arrival to MBJ last year, the first time in 8 trips. It was a bit scary being the first time, but it was handled routinely by the airline. There is a counter in the baggage claim area specifically for lost or delayed bags. It was a hassle but they located our bags while we were standing at the counter by scanning our baggage claim tags that they give you when you check your bags at your original departure airport (KEEP THOSE TAGS WITH YOUR PASSPORT, YOU MIGHT NEED THEM). Technology came through for us that time. We had our bags that afternoon as they had been loaded on the next flight out of Charlotte. Our flight out of STL was delayed and we barely made our connecting flight from Charlotte to MBJ. Our bags didn't make the flight with us. We went on to CSA after the airline arranged for our bags to be delivered to CSA when they finally arrived. Nerve wracking, but all worked out OK.

    As it relates to this thread; keep your must have items and valuables in your carry on. We also had a swim suit and some personal care items in our carry on, so we were able to change and head to the beach. Keep those baggage claim stubs with you till you get your bags, they are critical in retrieving lost or delayed luggage. They also required us to produce them at CSA before they would release our bags to us. I had always thought of those tags as not too important, I know what my bags look like and don't need to match a number tag to make sure I collect my own from the carousel. I now hold them in much higher regard.

    Relax, have a great trip!
    See you at the beach!
    dirtleg & sandyfoot

  16. #16

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    Bump

  17. #17

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    Any ideas on the gift for the wedding coordinator?

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