I know there is a no tipping policy at Couples, but I also know we'll need some cash to tip for other services along the way.
First, should I convert my American dollars or not?
Second, how much cash would you recommend bringing for 7 days? (I know this can vary from person to person)
To help with the 2nd question:
We're planning to stay on the resort our whole stay. I saw a recommendation to stop and get jerk chicken on the way in from the airport, which I definitely want to do. I would like to do the catamaran cruise if we can get a spot. The rest of the trip should be nothing but scuba and beach time. Oh...and we'll be staying at CSA.
Tips for luggage porters, shuttle drivers, cat cruise....if you go to spa.....you may also want cash to tip beach musicians or purchase items from beach vendors. $100 would be fine if nothing else comes up, but you may want to bring more as just in case money.
We learned a long time ago to go to the bank and get $100 in $1 bills and $100 worth of fives. We always come home with some left over but are never at a loss to be able to give the proper tip. I hate that feeling of needing to give a tip and all you have is a 20. You either over tip or don't tip when you should.
we did jamaican money the first time we went back in the early 90's, it wasn't as appreciated as american dollars. since then we always use american. like you, we don't go to far and bring about 400.00 for tips and spending money and end up taking home some. As for jerk chicken- they normally stop halfway for potty breaks so you can check out the food there. you can also ask the driver. tip well and you should be able to get what you want!
Our last trip we brought $1000 in cash and it was WAY more than we needed. This time, will probably bring between $500-$600. We like to spend some time walking down the beach visiting the locals bars and restaurants and also enjoy spending in evening on the cliffs as well. Our next trip we will be giving the One Love Pub Crawl a try.
I would recommend converting American to Jamaican when going off resort as it's just simpler.
You do need to tip the red capped luggage guys (a couple of bucks per bag) the van driver (we tip $10 - $20 each way) the catamaran people (we tip about $10 a piece) and the spa people (we tip about $20 a piece)
I have never exchanged money and always use US $s. If you are on the van they take a vote and see if enough people want to stop - I personally prefer to just get there.
we only use cash to tip off the resort and at the spa. You can purchase items on the Catamaran cruise. No need to convert. We bring enough to buy some gifts for the kids. One year we spent a couple hundred dollars on a large painting that we rolled up and carried home in our suitcase. They have paintings, hand painted shirts, jewelry, shoes and wood carvings at the resort at least once a week and vendors walk up and down the beach as well (they don' harass you and are very wonderful). We love CSA and are going home for our 4th trip in July. The scuba guys as CSA are AWESOME!!
No need to convert cash to Jamaicain dollars as everyone accepts US dollars. If you go to shopped things are priced in US dollars. If you use a credit card you will get hit with an exchange rate.
2nd on amount to bring it depends on what you do. I would not get the jerk chicken on the stop from the airport as it is pricey.
Couples CSA is in Negril and has free watersports to include a catamaran. You can go on it everyday if you would like. If you go on any offsite excursions you can charge them to your room so do not need cash. But you will if you go to Rick's to watch the cliff diving for a beer. My advise would be to bring 1, 5 and 10 dollar bills
Do not convert your money. If you find you run low and need more there is an ATM upstairs in the lobby. Small bills for tipping at air port and driver is really all you need. The drinks are free at the airport in Montego Bay in the Couples Resort area. There will be vendors on the resort property to buy souvenirs from or you can walk the beach and buy some.
We flew from Montego Bay to Negril so I don't know about the stopping for Jerk Chicken along the way. Catamaran Cruise is a must....go twice if you have time and reserve your spot as soon as you can after you check in. If you have never been take the tour to get familiarized with the resort. It is worth the time.
You sound like us. We seldom go off-property and don't buy much. But it's always a good idea to have some cash when traveling. I also always have credit cards with me in case of emergencies. Assuming you have a credit card with you ... we usually bring $300 in cash and come home with most of it.
I would suggest bringing $100 of it in small bills, $1's and $5's for tips and small purchases.
Oh, and there's no need to convert to Jamaican dollars. US currency fine everywhere though you'll probably get change in Jamaican. Another reason to bring small bills.
We hace been to Couples many many times and we stay at the resort most of the time. You hardly need any cash. You don't need to convert your American dollars. We have left the resort before not owing one penny. Everything really is included. You tip the bus driver from the airport and the baggage guys at the airport and that is about it. You can tip the catamaran guys if you want but many do not.
Why would you stop for chicken or RedStripe on your way to the resort when it's available there? Also, remember that, if you take the bus, you're not the only person on it. Consider that the others may be tired from long flights and/or may want to get to the resort right away where there is plenty of FREE food, drinks, etc. Be considerate!
The catamaran cruise is free, although it's a nice gesture to tip the crew a few dollars per person.
Other reasons you might need cash: tips for spa services, buying stuff from beach vendors, tips to guys who carry your luggage from Couples lounge to buses, tips for drivers to/from Couples.
That's about it. If you don't plan to do spa and you don't plan to buy anything from beach vendors, you can probably get away with about $20. Add more the above as appropriate.
I believe we usually take about 300 USD. It's always been more than enough, and we travel home with some. If you're doing off property stuff, like golf for instance you will need some $$ for the caddies / drinks / etc... On property: cashless, which is so very nice.
If you are not going to leave the resort, you will not need anything, provided you do not want any souvenirs, spa services, drinks off site, excursions or any of those things. You need a few bucks to tip the redcaps, and the driver. Remember, prices in JA are very similar to prices back home, so don't be stingy tipping.
We split our trip with a week on the cliffs at a non-AI, and a week at Couples. It goes without saying I spend a heck of a lot less at couples than I do in a non-all inclusive, but even when we have only done couples, it is always good to have some money to spend on souvenirs or what have you.
As far as changing to jamaican dollars... You can do so if you wish, and often will get a better deal if you do so, however... The craft market and the shopping mall both price in USD, not Jamaican. If you do decide to convert a few $, £ or € to jamaican, for goodness sake, do not do it at the airport. The exchange rates when we went last year were 13% different than what I got at the cambio in negril. I have found couples generally gives a decent rate however, and there is the convenience of getting change on site of the hotel, particularly if you are not familiar with traveling offsite for the exchange itself.
Bottom line in my mind though, take a few bucks with you... Just in case you want to do something.