Traveling to Jamaica: Travel Insurance & Tips for an Unforgettable Trip
Whether you’re going all-inclusive or want to explore the variety of areas around the island, Jamaica offers visitors a cultural experience like no other. From the white sand beaches made famous by James Bond to the ever-present spirit of the Rastafarian culture, Jamaica provides the perfect locale for the laid-back traveler looking for a chill place to get away from it all!
But as with any type of travel, the key to success is in the planning. To help you make sure you get the most out of your trip to Jamaica, we’ve put together a list of top things to consider when making your arrangements. From travel insurance to can’t miss authentic experiences, let’s make sure your vacation is one for the books!
As you well know, planning travel definitely gives your credit card a run for its money. You’re dropping money on deposits and paying in-full for flights, accommodations, excursions, transportation, and travel guides—but have you thought about what you’ll do in the event that your trip is canceled? Probably not.
What happens if there’s a global pandemic, a natural disaster, or a travel ban that gets implemented that forces you to cancel your vacation? In some cases, you’re going to be out a lot of money for everything you paid ahead.
But that’s where travel insurance comes in. Travel insurance can ensure that you get your money back in case you have to cancel for a covered reason. And yes, that even includes those “non-refundable” portions that you’ve already laid out. However, recovering your money isn’t the only reason you should purchase travel insurance for your trip.
Why Do I Need Travel Insurance for Jamaica?
While you don’t need travel insurance to go to Jamaica, you’d definitely be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t get it. Even if you decide that you wouldn’t mind losing your money if you need to cancel your trip, travel insurance does provide additional benefits that you may need.
For example, medical coverage for treatment sought in a foreign country is not usually covered by many U.S. Health insurance companies, including Medicare. Therefore, if you got hurt, you’d end up footing a hefty hospital bill and be out a lot of money. But if you purchase travel insurance, you can get access to medical coverage while you’re abroad to cover medical emergencies.
On top of that, travel insurance provides a range of in-country services as well. From lost or stolen passport coverage to lost baggage recovery, to concierge services, language assistance, and beyond, travel insurance is an indispensable tool for every traveler to have on hand.
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
Here’s the good news: travel insurance is totally affordable, and there’s a wide range of policy options that will fit into nearly every traveler’s budget. Depending on the provider and options you choose, you’ll pay anywhere from a mere 5% of your total trip cost for basic coverage, and up to 12% of your total trip cost for premium coverage.
Because coverage and cost varies by provider, be sure to do your homework and shop around to find the best quote. In fact, our travel insurance comparison tool is perfect for shopping and comparing. Just enter your trip information, select the coverage options you need, and you’ll immediately get back custom quotes from a variety of different providers.
Even better, you can purchase your selected policy right through the tool with a lowest price guarantee. It couldn’t be any easier, and with the insurance details of the way, you can continue planning your Jamaican vacation!
Currency Exchange & Tipping Customs
The official currency of Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar ($), but more than likely you won’t need to worry about exchanging your U.S. dollars because they are widely accepted in most tourist areas. However, if you plan on scoping out a local supermarket or street vendor, you’ll likely want to carry some domestic currency as well to ensure that you’re getting the best exchange rate.
When it comes to tipping in Jamaica, you’re looking at 10-15% gratuity if you’re heading out to eat at a restaurant. But make sure that there isn’t a service charge already included on your bill. If there is, feel free to leave an additional 3-5% for good service, as the actual server may not receive the service charge money. If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, the same rule applies. Usually, a service charge will be added as gratuity, but you can also feel free to leave a few extra dollars for housekeeping and at the bar for the employees themselves.
Weather Conditions & Packing Suggestions
Jamaica experiences a daily temperature between 70 and 90-degrees year-round, but you’d be best to avoid visiting during hurricane season. While Jamaica was unscathed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, it’s still in a very storm-prone area. If you do visit between June and September, you’ll get a really great price for your adventure. But with an ever-present threat of storms, travel insurance is an absolute necessity if you’re traveling there during this time of year.
When packing for your Jamaican vacation, it’s best to bring comfortable, relaxed clothing that will keep you cool. Swimwear with a sundress or shorts and a top, with a pair of flip-flops, will take you from the beach to the market. At night, you might opt to dress-up a little more, swapping out the flipflops for closed-toe shoes and the shorts for pants. Make sure you also throw in some sunscreen and a floppy hat to properly protect yourself from the sun.
Explore Jamaican Culture
There’s much more to Jamaica than pristine beaches and perfect temperatures. To make sure you get to experience the best of this laid-back country, be sure to check out these authentically Jamaican experiences!
- Experience Jamaican cuisine. Forget the pizza they have at the resorts and get yourself some authentic Jamaican fare instead! Jerk chicken, oxtail, plantains, rice and peas (kidney beans) are just some of the delicacies they dish up in the incredible local kitchens. Get a real Jamaican breakfast of saltfish and ackee, or for a tamer experience, try a Jamicaian pattie (pastry filled with spiced meat or veggies) and a locally brewed Red Stripe!
- Pay Homage to Bob Marley. No trip to Jamaica is complete without taking a stroll into the history of reggae, which originated out of the Rastafarian culture. Venture to the small village of Nine Mile, which is the childhood home and final resting place of the legendary Reggae artist Bob Marley. You can also visit the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston and tour his former home and recording studio!
- But what about the ganja? Contrary to popular belief, marijuana was illegal up until it became decriminalized as a petty offense in 2015 for possessing up to 2oz. However, marijuana is legal for medical and religious purposes in Jamaica, but instead of opening actual dispensaries, the Jamaican government instead allows each household to grow up to five plants. Thus, because of the minor infraction on possessing weed, many people will grow and sell on roadside “brownie” stands or even walking up and down the beach asking tourists. That said, if you’re looking, you’ll easily find it. And if you’re not, a simple “no, thank you,” is all you need to say!
Really, no matter where you go in Jamaica, you’ll find yourself in paradise! But if you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some of our favorites that you shouldn’t miss.
- Montego Bay
- Ocho Rios
- Port Antonio
- Runaway Bay
- Port Royal
- Nine Mile
- Spanish Town
Looking for something a little different? Check out these unique spots that offer up a less “touristy” experience.
- Discovery Bay
- Long Bay
- Port Maria