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Are you planning a trip to Jamaica but not sure what to pack?
Having traveled to Jamaica nearly ten times in the last few years, it’s safe to say I got this thing down. At this point, according to the locals, I’m an official “Jamerican.” I even confirmed my quasi-resident status by drinking my weight in Red Stripe, so it’s totally legit!
With Spring Break right around the corner, now seemed like a great time to fire off a few pointers. If you’re packing for Jamaica but don’t want to forget anything, here are a few essential items for traveling this Caribbean paradise.
Editor’s Note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some services in Jamaica may be limited or unavailable at this time. Please verify all information, availability, requirements, and restrictions prior to and during your trip.
Negative COVID-19 Test and Travel Authorization
We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and Jamaica does have some rules in place for arrival. So, before you even pack for Jamaica, you’ll need to take care of some stuff before you go.
American citizens age 12 and older (as well as those from Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Panama) must obtain a travel authorization within 5 days of your arrival in Jamaica. The authorization requires provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. You can apply for your Jamaica travel authorization here.
Upon arrival, visitors to Jamaica are asked to quarantine at their location of arrival for 14 days.
As of January 26, 2021, travelers flying to the United States are also required to present evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to enter. These tests must be taken no more than 3 days prior to your departure. So, be sure to contact your resort or make other arrangements to get tested prior to departure.
Please keep in mind that COVID-19 related restrictions and requirements are extremely fluid. Please visit the U.S. State Department website and VisitJamaica.com for current information about traveling to Jamaica.
It might seem obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things are the easiest to forget. While Jamaica is just a short plane ride from the East Coast and Midwest, it is a sovereign country. That means you need to have a passport to get in.
The last thing you want to do is forget your passport on your dresser, or worse, not have one before booking your trip!
Seriously, this is THE most important thing you can have. Worst case scenario, you can buy anything you need when you get there… but without a passport, you can’t even get on the plane.
If you get started early enough, you shouldn’t have any problems. It takes anywhere from six to eight weeks to get a passport, so I’d start the application process a few weeks before that so you enough time in case of hiccups.
Speaking of getting in, Club Mobay is some of the best money I spend every trip.
I don’t know about you, but I hate standing in line… especially when I’m excited for my vacation to begin. Unfortunately, lines at immigration in Jamaica can be brutal – like over an hour plus at peak times.
Club Mobay gives you a “fast pass” through customs and immigration. As soon as you step off the plane, a representative will be waiting for you, holding a sign with your name on it. They’ll help you zip right through immigration and customs, pick up your bag, and expedite your transportation to the hotel.
While you wait for your driver, you can even enjoy a drink and a bite to eat in their lounge. Seriously, it is totally worth it in my book.
One last thing about getting to Jamaica: You should definitely consider a private airport transfer.
When I arrive in Jamaica, I want to get to the hotel and hit the beach ASAP. I’ve got zero desire to wait for a free hotel shuttle, stop at a bazillion different hotels, and waste time getting to my room.
By booking a private transfer, you can have a private driver and be on your way to your resort in no time. Heck, I’ll even give you the name of my friend to contact: Try Lyndon McFarlane who owns “Purpose Driven Tours.”
The link provided is to Lyndon’s Facebook page…and no I don’t get a dime for mentioning him. We’ve known Lyndon for years and he is a wonderful, responsive, reliable guy. In addition to airport transfers, Lyndon also does tours complete with a bus that can accommodate over 20 people for your group. Contact Lyndon through his Facebook page for more details.
You’re planning a trip to Jamaica because you want to hit the beach, right? Don’t forget to pack your swimsuits!
If you’re like me, you’ll spend almost all day in your suit, so it helps to bring two or three. You’ll also want to remember to bring a few T-shirts, cover ups, and pairs of shorts for the journey.
Your resort should have pool towels, so don’t worry too much about packing those.
Speaking of clothing, when packing for Jamaica don’t forget to bring some outfits for dinner.
If you’re staying on a resort, many restaurants have a dress code. That doesn’t mean you have to bring a ball gown or tuxedo. Semi-formal beach attire is usually fine.
A nice summer dress or pair of slacks works great for ladies. Men should bring a pair of long pants, a collared shirt, and closed-toe shoes. Greg has several beachy button-up shirts that work great. A polo or golf shirt also works for men.
Nothing ruins a great vacation more than getting fried. Who wants to look like a lobster, nevermind having your jammies stick to your blisters while you sleep? No thanks.
Seriously folks, the sun is hot down here so be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and apply it liberally. Even if you’re sitting in the shade, you’ll still want to apply often.
While not as expensive as in other countries (I’m looking at you Mexico!), resort areas jack up the price on sunscreen. And since you’re going to go through a few bottles, you can cut costs by bringing a bunch of it with you.
Whenever I travel internationally, I always make sure to bring plenty of cash.
One great thing about Jamaica is that they looooove American money! Yep, good ‘ol USD is the preferred currency, so you don’t even have to worry about changing it once you get there.
Personally, I like to bring plenty of $1 bills so I have lots of cash for tips. Even when staying at an all-inclusive, I try to tip generously. And of course, if you go shopping, there is always room for bargaining on price.
Speaking of money, having a credit card with you is definitely helpful.
The best travel cards don’t just come with points and rewards, they have great protections and features as well. Some cards have trip interruption and cancellation protection, rental car coverage, airport lounge access, and more.
Above all, make sure the card you bring doesn’t charge for foreign transactions. The last thing you want to do is rack up some silly fees while you’re away. Find a list of our favorite travel cards here.
When packing for Jamaica, be sure to bring a waterproof pouch.
Greg likes to carry this Dry Pak so he can easily stash some money, a credit card, and the room key in his swim trunks:
I’ve seen other people with pouches big enough to hold their phones, money, and more. Pick a size you like and toss it in your suitcase. Trust me; you’ll be glad you did.
Whether you’re drinking water or Red Stripe, you’ll want to limit the amount of time you spend waiting in line at the bar.
Get a big insulated mug, save some steps, and get your relax on.
This works best if you’re staying at an all-inclusive, but – even if you’re not – you can still buy a few drinks and pour them in your mug to save you time. Classy? Maybe not. Practical? Hell yeah, it is!
I like to fill mine with beer (Don’t judge!) but you can fill yours with rum punch, a frozen piña colada, or any other drink you want.
Now that you’ve got your list, it’s time to start packing for Jamaica! I was clueless what to bring the first time I went, so I hope you’ve found the suggestions helpful. Happy traveling!
Want to read more about traveling to Jamaica? Check out these pieces: