The Ultimate Guide to Experiencing the Caribbean Like a Local

Your bags are packed, you are ready to go, all that is left is to make the final touches on your Caribbean itinerary. Except, if you want to really understand the culture of the Caribbean, it is best to forget strict timings, take off your shoes, and just go with the flow.

For more ways to make the most of your trip, read on for the ultimate guide to experiencing the Caribbean like a local.

1. Know how to stick to a budget.

Locals in all places tend to know the tips and tricks essential to living on a budget day-in and day-out. If you really want to experience this region like a local, then it is critical to overlook the tourist traps and those things deemed “must-sees” and instead open yourself up to getting into the local groove.

To visit when there is the least amount of tourists, opt to travel during the off-season (during the North American fall and winter), as you will not only be able to bypass hoards of tourists, but you will also be able to save up to 30% on the costs of your accommodation.

Additionally, one of the best ways to keep your costs down and to get some exercise (see #2) is to choose to walk around your locale as much as possible. After all, the weather is so perfect, you may as well take advantage of it as much as possible!

When walking around a new destination, you are able to witness and appreciate the slower, more authentic moments of the local’s life, and you are more likely to find yourself facing opportunities to speak with new friends. Those from the Caribbean are known for being friendly and hospitable, and they regard the broader community in the same way they do their family, so put on your walking shoes and get out there.

2. Ensure you stay healthy.

For many people, traveling to a foreign destination means forgetting all about health and wellness; however, if you want to stay healthy while in the Caribbean, it is indeed possible. Your first step is merely to believe that you can do it and to create a plan in advance so that you are prepared upon arrival.

Luckily, the Caribbean is usually considered a healthy environment with an abundance of clean water which means the “tropical diseases” that many other places experience aren’t a problem for those who visit these islands. However, it is always recommended to stay up-to-date on any travel warnings and health recommendations.

In addition to walking as much as possible, do like the locals do and make swimming a daily activity. Whether it is in your hotel pool or in the sea (it does have an 83-degree year-round water temperature!) getting in some laps surely won’t feel like a chore in the Caribbean.

In fact, it is hard for anything to feel like a chore when you are in a place that has such a fantastic work-life balance. This is one of the main reasons that foreigners are interested in second citizenship programs to the Caribbean and consider securing Antigua citizenship by investment or a second passport in St. Kitts, for example.

3. Always opt for the local food and drink.

 

When it comes to really living the local life in the Caribbean (or wherever you are traveling), the key is to always opt for the local food and drink. Not only is Caribbean cuisine delicious, but it will also be the most cost-effective way to eat. By consuming the local specialties, you will get a deeper insight into the country and its people.

So, what should you be eating and drinking?

While all the countries in the Caribbean have their own variations of dishes, you can be assured that fish is one of the most important staples for everyone in the region. Due to the proximity to the ocean, Caribbean cuisine is known for its usage of fresh fish, conch, and other seafood.

Additionally, other local specialities include jerk chicken, roast pork with rice and beans, pepperpot (a rich and thick stew), and goat stew. Whatever dish you opt for, you can guarantee that it is going to include a lot of spices. Throughout the Caribbean, you will notice small roadside cantinas which offer home-style dishes — make sure to indulge in at least one meal here. And don’t forget to try the rum!

Have you ever traveled to the Caribbean? What do you do to ensure you are able to live more of a local life when traveling? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below!

 

 

AUTHOR BIO
Kal Kennard is a Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship investment into the Caribbean. Based in the Caribbean for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.

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Make the Most Out of Your Solo Travels

solo travel

Regardless of whether you enjoy traveling alone or not so much, you can always get the most out of your solo trips. The following tips can make any journey you take on your own a lot more fulfilling, interesting and exciting, so don’t hesitate to apply them when you find yourself in this situation.

1. Positive lodging reviews only!

For a solo traveler, things can get a bit awkward and uncomfortable when they have to spend the night at an unfamiliar place without a companion they know. This is why it’s always better to avoid unpleasant surprises and always try to book your stay at places that have positive reviews. Luckily, it’s rather easy to find out what places are rated positively with just a little bit of online research.

solo travel

2. Look for free Wi-Fi

When traveling, you should spend most of your time exploring. But you will still have to spend a portion of your days at your hotel. Again, sometimes things can get a little awkward if you don’t have anyone to talk to while you’re eating or simply relaxing indoors. This is why, aside from the mentioned positive reviews, you should also focus on booking a place that has free Wi-Fi. An Internet connection will give you something to occupy yourself with, and you can even chat with your friends and family on Skype or other similar apps.

3. Try to be open about meeting other travelers

Meeting new people doesn’t come easy to everyone. But if you’re generally a communicative person and you find yourself traveling alone, don’t hesitate to break the monotony of your solo travel by meeting other people. You can meet others at the hotel you’re staying at, as you’re exploring and even when visiting local events. And if you’re staying at a local’s place, befriend your lodgers and ask them to recommend bars and cafes with the best social opportunities.

4. Always be prepared

solo travel

One drawback of traveling alone is the fact that you will be the only one responsible for your comfort and safety. This means that you have to think about all the essentials to bring with you as there will be no one else to share that burden with. In that respect, you may want to equip yourself with some Go Travel necessities such as a head pillow, ear plugs, a travel hairdryer, a raincoat, etc. Of course, don’t forget to pack your own first aid kit.

5. Be out and about as much as you can

If you really want to make the most of your solo travels, which doesn’t necessarily mean socializing at bars in the evenings, make sure to get up really early to start your sightseeing day as soon as possible. This will allow you to visit different spots at your destination, which can be really important if you’re traveling during the seasons when days are shorter.

6. Try something new

solo travel

You may not be used to trying new things in your daily life, but traveling solo will allow you to experience as many new things as you want. After all, there’s no one else to be embarrassed or nervous in front of. This doesn’t have to be something extreme unless you want it to. As long as the activity in question is not something you usually do, go ahead and do it. In that sense, even singing at the local pub’s karaoke night can make this trip unforgettable and fun for you.

7. Take plenty of pictures

Don’t miss the opportunity to save the memory of every place you visit by taking plenty of pictures. Every experience you have on your journey is worth commemorating with a quick snap. And with the quality of modern smartphones these days, you’ll definitely get to capture the beauty of your travels, even when it comes to breathtaking nature or a mesmerizing sunset. Not to mention that you’ll be able to share your experience with your friends and family by sharing some of these pictures on social media.

Every experience can be a positive one if you let it. This is especially true for traveling alone. Not only will you get to see amazing things but you’ll also decide on your own itinerary and schedule. Just make sure to follow this crucial tip for every traveler out there – always have a prepared emergency contact list, just to be 100% on the safe side.

solo travel

The Italy Road Trip

The Italy Road Trip was planned for quite some time. The dilemma was how do you see all of what Italy has to offer in 2 weeks? Well the answer is you don’t. It’s just not possible in 2 weeks. So what do you see? And where do you start? Well right here.

The Italy Road Trip – Getting There

Choose your airline (it’s Air Canada for me from Canada). In order to hit the ground running (with a 6 hour time difference), I need to fly Business Class (sometimes) or Premium Economy (this time). The extra room and increased comfort make the long flight enjoyable. I absolutely have to sleep so I bring along my new travel friend, my Palmate Travel Pillow, to get to sleep and stay asleep. I want to be ready to go and awake on Day 1!

The Italy Road Trip – Venice

Arriving in Venice, we leave the airport in a water taxi and begin the short journey into the historic canals of Venice. After checking into our hotel, we grab an espresso and head out to explore the streets of Venice. Tourists are absolutely everywhere and the streets are packed. Walking along main walking routes and over bridges, we manage to find side routes and squares where the locals are. Small neighbourhoods with cafes, restaurants, shops and Venetian homes are a lot more interesting than the main streets. On Day 2, we jump on the public water taxi (Venice transit) to get around easily and give into the main tourist areas. There’s a lot to see in Venice including Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs and the Doges’ Palace. But take the time to get off the main paths and explore!

Italy Road Trip - Venice

The Italy Road Trip – Prosecco

We leave Venice in a rental car and head up to the Prosecco Region (the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso). It’s mid-September and we manage to hit full grape harvest. The area is alive with extra workers and tractors with grape packed trailers. There are many wineries to visit and wines to drink. We are looking for Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Most wineries will have a fee based tasting (5-10 Euro per person) and will provide a generous sample of their product (3-5 wine samples). If you choose to buy a bottle or 2, the wine fee will be reduced or waived (depending on your purchase amount). Among the best wineries to visit: San Gregorio (family owned- you’ll meet father, mother and sisters);  Col Vetoraz (with a wine vending machine on the small road leading to the winery); and Villa Sandi (great wine and restaurant).

Italy Road Trip - Prosecco Region

The Italy Road Trip – Tuscany

There are so many reasons to include Tuscany in your Italian Road Trip. The wine; the food; the scenery and the people. Among the many wines, the Classico Chianti (with the black rooster on the bottle neck) stands out. The Classico label is only available to Chiantis produced from grapes in the the Chianti Classico subregion. The area covers approximately 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The other more well known wine in the area is the “Super Tuscan”. The American name for a deep red wine blended from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. It’s priced to take advantage of the aura in the marketplace. Among the very best wineries to get a Super Tuscan (and other quality wines) is Villa San Andrea. The small 400 year old winery is right next door to the well known Antinori. They provide an intimate tour and wine tasting for 10 Euro. Villa San Andrea’s Super Tuscan is far cheaper than the winery next door. They also have 7 other high quality and affordable wines.

Italy Road Trip - Villa San Andrea, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Tuscany

Among the many towns/places to visit in Tuscany are – Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Montalcino and of course Florence. You really can’t go wrong wherever you go, but San Gimignano stands near the top. It’s an amazing, well preserved medieval village with several small hotels, shops, museums, and Tuscan restaurants. My favourite restaurants “Le Vecchie Mura“. It has both an inside restaurant and an outside terrace area across the lane. Authentic dishes feature pasta, steak, rabbit, deer, wild boar and of course local wine. Eating a Tuscan dinner overlooking Tuscany is pretty hard to beat.

Italy Road Trip - San Gimignano, Tuscany

Italy Road Trip - Pasta with Truffles

The Italy Road Trip – Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is all about the views. And getting to the coast just adds to the anticipation. Heading south, we drive along the highway through Naples, then onto the winding roads of  Sorrento and its long mountain tunnel. Positano is our destination and our base for 3 days on the Amalfi Coast. Positano has some incredible coastal views. It also has great hotels (Le Sirenuse, Villa Rosa); some great restaurants down on the beach (Chez Black and Le Tre Sorelle – both highly rated and right beside each other) and lots of small boutiques for shopping. From Positano, you can easily make day trips to Amalfi, Ravello, Scala and others.

Italy Road Trip - Positano

Italy Road Trip - Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

We drive to Rome Airport and overnight at a Rome Airport hotel before leaving the next day. Except for the return flight, the trip is over. The Italy Road Trip was among my top trips ever. And that’s saying a lot given the amount of travelling that I have done over the years. Each area/stop well worth the visit to immerse yourself in the history, culture, food and wine of Italy. The biggest issue is when is the next Italy Road Trip?