Type: International travel
Budget: Mid-range ($1000-$5000)
Where did you go: Jamaica — Montego Bay and Negril
We chose to go on a “pre-honeymoon” because we desperately needed a break from work stress, school stress, our crazy families, wedding planning, and bad Edmontonian weather!
We chose Jamaica as neither of us had been there. Marshall had never been anywhere tropical, and it was cheaper than most of the other options we had. We ended up staying a night in a Toronto hostel, since the cheapest flight arrangement meant we had a twenty-one hour layover.
What did you do: While in Toronto, we snooped around Chinatown, Greektown/Danforth, and downtown at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Coporation) headquarters, where we discovered that the World Cup (shiny gold soccer trophy) was in Canada for just that one day!
In Jamaica, we snorkelled, hiked, and lounged around the beach when we weren't out exploring.
It is such a naturally beautiful country coupled with a people who have a wicked sense of humour. So, even if you don't have a lot of money, you can still have an amazing time. We did, however, eat a stupidly large amount of jerk barbeque, and enjoyed cheap, delicious rum.
What would you have done differently: Jamaican cash machines are very different from the ones in Canada. We couldn't take money out with our debit/bank cards, so we used our credit cards, which really isn't the greatest thing (our bank back home gave us a better exchange rate). So I wish we had brought more Jamaican cash.
If you are staying in Toronto, the downtown hostel we stayed at had cheap private rooms with your own washroom and a super comfy bed! As well, for some reason “limos” (really just luxury cars) from the airport to downtown are cheaper than cabs, but the bus is even cheaper (however, we missed it).
Some restaurants will provide two totals — American and Jamaican — the American cost is actually more expensive than the Jamaican when you take the exchange rate into account, so try to pay with Jamaican dollars.
If possible, try to avoid the “Americanized” restaurants, as Jamaican fare is pretty fantastic.
Take cabs. You can usually negotiate a really great price, they will show you stuff that a tour guide will never think to show you, and it gives you the opportunity to interact with local people. One of our cab drivers stopped at a roadside stand and he bought us plums, mangoes, and peppered shrimp! They are also a wealth of information about good places to eat, as the best places we tried were the places they recommended.
Look into some of the smaller resorts. We managed to stay in pretty fantastic places for around $75 USD; part of the affordability was off season, part of it was not staying all-inclusive.
Bring really good sunscreen and bug repellent to Jamaica. The mosquitoes there left scars all over my legs!
What was the most meaningful moment of the trip? One of my favourite moments of the trip was walking down by the beach watching the sunset. Sunsets in Negril are incredibly beautiful, despite being very short. It was so peaceful, which is something that we weren't getting much of back home.
Less chat more vacation photos!