Off Resort Excursions

Excursions off the resort are available in almost all of the resorts out there and prices vary depending on what you want to do. Most resorts will not recommend purchasing from salesman on the beach but it is always a good idea to check things out for yourself first. Find out the tours your resort offers and what the costs are for each one. In many areas it is in your best interest to purchase through the resort but not all of them are good deals. We were recently in Costa Rica for two weeks and booked a 3 hour sunset cruise with snorkeling through the resort. I was a little stunned at the price of $135.00 US per person but as I was unaware of anything better at the time we went ahead and booked for the following week. A few days later we had met some couples from home and they mentioned they had booked a similar 3 hour sunset cruise with snorkeling with a company called Tom on the Beach for $50.00 US per person. 

Florida excursions, off resort excursions

They invited us to come along and we decided to go. We had an amazing time and the captain and his two crew members (His Sons) we very friendly and knowledgeable and gave us an amazing tour of the area. They located some spider monkeys on shore and we off loaded from the boat to get pictures and tour the area. Once back on the boat we went to a spot where the sunset was very memorable, it was such a great experience I just can’t say enough about it. 

We thought this would be a great opportunity to compare Alex on the Beach with the resort tour but the following week our resort booked sunset cruise was cancelled. They had 6 couples booked and would not run with less than 10 couples. Now the boat with the resort cruise was much larger and more luxurious and likely more expensive to operate and therefore they needed to have a certain amount of passengers to break even or turn a profit. 

We typically plan to do 2 or 3 off resort excursions for each week of our vacation. We have seen Mayan ruins, local historical towns and cities, zip lines, water slides, horseback riding, jeep tours, under water walks, snorkeling, etc. This is something that you should research prior to leaving on your vacation. Trip Advisor should have a listing on the most popular excursions offered in the area that you are traveling to and they will also have reviews of each including who the best is to book with.

Being prepared if you plan to do off resort excursions, is the best way to go.

Flu

For several years I would always make sure to get a flu shot as soon as they were offered in our area, but there were a few years that I skipped it. I did not see the value as I seem to get some kind of sickness every year anyway. Those few years were worse than any other year. I would always be really sick coming back from my tropical vacation or I would get sick as soon as I returned home. Once we returned to the yearly flu shot ritual the flu bug has stayed away and for the last 3 years we have not been sick before, during or after our vacation. I would recommend getting a flu shot if it is available.  

Hepatitis A and B

Getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B is essential in the prevention of the serious liver hepatitis A and B viruses. These viruses may be endemic in much of the developing world, and the Caribbean is included in many holiday destinations that are considered at risk areas for the unprotected traveler. There are several ways that you could potentially contract Hepatitis A and B and I would suggest a bit more research on the subject prior to traveling and consult with your personal physician for the best advice on this subject. 

Typhoid vaccination

You drink beverages or eat food that has sewage contaminated  contact with the water you drink or the water used for washing the food you eat. Watching what you eat and drink when you travel is as important as getting vaccinated. Visit your doctor or your local travel clinic for more information on Typhoid Vaccination.  

Travelers diarrhea

This is the most predicable travel related illness that I have heard about. There are several ways to prevent it and this year we visited our local travel clinic to see what was recommended. As we were traveling to an all inclusive 5 star resort we did not need to strictly follow the main recommendations such as “Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it” but if this practice is not followed by your resort you could become ill and it is a good idea to be ready. In the past we had purchased Dukerol but this year the travel clinic provided medication that is to be taken once symptoms begin.

The key thing to remember is not become dehydrated and avoid any thing that will make it worse. It should run its course without medication in 2 to 3 days. I would recommend checking with your doctor or your local travel clinic for more information.

 Drinking water

As a rule when I am on vacation I try to only drink water from bottles but this may not always be possible. A few years back I found out the hard way what happens when you drink bad water. After day 1 in our resort, which was filled with drinking and partying around the main pool, we decided to head to a secondary pool that was a lot lower key for day 2. That second day was very hot and all I drank was water. I had a large go cup that I had brought with me and I must have had it filled with ice water at least 6 times that day. By the time dinner time was over I was starting to feel a bit off. The next morning began with a rush to the washroom and things deteriorated from there.

Concerned that I would get dehydrated I grabbed my go cup that was still half full from the day before and opened the lid. The rotten smell coming from the cup smelled very similar to sewer water and at that point I knew why I was sick. Now and I am not certain if it was the water alone or the water used to make the ice that was contaminated but I ended up throwing that cup in the garbage. I fought through for about 6 days before things started to return to normal. Trust me when I say only drink water from bottles if you can. 

How to Plan Your Trip

How to Plan Your Trip?

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren wrote a brilliant book by the name of “How to Read a Book”. 

This book teaches you why conventional reading skills are insufficient for understanding difficult books, how to acquire more sophisticated reading skills and how to apply those skills to analyzing great books. On the one hand, one may think planning a trip is quite an easy task just like reading a book.  If you are thinking about planning a 1-2 week trip, then you can skip this chapter.  However, trips above three weeks (especially if they are to multiple destinations and include transportation within the destinations) do require more planning.  Similar to the book mentioned above, this chapter will provide you with a “copy paste” skill that will serve you well for planning any of your future trips. There is a saying “the way you do one thing is the way you do everything.”  I relate to this saying, especially when it comes to being organized and structured.  I’m the kind of guy who likes to have a plan. 

Florida trip, how to plan it

So, when I recently tackled the task of planning our honeymoon, I started from a zoom out perspective in order to give my ideas some structure.  This structure is what I would like to share with you here. My idea is to give you a schematic outline specifying what comes first, what comes next, that you will be able to apply to any trip you do, regardless of how long or the destination. 

Step 1: Decide where to go No tips on this one because as you know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You know better than anyone where you desire to go and for what reasons.  

Step 2: Decide when to travel  If your decision is driven by work obligations, then you do not have many options here.  However, if you are flexible and can go when you please, there are certain things to take into consideration, mainly, weather and budget.  For example, Costa Rica is a country that can be visited all year long, however, between May and November, on any given day in any given part of the country, it can be raining so hard that you will be looking to get aboard Noah’s Ark.  In such a country, where nature is the primary attraction, optimal weather conditions are key to getting the most out of your vacation. On the other hand, one benefit of travelling off season is that prices (both flight and hotel) tend to be substantially lower. 

Step 3: Decide on the length of your trip Budget, work and family obligations (how long can you take off work, how long can you leave the kids or alternatively take them with you, etc.), visa restrictions/limitations and more will influence this decision. 

Step 4: Purchase your flight tickets I have a chapter dedicated to finding cheap airfare, so I will not elaborate much here.  One thing that is important to mention is that there are contradictory rumors about the best time to purchase your ticket in order to find the cheapest price.  I recently read an article that said that studies show that the best time to order your plane ticket is 57 days prior to travel. 

All I know is that I purchased two roundtrip tickets from San Jose, Costa Rica to Auckland, New Zealand and then returning from Bangkok, Thailand to Costa Rica for $1225 each, nine months prior to travel. When I checked back 57 days prior to our travel date on the same airline, same route, the tickets were priced at $4350 each – 3.5 times more expensive!  Conclusion – AS SOON as you know your destination and timeframe, dedicate a maximum 7-14 days to monitor flights and then purchase them! 

Step 5: Visas and vaccinations (if necessary) If you purchased your plane ticket less than 90 days prior to travel, it is a good idea to begin the process of obtaining entrance and/or transit visas, if required by your destination country.  Unfortunately, this is something that cannot be done many months in advance.

The process can become a bit tricky if you are planning a multiple destination trip and there are no embassies or consulates of your destination country in your country of residence.  For example, for our honeymoon, we had to apply for three visas for my wife – New Zealand, Australia and Thailand.  We had to Fedex her passport to the USA for the New Zealand visa, and we could not advance with the other two visas until we received the approval and passport back from the USA.  

Regarding vaccinations, some vaccinations or medications (such as anti- malarial) need to be started six to eight weeks before departure.  Some countries require vaccination certificates (such as a yellow fever vaccination certificate) for entry into the country.  You can often find this information on host country, consulates or ministry of health/tourism websites. 

If in doubt, you can also refer to a family doctor who can provide you with all of the appropriate medicines and vaccinations to keep you healthy and safe during your trip