I recently went on my first solo international trip to Montego Bay and it was such a great learning experience! I went there because it was relatively close and I’ve heard good things about it and I wanted to take an end-of-the-year trip to use my passport. As a female solo traveler, there were a few things that I had to keep in mind while traveling internationally.
Firstly, there is a declaration form that you have to fill out once you arrive in Jamaica. You can either fill it out at the airport or online beforehand. The form requires you to provide your name, address, occupation, and the duration of your stay. You also have to declare any items that you're carrying with you of great value.
When packing for a trip, it's always a good idea to include essential items that you may or may not need, but could come in handy, especially when going to an all-inclusive resort. Items like a first aid kit, Lysol, sanitary napkins, medication, and Tylenol. I learned this the hard way when my cycle unexpectedly started on the last day of my trip, and I had to buy sanitary napkins. The store had two options: a pack of 20/25 for $30, or a pack of 10 for $13 (at the end of the day I was going to have to purchase one of the options). This goes to show that bringing these essential items can save you money in the long run.
Pack as lightly as possible but also as smart as possible. Depending on the length of your stay, you may need a check-in bag. If you're traveling internationally, I would recommend doing a check-in bag, especially if you plan on buying duty-free merchandise on your way back. When you're heading back to the states (if you have a connecting flight) you have to pick up your luggage from baggage claim and re-check it in. This is an opportunity to put those larger items like condiments or alcohol in your checked luggage, if not you will probably have to have it confiscated (that happened to me).
When you're headed back into the states you will have to go through a process to get back into the states where they will look at your passport, ask you your occupation, where you're traveling from etc. I had a connecting flight so in Miami I went through that process.
As a first-time international solo traveler, I was intentional about staying at the resort for safety reasons. Everything was all-inclusive, so there was no need to leave the resort. I did go on one tour because the resort had an air malfunction when I first arrived, but I felt safe knowing where I was going and the distance from the resort.
Another tip is to be mindful of when you go to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I went when each meal time started, doing this enabled me to get the food fresh, and before others picked over it, and also early dinner reservations.
It's also important to have a decent understanding of the currency of the country you're visiting. In Jamaica, they use American dollars, but I still exchanged $80 for Jamaican dollars just to immerse myself fully in the culture. However, Jamaican dollars are not worth a lot, so I would only exchange money as a souvenir next time. $50 Jamaican Dollars is equivalent to .32 in US dollars.
When I was researching tips for solo traveling and international traveling, I read to bring a "tumbler" for your drinks so they would stay cold, and so you don't have to keep going back for a refill. Well, I think that could be helpful and I saw a lot of people with tumblers. I bought mine but didn't use it. The cups weren't that small.
Finally, don't forget to budget for other expenses other than the resort cost, such as incidental fees, parking fees (airport), international day pass for your cellphone, and fees for any activities outside of the resort or the spa. Overall, my trip to Montego Bay was amazing, and I hope these tips help other solo travelers out there! I think my next stop will be Turkey :-)