Essential Travel Tips for St Martin

St Martin is split between St Martin (French) and St Maarten (Dutch) offering an eclectic combination of European and Caribbean cultures. Dream vacations don’t always go to plan so follow these tips to make sure your vacation to the Friendly Island is perfect.

St Martin

Get an Awesome Place to Stay:

What could be better than waking up and seeing the ocean from your bedroom window? Tourists have the choice between luxury St Martin vacation home rentals and resorts. Do your homework and choose a nice place to stay with an even better view. If this is a dream vacation, make sure you stay somewhere perfect.

Rent a Car:

When arriving at the airport, get yourself a car. Driving is the fastest and most convenient way of seeing the island on your own terms. Several companies will try to give you extra things, but you don’t need anything apart from the vehicle itself. The roads are relatively clear and driving is a pleasure on both parts of St Martin. Clear road signs and efficient maps help tourists get around without any problems.

Avoiding Theft:

Compared to other destinations in the Caribbean, St Martins is a safe island. But this doesn’t stop opportunistic thieves from operating on unsuspecting tourists. Car theft isn’t unheard of along the beach, which can lead to a miserable experience. And then there are the extra fees you may need to pay at the rental company to repair the damage. The solution is easy. Don’t leave anything inside the car and keep the windows down on a clear day. Potential thieves won’t even look twice at the car as you’re showing that nothing valuable is inside.

Avoid the Tourists:

St Martin has always been a typical stop on cruise ships around the Caribbean. Vast numbers of liners and ships pull up in Philipsburg, the capital of Dutch St Maarten, and hordes of passengers disembark. Front Street and the Boardwalk are their first calling point, which makes it very crowded during the daytime. This area is worth visiting to enjoy the sites and duty-free shopping. But, don’t spend too much time here as there are other much better places. And it’s advisable to avoid the area after nightfall when a few dodgy characters come out.

Explore Both Sides of the Island:

The Dutch Side attracts visitors looking for a touristy experience. St Martin on the French Side has a more natural, laid-back atmosphere. Visitors can freely pass between the two administrative regions without needing to show their passport or face other bureaucratic complications. And both have something different and unique to offer tourists. The island itself is small (87km2) making it easy to get around. Take advantage and explore the island. However, the signs are in different languages and calling someone from one side to the other is actually an international call!

Spending Money:

Tourists tend to rely on their credit cards more often when they take a vacation. St Martin is no different. However, it’s not uncommon to encounter problems with the card machine in shops and restaurants for one reason or another. If you’re carrying a limited amount of cash, it’s advisable to check with the restaurant before you order to make sure your credit card will work. Another point worth mentioning is that some of the receipts may have the entire card’s number rather than blanking sections out. Make sure you check before throwing it away.

Tipping Etiquette:

Check your receipts carefully after ordering a meal as some will include an additional 15% tax or service charge. Some places add this whereas others don’t. Unsuspecting tourists who don’t check their bills end up paying the service fee and an additional tip. St Martin is an expensive island to visit and leaving an extra can equal 30% of the total cost of the bill. It’s entirely up to you and more research is needed on your behalf. But, wouldn’t you rather spend the extra money taking a day trip to Prickly Peak or renting snorkelling equipment?

Drinking Water:

The tap water is safe to drink in St Martin. Locals drink from the tap and many tourists do too. Bottled water is expensive on the island, especially when you’re eating at a restaurant. If you ask for water, specify that you want tap water (free of charge) rather than a small bottle that costs several dollars. The feeling of paying for something, albeit at a low cost, when you can get it for free isn’t ideal for a perfect vacation.

Take a Day Trip to One of the Islands:

St Martin is surrounded by a number of smaller islands, which make for a good day trip. Some have an active infrastructure for tourists whereas others are completely unpopulated and have quiet, secluded beaches. Popular trips are to Saba, St Barths, and Prickly Pear. The first two have a number of restaurants, bars, and lodging whereas Prickly Pear is completely uninhabited. Activities on the islands include snorkelling in the reefs, sunbathing, and water sports.

If you want to travel a little further afield, take the ferry and visit Anguilla. This British Overseas Territory offers a different vibe and experience to St Martin. Regular ferries depart every day between Marigot and Anguilla every 20 minutes or so from 7.30 am until 7 pm. Remember to bring your passport.

Trip of a Lifetime:

St Martin makes for a great and diverse travel destination, but unsuspecting tourists can get caught out. Follow our tips and avoid the mishaps to make sure your perfect vacation stays perfect.

Time to Travel: How to Prepare for Going Abroad

If you are planning on traveling to another country sometime in the near future, you can probably barely contain your excitement about the upcoming adventure. Though it’s important to think clearly, so you can take care of things before you leave. Make sure you take the time to do these things before leaving for your trip, and leave room for any extra tasks you didn’t think about.

 

travel abroad
image credits: pixabay.com

 

Take Care of Your Health

First and foremost, you have to take care of your health before you go anywhere. See your dentist or oral surgeon in Tampa, and have any cleaning or exams you need done. As Westchase Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center remind us, insurances will often not cover you if an emergency should happen while abroad. Have a physical done and make sure you have all of your immunizations. It’s important to make sure your body is strong and healthy enough to travel, plus you shouldn’t have to worry about having any dental work or medical care done while you’re overseas.

 

Make Sure Your Papers are in Order

Get all your papers in order before leaving. Make sure your passport is up-to-date, and submit any visa requests as far in advance as possible. Ensure that your flying plans and accommodations are fully secured before your anticipated travel date. Handling everything as far in advance as possible can help you save money, and ensure your travel plans aren’t delayed or ruined.

 

Arrange for Your Belongings to Be Cared For

You might be nervous about leaving your home and belongings behind when you travel, so make sure you have a plan in mind for taking care of everything. Consider putting your items in storage if you rent, then, you can move out of your rental and save money if you are going to be overseas for a while. Otherwise, consider installing security cameras and a burglar alarm in your home, and ask a friend or neighbor to take care of things for you. Arrange for things like someone to take care of your pets, bring in your mail, and keep your home as well-kept as possible.

As you can see, there are a few things you need to take care of before you make plans to leave for your overseas trip. Luckily, following these tips can help make for the best possible trip when you do leave.

 

Travelling on a Shoestring Budget: How to Do It

Just about anybody can go travelling. Whether your dream is to travel to one country in particular or to travel to multiple countries, anybody can do it – even on a shoestring budget! If you’re very careful, you can still have the time of your life while travelling. Let’s take a look at a few different tips that can help you along the way:

 

travel luggage
Image credit: anaa yoo on Flickr – https://flic.kr/p/8LeC4c

 

Search Online for Good Deals

 

The first thing you need to do is search online for good deals. Sites such as Tripadvisor and Skyscanner are great for this. On Tripadvisor you can read real reviews of places to stay, and get an idea of where you’re better off going. Skyscanner will allow you to compare flights, hotels, and other aspects of travel to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal for your budget. It’s all about proper planning at this stage!

 

Eat Street Food

 

While you’re away, the best thing you can eat is street food. You can usually get a full meal for very little at all. Although you might be tempted to eat out at restaurants, I’d only do this once in a blue moon if you want your shoestring budget to stretch further. Street food is usually delicious, and you get a real taste of the place you’re staying.

 

Travel Light

 

By travelling as light as possible, you may save money on luggage costs. You’ll also save yourself the hassle of dragging a load of heavy stuff with you every time you go some place new. Anything you need you’ll be able to find while you’re travelling. This means you’ll also be living like a real traveller! You can find more tips on this here.

 

Couch Surf

 

The cheapest way to stay in a certain place is to couch surf. Couch surfing isn’t mainstream yet, but it’s certainly becoming more popular. In most cases, it’s free to stay on a stranger’s couch. Don’t worry though; this is all done through a proper website, so you know you’re unlikely to be kidnapped by a crazy person. This isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, I know that. If it’s not yours, the best thing you can do is check multiple accommodation sites to find the right place for you. You can check out some deals here.

 

Find Some Work

 

If you plan on travelling for a long time, then you may need to find some work while you’re over there. Saving up as much money as possible before you start your travelling journey is always a good idea, but your budget may dwindle faster than you think. If this happens to you, find some work to make ends meet. You’ll still be able to have a great time if you find some part time work in a bar, for example! You’ll also meet some great locals, and possibly more traveller friends.

 

Just about anybody can travel with the right attitude and knowledge. You don’t need to have thousands of pounds behind you to get started! Use these tips and see how far you get. Have fun!