Beautiful white sand beaches and palm trees await you on the shores of Jamaica. While lounging by the beach is often free, tourists will be expected to pay for any other activity they plan to participate in, and more, over the course of their tropical vacation. Because of this, budgeting is a crucial part of planning for your trip. To ensure you don't forget anything while devising your budget, check off these important items as you make your list.
Jamaica's visitors spend an average of $300(USD) per day for their stay at an all-inclusive resort, but all-inclusives and mega resorts offer guests much more than a room. In addition to food, activities, and entertainment, they also offer travelers more in the way of security. It's possible to find a place to stay for a lesser price, but don't expect to pay much less than $80(USD) per night anywhere you go. Prices for all-inclusives are generally higher because they include meals and activities.
Some of the more chic and attractive areas of Jamaica, such as Montego Bay and Negril, feature hotels and resorts with higher price tags, while visitors staying in out-of-the-way, locally owned inns or guesthouses will find much lower rooming costs. Remember that in Jamaica you almost always get what you pay for, and it is important to carefully research your accommodations before you make a final decision. Negotiation is possible at nearly all places on the island, especially during low season.
On most vacations, your budget must account for accommodations, food, travel, and activities. If you're an all-inclusive traveler, you've already taken care of most of these in the cost of your hotel. Buying your vacation in one neat, little package may save you money and will definitely cut down on the number of individual items in your budget. Travelers not planning an all-inclusive vacation should consider that a daily budget in Jamaica can run as low as $30(USD) per person, but $40 to $60(USD) is more realistic.
If you're venturing to a restaurant outside your resort or hotel, you can expect to spend from $8 to $30(USD), or more at a top dining establishment. In spite of price and style variations, you should expect to spend a bare minimum of $30(USD) on meals per day. Some hotels that are under the same ownership offer deals to guests who dine at any of these establishments, so be sure to check with the front desk of your hotel to learn how to take advantage of these deals.
Modes of transport can vary, depending on your preferences and how comfortable you feel boarding public transportation in Jamaica. Buses are undoubtedly the least expensive, but the most recommended are JUTA taxis. Buses can take you around town all day for mere dollars, while a day-long taxi tour can cost as much as $180(USD). Most travelers will not spend this much in a day on taxi services. Remember that the normal fares rise 25 percent after midnight, so budget-conscious travelers may want to skip the late-night outings unless they have another way to return to their hotel. Tourists staying at hotels that provide taxi services should be aware that they may be charged a slightly higher rate by the taxi drivers. Without a doubt, the most expensive kind of travel in Jamaica is renting your own vehicle. Rentals can cost more than $100(USD) per day in the high season.
Once arriving in Jamaica, activities will vary by personal preferences, but generally speaking, all-inclusive travelers save more on the cost of activities than travelers buying their vacations piecemeal. Unless your idea of the perfect activity is lounging in the sun, you'll probably want to budget some money for snorkeling, museum entry fees and other activities, such as entertainment at some of Jamaica's lively and popular nightspots. This is, of course, at your own discretion, but it helps to anticipate the type of entertainment you're most likely to pursue.
Tipping and gratuities should also be a consideration in your budget. To avoid tipping more than you planned, always ask at hotels and restaurants if you believe a gratuity may have been added. Typical tips in Jamaica should be between 10 and 20 percent for meals and taxis, though this may vary on unmetered taxi rides.
One fee you may not like but you won't want to forget is the departure tax. Currently the departure tax for Jamaica is set at $27(USD), and must be paid in cash. Be careful: You may have already paid the departure tax when you bought your airline ticket, so if you're departing by plane you will want to make sure you don't pay twice.
Another less than welcome expense you'll encounter in Jamaica is an island-wide sales tax, which most visitors forget to budget for. This 16.5 percent VAT on most goods and services is already quoted as part of the price in almost every case. This replaced the room occupancy tax.
If you're a shopaholic or just planning to bring home some quirky souvenirs or Jamaican rum, don't forget to add a shopping category to your budget. Souvenirs for family, friends, and yourself can add up before you know it, especially when you take them through customs. Making sure that your items all meet customs regulations can be very helpful. Of course, spending on Jamaican items is up to you because you are the only one who can estimate how much you will want to spend. Remember, negotiation is almost always necessary when shopping in Jamaica and bargaining is an easy way to make your budget go farther.
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