At this point in our planning process, we are thinking about preparing ourselves for travel. Here are some ideas on what you can do now. Don’t forget to pick up some Spanish as mentioned in earlier posts!
Buy the ticket, take the ride. – Hunter S. Thompson
Be prepared. – Boy Scouts’ Motto
See the travel clinic for recommended vaccinations and medications. Be sure you are “up to date” on Hepatitis and Tetanus shots. You may be advised to take an anti-malaria treatment and more.
We require Travel Insurance for each traveler. Research and possibly purchase travel insurance (interruption, medical or emergency may be applicable). Some websites from a recent Star Tribune Travel section article include www.g1g.com (browse a selection of policies, from medical and trip insurance protection plans for individuals, to group insurance), www.insuremytrip.com (offers more than 100 plans from 18 insurance providers, but also publishes useful trips about travel safety) www.squaremouth.com (offers online applications that help travelers “easily and instantly” compare all the major travel insurance plans) www.travelinsurancecenter.com (Offers Policy Picker, a tool that helps you compare travel insurance packages, and www.travelinsure.com (offers a variety of products from annual travel medical insurance to medical coverage for frequent trips).
Reflect on what you would like from the week. What gifts to you have to bring? How will you make the trip more enjoyable for the girls and the other travelers? Are you open to try new activities, new food, new language, new culture?
Make sure you have your passport and it is current. E-mail to your trip leader emergency contact information.
Read fiction or non-fiction about the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean. Some suggestions include In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (also a movie on DVD with Salma Hayek), Travel books with historical summaries, Sugar (HBO movie available on Netflix. It’s more about DR baseball than the girls, but it’s all related.) and Caribbean by James Michener (book on CD available at Hennepin County libraries).
Take a look at a map of the country.
Do a news search on the web about the Dominican Republic to find out recent events/hot topics.
Learn some Spanish, at least the “Must Know Phrases” later in this booklet. Subscribe to Spanish Word of the Day at http://www.transparent.com/, Listen to “Coffee Break Spanish’ on your computer or iPod through iTunes or at http://www.radiolinguamedia.com/cbs/www/index.html, go to a Spanish Langauge Mass at Sagrado Corazon in Minneapolis or Assumption in Richfield, check out language books and audio programs at the library. Attend community ed classes.
Packing list – you will get ½ of one large suitcase, the rest is for donations and supplies
Suggested daily wear: tank tops or t-shirts, shorts, khakis and jean shorts, sport shorts… think casual and breathable clothes, it’s gonna be hot down there! Dry-fit/fast drying sports clothes are ideal.
Casual sun dresses or skirt and nice top, skirt/dress below the knee and shoulder covered so you are appropriate for Mass. They dress more conservatively for going to church. Plus, we are conspicuous visitors. Do be neat, conservative.
Swim suit and coverup
Sandals, flip flops or tennis shoes. (Note: flip flops have been causing trouble lately. Be sure to use them only when appropriate, within the hogar compound, and to the beach, no long walks or running! Consider Keens, toe-covering sandals that can be used for the whole trip. LL Bean and Land’s End have versions of them, too)
A hat to keep the sun off
Light weight PJ’s
Wristwatch and/or travel alarm clock
$200 (approx) $10 to enter the country, $40 or more to Sisters for food and expenses. For souvenirs and restaurants, have $1’s ready. Most will take it at a 31 to 34 Dominican Pesos to the US Dollar exchange rate, but won’t give change in USD of course. You can also use credit cards at some restaurants and shops.
Water Bottle – the best are the metal kinds. (Sigg are about $30, but I saw them at Old Navy for $7.50.)
PERSONAL TOILETRIES AND DRUGS
Bar of soap, I like presoaped, disposable face cloths for these trips, two per day.
Box/Small packets of Kleenex
Shampoo (put in a small plastic bottle if you can)
Toothpaste/ toothbrush (some bring more than one tooth brush)
Travel pack of baby fresh wipes
Non prescription pain reliever
Benefiber (or no-water-required fiber pill)
Insect repellent 25% – 35% DEET not 100%
Steroid cream for insect bites
Band-Aids and antiseptic salve (small first aid kit if you can)
Some also bring Clariton because although they don’t have allergies up here, some tend to get cold-like symptoms towards the end of the trip, probably because of the dust and wind.
If you tend to wilt easily in the heat, bring single-serving hydration powder packets, such as Powerade, to ward off dehydration. Some also like Emergen-C packets to get an immune system boost to adjust to the new environment.
Notebook for personal reflections
Camera and plenty of film/ digital camera
2 color photocopies of your passport
Photos of your interests and family. The girls are always interested about our lives and so several travelers thought it was fun to show pictures of their families, friends, homes, and MN winter to the girls. A picture is worth a thousand words, especially if you don’t know much Spanish.
Flashlight with extra batteries
Target/plastic grocery bags (bring at least 5)
Some should bring pump/hand soap to leave in the bathroom.
Fingernail clippers/emory board
Probiotic – research
Souvenir note: if you want coffee, a local roaster is friends with the Sisters. This will be your cheapest, freshest option. In the grocery store, local coffee was about $2/lb.
OTHER USEFUL ITEMS
Fanny pack or backpack for outings
Metal bottle or canteen for daily water
Spanish speaking aids (Spanish/ English dictionary)
Mattress Pad, cloth, to be left there $12 at Target
Small battery powered fan, typically used for camping.
Your own snacks
Antiseptic/waterless hand cleaner in a 2 oz bottle
Donation List from Past Trips
This is a sample from past trips:
gym shoes (from Sizes kids’ 10 – adults 8 )
Underwear – Sleeveless Undershirts (small kids’ size 6 or 8), Panties, Socks
Girls’ Summer cloths, including light fabric pants and shirts, child sizes 6 to 12
Twin Sheet Sets
Children’s Multivitamins, not gummies
Vitamin C, not gummies
Advil Sinus or equivalent
Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin children’s and adults
“When meeting people from a foreign culture, offer a few gifts that reflect your interests as a gesture of friendship. Better yet, give things you’ve created yourself. Also, explore their interests and their culture. Ultimately, the best way to forge a lasting friendship is to create something together. Whether it’s a meal, an art project or a spontaneous dance party, when you create something with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime.” – International Diplomacy Guidebook, from the Blue Man Group