Archive | March, 2021

Preparing for the Trip

1 Mar

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 (browse a selection of policies, from medical and trip insurance protection plans for individuals, to group insurance), (offers more than 100 plans from 18 insurance providers, but also publishes useful trips about travel safety) (offers online applications that help travelers “easily and instantly” compare all the major travel insurance plans) (Offers Policy Picker, a tool that helps you compare travel insurance packages, and (offers a variety of products from annual travel medical insurance to medical coverage for frequent trips).

2021 Travel considerations

  • Complete your COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 weeks before travel.
  • Understand your health risks this year.

Delta Airlines “Peace of Mind Purchasing” 

For Delta tickets purchased in 2021 (after the expiration of our Peace-of-Mind Purchasing waiver for all travel purchased through March 30, 2021), we’ve eliminated change fees and Award redeposit fees permanently for Delta tickets purchased for travel originating from North America to anywhere in the world (excluding Basic Economy fares).

While there is no change fee for these tickets, the fare difference will apply.*

You also now have the flexibility to cancel or make changes to Award Tickets for travel within the U.S. any time prior to departure. Visit My Trips to make changes to your flight(s) any time before your travel date.

If you purchased a ticket or are traveling between March 1, 2020 and March 30, 2021, we are still waiving all change fees for customers – for both U.S. and international travel in all cabins.  Follow the “Existing Travel” or “Travel Purchased March 1, 2020 – March 30, 2021, Go to footer note” guidelines outlined above.

**For international tickets to the United States purchased on or before January 25, 2021 with departure dates between January 12 and February 16, 2021, the change fee or Award redeposit fee will be waived. You can rebook your trip to the same destination for travel departing before February 1, 2021 with no difference in fare appliedhowever, a difference in fare will apply for travel rebooked to commence on or after February 2, 2021. In all other instances (including without limitation any change to the origin or departure airports, cabin or product), applicable fare difference will apply.

The above Delta policies may make this insurance option “Cancel for Any Reason” unnecessary.

This coverage is Optional and must be indicated as applicable on Your Schedule of Benefits.

If You are prevented from taking the Covered Trip for any reason not otherwise excluded, We will reimburse You or Your designated representative for 75% of the prepaid, forfeited, non-refundable Payments or Deposits for the Covered Trip arrangement(s), provided the following conditions are met:

(a) this coverage is purchased within 14 days of the date the initial Payment or Deposit is paid and You insure the cost of any subsequent arrangement(s) added to the same Covered Trip within 14 days of the date of Payment or Deposit for any such subsequent Covered Trip arrangement(s); and
(b) this insurance coverage is purchased for the full cost of all non-refundable prepaid Covered Trip arrangements; and
(c) You or Your designated representative cancels the Covered Trip no less than 2 days prior to the Scheduled Departure Date.

This coverage will be terminated, no benefits will be paid and any premium paid for this coverage will be refunded if the full costs of all prepaid, non-refundable Covered Trip arrangements are not insured.

Please note that if you are issued a credit for future travel by your travel supplier or tour operator, you are not eligible to make a claim under CFAR, as there is no financial loss. Please refer to your insurance policy (or Description of Coverage) for details.


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, Listen to “Coffee Break Spanish’ on your computer or iPod through iTunes or at, 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

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.)

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)

Contact solution
Travel pack of baby fresh wipes

Sanitary protection
Non prescription pain reliever
Ear plugs
Imodium AD

Benefiber (or no-water-required fiber pill)

Insect repellent 25% – 35% DEET not 100%


Steroid cream for insect bites
Sunburn lotion
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.

Fanny pack or backpack for outings
Metal bottle or canteen for daily water

Travel alarm
Spanish speaking aids (Spanish/ English dictionary)
Mattress Pad, cloth, to be left there $12 at Target

Small battery powered fan, typically used for camping.


Peanut Butter

Airplane items

Your own snacks

Antiseptic/waterless hand cleaner in a 2 oz bottle

Donation List from Past Trips

This is a sample from past trips:

School  Backpacks

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

Bathing Suits

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