Barbados on a Budget

Barbados is known for its white sandy beaches and being the birthplace of Rihanna. What it’s not known for is it’s affordability. The Caribbean isn’t a popular place for those on a backpacker budget, as many are drawn to the extreme budget prices seen in Southeast Asia or South America, but the Caribbean is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world and shouldn’t be missed just because it seems a little pricy. Here are some traveler tips to make the most of your time in Barbados without breaking the bank:

1. Shop Local

Food prices in the supermarkets can be extremely expensive. It’s best to shop locally as much as possible. Cheapside Market in Bridgetown is where I have found the most affordable local produce. Be sure to ask around about prices, as they will vary vendor to vendor. You’ll soon learn who sells at the cheapest price. You can also pick up cartons of fresh coconut water for $12 BBD, roughly $6 US. Saturday morning is the best time to go, with all the vendors out and piles and piled of produce for you to choose from.

2. Rent a House

All-inclusive resort prices in Barbados can be nearly double what you would pay for a week vacation in Mexico. Get the most for your money (and stay a little longer!) by renting a private residence with a couple of friends for a month. This can easily be done for $400 per person, making your stay just over $12 a night. Your place might even have a pool, gazebo, and mango trees! If you don’t have a month to stay, there are some hostels and budget guesthouses on the island, mostly on the South Coast and starting from $18US per night.

3. Barbados National Trust Hikes
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There’s plenty of over priced tours in Barbados, but not everything costs money! Barbados National Trust takes locals and tourists alike out to different parts of the island every Sunday. The hike is free of charge, although small donations are accepted. They say that if you go on the hike every Sunday for a year, you will have hiked the whole island. Barbados National Trust holds three hikes every Sunday, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Hikes last about 3 hours with an average of 7 – 10 miles covered.

4. Hit the Beach!

Barbados is full of beautiful beaches that stretch around the island. The West and South coast beaches are most popular due to the calm, swim friendly waters of the Caribbean Sea. Head to the North and East coast for the rugged beauty of the crashing waves of the Atlantic. Every beach in Barbados is public, free of charge, even if it backs off of the fancy hotels. Brownes Beach, Pebbles Beach, Accra, Batts Rock, Paynes Bay, Sandy Lane, Dover, the options are endless. You can find everything from nearly empty beaches with nothing but sand to beaches filled with people, sunbeds, umbrellas, etc.
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5. Take the Public Transportation

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If you plan to take a taxi everywhere, good luck. You can get anywhere on the island for as little as $2 BBD. You have three options when it comes to public transportation: the big, blue, government-regulated buses, the privately owned yellow bus, or the ZR vans. Each one is $2 one way, no matter how far of a ride you have ahead of you, so don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Each option is an extremely different experience, with my personal favorite being the ZR. In a van that sits about 12 comfortably, the drivers will often squish in at least 18, with the most I’ve seen being 22 people, crammed in for a speedy ride with loud music. If personal space is your thing, this might not be the option for you, but it’s definitely an experience that should be had. And here’s a fun game for you: can you find the #3 ZR with the handcuffs and condoms hanging from the rear view mirror?

6. Drink Local

Forget the fancy drinks, Barbados is all about the rum, with the local rum being Mount Gay. Rum shacks can be spotted all over the island, with many selling rum by the shot or the glass for cheap prices. If you’re out on St. Lawrence Gap, the Old Jamm Inn offers 2-for-1 rums for $8 BDD. If you’re looking for something else, the local Banks beer can often be found for 4 for $10 BDD.

7. Eat out at Oistins Fish Fry

A Friday night at Oistins is a must for travelers experiencing the island. You can get a huge meal with a meat or seafood and two sides of your choice (often macaroni pie, rice and beans, breadfruit, salad, etc.). Loud music, good company and Bajan food makes for a good evening out that won’t leave your wallet hurting in the morning… unless you get carried away with the rum punch.

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Three Accessories to Travel in Style

Call it vanity, but sometimes you just feel better when you don’t arrive to a destination with red eyes, crazy hair and wrinkly clothes. It’s happened to me too many times because I always put off purchasing these three accessories, claiming I could never find any that I loved. Well, times have changed and I am now fully prepared to arrive looking at least a little better than I used to.

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The Sunglasses

Have you ever woken up and stumbled out of an airplane in the middle of the night, far earlier than any human should be awake with swollen, bloodshot eyes, eyelashes stuck together with mascara and ringed black after having your face smushed awkwardly against the airplane window? I have. Prevent this by not wearing mascara or hide the mess with a trusty set of massive sunglasses that hide not only your eyes and their dark bags but half your face as well! Be picky when finding the perfect frames to match your face shape, the perfect color to match your skin tone/that won’t go out of style (a classic black is usually my choice, but I found some dark brown ones that I love just as much). If you choose carefully, these might just stay in your wardrobe for years to come and travel with you all around the globe.

The Hat

It has taken me 23 years to find a hat. I found a cute little fedora once that was sadly distorted in the rain, never to be the same shape again. I finally found a hat that I think could become my travel staple. It’s black, wide rimmed, not too big or small and fits my head perfectly. With hair that reacts to humidity the same way Monica’s did in Friends, I am definitely going to need it.

The Poncho

This gem that I found recently is absolutely perfect for traveling. This baby is so functional I can use it as three different things: a poncho/sweater over a tank, a scarf, and a blanket for when it gets chilly on the plane. I’m pretty sure if worse comes to worse, I can also bunch it up and use it as a makeshift pillow.

What’s In My Carry-On

Deciding what to pack in a carry-on can be a daunting task for the inexperienced traveler, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think! If you want to walk through security with ease, keep your carry-on baggage to a minimum. Keep jewelry to a minimum and leave most in your checked luggage to avoid setting off the alarm and keep your bag organized so that you can unload what needs to be unloaded quickly and minimizing that flustered feeling of having everything falling out all over the place.

I have a few items that are always in my carry-on.

carry on essentials

1. Passport – a no brainer. Keep your passport safe and on you at all times during your pre-departure and flight.

2. A small packet of facial wipes lets you remove makeup before a long flight and feel refreshed after a red eye flight. Keeping makeup to a minimum is a good idea to let your skin breath and to avoid dull skin when you land.

3. Headphones are a must for me, at all times. I’m often on overnight flights and I have a calming playlist ready to go that helps me to fall asleep and block out any noises from the people around me. Listening to a bunch of people snoring in close proximity is not the ideal situation for sleep.

4. An eye mask is another essential item to help you get the best sleep you can on a plane. You’ve got the headphones to block out the noise and the eye mask to keep out the light.

5. Vitamin C Energising Face Spritz from The Body Shop. This is the perfect travel size (100ml) and is great not only to help keep your makeup in place for day to day use but keeps your skin from looking dull after a flight and is an instant pick me up that refreshes the skin. Plus a quick blast of cool spray on the face helps to wake you up.

6. My skin is notoriously dry and having a mini hand lotion keeps my skin soft and smooth and a good lip chap keeps them from drying and splitting, especially after sitting in a plane for a long period of time with less drinking water than I’m used to. Planes and long flights are a breeding ground for dehydration and dry skin. Drink up and moisturize!

7. A novel can keep me entertained for hours. I prefer to read the old-fashioned way with a real book in my hand, despite the extra space and weight it takes up. But if you are tight for space and want to carry multiple books with you, a kindle is the way to go.

Though not shown or mentioned here, having some healthy snacks is always a good idea. Nuts/seeds or dried fruits are great non-perishables for flights to perk up your energy and hush a starving belly.

So You’ve Got a Reaaallly Long Flight… Now What?!

“When you get into an airplane by yourself and take off,
you find yourself in this lovely, three-dimensional world
where you can go in any direction. There is no
feeling any more exciting than that,”
– Gene Roddenberry

The harsh reality of travel (for some) is that it can quite literally take days to arrive at your destination, even by plane. For those on a budget, this is even more of a reality in which you end up having to take a plane, bus, and donkey just to get from one city to another in order to save a couple dollars. Even without all of the transportation switch-ups, it can take a 24 hour flight to get from, say, Canada to Australia. So you’ve decided where you want to go and that no amount of distance can stop you. Congratulations! You won’t regret it, but there are a few things you can do to make the travel time a little better.

1. Stay hydrated!
It can be easy to forget to drink when you’re on a flight because you’re not particularly exerting yourself. Take advantage of those little cups of water that come around every so often, but also try to bring a larger amount of water for yourself. We should be drinking half of your body weight in ounces every day and it makes all the difference. Once you land, your skin won’t appear so dull and tired as it might feel.

Also, carry facial wipes to wipe your face on the flight. This will remove excess dirt and oil from the day and it’s just better for your skin to breath without makeup blocking up your pores.

2. Dress for comfort.
I’m always one to dress for comfort on planes. Leggings, a comfy top, a sweater in case it gets chilly (and it always does!). A scarf makes for an excellent accessory to use as a cushion for your head or blanket to keep warm.

Wear clothes that allow your body to sit comfortably, to fall asleep in without snagging, squeezing, or being generally annoying.

Pick shoes that are easy to slip on and off. If you’re on a long flight, slipping off your shoes is wonderful.

If you can dress for comfort and style at the same time, then do it! It will help you look and feel a little more put together after sitting around for 10+ hours, in and out of sleep.

3. Move around.

Try not to stay seated the entire time. This can lead to sore muscles, stiff joints, and a numb butt. Stand up, walk around, do a few simple stretched to get your limbs loose and your blood flowing.

4. Entertainment

There is nothing worse than being stuck on a 10 hour flight with no form of entertainment. Not all aircrafts come with TVs on the seats (you may want to check for this when booking a flight). Other forms of entertainment include books, ipads/tablets, games on your phone, music, pen and paper if you like to draw or write, and of course the tried and true… CARDS! Pull out a deck of cards and be friendly, chat with the person sitting next to you (as long as they’re not trying to sleep).

5. Make your meal requests beforehand.

If you have specific dietary concerns (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, allergies, etc.), its important to mention this before the flight. Usually you are able to do this during the booking process and thankfully most airlines are accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions or preferences.

6. Opt for food that is light and healthy prior to boarding.

You don’t want to be stuck in close proximity to a bunch of other passengers with your stomach feeling like it’s been loaded full of rocks.

7. Try to sleep.

If I will be arriving to my destination during the evening, then I usually do my best to stay awake for as much of the flight as I can. This helps me pass out as soon as my head hits the pillow at my accommodation.

If you’re arriving during the day, it’s important to try and sleep during your flight. Both of these suggestions help to reduce jet lag. To help get you to sleep, I highly recommend investing in an eye mask and some ear plugs. These are incredibly useful on the flight and if you are staying in shared accommodations like hostels.

What I wouldn’t suggest bringing is a blow up pillow that wraps around your neck. They really aren’t that great and it’s just an added thing to have to carry around with you afterwards.

Some travelers opt for sleeping pills to help them nod off. Melatonin is a more natural sleeping aide that has helped me in the past. I’ve also used Ambien on my flight home from Thailand, which was a little miracle. However, I probably wouldn’t take any type of sleeping aides on my first long-haul flight unless I knew how my body reacted to them already.

8. Handle Turbulence and Nausea.

Not only does turbulence make some folks jittery, it can also cause nausea. Again, refrain from eating fatty foods before the flight. Excess fat plus turbulence can lead to stomach troubles. Same goes for carbonated and alcoholic drinks.

Picking a seat in the middle of the plane, by the wing, will result in feeling less turbulence than sitting in the far back or front.

Ginger pills are a natural option for preventing nausea. Take them before take-off and landing.

Practicing some deep breathing exercises can also help clear your mind and calm your body.

9. Relax :)

You can’t change the circumstances of your flight. Accept this, sit back and relax. Don’t forget, there is bottle service for those who like to have an alcoholic beverage or two. Try not to drink too much though, as you can end up feeling even more exhausted after a flight thanks to the alcohol dehydrating your body. There is always a journey to be had before arriving to your destination so you might as well try and enjoy it.

Do you have any other helpful ways to make a long flight better?

How To Make The Airport A Little More Fun.

I love airports. I mean I really, truly, love them. My longest time in an airport was ten hours but I’m certain I could spend an entire day in one and never get bored of it. Airports are a beautiful place, they’re filled with some of my favorite things. Some people are departing on an exciting adventure and I am always curious as to where they’re heading and why. Others are returning from a place just as mysterious with a look of mixed feelings — happy to be home and in the presence of their loved ones, yet sad that their time away is over. Emotions run high no matter which way you look. People are embracing, seeing friends or family that they haven’t seen in a while. Young travelers have their backpacks strapped to their backs, looks of excitement and fear plastered on their face at the prospect of their first adventure abroad. People are tearfully wishing people a safe flight and others are joyfully greeting someone returning home.

For a lot of people, airports are the tedious part of travel. It’s something that is required, with all sorts of rules and restrictions that seem to get stricter every time you set foot in one. Not only that, but then you have to find your gate which can be a nightmare in a foreign airport, and then you have to wait. God forbid. Lucky for you, I do have a few things you can do to make your airport experience a little less stressful.

1. Check-in Online.
Checking in online saves you loads of time at the check-in counter. Once you make your way to the row of airline professionals ready to check your luggage and hand you your boarding pass, you get to go to the line designated for the folks who checked in online, before arriving at the airport. Checking in online is a simple process. You provide some information, all found on your travel itinerary that you receive after booking your flight. Get into this line, which is often  much shorter than the regular line. Step on up, exchange your luggage for your boarding pass, and off you go to security.

all aboard!

2. Security Tips.
– You are not allowed to take any drinks with you through security. If you have a drink, chug it and leave it behind. You can purchase snacks and drinks on the other side of security that you are allowed to bring on a plane with you.

– If you are bringing any form of liquid with you through security, check before hand that it is in a container that is 100 mL or less. If it’s not, transfer some into a smaller container or pack it away in your checked luggage. Otherwise, it will be confiscated.

– Be prepared to take out all of your things and place them in the little bins for scanning. Shoes comes off, laptops come out, coats, belts, and anything that will react to the metal detector must be placed in the bins. When walking through the detector, it’s just you, your clothes and socks. If you’re traveling with a pet, you need to walk and/or carry your pet out of it’s carrier with you through the detector.

– Have your ID and boarding pass ready to show at security. Don’t have it lost at the bottom of your purse, have it in your hand so you can just flash your info and be on your way.

3. Dress to make yourself happy.
Okay, now that the most tedious aspects of your airport experience is covered, let’s talk about fashion. When I say dress comfortably, I don’t mean to dress like a slob. Dressing in your pajama pants and your hair all over the place never makes me feel good in public (maybe when I’m comfy and at home, but not in public). You can dress comfortably but still look good. Leggings with a cute shirt, a cardigan, flats or boots and a hint of makeup is a look that’s easily achieved and comfortable but also looks somewhat put together. Make sure that whatever you are wearing is breathable, allows you to move and sit comfortably for a long period of time, and is well suited to the weather that you are heading to. I live in Canada, so when I’m leaving in the dead of winter to somewhere hot, I wear something warm to the airport, pack a nice change of clothes in my carry-on and make a quick outfit change after security so that when I reach my destination, I’m not sweating buckets.

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4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you’re new to an airport or this is your first trip out in the world alone (or with a friend), don’t be afraid to ask for directions! On my first trip abroad, I asked an airport worker which way my gate was after every turn. Who cares? You haven’t asked them before, they don’t know you just asked five people before them, and they are always more than willing to point you in the right direction. This is always so helpful if you feel nervous, stressed, or are completely lost in an airport, especially when you’re running late!

5. Give yourself time.
This is one of the most important things I can say. Give yourself lots of time!!! If you don’t give yourself enough time, no amount of organization is going to make your experience less stressful because you’ll STILL be in a rush! If you are going on an international flight, arrive 2-3 hours prior to your departure time. If it’s a national flight, I would arrive 1 – 1 and a 1/2 hours before boarding time.

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6. Plan to have fun!
Airports can be a fun place, I promise. Whether you are with friends or traveling solo, there are always restaurants where you can grab food or a few drinks if you have time to kill — whether you arrived way too early or your flight was delayed. There’s tons of little shops to pop in and out of, browsing if you’re on a backpacker’s budget or buying a few trinkets or treats for the plane ride. If you’re feeling bare faced or grungy, take yourself into the duty free makeup area and the ladies and gents there will be thrilled to give you a mini makeover.. or you can do it yourself. Grab a lipstick, a swipe of liner, and a spritz of the newest perfume and you’re golden.

Sit and watch all of the beautiful planes take off. I love doing this: watching it slowly move it’s way down the runway, gathering speed and then off it goes, pushing off into the sky and disappearing before your very eyes, never knowing where it might be headed.  If you’ve done this all already, do it again (at least the drinks, always have another drink) or grab the book you packed (because you were smart and planned ahead) and dive into a fictional world to speed up time. People watch — airports are probably one of the very best places for people watching. Catch up on some much needed “you” time. Meditate and be mindful, write in your beautiful new travel journal, paint your nails, have a nap, dare I say grab another drink?

Have you got any tips to add? Share in the comments below!